Entering the American market, with its huge opportunities, is a dream many local entrepreneurs carry. For a reason: despite the hardship faced in recent years, our nearest neighbors’ economy still remains the most important worldwide (20% of the global economy). Every minute of every day, goods and services exchanges are worth over $1M.
No wonder a lot of Quebec companies wish to have their share! But however promising it is, the American market can also be extremely intimidating. Here is what you need to know, as well as a few available resources to guide you through your journey.
Doing market research
The first thing to do is to validate whether your product (or service) can be sold in the US. In order to do so, you can start by consulting Trade Data Online, from Industry Canada.
Another good resource: the Website of the Canadian Embassy in Washington, which offers state by state facts sheets on the US-Canada trade, among others.
According to the EDC (Export Development Canada), entrepreneurs wishing to enter the American market should ask themselves the following questions:
- Does the company have the necessary assets and funds to carry out this project?
- What are your products or services’ competitive advantages?
- Will your products or services need to be adapted, or will their packaging have to be modified?
Defining a plan
It is very important to define an export plan, containing at least, but not limited to, the following elements:
- The list of products and services
- Necessary modifications, if applicable
- Advantages and weaknesses
- Market research conclusions
- Targeted market and characteristics
- Marketing strategy
- Competition and risks
- Financial strategy
Getting involved locally
Experts all agree to say that market development must be done on location. At this stage, entrepreneurs should contact a TCS branch (Trade Commissioner Service) located in the targeted region. Commercial delegates can provide information on the specific market peculiarities, and even schedule meetings and networking opportunities.
A number to remember: Canadian Enterprise Network (1-888-576-4444).
For more information on key sectors as well as each American region, you can view this EDC document: Doing Business in the United States.
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