Export Potential Guide

What is export potential and why is it important for my business? 

Export potential refers to the likelihood that a company’s service can be successfully sold abroad. Businesses usually identify the export potential of their services by analyzing:

  • customer profiles.
  • service modifications.
  • transportation, shipping, and logistics.
  • local representation in overseas markets.
  • exporting services.
  • business development capacities.


Additional information like the export market’s economic outlook and current trade conditions may also be useful. Analysing these areas enables businesses to identify the strengths and weaknesses of their targeted overseas markets and to determine whether and why an export has the potential to succeed abroad.

How do I determine my business’ export potential? 

There are two practical ways to assess the export potential of companies’ services in overseas markets.

  • If you are already selling successfully in your domestic market, look for an overseas market with similar characteristics.
  • Assess the unique features that make your service different from those found abroad and therefore desirable in a foreign market.

How do I select my target markets?

Online trade statistics are a useful tool, as they provide an overview of markets in target countries. They can show if target countries are already importing the services that your company is intending to export. They also indicate supply levels in target countries. One resource for identifying target markets is the European Commission’s Guide for export of services, (see links to supporting information).


How do I find potential buyers? 

The next step after identifying a target market is to find and connect with potential trade partners and business contacts. For example:

  • Trade fairs are a great place to find business partners, as this is where companies from across the world can meet to explore business opportunities, find potential markets, and use contacts or word of mouth.
  • Events hosted by business support organizations for domestic companies, with the aim of helping local companies explore export opportunities, is another option.


There are also an increasing number of online platforms that connect buyers and sellers. In addition to well-known global marketplaces like Clickworker, Amazon Mechanical Turk or Appen, a simple internet search is another way to identify specialized online marketplaces (see the Trad4MSMEs guide on selling abroad online).


Links to Supporting Information

United States International Trade Administration’s (U.S. ITA)  How to Analyze a Product or Service’s Export Potential


The Government of Canada’s Step-by-Step Guide to Exporting  Getting started: assessing your export potential


The U.S. ITA export guide for small businesses Guide_To_Exporting


The European Commission’s Guide for export of services.  Guide for export of services | Access2Markets


The U.S. ITA guide on how to find buyers and partners.  Find Buyers and Partners


Trade4MSMEs guide Selling Abroad Online


IMF (International Monetary Fund) World Economic Outlook  World Economic Outlook


Google’s Market Finder training Find Global Business Opportunities – Market Finder by Google    & (110) Discover International Growth Opportunities with Market Finder by Google – YouTube

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