Two steps every millennial exporter should take

As Australia’s small-business sector continues to grow, and small businesses expand into international markets, we are seeing a new type of exporter – the millennial exporter. These innovative young entrepreneurs are a great example of why Australia’s export industry is booming.

Are you a millennial business owner, thinking about export, but unsure how to?

The global opportunities for millennial SME owners are greater than ever before, but you should give careful consideration before taking any decision to export. Examples include understanding new laws and regulations, and recognising the cultural and business etiquette of a new market.

There are a number of examples of millennial exporters who describe themselves as “born global” – having had plans to export from the conception of their businesses. One such company is Pared Eyewear, a QLD-based eyewear design studio which exports to the USA.

Their journey holds valuable advice for other millennial exporters.

Build your networks and work with partners who have the same vision as you

According to Pared Eyewear co-founder Edward Baker, “expanding and investing overseas takes a lot of work, which is why it is crucial you have the right senior team in place and relationships to make it work.”

“Networks can encompass everything from friends, peers and other companies operating in similar markets, professionals such as lawyers and accountants, mentors and advisers, government contacts, and critically, market partners,” says Baker.

At the suggestion of their business mentor, Pared Eyewear attended US tradeshows to meet customers face to face and build their network. At the same time, they became the first eyewear brand accepted into the not-for-profit Australian Fashion chamber, which led to an invitation to Paris Fashion week. This is a great example of leveraging networks for export opportunities.

For “born global” export businesses, trade shows and face-to-face meetings are crucial for meeting local potential partners. “If you don’t know where to start, Austrade has on-the-ground representatives in a wide range of markets who can help you with introductions by setting up appointments with buyers that are a good fit for you,” says Baker.

Plan your growth and be aware of the support systems to help you

Your export strategy should include the capital you will require for growth overseas, what costs and expenses you estimate you will encounter, and how you will source the finance to support your plans.

A big challenge for most exporters is access to finance and managing working capital while growing. To avoid a funding shortfall, it’s important to understand the financing options available. If it’s a cashflow issue, you should consider protecting your business with strong contracts and favourable payment terms.

It is important to remember that you have access to financial support to fund your plans. When Pared Eyewear secured a coveted order from US top-tier department store, Nordstrom, the store needed a large bulk order which Pared Eyewear alone could not fund.

“When you’re manufacturing sunglasses, the minimum orders are high – about 500 per style,” says Baker. “Nordstrom ordered 12 styles, which meant we had to order 6000 pieces. But I didn’t know how we would fund that order.”

Efic’s online Small Business Export Loan provided Pared Eyewear with quick access to the cashflow they needed to deliver on the order.

“You don’t get these opportunities often, so Efic’s funding was pivotal.”

Bright days ahead for millennials

Pared Eyewear is a great example of a millennial exporter who was “born global” – a company who didn’t feel they needed to operate in the Australian market for a number of years before attempting to export. With a new generation of ambitious millennial small-business leaders, this trend is set to continue.

Andrew Watson, Executive Director – Export Finance, Efic