You need written approval before moving on

Before you can move on to implement your export strategy, you need formal approval of your export plan. It is not enough to to accept a verbal or implied approval. This will almost certainly lead to problems down the line. The best means of obtaining this approval is to present management or your board with a preprepared statement of approval which says that they have considered your export plan and hereby give their approval to the plan and agree to commit the resources outlined in your plan to the firm’s export endeavours. The plan should also commit you to some action and should therefore indicate briefly (as a summary of what is in the actual plan) what you intend to achieve, by when, how much it will cost, when you you expect to achieve your first sale and by when you expect to recoup your investment in exports.

You may be required to revise the plan

If management are not prepared to approve the plan, then they should indicate what they want changed or agree to abandon the firm’s export endeavours – you will not succeed without this approval! A reluctance to sign the approval document is already an indication of a reluctance on their part to move into exports. If they have valid comments or suggests or concerns, that’s fine. Go back and revise your plan addressing these issues. The firm may not have the cash available to support your export endeavours and may first require to source external financing for the export venture. Or there may be other problems they foresee. Once you have addressed these, adjust the export plan accordingly. Indicate in a covering letter what you have done to address their concerns and what you have changed in the export plan itself. Again, seek their approval and ask them to sign the statement of approval. They may raise further issues, which, as long as they are reasonable , you may need to address. There may be a bit of backwards and forwards in terms of returning to revise the export plan and then going back to management to seek approval for it. After the third or fourth time, however, if you still haven’t obtained approval, you may want to suggest to them that there are simply too many concerns or problems and that they should consider abandoning their export drive (notice I say ‘their export drive’ – you should from the start make this ‘their’ initiative; this will encourage them to take ownership, which you will need if you are to succeed).

I am the person that decides!

What do you do if you are the owner of the business; you have prepared the export plan yourself and theoretically, there is no further approval you need; you decide, after all. We nevertheless recommend that you prepare a short statement indicating your commitment to executing the export strategy as outlined in your documented export plan. This commitment needs to be documented as a short statement supporting the exectuion of the export strategy and should be made available for the relevant persons who will be involved in your export activities (e.g. production manager, finance manager, etc.) to see, so that they can prepare themselves and also commit themselves to the firm’s export endeavours. Giving your written commitment to your export plan and making this known to others in the firm, simply re-enforces your seriousness to developing your export business.

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