Small Businesses Can go Further by Exporting to Brazil
One international market that should be considered more by small businesses looking to expand is Brazil. In the past decade, Brazil has become one of the fastest growing emerging markets. It has the largest economy in Latin America and the seventh largest in the world; in 2012, it overtook the UK in the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) World Economic League Table.
The prime minister, David Cameron, travelled to Brazil in September and came back encouraging UK businesses to boost their exports to the country. According to UKTI, the government agency charged with increasing exports, Brazil is one of the world's most rapidly developing economies with a GDP per head greater than China.
For small companies, Brazil has lots to offer. It will host two of the world's largest sporting events in the next four years; the Fifa World Cup in 2014 and the summer Olympics in 2016. The accompanying investment in new infrastructure must lead to new business and partnership opportunities.
However, as with any business venture, it is essential that entrepreneurs understand the dynamics of the business environment of the market which they are targeting. Here are a few things to consider when looking at breaking into the Brazilian market:
Before any small business considers exporting to Brazil, it needs to do some research as there are 26 different administrative states all with their own character, traditions and economic profiles. Finding the best one for your business can make all the difference in generating the best results.
Take advantage of partnerships and joint ventures
It's vital to understand the regulations attached to the business sector before embarking on any venture. Many small businesses face obstacles exporting to Brazil due to the taxation system. There are 60 separate processes involved in opening a business in Brazil, which take on average 120 days to complete. Businesses are often advised to enter the Brazilian market through a partnership or joint venture to allow time to learn the market from someone who's already familiar with it.
These helpful sites provide useful information on the market and regulations:
• The Brazil Business offers information on topics such as tax, import, legal and investment.
• The British Embassy Brazil assists businesses on every step of the exporting journey in both the UK and overseas.
• The International Trade Advisers work with companies on developing a new market strategy to ensure it is tailored to their needs.
Tap into networks
Businesses should not just form individual partnerships but join the right networks. Such networks enable a business to make strategic connections, build up a customer base, and start to understand the market opportunities and demands before fully committing to a full operation abroad.
LinkedIn groups like Brazil – All things Business are good starting points for making initial connections with people in the country.
Members organisation the Brazilian Chamber of Commerce in Great Britain hosts more than 20 events a year and produces newsletters or research reports, including Latin America Business Monitor and the quarterly Brazil Business Brief.
Opportunities for women entrepreneurs
Nearly half of Brazil's entrepreneurs are women. Brazil's first female president, Dilma Rousseff, has encouraged many women to start their own ventures. The second annual Dell Women's Entrepreneur Network (DWEN) conference was held in Brazil. Dell has also created the Women Powering Business Network on LinkedIn to nurture a community of female business leaders by providing access to knowledge, experts, and capital. Powered by Women 2.0 and Ellas 2.0, it reaches a broader community of women entrepreneurs in Spanish-speaking communities in the US and Latin America.
Let technology work for you
Today's technology allows businesses to communicate in real time and work together as they navigate the complexities of serving customers. For businesses looking to expand internationally, it is their ability to carry out cross-border trade and to provide levels of service and customer support that will set them apart from the competition.
Brazil is highly digitally advanced. Small businesses that see technology as a competitive advantage have an opportunity to take control and scale a business. Brazil is ranked the sixth largest IT market in the world, with more than 70 million people online in the country.
Most leading-edge technology is developed by small-medium businesses, emerging into responsive businesses that change with their customers' needs. This is similar with the emerging economy as new technologies are adopted immediately.
A wealth of support and resources are available to aid entrepreneurs who are looking to make the leap. Businesses that are thinking about exporting into new, overseas markets should design a comprehensive plan that includes understanding cultural differences, tapping into networks and looking into partnerships or joint ventures as it will make the move smoother for the business.
When it comes to exporting goods to new markets or expanding a business, many people think taking a small business global is "mission impossible" – but that could not be further from the truth.
Originally published for the Guardian online