By Laura Keil

Robson Valley manufacturing and agricultural businesses looking to expand into Alberta—or other provinces and countries—can get a helping hand through a provincial export program.

The province’s Export Navigator program assigns a regional advisor to each business looking for support and guidance on how to grow outside of B.C.

“Exporting can be intimidating at first,” said Tim Thomas, from the Export Navigator program. “But if you are ever in doubt, please feel free to pick up the phone and we can talk through the options. Whether you just need someone to point you in the right direction or you need to work on an export marketing plan, I am here to help.”

In addition to hours of free expert advice and step-by-step guidance, advisors can assess your business for export readiness and provide up-to-date resources for interprovincial or international exporting; once you’re ready to go, they can help you design a market-entry strategy.

One perk of the program is that businesses are paired with a single advisor, providing continuity and allowing business owners to go at their own pace.

“Every business is different, which is why we take the time to get to know our clients so that we can offer the best possible service,” said Allison Boulton, Export Navigator Program Manager. “Our clients want to expand and they want to contribute to their community; that is always top of mind for our advisors.”

Advisors can help with everything from exporting agri-food products to Asia to selling products online.

The program advisors say there are many reasons to expand your markets—it diversifies your customer base, can increase profitability, and makes your business more competitive.

The program has helped many different types of business expand, including an engineering company in East B.C. and a skincare company on Vancouver Island. You can read other success stories on their website.

Export Navigator is open to small and medium-sized businesses in much of B.C. including the Robson Valley—anywhere except the Lower Mainland and Victoria. The program says businesses must be willing to commit resources to planning and sustaining an export strategy. You can apply via online form here.

The Export Navigator program is funded by the Province of B.C. and Western Economic Diversification Canada and delivered by Small Business BC, and Community Futures.

Are You Ready to Sell Beyond Your Current Market?
Has your company received sales inquiries from outside of British Columbia?

Does your company have excess production capacity or the ability to scale operations?

Is your company’s management willing to dedicate time and money to develop a new market for a sustained period of time?

Is your company willing to conduct market research?

Does your product or service have a competitive advantage (quality, price, innovation, etc.) over similar products in your target market?

Is your company able to secure financing to adapt, ship, and market your product in your target market?