Small Businesses Should Consider International Expansion
by bridgetwpollack, Contributor
- Created: November 14, 2013, 10:44 am
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.
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.”
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 is the Vice President of Marketing and Communications at the SCORE Association. In this role, Bridget is responsible for all branding, marketing, PR, and communication efforts. She focuses on implementing marketing plans and strategies for the organization to facilitate the growth of SCORE’s mentoring and trainings services. She collaborates with SCORE volunteers to develop channel marketing strategies and media / PSA efforts in order to acquire new clients and volunteers. Bridget develops SCORE’s online marketing strategy in order to increase clients’ consumption of SCORE services (mentoring and training). Finally, she continues to enhance and manage SCORE’s public brand and image through the development of promotional materials. Prior to SCORE, Bridget was at Mid-Atlantic Control Systems in Rockville, Maryland as Marketing Manager. There she created and implemented the company’s business-to-business marketing strategies, including redesigning a web site, developing marketing collateral and forming relationships with vertical market partners. Bridget has worked as a Marketing Coordinator at Temple University Health Systems in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where she focused on marketing Temple Heart & Lung Center as a center of excellence in the Philadelphia region. Bridget has her Master’s of Business Administration from Temple University and a Bachelor’s of Science in Economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Outside of work, she coaches second grade girls soccer for Arlington County. She currently resides in Arlington, Virginia with her husband Rick.
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