Thinking about entering the exporting world can sound like a daunting task to many small business professionals and executives. However, many do not realize the substantial number of resources and information out there such as guides, checklists, tip sheets, on-call trade specialists, online classes, etc., that can help jump start your small business exports and help mitigate the risk at the same time. We’ve included 6 steps below to help you prepare:
Step 1: Register on Export.gov and take the Free Export Readiness Self-Assessment
If senior management has given you the green light to explore exporting, then don’t hesitate because there are many resources and programs to help you navigate through this world. First, create an account on export.gov and complete the self-assessment to see if your business is ready to export in the short-term!
Step 2: Training and Counseling
Several federal agencies are on hand to support your small business as you begin to look for opportunities abroad. The Small Business Administration has many export loan programs that provide your small business with access to capital in order to fulfill export orders. To get more information on these programs, they offer free in-person consulting at U.S Export Assistance Centers(USEAC) around the country. In addition, the U.S. Commercial Service (under the Department of Commerce) also has programs available such as the Gold Key Service to help you find markets abroad that are in demand for your product or service. They provide matchmaking services with potential foreign sales reps, distributors or buyers abroad based on their existing relationships with these contacts.
Step 3: Create an Export Business Plan
Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) can help you put an export business plan in place. Creating this type of plan is crucial in defining your company’s’ capabilities, goals and commitment when going abroad. Setting milestones in plan will help you achieve success faster and your local SBDC office can help get you started.
Step 4: Conduct Market Research
The International Trade Administration (ITA) has a list of Top Market Reportsbased on each industry. Each of these guides is used to explain the latest trends, challenges and opportunities within each industry and which countries could be potential targets. In addition, the Trade Stats Express tool is used for researching your product’s potential in markets around the world based on the latest statistics and common best practices in each country.
Step 5: Find Buyers
Speak to your local USEAC, local U.S. Commercial Service or local State trade office to find out the latest trade shows and trade missions going on in your industry. These events are vital when trying to meet foreign delegates, buyers and distributors who have already been vetted. Another idea would be to speak to your local industry trade organization to find if they have any international resources your small business can tap into.
Step 6: Investigate Financing Your Small Business Exports
The Export-Import Bank provides trade financing solutions and other governmental institutions such as the Small Business Administration (SBA) provide financing as mentioned above. These types of solutions and resources will help finance your international transactions and export operations program while mitigating the risk in case your foreign buyer defaults.
- Contact an EXIM Bank regional finance center near you