Riding The Tide To New Markets

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Knowing the market is the most important single step you must make as you develop a business plan. After all, markets make the money, and if you’ve launched a small business in a niche product like surfboards, you need to take special care in choosing your targeted areas for expansion. A number of American firms have found real success in Australia, and if you’re handling a product like surfboards it might be just the place for you too. Consider some of the ways a push into Australia is easier and more likely to succeed. And bear in mind that regardless of the product and the market, this same process will help you sell whatever you’ve got.

Clear Market Potential

Isn’t that smart in any market expansion? You must have a good indication that your product or service will fly in the new market before you invest anything in putting it there. Don’t execute the classic missionary mistake that was made in Africa years ago, when well-intentioned American volunteers brought dozens of solar-powered ovens to improve cooking conditions for people living in the bush, only to find out that their standard was to cook after dark.

That means to cross landlocked countries off your surfboard market list and stick to countries with abundant coastline–like Australia. Then do your homework and make sure you’re hitting the prime market times of the year. Remember that Southern Hemisphere seasons are opposite of Northern Hemisphere seasons, so you want to read up on optimum Australian surf months and calculate your best sales time from there. Which brings up another point.

Smoothing The Market

When you’re in a seasonal business like surfing, it can be tough to expand your market share without becoming very inefficient. Surfboards sell like crazy in the spring and early summer, then taper as fall approaches. That means that the more you sell, the more idle time your production, shipping, and sales experience in the off-season. It can turn your world upside-down…which is perfect.

Down under, as noted, they are surfing when we are shoveling snow, and vice versa. Jumping into the Australian market is a perfect way to ensure year-round activity for your company and will prove far more efficient than spreading out in the northern latitudes. So while your entrepreneurial friends are rolling out Christmas lights or wool scarves, you will watch your ocean gear head for warmer weather. All you have to do is figure out shipping. International shipping is its own beast, as you have undoubtedly already figured out. Trying to do everything yourself is incredibly expensive and time consuming and many drop shippers and even major retailers (like Amazon) are very hesitant to ship goods from the US to Australia. One of the more efficient ways to take advantage of the affordable shipping rates of a retailer like Amazon is to use services like Qannu.com. Qannu acts as a middle man so that retailers can have Amazon Ship to AU from US with relatively little difficulty. Yes, it adds a step to the process but it’s a more affordable step than sending out your product piece-meal to each customer who places an order.

Ease Of Conversion

Of course, Australia isn’t the only other surfing country in the world. In your travels, you may have run across many great surfing locales. But Australia is a very large one with a key characteristic in common with American markets: The customers speak English.

As a result, there will be no need to have your packaging translated into another language and reprinted, with a costly bottom line. The few little differences–like “color” and “colour”, “truck” and “lorry”–are either avoidable or easy enough for readers to figure out. For a high-end surfboard, you want to provide the customer with clear instructions for its care, so an owner’s manual in broken Portuguese will not leave Brazilian customers happy.

It isn’t just language that’s similar, either. The shared speech has given rise to shared culture, so kids growing up in Australia have seen just as much “Baywatch” as American kids. With similar working cultures, both nations have a desire for a couple weeks’ fun at the beach during the summer. Those shared values and norms–remember that from SOC 101?–create similarities in consumer habits that will benefit you as you work on turning their Australian dollars into your American dollars.

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