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Strategy is everything when it comes to successful exporting.

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This story appears in the February 2004 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Anybody can put a product in a box, ship it across a border andhope for the best. But how can you improve your chances for a greatexporting experience? In "Competitive Strategy and Performanceof Exporting SMEs" (Entrepreneurship Theory andPractice, Volume 27, Issue 3), Pierre-André Julien andCharles Ramangalahy looked at 346 companies to find common factorsof exporting successes.

They studied four factors-firms' exports as a percentage ofoverall sales, growth in export sales, international reputation,and profitability of export sales vs. domestic sales-and found thatsmaller firms with a well-defined export strategy are far moresuccessful than firms that dabble in exporting. Successfulstrategies incorporated export information into regular businessoperations and emphasized developing policies, procedures andsystems for regular exporting.

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