Overseas Expansion Creates Growth Opportunities for Small Businesses

Growth focused small businesses often face the daunting challenge of expansion.  What’s even more difficult to navigate for the small business owner is expansion overseas.  If just the thought of building up your business on foreign soil gives you Montezuma’s Revenge, put down the Pepto-Bismol and relax.  It’s much easier to accomplish than you think, and there are a wealth of resources to help.

 The most current numbers available paint a VERY profitable picture for exporters.

In August 2013 the United States exported $189.2 billion in goods and services.  August’s exports are marginally lower than June’s all-time record high of $190.5 billion, according to data released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) of the U.S. Commerce Department.  Over the last twelve months, exports totaled $2.2 trillion.   That’s a 42.2 percent increase in the level of exports in roughly 4 years’ time.  Currently, exports are growing at an annualized rate of 10.1 percent when compared to 2009.  The numbers are truly staggering, and growth is not only sure and steady, but also vibrant.

During National Small Business Week this year, the U.S. Small Business Administration made “going global” a focus of many of its expert panels, seminars and live chats.  Some of the most asked questions, from how to take a business to the next level by selling overseas, to what’s needed to be successful in exporting, as well as what resources are available to help small business export, were addressed in detail.  Some of the highlights include:

*  Where to export: Make a list of where you’ve already had success, and then determine other places that market exists in regards to the GDP per capita, culture of the people, and what sort of products those people are looking for.   Check out industry association meetings and attend trade shows.

*  Network and find a Mentor: Not enough emphasis can be put on this very important part of establishing a viable export business.  Make a point to reach out to your local resources for expert help from SCORE and Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs). The skilled volunteers provide free counseling and guidance.

*  Have a Plan: Before you talk to any of these experts, make sure your business plan has all the i’s dotted and t’s crossed.   A record of your financial information should also accompany your plan.

An innovative, new alliance was just announced to help small and medium-sized businesses reach the 95% of the world’s customers who live overseas.  The Export-Import Bank of The United States (Ex-Im Bank) and FedEx have joined forces to give U.S. exporters better access to Ex-Im Bank products and services.  FedEx international customer representatives will provide information to clients about Ex-Im Bank’s abilities to protect against the risk of nonpayment and extending credit to buyers, eliminating the need for expensive letters of credit or cash-in-advance payments. Customers who want more information will be connected to Ex-Im Bank’s managers for trade finance counseling.  This alliance, say FedEx and Ex-IM Bank, will help businesses increase sales, create jobs, and succeed in international markets.

Helpful Links:
http://www.sba.gov/tools/sba-learning-center/training/take-your-business-global-introduction-exporting  SBA’s learning-center link to information on global exporting.

http://export.gov/ Export.gov offers information about trade shows, training, finances and more.

http://www.exim.gov/smallbusiness/learning-resources-and-events.cfm Export-Import Bank of the United States page dedicated to small business learning resources and events.

http://www.exim.gov/smallbusiness/smallbuscust/ Dedicated to small business customers; topics covered are Exploring Exporting, Initiating Exporting, Expanding Exporting and FAQ’s.

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