How to become a freelance export consultant living in Denmark

How to become
a freelance export consultant
A guide book for international talents
living in Denmark
Entrepreneurship in Denmark
INCUBA Science Park Katrinebjerg
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Central Denmark Region
Table of contents
How to become a freelance export consultant
Published by Entrepreneurship in Denmark
2. Why become an export consultant?
Editorial team:
Trine Brøndberg, Malene Lykke Scharling and Mette Boel
3. Getting started as an export consultant
3.1 Choose relevant sectors 09
3.2 Find a relevant business
3.3 Analyse export potential 12
Trine Brøndberg, Lotte Winkler and Marianne Gregersen
Photographers: Lasse Hyldager, Hyldager Fotografi
Mads Holm,
Graphic designer and production manager:
Carsten Skovlund, designwerk A/S
CASE: Dynamic Russian generates Danish exports
3.4 Prepare an Export Action Plan
3.5 Contact the business
CASE: Australian business economist boosts online sale
3.6 Pitch your Export Action Plan
4. Worth knowing about SMEs and export
Print: Zeuner – PJ Schmidt Grafisk A/S
Edition: 1.000 units
4.1 Understanding the DNA of SMEs CASE: Specialist knowledge becomes export success
4.2 New export markets 40
CASE: Rumanian teaches Danish export companies Chinese
5.Free guidance
5.1 Online tools
5.2 Export Network
5.3 Organisations and associations
6.Reference list
November 2013
The publication is available electronically on
The printed version is also available for free at Entrepreneurship in Denmark/
Væksthus Midtjylland while stocks last.
How to become
a freelance
export consultant
1. Preface
The aim of this guide is to inspire you, an international talent living in Denmark, to
start up your own business as a freelance export consultant. According to the Trade
Council, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) seek international talents to
help them export to foreign markets.
With your international background, you know the language and the culture of specific export markets, and often you know something about how the market is developing. This is valuable for a Danish SME, which often does not know the cultural
codex or, for example, the negotiation techniques in the market it wants to enter.
In this guide, you can acquire knowledge on how to become a freelance export
consultant and how to help the SMEs succeed in export. Hopefully, you will also
feel inspired by reading the stories about four different and very successful international export talents. You can read the guide from start to finish or use it as your
reference work.
Your international background is an advantage and our hope is that more internationals living in Denmark will use their competencies regarding international markets, export, business development, culture and language - and become freelance
export consultants.
Enjoy your book!
2. Why become
an export consultant?
Many Danish SMEs are either not aware of the possibilities
that exist for them to enter foreign export markets or they
do not have the right competencies or resources in-house to
take the necessary steps. By offering your assistance as an
export consultant, both you and the SME can benefit from
the partnership.
It can be a great opportunity for you and the businesses which you cooperate with
to enter specific export markets if you believe that you have the right skills and
knowledge to become an export consultant and that you are ready to start your own
Advantages of starting an export consultancy:
• You will be able to use your competencies re international markets, export,
business development, culture and language
• You will have the opportunity to cooperate with Danish businesses and become
part of the Danish business community
• SMEs often do not have the resources to hire a full-time consultant. Becoming
a freelance consultant gives you the chance to demonstrate your skills, earn
money and become a close business partner of the SME. The business might
then be open to the possibility of entering certain export markets, since you are
providing expert knowledge without them having to take on a full-time employee
As a foreigner, you know the language and the culture of specific markets, and often
you also know something about how the market is developing. This is valuable for
an SME, which often does not understand the cultural codex or, for example, the negotiation techniques in the market which it wants to enter.
However, you also need to sell your knowledge, identify the opportunities which are
open to the SME and address the business’s other demands. But if you succeed,
you and the SMEs can develop a fruitful partnership that will benefit everyone concerned. ✻
3. Getting started as an
export consultant
3.1 Choose relevant sectors
Setting yourself up as an export consultant to
make a living from your services is a lengthy
process. The following six steps will help you to
get started as an export consultant.
You can start by studying the sectors in which Danish export businesses are already
excelling. Then look at market opportunities in the market which you know about
thanks to your education and background.
Denmark holds a strong position in markets within the following sectors:
•Building, construction and architecture
•Environment and energy
•Furniture, design, fashion and textiles
Attend public events
3.2 Find a relevant business
The next step is to identify one or more businesses
which you want to win as clients once you are ready to
start up as an export consultant. There are several ways
of finding one or more businesses with which to work in
the export markets.
One obvious possibility is to try and meet businesses at public events. This you
can do by looking up and contacting the local business services office, industrial organisations, innovation projects, educational institutions, associations etc. for programmes, guidance and talks about the subject. Many conferences are held around
Denmark where businesses and potential exporters are able to participate and hear
more about new growth markets and develop their networks.
Use private and social networks
Perhaps there are people in your own network who have contacts with relevant businesses. Try using LinkedIn, Facebook or other social media as networking tools.
Contact business directly
Last but not least, you can, of course, contact a business which has aroused your interest directly to learn more. However, it is important that you are well-prepared and
clear about the questions you want to ask as it is imperative that you create a good
first impression. The damage done by a badly prepared and incoherent interview
cannot be repaired. ✻
Check the “Gazelle” companies The businesses named ‘gazelles’ by the Danish business daily ‘Børsen’, are companies identified as belonging to Denmark’s growth elite. Read more about Børsen’s gazelle prize at the
Keep an eye on the business
Once you have decided which business or businesses to focus on, it is important to gather
as much information as possible about their export potential. One way of establishing export
potential is by compiling all available knowledge from the internet and keeping an eye on the
business in the media and on its website. Is the business growing, in decline or stagnating,
and what is its future strategy for growth?
3.3 Analyse export potential
Once you have chosen the business you want to work
with, you should analyse its export potential. Map out
its motives, readiness as well as its strengths and weaknesses in relation to export.
3.3 Analyse export potential
When offering your services as an export consultant, it is your
task to map out the business’s export potential. Then you can
present your analysis and more easily persuade the business
of the advantages of working with you as an export consultant.
In analysing the export potential of the business, you can address the following topics:
• Export motive
• Export readiness
• SWOT analysis
Export motive
A business may have many good reasons for wanting to export. You can clarify its
motives by asking yourself the following questions:
• Is the business already exporting, and to which markets?
• Does the business have a proactive reason for exporting, and does the business
have a strong desire to export to new markets and generate further growth?
• Or is its motive for exporting more reactive, and has the desire to export arisen
as part of a defensive survival strategy?
• Are the motives born of internal or external factors?
Once you have narrowed down the business’s export motive, your analysis can take
a close look at how ready the business is to start exporting its products and services.
Export readiness
Analyse the business’s export readiness. Does the business have what it takes to
start exporting to a new market?
Export readiness depends, among other things, on:
• The management’s commitment
and experience with exports
• Knowledge of export procedures.
Does the business already engage
in exporting, or is it a new activity?
• Language skills
• Capital structure
Where you discover gaps in your analysis may be where you, as a freelance export
consultant, are able to offer the business your expertise.
Do a SWOT analysis
After having analysed the business’s motives and export readiness, it is a good idea
to do a SWOT analysis of the business’s export potential. Find as many ‘opportunities’ as possible. Also find a few ‘weaknesses’ which you can help the business address in your capacity as a consultant. Your credibility may suffer if you don’t present
a number of challenges for the business and for your collaboration. However, it is a
very good idea to be able to present a solution to these challenges.
Don’t expect to be able to do a complete SWOT analysis from home, but instead
finish the analysis in collaboration with the business when holding your meeting
with them. This will give you and the business a much better understanding of your
respective approaches and whether the two of you will match. ✻
In doing a SWOT analysis, consider the following:
– in the business
– in the business
For example:
For example:
• Good language skills
• Good product and business
• Healthy finances and positive
• Business partners
• Competent employees
• Good contacts abroad
• No export know-how
• Limited language skills
• A product which is not tailored
for export markets
• Poor economy
• Limited contacts
• Lack of resources and
– external
– external
Opportunities may arise from:
• New growth markets
• New legislation in the export
• New trends
• Competitors dying out
• Networks
• Timing – positive events in
the export market
Threats to business opportunities:
• Stricter legislation on the
export market
• New trends
• New competitors or products
• Collapsing networks
• Supplier terms
• Timing - negative events in
the export market
Dynamic Russian generates Danish
Svetlana Gertsen has in a very short space of time
helped a number of Danish businesses succeed with export in the Russian market.
CASE: Dynamic Russian generates Danish
In 2011, Svetlana Gertsen, a Russian,
started her business 2gether Consult
International. Here, as an inter-cultural business consultant, she helps Danish export businesses to break into the
Russian market. For her first client she
produced a market survey. According
to Svetlana, many consultants are good
at doing market surveys, but that is not
“It’s one thing talking about Russia, but
quite another to execute and generate
business for companies,” says Svetlana.
Svetlana helps businesses on their way
by forging business contacts and organising trips to Russia so that her clients
gain a solid foothold in the Russian
business community rather than simply
getting their knowledge from the market
the leap into exporting without really
knowing the Russian market or business
“As a nation, Denmark takes a DIY approach, and wants to start exporting
without having first consulted an expert,” says Svetlana with a smile.
Denmark is a ‘DIY’ country
Export trips to Russia
Svetlana was born and grew up in Latvia,
and she subsequently moved to Russia
to study economics, management and
trade. In 1998 she met her Danish husband and moved with him to Denmark,
where she now lives in Svendborg on
southern Funen with him and their children. Given her familiarity with several
cultures, she is able to bridge the divide
which, according to Svetlana, invariably
arises between the Danish and Russian
As an export consultant, Svetlana is
more than just a trouble-shooter for
businesses which have thrown themselves prematurely into exports. She
also encourages businesses which are
thinking about exporting but which are
cautious about the Russian market because they lack the necessary knowledge – or courage.
Svetlana’s newest and most successful
consultancy service is ‘Business Trips’
for businesses considering starting exports to Russia. Once a month, 2gether
Consult International invites businesses
to join a trip to a relevant growth region
in Russia. Thus, Svetlana often paves the
As an inter-cultural business consultant,
Svetlana often acts in a problem-solving
capacity for businesses who have made
One question which may crop up is what
is understood by an agreement. Danes
often make a bit of an abrupt entrance
and quickly get down to talking business. For Russians however, it is very
important to forge relations and look at
personal chemistry before entering into
business agreements. However, once
you have won a Russian’s confidence,
the business will inevitably follow. And
sometimes far faster than Danes might
way for potential partnerships between
Russian and Danish companies.
Success founded on hard graft
Today, Svetlana is able to make a living from her business, and she now
has clients within several sectors such
as foods, the environment, agriculture,
fishing and clean tech. A situation which
has not just happened overnight. She ascribes her success to a lot of hard work.
For the first time since she started her
business in 2011, she is now able to take
two consecutive days off. For the first
few years, Christmas, Easter and Whitsun were not holidays for her, but rather
exciting working days at 2gether Consult
International. Svetlana is passionate
about her work, and she loves the independence of having her own business.
Aware of own competencies and
Svetlana has business experience from
Latvia, Russia and Denmark, and holds
degrees in economics and management
from universities in both Moscow and
southern Denmark. Even though Svetlana is highly qualified, she works closely
with various experts who supplement
her own services , for example in Russian and Danish law and in interpreting.
“As an export consultant, it is important
to know your own competencies and to
recognise your professional limitations.
In addition to your professional competencies, you are selling credibility and
the ability to forge relations and alliances between people and between two
countries,” says Svetlana.
Russia waiting for Danish SMEs
The Russian economy is growing, and
the market is just waiting for Danish
SMEs to get themselves together and
make the leap. According to Svetlana,
they must not worry about whether they
are big enough, as even some of Denmark’s biggest companies are, from a
Russian point of view, also small with
promising export potential.
“Danish SMEs are on the verge of starting exports to Russia. They must make
their move NOW!” says Svetlana Gertsen. ✻
Svetlana Gertsen’s advice to entrepreneurs wanting to establish
themselves as export consultants:
Have confidence in your abilities and listen to your intuition
Be open to business partners – the more muscle the better
You must feel committed and enjoy your work as success rests on
your own drive
Have visions, think in terms of next steps and create a unique offer
Follow your dreams, and if you stumble, pick yourself up and carry on
3.4 Prepare an Export Action Plan
It may be a good idea to prepare a short-term Export
Action Plan setting out key steps, milestones and objectives
which you can present to a business that wants to start
exporting its products or services.
3.4 Prepare an Export Action Plan
Small and medium-sized enterprises often do not have unlimited resources to spend on market surveys and strategies.
Your expertise and knowledge about the market in question
can therefore be extremely valuable for the business. Prepare
an Export Action Plan, which clarifies for the business what it
takes to start exporting.
Export Action Plan
An Export Action Plan is based on a market analysis, and may, for example, be a
plan for implementing a marketing strategy, a financial analysis or a logistics plan.
Divide the Export Action Plan into several phases, for example:
1. validation phase
2. test phase
3. implementation period
One way of identifying overall objectives for the three phases might be to complete
the template below. In doing so, you will be forced to consider and map out the milestones, action steps, challenges, expectations results and methods for measuring
the results. ✻
Use your competencies and work with others
In your Export Action Plan, it is important to take account of your own competencies
and limitations. If you or the business do not possess all the professional competencies
which are necessary, find relevant partners who will be able to contribute expertise
as required. For example legal experts, communication consultants, interpreters etc.
Be there in person
If possible, ask to have an office space made available to you at the business premises
while carrying out your analyses for the Export Action Plan. All the relevant persons
whose knowledge about the business and its products you need will then all be within
arm’s reach. This greatly facilitates the process, and thus costs the business less.
Market strategy/tasks specified in a marketing plan
Focus on swift results and a short-term plan
Define milestones and schedule for each action step
Most SMEs want to see fast results, and it may therefore make sense to produce a
short-term action plan. Prepare the plan so that the business is able to see, within the
next 8-9 months, the potential associated with exporting its products and services.
What needs to be done to realise each strategic milestone?
Define all potential challenges and describe how to tackle
What outcome is expected of each action step?
Method for measuring and monitoring
Describe how you will test and monitor results
Example of an Action Plan for a marketing strategy
Email/sales letter based on the AIDA model.
Your first step is to write an email in which you present your export proposal with a
view to following up by telephone. Tailor your language to the style which the business signals on its website. Are you writing to highly qualified individuals, or more
down-to-earth types? Your email will be competing with many others. In the email, say
when you intend to follow up by telephone, and stick to this date. Do not expect the
business to call you – it is up to you to take action.
The AIDA model will help your email to stand out and ensure that it is read:
The AIDA model
Attention. In our media-filled world, you need to be quick and direct to grab people’s attention. Use powerful words, or a picture that will catch the reader’s eye and make them stop
and read what you have to say next. With most office workers suffering from e-mail overload,
action-seeking e-mails need subject lines that will encourage recipients to open them and
read the contents.
Interest. This is one of the most challenging stages: You’ve got the attention of a chunk of
your target audience, but can you engage with them enough so that they’ll want to spend
their precious time understanding your message in more detail? Gaining the reader’s interest
is a deeper process than grabbing their attention. They will give you a little more time to do
it, but you must stay focused on their needs. This means helping them to pick out the messages that are relevant to them quickly. So use bullets and subheadings, and break up the text
to make your points stand out.
Desire. The Interest and Desire parts of AIDA go hand-in-hand: As you’re building the reader’s interest, you also need to help them understand how what you’re offering can help them
in a real way. The main way of doing this is by appealing to their personal needs and wants.
Action. Finally, be very clear about what action you want your readers to take; for example
visit our website of more information, or I will contact you on a specific date rather than just
leaving people to work out what to do for themselves.
3.5 Contact the business
It is very important that you understand the business’s
culture, and target your communication accordingly
when contacting the business with a view to presenting
your ideas as an export consultant. It may also be useful to have an idea of how long you need to wait before
following up on your first email. Follow the advice below
when contacting a business for the first time.
Following up by phone
The next step is to follow up by telephone; here you need to be ready to describe
your idea in more detail. The purpose of the email and the follow-up phone call is to
be able to take the third step, i.e. schedule a personal meeting, which gives you the
opportunity to explain your idea and sell your competencies.
Elevator talk
It is a good idea to prepare a so-called ‘elevator talk’, which you will often need for
network or spur-of-the-moment meetings. The elevator talk is an ultra-short sales
presentation of yourself and your business which you give when you meet someone
from an SME who might be interested in your export assistance.
Imagine that you meet someone from the SME in an elevator, and she asks: “What
do you do?” She is going up to the third floor, giving you only 30 seconds to clearly
explain your work. The message must be so clear and unambiguous that the listener,
on stepping out of the elevator, says: “That’s just what I need. Give me a call so you
can tell me more about it.”
Personal meeting
Prepare thoroughly for the interview. Have your elevator talk ready so that you can
quickly and succinctly present yourself and your idea. Bring along your SWOT analysis, ideally adding the finishing touches to it together with the person you are meeting. You need to be able to present solutions to any weaknesses and threats while
talking about all the opportunities and strengths you see for the business and your
collaboration on establishing exports to new markets.
Your personal appearance will have a strong bearing on whether or not you succeed
in selling yourself and your idea. During the first 10-20 seconds, the person you are
meeting will have formed an impression of you and thus your services. Remember
that you are communicating both verbally and non-verbally.
Perhaps use your network of Danes who are experienced with Danish business culture as a sounding board on your communication with the business. Address the needs
of the business, and openly present your competencies, your experience and your
commitment as a freelance export consultant. ✻
Elevator talk
Your 30-second elevator talk should cover the following:
• Who you are
• Your potential clients
• Which consultancy services you offer to export businesses
• The results you have previously achieved for other businesses
• What value you can give the potential client
• Find out about the business and what the business needs
• Pay attention to your body language
• Avoid using technical terms and expressions out of context
• Be positive and smile. This conveys self-confidence and inspires trust
• Dress appropriately. The classic example is the choice between a suit
or a pair of jeans. At the end of the day, you should wear what feels
most comfortable.
• Finally, remember to switch off your mobile phone.
Case: Australian business economist
boosts online sale
Hannah West´s mission is to give people all around the
world online access to Danish designed products and to
create growth in Danish companies.
Case: Australian business economist
boosts online sale
Denmark swarms with great design, but the design companies neglect to sell the products online both inside and outside
the country borders.
That’s the opinion of Hannah West who
moved from Australia to Odense in October 2011, because her Australian boyfriend was offered a job as a researcher
at the University of Southern Denmark.
sign and innovation, but it surprised me
how little of this is sold globally”, says
and abroad. The company was started in
cooperation with Danish Helle Sæthre,
who used to be a mentor for Hannah.
Helle Sæthre had a plan to establishing
a webshop, and Hannah was looking for
a local partner with interesting products,
which she could sell online. And the
two women agree that they are a great
match. They are now partners and no
longer mentor and mentee.
In September they started the company The name means kiss in Spanish, and they chose it because they
think a beautiful scarf is like a kiss. It
makes you feel good and keeps you
warm on the coldest day. will not be Hannah’s last com-
pany based in Denmark. The proactive
Australian woman is already negotiating
to become a partner in another company.
Hannah has previously lived in France,
USA and Singapore, where she took a
Master in Finance. When her boyfriend
accepted the job offer in Denmark she
was ready for new adventures, so she
left her job as a business analyst “down
under” and moved across the globe with
her boyfriend.
“I found out that only 20 % of the small
Danish enterprises sell their products
online and only 10 % attempt to sell it
internationally. My mission is to give
people all over the world access to the
products online, and at the same time
create growth in Danish companies”, she
And Hannah is well prepared for the
mission with an education in Business
Economics and experience in management consultancy and financing from
the Australian company Macquarie
Group. For six years, she has also worked with websites and online marketing
strategies for companies. She now uses
this experience in Denmark.
“Of course it is uncertain to leave your
job for nothing. But moving to Denmark
has given me the chance to find out what
I’m very passionate about, and that is
running a company”, says Hannah who
grew up in a family of entrepreneurs.
Besides developing an online sales platform for companies, Hannah and Scale Angel are also forming partnerships
with companies she finds interesting to
contribute to with her expertise in financing and strategic counselling.
Hannah’s advice for entrepreneurs
Better access to Danish products
Mentor became partner
”As soon as I arrived in Denmark, it
struck me how many fabulous products
there are. Danes are really good at de-
The first company Hannah West became
a partner in was They sell exclusive scarves online in both Denmark
• Don’t wait for the perfect time to launch your company, because there is never a per fect time! Forget the excuses and get started.
Because of that, she has decided to help
Danish companies sell their products
online. In July 2012, she received her
own CVR number (Business Registration
Number), which marked the launch of
her company Scale Angel.
Impressed by offers for
Hannah West is impressed by the help
she has received, both before and after
she became an entrepreneur.
“It is amazing that such a small country
as Denmark has so many good things to
offer entrepreneurs and budding entrepreneurs. It is amazing. I have participated in a lot of courses and conferences
with great profit, “says Hannah. ✻
• Don’t worry about whether or not you have the perfect business idea. Concentrate on
carrying out your own idea.
• It is crucial that you believe 110 % in the solution your business offers. Otherwise you
can’t make it through hard times, because challenges, setbacks and criticism will ap pear. Especially if what you offer is different from anything else.
3.6 Pitch your
Export Action Plan
It is important that you carefully consider how to pitch your
Export Action Plan to a business. In the case of a short, spurof-the-moment meeting, an ‘elevator talk’ is relevant, while
a ‘pitch’ is more appropriate and valuable for a longer sales
The word ‘pitching’ stems from baseball, where the pitcher kicks off play and determines what the other players do. This is what you need to do as an independent
freelance export consultant when selling your export idea to the business. Pitching
is also useful as a way of building on and developing an elevator talk.
The pitch is used to present your Export Action Plan in greater length at a scheduled
business meeting. A successful pitch holds your listeners’ attention and keeps them
interested. You must build a relationship, engender trust and show that you are part
of their team. ✻
Five factors that can help to create a good pitch
for your export idea
1. Be specific: Explain exactly what you have to offer. Perhaps take a
look at the areas where Danish SMEs seek export assistance
2. Be visual: Make a visual presentation of the plan and show the
business how it can boost revenue by exporting to a new market
3. Be succinct: You need to be focused to hold your listeners’ attention
4.Instil confidence: As an export consultant, you are basically trying
to point the business in a new direction. Convince your listeners, so
the SME feels confident in trying something new.
5. Focus on results: Talk about your results and practical experience
with exports or the particular market which is relevant for the
4. Worth knowing about
SMEs and export
Before starting up as an independent export consultant,
there are some important areas which are well worth studying in detail beforehand. Read about export barriers for
small and medium-sized enterprises and export markets.
4.1 Understanding the DNA of SMEs
To sell your services as an export consultant, it is well worth
knowing what characterises Danish small and medium-sized
enterprises (SMEs), which face both internal and external
barriers to export.
Legislation in the export country
Technical barriers to trade (requirements re testing/certification/approvals)
Customs duties and border control for overseas markets
Geographical and cultural differences
Larger travel and shipping costs
Foreign business cultures and languages
Bureaucracy and corruption
SMEs seek export assistance
Typical characteristics of Danish SMEs:
Small and versatile organisations with considerable flexibility where
everybody does everything
Often started as innovative entrepreneurial businesses
Lower degree of formal systems and structures
Information is often informal and ad hoc
Often fewer resources
Expectation of positive return in the short term in order to survive
Owner often involved in running the business
Managers often have to perform several roles
No/few highly educated employees (specialists)
Limited language skills (over and above English and German)
Often recruit via networks and personal recommendations
According to the Trade Council, SMEs are seeking help with their exports within the
following areas:
• Identifying relevant markets
• Market and competitor analyses
• Clarifying trade practices and distribution and sales channels
• Partner searches
• Marketing in the form of participation in joint export drives and trade fairs
• Establishment abroad
• Recruitment abroad
As an experienced freelance consultant with strong competencies, networks and business acumen, you will definitely be able to offer your assistance in some of the
above areas and open the doors to new growth-generating markets. ✻
Internal barriers: Resources and product
The internal barriers to export for SMEs often stem from a lack of financial resources
and access to financing. As a freelance export consultant, you can therefore offer
and sell your services as a flexible solution which the business is not bound by in
the long term.
For some businesses, the product they want to export is tailored exclusively to the
Danish market and not, as yet, to international markets. It is therefore worth finding
out whether the product is ready for export, or advise on what the business should
do to adapt it to the export market in question.
A business may also lack adequate legal or technical know-how, and therefore you
can provide guidance within these areas in relation to specific export markets.
External barriers: Culture, language and law
It is also important to consider the external factors which have a bearing on whether
the business is ready to export. As an export consultant, you are able to advise the
business on:
Communication with Danish businesses
It is very important that you understand the business’s products, identity and culture and
then target your communication accordingly. Use your network of Danish contacts who are
experienced with Danish business culture as a sounding board with respect to your communication with the business. Acknowledge the business’s needs, and apply your competencies, experience and commitment as a freelance export consultant.
Case: Specialist knowledge
becomes export success
After a short study trip to Denmark, Jean-Marc Ferran,
a French-Lebanese, has now started a family and established his own business in Copenhagen with customers
in six European countries
Case: Specialist knowledge
becomes export success
Jean-Marc Ferran has created an export success. His company Qualiance Aps offers statistical programming and clinical
data management for pharmaceutical companies of various
sizes, and his customer base is constantly growing.
In only three years, Qualiance has built
up a solid portfolio of customers in Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium,
France and Germany.
Perfect timing
“I’ve hit a growing market, and I see
good prospects for my business in future,” says the entrepreneur.
“I had reached a point where I had plenty
of experience and a strong network, and
it was a good age to start up on my own.
If I was ever going to do it, it had to be
then,” he recalls.
Few months became years
Jean-Marc Ferran grew up in France in
a Lebanese family. In 2001 he came to
Denmark to complete a Master’s degree
in computer science and applied mathematics with a semester at DTU, Technical
University of Denmark, in Lyngby near
Originally, his plan was to only spend a
few months in Denmark, but he has now
been here for 12 years.
“The Danish company which I wrote
about in my thesis offered me a job
when I finished my degree, and I thought
‘Why not?’”, he says.
Later, he started working as a statistician
at Novo Nordisk A/S, before moving to a
position as Director of Statistical Programming with Ferring Pharmaceuticals A/S.
After eight years in good jobs in Copenhagen, he took the plunge in 2010 and
became self-employed.
The desire to have his own business just
came suddenly. Jean-Marc Ferran’s business concept is based on the same tasks
that he was performing at Novo Nordisk
and Ferring, but as a self-employed person he can be involved in several parallel projects while further developing his
my background,” says Jean-Marc Ferran,
who speaks fluent French and who has
also been speaking English at work for
more than ten years. Moreover, he has
a strong network within the industry in
several European countries, which has
been a big plus in setting up an export
The price he has paid for his entrepreneurial success has been lots of hard
work. According to Jean-Marc Ferran, he
has never worked as many hours as he
is working at the moment, totting up between 60 and 80 hours every week.
“But I have not regretted my decision for
a second,” he says.
International approach from the
Through his extensive network, JeanMarc Ferran recruits experienced project employees when he needs help with
large jobs. Likewise, there are periods
when he is able to help others. Soon,
Jean-Marc Ferran will again need to
bring in outside resources because the
work is piling in, and at home a little
baby is on the way.
“Right from the outset, I wanted
Qualiance to be an international business. It seemed perfectly obvious with
“I need to find a different work-life balance, and it will be a challenge,” he admits.
The idea had to be put to the test, and
during the start-up phase he sought advice from Copenhagen Business Service,
which also helped him find the right lawyer and accountant.
Excellent location in Copenhagen
Jean-Marc’s girlfriend is from Lithuania,
and the international couple have no intention of leaving Denmark.
“There is a strong pharmaceutical industry here, which is why Qualiance is so
well located in Copenhagen,” says JeanMarc Ferran.
“Moreover, it’s easy running a business
in Denmark. I get the impression that
there would be quite a bit more bureaucracy if I wanted to start a business in
France. And even though income tax is
high, corporation tax is actually competitive relative to other European countries,” he says. ✻
4.2 New export markets
New global markets offer considerable unexploited export potential. Help businesses to move beyond European borders and enjoy success on new markets in growth
countries and cities.
4.2 New export markets
As an export consultant, you are in a position to help Danish businesses based on your
expertise within well-known, new, small and large markets. Danish businesses primarily trade with customers in neighbouring countries but, with an export consultant on
board with the right network and export acumen, they can take their products overseas.
According to the book ‘Standing on the sun: How the Explosion of Capitalism Abroad Will Change Business Everywhere’ published by the Harvard Business Review
Press, the global economy will see dramatic changes within the next 30 years. Today,
western economies account for 75 per cent of global GDP – in 2050 this figure will
be just 32 per cent. Thus, there is considerable potential in taking a more global
approach to SMEs’ export strategies.According to the Trade Council, world affluence
has also shifted. New markets such as Turkey, Indonesia and Mexico are lands of
opportunity for Danish SMEs.
Many Danish businesses are cautious in relation to exports. Seventy-five per cent
of Danish trade is with other EU countries, by far the majority with our neighbouring
countries. The following is a list of Denmark’s top ten export markets:
3. UK
Growth and market opportunities
Metropolises as export markets
The new markets are the so-called BRICS countries, to which an increasing number
of Danish businesses are exporting:
• Brazil
• Russia
• India
• China
• South Africa
Markets can be restricted to a single growth metropolis. According to the Trade
Council, there are 440 growth cities worldwide. Most of these are found in China and
India, but the following count among the largest growth cities elsewhere: São Paulo,
Moscow, Mexico City, Istanbul, Lagos and Dhaka. In Europe, London, Munich and
Stockholm are worth mentioning.
A general rule of thumb is that all cities with a population of more than 1 million
people represent a good market for Danish businesses. ✻
Think globally
Denmark’s key export markets
According to the Trade Council, it would also be beneficial for businesses to draw up
a strategy in relation to ‘Next 11’, which are countries showing signs of growth. These
countries are:
• Turkey
• South Korea
• Bangladesh
• Egypt
• Philippines
• Nigeria
• Indonesia
• Vietnam
• Mexico
• Pakistan
• Iran
Up-to-date market information
In the report ‘Winning the $30 Billion Dollar Decathlon – Going for Gold in Emerging
Markets’, McKinsey & Company describes which 440 large cities will see huge growth in
The Trade Council regularly prepares detailed export market analyses.
CASE: Rumanian teaches Danish export
companies Chinese
With a university education in Chinese and nine years
of work experience, Rumanian Oana Hansen is committed to teach Danish business people how to manage
themselves in China.
CASE: Rumanian teaches Danish export
companies Chinese
Many Danish companies have an interest in export to China and Oana Hansen
is offering them her help.
In her newly started business, “Kinesisk
Kursus Aarhus”, Oana teaches business
Chinese. Besides teaching the participants the language, the courses also
include an introduction to the Chinese
business culture and common courtesy.
Met Danish husband in China
Oana Hansen came to Denmark four
years ago. She is married to a Danish
man, who she met in China. Both had
good jobs in China – he worked for a Danish company and she worked for a big
American concern. When they had their
son, Oana’s husband wanted to go back
to Denmark.
“Denmark is a good place to grow up”,
Oana says about their joint decision.
Knowledge about Chinese culture
The target audience is companies who
wish to gain foothold in China or who
have employees about to be posted abroad. Furthermore, Oana Hansen offers
the companies the possibility for her to
travel along as an interpreter and to provide support in relation to negotiations.
But it is not easy to get a job in Denmark,
Oana learned after many fruitless applications.
“It took me by surprise, given that I had
heard a lot about the Danish companies, who want to penetrate the Chinese
market. With my university education
in Chinese and English and nine years
of work experience in China, I have the
right qualifications”, she says.
“It is a great advantage that I too have
been through the process of learning the
language and culture in China because
I know where they will face the biggest
challenges”, Oana explains.
Created her own job
“China is one of the BRICS countries
with a growing market, but China is also
very alien to many people. It is necessary to understand the Chinese language
and culture in order to make good trade
contacts in the country”, Oana adds.
Now she has taken things into her own
hands and has become an entrepreneur.
In their house in Viby, Oana and her
husband have decorated a big, modern
seminar room and the first group of students is already in full swing with a tenweek course in business Chinese.
”As an example, it gets easier to negotiate and figure out who the real decision
maker at the conference table is, when
you understand a bit of the language and
the Chinese tone”, Oana explains.
“From the outset, my husband has
backed me up 100 percent and he has
also attended free courses on entrepreneurship to help me get started”, Oana
With a seminar room at home, she can
keep the expenses on her newly started
business down and that suits her fine given the fact that it takes time to become
a well-known course organiser.
“I have invested in a home page and an
advertisement and that has been sufficient to get enough course members for
my first class. Now I am considering getting flyers printed to hand out at institutions of higher education”, she says.
The little details matter
Oana Hansen teaches three hours at a
time and she wants no more than six
course members in every class to make
sure they all benefit from it. It is also important to have time to talk about China
and the course members have many
“The Chinese are very different from us
down to the very last detail. The way you
order food in a restaurant or conduct
small talk before a meeting, for example, differs from European culture. It can
be of vital importance for the future success in China that you are prepared for
that”, Oana says.
Among other things, she teaches her
course members that it is more polite
to lie than to decline a dinner invitation.
And that the Chinese always expect you
to bargain over the price, even in fancy
conference rooms at big companies.
“There are many things that take foreigners by surprise in China, and because
I am not Chinese myself, I have an eye
for the small details that differ from the
European culture”, Oana concludes. ✻
Oana Hansen´s advice to entrepreneurs wanting to establish
themselves as export consultants
Use your network
Follow the courses offered by Startvækst
Be patient, hold on and have faith in yourself but don´t forget to listen to other people too
5. Free guidance
5.1 Online tools
Find online tools, information and export networks that are
relevant for you when you wish to start as an export consultant
Get inspired by the online tools described below here within
export and entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurship in Denmark
On you can find over 130 articles containing tools
and information on entrepreneurship. The tools take you through a startup adventure from idea to growth. Among these tools you will also find this export guide in
an online version.
EKF is Denmark’s official export credit agency. EKF offers you greater security and
paves the way for better financing and boosting of your sales.
Indre Markeds Center
Find more information or seek assistance on legislation within the EU.
The Trade Council
The Danish Trade Council is the export and investment organisation within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark. Their website contains a lot of relevant information about markets, growth and export.
Virk – Business in Denmark
Virk is your company’s digital entrance to the Danish authorities. On this site you
can find information on rules, permits and registration.
Learn how to register a company by watching these guides.
5.2 Export Network
Find information on networks for international export
consultants and Danish SMEs that wish to export.
Export Talent and International Talent Lab
Export Talent and International Talent Lab are programmes run by Copenhagen Business Service. The programmes are directed at expats living in Denmark, who wish
to work as export consultants for Danish small and medium-sized enterprises. Highly educated people with an international background can support SMEs in developing and extending their businesses to other countries, by helping the SMEs deal
with linguistic and cultural challenges.
Global Trade Network
Global Trade Network was founded by Innovation and Business Service at Slagelse Municipality. Small and medium-sized enterprises often face challenges such as
foreign culture, customs and language when they wish to enter a new export market.
Global Trade Network deals with these challenges by connecting Danish export businesses to foreign professionals in Denmark, who have relevant knowledge about
specific export markets.
5.3 Organisations and associations
Find organisations and associations within job, entrepreneurship and network who work with people with an international
background in Denmark.
Novum is a non-profit organisation that is facilitating contacts between Danish
export enterprises and highly educated foreigners residing in Denmark looking for
jobs. Novum’s six week course opens the doors for foreigners resident in Denmark
to small and medium sized enterprises.
O.N.E. Danmark
Copenhagen Capacity Talent
Copenhagen Capacity’s talent department directs Denmark’s first large-scale programme to coordinate initiatives to attract and retain international knowledge workers, researchers, students and their families. This includes improving expat framework conditions, gearing SMEs to employ international talent, and sharing best
practice across municipalities, business, governmental bodies, industry clusters,
and research & educational institutions. Moreover, the talent department will run
an international branding effort to build a talent pipeline in key sectors by creating
awareness of Denmark as an attractive place to study, work and live.
Jobindex has created a special job and CV database for export jobs.
builds a bridge between companies and skilled workers with special knowledge. The
idea behind the job database is that skilled job seekers, also with a non-Danish background, can find and apply for jobs within their areas of expertise.
Foreningen Nydansker
The Association New Danes (Nydansker) is a leading, independent centre for diversity. The Association works to lower the barriers for ethnic minorities and immigrants
onto the labour market. Among other things, the Association has a mentor program,
where you will be matched with a volunteer career mentor, who will spend about two
hours every month helping you with your job application process or career planning.
O.N.E. Danmark is an organisation bringing together local, Danish youth organisations working with education and career opportunities. O.N.E. Danmark aims at
creating a knowledge sharing network between highly educated young Danes with a
non-Danish ethnic origin.
Jobnet is the public jobcentres website for all jobseekers and employers in Denmark.
Jobnet enables you to search for a job among many thousands of vacant jobs or to
find a new employee. Jobnet has more than two million visitors every month. At
Jobnet you can also find information on job searching, training and recruiting of new
International Community Aarhus
International Community aims to support international employees and their families during their stay in the Aarhus region. Our venture to create social and professional networks to the benefit of expats encompasses a wide range of events, seminars
and online activities. We also offer support to companies in their efforts to recruit
and retain international employees.
Denmark’s official entrance for employers and foreign job seekers. The website contains job and CV databases, as well as a range of important information about the
recruitment and hiring process and other useful facts on residing in Denmark.
First job in Denmark
First job in Denmark is a project under the Danish employment and integration management. First job in Denmark provides a thorough introduction to the Danish labour market. They focus on your skills and networking, and also assists with how and
where to search for jobs, applications & CV’s.
New to Denmark
The official portal for foreigners and integration. It contains a special section on work
and recruitment.
6. Reference list
Klaff, Oren, an interview on the Chase Jarvis Live show,
McKinsey & Company, ‘Winning the $30 Billion Dollar Decathlon
– Going for Gold in Emerging Markets’,
Meyer, Christopher: ‘Standing on the Sun: How the Explosion of Capitalism
Abroad Will Change Business Everywhere’, the Harvard Business Review Press,
Competent feedback and information:
Peter Mygind Rasmussen, Svetlana Gertsen, Virginie Morlet and Giovanni Orio.