Homework: do it before heading OS
What are the first steps? Look into the risks. Do the right research and get the right help to make sure you are in control of your business. There is lots of information online - Austrade's website is a start. Some of the big risks are to do with financials, so understand export pricing and how to get paid, including dealing with foreign currencies.
Researching foreign markets. Know who your competitors are and who your customers might be. For consumer goods, that's much easier because you can research competitors' pricing online, their marketing materials and websites. But you can also talk to other exporters and people in the industry about what prices they expect.
The mechanics of exporting. You need to understand the nuts and bolts of exporting so you can talk to buyers about what they expect and what you expect. This means agreeing before shipping your goods who's paying for the freight, who's clearing customs, who's paying import duties. Also understand how you are going to get paid - chasing debtors in a foreign country can be very hard. Find somebody at your bank who focuses on international payments and talk about the options, and how to protect yourself from currency fluctuations.
How you will be represented in the market is important too - whether its through an agent, distributor or setting up your own sales office. Perhaps one of the biggest risks is not protecting your intellectual property, such as your trademark, in each overseas market you plan to sell to.
Does my business have to buzz at home first? Yes, because success depends upon the financial health of the business and cash flow. Also, a lot of overseas buyers look to your domestic success as a reference point, so having a good business here certainly helps you sell overseas.
Belinda Hay is acting manager of advisory services at Austrade.