Australia’s small businesses often face a number of hurdles before they can establish successful export operations. Taking a lesson from successful exporter and music education supplier, LearnToPlayMusic.com (LTPM), small businesses exporters should follow these five steps to maximise export success.
- Identify the market gap
LTPM’s founder, Gary Turner, had a vision when he started his business: “Right from the very start, our aim was to become one of the world’s major suppliers of music education content.”
Since starting in 1979 as a music instruction book publisher, under its original name Koala Publications, Gary says LearnToPlayMusic.com has now grown to become a leading global music education publisher.
- Locate new markets
“The core of our business has historically been printed books, CDs and DVDs,” explains Gary, “which have covered a range of popular instruments and musical styles. Since we started, we’ve created a large variety of music lessons and courses, across a range of ages, languages and abilities.”
The business started exporting in 1982 and is now supplying some of the world’s leading retailers. “Around 80 per cent of our revenue is from exporting, mainly to the US and the UK,” says Gary.
- Diversify your business
“As part of our expansion plans, which are based on what our customers are telling us they want,” says Gary, “we’re now looking to move our content onto different electronic platforms. This will allow us to integrate all of our content with new technologies, something that we’re really excited about.”
Another important project in the pipeline for LTPM is their Apollo Music Adaptive Learning Music Education website and apps, expected to be a potential game-changer for the business internationally.
“Once completed, this new learning platform will allow us to stream a range of music lessons, in a variety of major languages, to a large number of music students around the world,” says Gary.
- Adapt and innovate
With the strong demand for educational content continuing, Gary says the ongoing challenge for the business is to keep delivering the best quality product at the best price.
“Having received large orders from overseas recently, we’re looking at bulk printing more of our book titles, as this means cheaper printing and shipping costs for our international customers,” says Gary.
- Find financial support
While LTPM’s bank had been supportive of its ongoing growth, it wasn’t able to provide the finance that the company needed to grow its business.
“Our bank’s main issue was a lack of tangible security, like ‘bricks and mortar’ assets, which is difficult for a business like us, given our assets are all intellectual property. We found out about Efic and how it helps small exporters like us through our accounting firm in Adelaide.”
“We then started looking at the possibility of a larger loan to help us grow the business and found out about Efic’s Small Business Export Loan.”
“By easing the pressure on our cashflow and generating some cost savings, we’re now in a great position to expand into even more international markets.”
Efic provides a range of loans, guarantees and bonds to Australian small business exporters.
About the author
Andrew Watson, Executive Director, Export Finance, Efic