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Small Businesses Should Consider International Expansion

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Small Businesses Should Consider International Expansion

By bridgetwpollack, Guest Blogger
Published: November 14, 2013

Just because you are a “small business” doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be thinking big. Your plans for expanding your enterprise may include opening a second location a few miles down the road or increasing your product line, but you should also consider how you can take advantage of the global marketplace. Are your goods/services needed in other parts of the world? Can you source your materials more efficiently overseas? International business holds enormous potential for business – not just large corporations, but small operations as well.

Take it from international business consultant Bill Cairns, President of BCM Group, who recently shared his advice for small businesses finding their niche in the global marketplace. We asked him, “We hear so much about the global nature of today's economy. Do small businesses have a place in it?” Bill’s response was, “Absolutely. They are more flexible to adapt to market demands, and to different regional and cultural needs. Also, close relationships are as important—and sometimes more so—in certain countries as in the USA, small business is better able to cultivate that kind of relationship than a large company.”

Read the full interview with Bill to gain even more expert insight into finding your business niche in foreign lands.

IMPORTING

For small businesses, especially during down times, keeping costs low and quality high is absolutely key to survival. Importing from overseas represents a fantastic option for many small businesses to dramatically reduce their costs or gain access to alternative material options and service providers. Jennifer Shin, founder and principal consultant of 8 Path Solutions, LLC, offers insight into important issues for small businesses to consider before embarking on importing raw materials or finished goods. Careful consideration and planning for product quality, delivery responsibilities and timing of payments may help you avoid costly oversights. Use Jennifer’s insightful blog post as a “starting point to gauge whether the risk of using overseas suppliers is too high for your business and guide you in developing a plan to minimize your risks if buying overseas.”

EXPORTING

Opening up your customer base to include international clientele could represent a huge new growth opportunity for your enterprise. The U.S. government estimates two-thirds of the world’s purchasing power are in foreign countries. According to former Commerce Secretary Gary Locke (now the current US Ambassador to China), “So much of what America makes is in great demand. Small and midsize companies’ growth potential is outside the U.S.” Latin Business Today shares tips for increasing your revenues and profits through exporting. Did you know that American-made food products are often thought of in Asia as more “organic” and “safer” than Asian-made products? Read on to learn more about how to take advantage of differing perceptions and economic conditions around the world.

Perhaps your next big customer or new supplier relationship is right down the street, or perhaps they live halfway across the world. With technology at our fingertips, there’s no reason to dismiss the opportunities for small business abroad. Take advantage of all these resources SCORE has to offer to help you consider the international route. And connect with a free SCORE mentor who has the experience of not only working internationally but aiding small businesses in their expansion.

About the Author:

Bridget Weston Pollack

Guest Blogger

Bridget Weston Pollack is the Vice President of Marketing and Communications at the SCORE Association. She is responsible for all branding, marketing, PR, and communication efforts. She focuses on implementing marketing plans and strategies to facilitate the growth of SCORE’s mentoring and trainings services. She collaborates with SCORE volunteers and develops SCORE’s online marketing strategy.

Comments:

I think it's important to note that expansion is very dangerous if the small business isn't on good footing to begin with. It can be pretty hard for a struggling business to survive if it attempts to expand into the international realm too quickly.
I'm glad you have let others know that it is of utmost importance to consider international expansion. Hope with this helpful tutorial I can manage my business successfully.
Excellent advice. Choose a business card made of quality paper stock and designed to impress your customers because your business card is a reflection of your business.
For sellers that are not selling overseas, you are overlooking billions of potential clients.
Expanding overseas can seem very daunting because of the uncertainties that come with doing business outside of the country.
I think this is time of globalization and it is very easy to search and connect the customers world wide. So why should we think locally. (sorry i don't speak English)
Although we've tried to ignore the international market, the nature of our business means that many countries are interested in the hard-to-find products we rent (and sell) because they can't get that quality where they live. This is why several years ago we worked with our local Chamber of Commerce to develop the ability to ship overseas with the myriads of it's complicated and confusing regulations.
Hi Bridgetwpollack, Yes even if you have a small business you have right to dreaming big. Definitely you may think International expansion of your small business. This is time of globalization and it is very easy to search and connect the customers world wide. So why should we think locally. Now a day no limit so fly...fly..fly.
The point listed here regarding the advantage small businesses have when it comes to building strong relationships is spot on. Another point to add is that with the current globalization of the marketplace, companies with digital components especially have ample benefit to gain from international expansion.
Yes it is the time for small businesses to consider themselves on getting international through import & exporting ways, which not only bring good revenue to the country but also prospers the business to do well. Then Why to limit oneself to one certain area, when one can actually grow to the level that no one expects.

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