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A Small Business Guide to Exporting: Part 1 - Getting Started

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A Small Business Guide to Exporting: Part 1 - Getting Started

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: April 23, 2010 Updated: March 3, 2014

America's largest companies have been doing global business for decades. And with growth in global networks and communications, new markets have opened up for small business too. Since 2003, America's small business exports have grown about 80%. They now account for nearly $500 billion in annual sales.

Exporting represents an enormous opportunity for small business. Ninety-six percent of the world's consumers live outside the U.S., representing some two thirds of the world's purchasing power. Exporting gives small businesses the opportunities to reach new markets, increase sales, maintain global competitiveness and create jobs.

There are also socio-economic benefits for small businesses that embrace exporting, including better opportunities for employee advancement, a faster growth rate and an 8.5% less likelihood of going out of business than other domestic businesses.

However, according to SBA data, small business still represents only about 34% of export revenues, and more than half of small business exporters only ship to one country. And according to the 2013 results of the Small Business Export Survey, 46% of those businesses expressed concern about entering new overseas markets because they weren't sure where to start.

How can small businesses learn about how to take a business global?

While there are many resources on the web related to international import and export trade, the best guide to exporting for small business comes from the U.S. government. The Small Business Administration offers a wealth of information to help small businesses break into the trade game. You can also refer to the government’s Business.usa.gov/export site, which helps businesses plan international sales strategies and avoid regulatory pitfalls.

Exporting Basics to Consider

Before you Start ­– Read this primer to help you assess your business' export readiness, understand what you need to know and consider before pursuing an international sales strategy and – when you are ready – develop and implement your export strategy.

Sales and Marketing ­– Get information on developing, marketing and exporting your products here.

Trade Agreements – Find out about how your small business can benefit and comply with international trade agreements by country and industry here.

Finding Business Opportunities ­– If you are looking to bid on overseas contracts, grants or business opportunities, there are a few programs available to help you with your bid. These include the U.S Department of Commerce’s Advocacy Center and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency.

Export Controls and Licenses – Most export transactions do not require specific approval in the form of licenses from the U.S. government, although you must follow all regulations regarding all exports. To determine whether you need a license to export a particular commercial product or service, an exporter must first classify the item by identifying what is called an Export Control Classification Number (ECCN) for the item. Several other federal agencies have specific export licensing requirements. For general information on export licensing and regulations, visit Business.usa.gov/export – Licenses and Regulations.

Exporting of Technology – The exporting of technology has its own set of rules and regulations. Technology and Source Code Exports (Deemed Export Rule) answers frequently asked questions about exporting technology and source code.

Related Resources

About the Author:

Caron Beesley

Contributor

Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

Comments:

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It is great!. Your information is useful to small businesses like us to speed out the world market.
it's actually not as complicated as I assumed - even though I am sure it is a ton of work. This will be extremely helpful for me any my company. Thanks!
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