The DOs and DON’Ts of export navigation

5 tips and 3 warnings about exporting your business’s cross-border goods

Two students smile while in attendance at an export workshop

Community Futures ran an export workshop for manufacturers at the Nelson Chamber of Commerce this past November. — Photo courtesy Michael Hoher

Your business is ready to broaden its horizons and expand beyond B.C. That’s great! That being said, how are you going to export your goods? It’s a loaded question and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. The best way to get started is to sign up for an Export Navigator workshop. Then, take an expert’s advice to put you on the right track. Michael Hoher is Community Futures’ export advisor. Below, you’ll find his go-to list of business exporting dos and don’ts.

Michael Hoher smiles for the camera

Michael Hoher is Community Futures’ Export Navigator expert. — Photo courtesy Michael Hoher


1. Take advantage of free Export Navigator resources. Working with an export advisor breaks down the possibly overwhelming task of exporting into a step-by-step approach, puts the (would-be) exporter in charge of the process by use of a solid and actionable export plan, and provides significant benefits from potential introductions to provincial and federal export assistance professionals and partners.

2. Learn the export basics about aspects such as language and terms in order to be properly prepared and not be taken advantage of or make costly mistakes. To start with, know for sure your product’s harmonized systems tariff code (HS code), the internationally used shipment terms Incoterms 2010 and ideally the custom tariffs on your product in the destination country.

3. Network. Map your personal and professional network to see who can make vital introductions to customers.

4. Surround yourself with reliable export professionals such as export advisors, customs brokers, and logistics, accounting and legal professionals.

5. Enjoy the process to the fullest. Exploring, researching and entering new markets can be an incredibly rewarding activity—not just financially, but personally. Getting to know new customs, habits, languages, foods and ways of doing business can be an exciting activity and is best accomplished with the right assistance from mentors, advisors and professionals.


1. Take a passive approach or wait for things to fall into your lap. Waiting for international inquiries to fill your inbox will not bring lasting results and may likely lead to costly mistakes and setbacks, spoiling your taste for export.

2. Expect to see immediate results. Exploring and entering a new market will take time, preparation, dedication and tenacity.

3. Try to wing it. Unprepared and spontaneous activities often lead to financial losses and frustrations. Strategic preparation will make exporting a more rewarding and lucrative experience. 

Kyle Born

Kyle Born is a writer for Kootenay Business and his initials match that of the magazine—it must be fate that brought them together. View all of Kyle Born’s articles

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