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Sample Export Plan

Sample export plan .

Completing an international business plan helps you to anticipate future goals, assemble facts, identify constraints and create an action statement. It should set forth specific objectives and implement a timetable and milestones. A strategy for entering or expanding into targeted markets is critical to your success in the global marketplace.   

Conduct an “audit” of your company to determine how exporting will impact your operations. Consider the management issues for exporting, approaches to exporting, distribution channels and other important considerations that will impact your business. 

Understand the key components of an effective, actionable export plan. Just as no two companies are alike, there is no one-size-fits-all export plan. Your export plan should be an extension of your overall business plan, if not infused completely into your business plan. Many of the same questions for your international sales strategies will apply to your domestic sales plan. 

Have a clear idea of the information you need to collect and sources where you might find that information.  

Creating an international export plan is important for defining your company’s present status and internal goals and commitment. It is also required if you plan to seek export financing assistance. Prepare a plan prior to requesting bank loans. This can save both time and money.  

Sample Outline of an Export Plan 

Part I: Export Policy Commitment Statement    

Part II: Situation or Background Analysis 

Product/Service for Export 

Export License (if needed) 

Personal Export Organization 

Products/Services to be Exported 

Products that Qualify Under FTAs 

Resources Outside the Company 

Industry Structure, Competition, Demand Operations 

Export Control Compliance 

Product Classifications 

Resources Inside the Company 

​​  Part III: Marketing Component 

​Identifying, Evaluating, and Selecting Markets 

Product Selection and Pricing 

Distribution Methods                                             

Internal Organization and Procedures 

Sales Goals (Profit and Loss Forecasts)                

Terms and Conditions 

Pricing with Consideration of Duties, Taxes   

Freight Costs, and Logistics Included  

  Part IV: Tactics—Action Steps 

Primary Target Countries 

Indirect Marketing Efforts 

Quarterly Accomplishments 

Secondary Target Countries  

​  Part V: Export Budget 

Pro-forma Financial Statements     

Marketing Materials 


Website Enhancements 

Trade Show Visits 

Other Costs 

​  Part VI: Implementation Schedule 

Periodic Operational and Management Review (Measuring Results against the Plan) 

  Addenda: Background Data on Target 

Basic Market Statistics (Historical and Projected) 

Background Facts 

Competitive Environment logo

Import Export Business Plan Template

Written by Dave Lavinsky

import export business plan template

Import-Export Business Plan

Over the past 20+ years, we have helped over 1,000 entrepreneurs and business owners create business plans to start and grow their import-export businesses. On this page, we will first give you some background information with regards to the importance of business planning. We will then go through an import-export business plan template step-by-step so you can create your plan today.

Download our Ultimate Business Plan Template here >

What Is a Business Plan?

A business plan provides a snapshot of your import-export business as it stands today, and lays out your growth plan for the next five years. It explains your business goals and your strategy for reaching them. It also includes market research to support your plans.

Why You Need a Business Plan

If you’re looking to start an import-export business, or grow your existing business, you need a business plan. A business plan will help you raise funding, if needed, and plan out the growth of your import-export business in order to improve your chances of success. Your import-export business plan is a living document that should be updated annually as your company grows and changes.

Sources of Funding for Import-Export Businesses

With regards to funding, the main sources of funding for an import-export business are personal savings, credit cards, bank loans and angel investors. With regards to bank loans, banks will want to review your business plan and gain confidence that you will be able to repay your loan and interest. To acquire this confidence, the lender will not only want to confirm that your financials are reasonable, but they will also want to see a professional plan. Such a plan will give them the confidence that you can successfully and professionally operate a business. Personal savings and bank loans are the most common funding paths for social media marketing businesses.

How to Write a Business Plan For an Import-Export Company

If you want to start an import-export business or expand your current one, you need a business plan. Below are links to each section of your import-export business plan template:

Executive Summary

Your executive summary provides an introduction to your business plan, but it is normally the last section you write because it provides a summary of each key section of your plan.

The goal of your Executive Summary is to quickly engage the reader. Explain to them the type of import-export business you are operating and its status. For example, are you a startup, do you have an import-export business that you would like to grow, or are you operating import-export companies in multiple markets?

Next, provide an overview of each of the subsequent sections of your plan. For example, give a brief overview of the import-export industry. Discuss the type of import-export business you are operating. Detail your direct competitors. Give an overview of your target market. Provide a snapshot of your marketing plan. Identify the key members of your team. And offer an overview of your financial plan.

Company Analysis

In your company analysis, you will detail the type of import-export business you are operating.

For example, you might operate one of the following types of import-export companies:

In addition to explaining the type of import-export business you will operate, the Company Analysis section of your business plan needs to provide background on the business.

Include answers to question such as:

Industry Analysis

In your industry analysis, you need to provide an overview of the import-export industry.

While this may seem unnecessary, it serves multiple purposes.

First, researching the import-export industry educates you. It helps you understand the market in which you are operating.

Secondly, market research can improve your strategy, particularly if your research identifies market trends.

The third reason for market research is to prove to readers that you are an expert in your industry. By conducting the research and presenting it in your plan, you achieve just that.

The following questions should be answered in the industry analysis section of your import-export business plan:

Customer Analysis

The customer analysis section of your import-export business plan must detail the customers you serve and/or expect to serve.

The following are examples of customer segments: manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers, and consumers.

As you can imagine, the customer segment(s) you choose will have a great impact on the type of import-export business you operate. Clearly, individuals looking to purchase coffee beans online would respond to different marketing promotions than mobile phone manufacturers, for example.

Try to break out your target market in terms of their demographic and psychographic profiles. With regards to demographics, include a discussion of the ages, genders, locations and income levels of the customers you seek to serve. Because most import-export companies primarily serve customers living in their same city or town, such demographic information is easy to find on government websites.

Psychographic profiles explain the wants and needs of your target customers. The more you can understand and define these needs, the better you will do in attracting and retaining your customers.

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Competitive Analysis

Your competitive analysis should identify the indirect and direct competitors your business faces and then focus on the latter.

Direct competitors are other import-export companies.

Indirect competitors are other options that customers have to purchase from that aren’t direct competitors. This includes manufacturers with vertically integrated distribution operations, or consumers who prefer to purchase similar products made domestically.

With regards to direct competition, you want to describe the other import-export companies with which you compete. Most likely, your direct competitors will be import-export businesses located very close to your location.

For each such competitor, provide an overview of their businesses and document their strengths and weaknesses. Unless you once worked at your competitors’ businesses, it will be impossible to know everything about them. But you should be able to find out key things about them such as:

With regards to the last two questions, think about your answers from the customers’ perspective. And don’t be afraid to ask your competitors’ customers what they like most and least about them.

The final part of your competitive analysis section is to document your areas of competitive advantage. For example:

Think about ways you will outperform your competition and document them in this section of your plan.

Marketing Plan

Traditionally, a marketing plan includes the four P’s: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. For an import-export business plan, your marketing plan should include the following:

Product : In the product section, you should reiterate the type of import-export company that you documented in your Company Analysis. Then, detail the specific products you will be offering. For example, in addition to mobile phones, will your import-export business offer other consumer electronics such as laptops or wireless headphones?

Price : Document the prices you will offer and how they compare to your competitors. Essentially in the product and price sub-sections of your marketing plan, you are presenting the services you offer and their prices.

Place : Place refers to the location through which you will sell your imported/exported goods. For example, will you distribute your goods directly to consumers online, or will you maintain supply contracts with retailers and wholesalers? In this section, document each method by which you will sell your products.

Promotions : The final part of your import-export marketing plan is the promotions section. Here you will document how you will drive customers to your business. The following are some promotional methods you might consider:

Operations Plan

While the earlier sections of your business plan explained your goals, your operations plan describes how you will meet them. Your operations plan should have two distinct sections as follows.

Everyday short-term processes include all of the tasks involved in running your import-export business, including determining which products are needed, sourcing product manufacturers, securing and maintaining all necessary licenses and permits, arranging logistics, etc.

Long-term goals are the milestones you hope to achieve. These could include the dates when you expect to sign your 100 th supply contract, or when you hope to reach $X in revenue. It could also be when you expect to expand your import-export business to a new market.

Management Team

To demonstrate your import-export business’ ability to succeed, a strong management team is essential. Highlight your key players’ backgrounds, emphasizing those skills and experiences that prove their ability to grow a company.

Ideally you and/or your team members have direct experience in managing import-export companies. If so, highlight this experience and expertise. But also highlight any experience that you think will help your business succeed.

If your team is lacking, consider assembling an advisory board. An advisory board would include 2 to 8 individuals who would act like mentors to your business. They would help answer questions and provide strategic guidance. If needed, look for advisory board members with experience in logistics, or successfully running small businesses.

Financial Plan

Your financial plan should include your 5-year financial statement broken out both monthly or quarterly for the first year and then annually. Your financial statements include your income statement, balance sheet and cash flow statements.

Income Statement

An income statement is more commonly called a Profit and Loss statement or P&L. It shows your revenues and then subtracts your costs to show whether you turned a profit or not.

In developing your income statement, you need to devise assumptions. For example, will you import from one country, or will you operate globally? And will sales grow by 2% or 10% per year? As you can imagine, your choice of assumptions will greatly impact the financial forecasts for your business. As much as possible, conduct research to try to root your assumptions in reality.

Balance Sheets

Balance sheets show your assets and liabilities. While balance sheets can include much information, try to simplify them to the key items you need to know about. For instance, if you spend $50,000 on building out your import-export business, this will not give you immediate profits. Rather it is an asset that will hopefully help you generate profits for years to come. Likewise, if a bank writes you a check for $50,000, you don’t need to pay it back immediately. Rather, that is a liability you will pay back over time.

Cash Flow Statement

Your cash flow statement will help determine how much money you need to start or grow your business, and make sure you never run out of money. What most entrepreneurs and business owners don’t realize is that you can turn a profit but run out of money and go bankrupt.

In developing your Income Statement and Balance Sheets be sure to include several of the key costs needed in starting or growing an import-export business:

business costs

Attach your full financial projections in the appendix of your plan along with any supporting documents that make your plan more compelling. For example, you might include your warehouse lease, or contracts with manufacturers and distributors.

Putting together a business plan for your import-export business is a worthwhile endeavor. If you follow the template above, by the time you are done, you will truly be an expert. You will really understand the import-export industry, your competition, and your customers. You will have developed a marketing plan and will really understand what it takes to launch and grow a successful import-export business.

Import Export Business Plan FAQs

What is the easiest way to complete my import export business plan.

Growthink's Ultimate Business Plan Template allows you to quickly and easily complete your Import Export Business Plan.

What is the Goal of a Business Plan's Executive Summary?

The goal of your Executive Summary is to quickly engage the reader. Explain to them the type of import export business you are operating and the status; for example, are you a startup, do you have an import export business that you would like to grow, or are you operating a chain of import export businesses?

Don’t you wish there was a faster, easier way to finish your Import Export business plan?

OR, Let Us Develop Your Plan For You

Since 1999, Growthink has developed business plans for thousands of companies who have gone on to achieve tremendous success.

Click here to see how Growthink’s professional business plan consulting services can create your business plan for you.  

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Import Export Business Plan

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Visigoth Imports Inc

Executive summary executive summary is a brief introduction to your business plan. it describes your business, the problem that it solves, your target market, and financial highlights.">, opportunity.

Visigoth Imports will provide complete import/export brokerage services including purchase contracts, shipping, warehousing, and delivery scheduling. The company will concentrate on special and cultural imports from Germany and Scandinavia to the unique Bavarian town of Leavenworth, WA.  Visigoth will provide trade consultation services to newly started farms created under the Puget Consumers Co-op’s Farmland Fund initiative.

Visigoth will be concentrating on servicing just two types of clients, the gift shops of Leavenworth, Washington, and the farmers of the Puget Consumers Co-op (PCC). For both market segments, we have secured exclusive contracts or endorsements putting us in a unique position to service these niche firms and their needs.

Profitability in these two markets is expected to be excellent, especially in the import section as Leavenworth draws in over a million tourists each year. We expect profitability in the co-op end to be much slower in the first five years of operation, but it too will increase steadily.


Competition includes all potential importing firms that serve small enterprises such as farms and specialty gift shops. Practically speaking, this means the largest import/export firms such as Fisher-Mills, Eagle Distributing, and other large, nationwide companies will not compete with us. Most other companies tend to be regionally focused. The foreign trade industry is highly fragmented, with a large number of small companies that mainly cater to small firms and a few large companies that seek the largest contracts from companies such as Microsoft, GM, etc. This makes competition within the industry very intense. Through our niche strategy we intend to avoid competition and its drawbacks such as price wars, etc.

 We will become the preferred import company for the unique tourist town of Leavenworth. Visigoth understands that the import shops and restaurants in Leavenworth have special needs of most unique gifts for the million tourists that visit the town annually. Visigoth Imports also understands that the newly launched farms of the PCC farmland fund initiative also have higher costs than most competitors and will need to export their produce at a cost that provides sufficient profit. Visigoth Imports has a combined 35 years of experience working in the import/export business. Our philosophy is in creating a long-term relationship with clients so that the delivery of their products becomes a seamless experience that promotes loyalty.


Most of the company’s liabilities will come from outside private investors and management investment, however, we have obtained current borrowing from Bank of America Commercial Investments, the principal to be paid off in two years. A long-term loan through Charter Bank of Nieurich will be paid off in ten years.

The company expects to reach profitability in year 2 and does not anticipate any serious cash flow problems. We expect that about 3,500 units per month will guarantee a break-even point.

Financial Highlights by Year

Financing needed.

We will be getting $84,000 from the four founders. 

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Get Ready to Export: My Export Plan My Export Plan

Prepare to export.

[Download Video 21MB] Quick Links:    Back to First Video in Set | Get Ready to Export Video Set  | How to Export Video Series     | Subscribe to our   Email Updates and Tips .

Developing an Export Plan

The purpose of an export plan is to assemble facts, constraints, and goals, and to create an action statement that takes these elements into account. The plan includes specific objectives, sets forth time schedules for implementation, and marks milestones so that the degree of success can be measured and can motivate personnel.  

Export Plan Tips

The Value of an Export Plan

Length of the Export Plan

Product or service.

Pricing Considerations

Management Issues

Management and Personnel

Production Capacity

Financial Capacity

Sample Outline of an Export Plan

Part i: export policy commitment statement   , part ii: situation or background analysis.

​ ​ Part III: Marketing Component

Part IV: Tactics—Action Steps

​ Part V: Export Budget

​ Part VI: Implementation Schedule

Addenda: Background Data on Target

Get Ready to Export: My Export Plan

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sample export business plan


Business Plan

Table of Contents

  Mission Statement






      D. 1 Industry Background

D.2 Target Market

D.3 Product Description

D.4 Market Approach Strategy







Video: How to write an export Plan

Export Menu

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Opinion Piece

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