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Know Before You Go: Dispelling 7 Exporting Myths

Know Before You Go: Dispelling 7 Exporting Myths

By Peter J. Cazamias, SBA Official
Published: May 15, 2017

We get it: the idea of exporting can be intimidating. From language and cultural differences to finance and technical concerns, going global is a challenge. However, it also can be extremely rewarding and profitable. In fact, small businesses engaged in exporting on average stay in business longer, grow sales faster, and support more jobs than their non-exporting counterparts. One out of every five American jobs is tied to exports. These export-related jobs typically pay up to 18 percent more than non-export related jobs.        

So, if you are asking yourself “why export?” perhaps you should instead ask yourself “why not?”

Myth #1: Exporting is only for large companies.

Fact: While large firms do account for the largest dollar value of exports; small firms account for the largest number of exporters (97 percent of all exporters). With 95 percent of the world’s consumers living outside of the United States, selling internationally should be a key component of any American small business’ growth strategy.

Myth #2: You need to be fluent in one or more foreign languages to export.

Fact: English effectively serves as the default business language around the world. While language capability is a plus, it is far from essential. Nevertheless, if needed, the U.S.  Department of Commerce’s Foreign and Commercial Service may be able to arrange interpreters for small businesses when traveling abroad. In addition, the SBA’s State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) can provide funds to pay for translation services. Visit the STEP website to learn more.

Myth #3: With such a strong domestic market, I don’t need to export.

Fact: More than 75 percent of the world’s purchasing power is located outside of the United States. Acquiring overseas customers allows you to diversify your customer base and opens up new revenue streams. This gives your business a competitive advantage over domestic competition and alleviates the leverage that a concentrated domestic customer base may have over your business decisions.  

Moreover, much of your overseas-based competition is increasing their global market share, and almost certainly looking at the U.S. market. Meeting your competition in their market allows you to compete with foreign companies on an equal footing.

Myth #4: Only tangible projects can be exported.

Fact: Service exports are a fast-growing and profitable endeavor. In fact, U.S. service exports more than doubled in the last decade, increasing from $373 billion in 2006 to $752 billion in 2016. Of equal importance, the U.S. remains extremely competitive in services, maintaining a $249 billion trade surplus over its collective trading partners.

Myth #5: Obtaining licensing requirements for exporting is not worth the effort.

Fact: Most products do not need a validated export license. Exporters simply indicate “NLR” for “no license required” when filing a shipment in the Automated Export Systems. An export license is needed only when exporting certain restricted commodities, like high-tech goods or defense-related items, or when shipping to a country currently under U.S. trade restrictions. Visit the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security website to learn more.

Myth #6: It’s difficult to get export financing.

Fact: The U.S. government offers several opportunities for financing and reducing the risk of export sales. The SBA has made it a priority to help small business exporters by providing a number of loan programs specifically designed to help develop or expand export activities. To find out more, visit the SBA’s Exporting website.

Myth #7: Companies interested in exporting have to “go it alone” to learn how.

Fact: This simply is not true. A vast array of services and tools is available, from financing and technical training to one-on-one counseling. Start by exploring these resources—Business USA and Export.Gov—to see if going global is the right path for you.

There is a world of opportunity waiting for you!  The time to start is now.



About the Author:

Peter J. Cazamias
Peter J. Cazamias

SBA Official

Peter J. Cazamias serves as the Associate Administrator for SBA's Office of International Trade.