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Idea Exchange: Small Business Owner's Exporting Experiences

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Idea Exchange: Small Business Owner's Exporting Experiences

By JimD
Published: October 7, 2010 Updated: February 28, 2014

The National Export Initiative (NEI) is a multi-year effort to increase U.S. exports. Exporting is a great way to expand your business and take part in the global economy. In fact, companies that do business internationally grow faster and fail less often than companies that do not.

business.usa.gov/export has recently updated its website and Business.gov has updated the Export/Import section to provide small business owners with the resources to start exporting. We asked the community

Below is a summary of the small business owne's successes and challenge:

  • Shipping

    Moving products across the country can be difficult and it can get even more confusing and difficult shipping to another country. Choosing a reliable shipping company as well as the appropriate containers is essential for some small business owners.

    gretcyshaw had a problem with a container flooding and then had to airship the materials, which was expensive.

    MarkAse has a wine business and found it challenging to obtain a small-refrigerated shipping container. He found one that holds 16,000 bottles of wine, which is a huge amount.

    Time is another factor that the community memebers discussed. Trying to estimate shipping time and time to go through customs can be difficult. Unforeseen delays can easily arise at any part during the process. Community members cautioned that new exporters should make sure that you ship well in advance and inform your customers about any delays.

    business.usa.gov has information on Shipping Your Product Overseas including different methods, packing, labeling, and insuring your shipment.

  • Local Involvement

    Finding a local contact on the receiving end of your transaction can be beneficial for your business.

    naymarkd was having problems with the ethics of different countries. A foreign customs officer asked for a bribe to clear a legal container. Naymarkd did not pay this and his container was delayed for an entire week. He then collaborated with a local company to help. It has been more expensive, but he feels it is worth it because'locals get along better with locals'

    Local contacts not only help receive your product, but can also help sell your product. Finding those connections can be difficult. Taking a trip to the country and finding people that you can trust is important.

  • Payments and Billing

    Dealing with someone 10,000 miles away is difficult, but making sure that you collect is important. business.usa.gov lists the different methods of payments that are used with exports. When deciding what works best for your business, consider time frames, cash flow, and risk. If you send a lot of products on credit and the receiving business does not pay, it can be a long process to get back your losses.

  • Paperwork

    When exporting your products there is no way around the paperwork. Although this may seem like a lot of work, it is essential to make sure your container can get where it needs to go. When you ship a container or have large shipment, the paperwork get more complicated. Business.usa.gov/export has an extensive list of common export documents to help you get started.

    TShirtsNY shared tips about being able to start shipping internationally by using the documents available at his local Post Office.

Need Exporting Assistance?
Exporting can be very beneficial to your business. Understanding all aspects of exporting is difficult, but there is assistance available.

  • U.S. Export Assistance Centers
    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.
  • Contact a Trade Specialist Near You
    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.
  • USTDA Consultant Database for Small Businesses
    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.


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