Small businesses looking to increase sales and profit, reduce dependence on the domestic market and stabilize seasonal fluctuations should consider exporting. Consider these facts:
- Nearly 96 percent of consumers live outside the U.S.
Two-thirds of the world’s purchasing power is in foreign countries.
Here are six steps to help you begin exporting:
Step 1: Register on Export.gov and take the Free Export Readiness Self-Assessment
Step 2: Training and Counseling
The federal government offers free in-person counseling services to help small businesses obtain export financing and locate business opportunities overseas.
Located in major metropolitan areas throughout the U.S., these centers provide small and medium-sized businesses with local, personalized export assistance by professionals from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Export-Import Bank and other public and private organizations.
The U.S. Commercial Service provides a network of export and industry specialists located in over 100 U.S. cities and 80 countries. These professionals provide free counseling and a variety of services to assist small and midsized U.S. business export efforts.
The U.S. Trade and Development Agency provides this database of companies and individuals providing fee-based consulting services to small businesses interested in importing and exporting.
Take our online training course on exporting to help determine if exporting, as a business strategy, makes sense for your small business and whether the basic ingredients for export readiness are in-place.
Step 3: Create an Export Business Plan
Creating an export business plan is important for defining your company’s present status, internal goals and commitment. You learn how to develop an export plan by assembling facts, identifying constraints and setting specific goals and objectives as milestones to success.
Step 4: Conduct Market Research
Use market research to learn your product’s potential in a given market, where the best prospects exist for success, and common business practices. The Market Research Library is the U.S. government’s repository of the latest information prepared by commercial and economic experts in U.S. embassies worldwide. Trade Stats Express is a powerful tool for identifying target markets.
Step 5: Find Buyers
Federal, state and local governments are continually organizing highly focused export events directly putting U.S. sellers and potential foreign buyers in direct contact. Opportunities range from meeting foreign buyer delegations at select U.S. trade shows to signing up for a foreign trade mission or trade show overseas.
Step 6: Investigate Financing Your Small Business Exports, Foreign Investment or Projects
Become familiar with SBA’s export loan programs and other federal government financing, insurance and grant programs to help your company finance its transactions and assist in carrying your export operations. These resources help small businesses ensure foreign payment and manage or remove risk from the equation for both the business and its bank.