The Internet has created a global marketplace that even small businesses can take advantage of. International marketing is well within reach for even the smallest of enterprises. Moreover, getting involved in international exporting vastly widens a small business’s prospects, as less than 4% of the consumers in the world are located in the U.S., and 66% of the world’s purchasing power is outside our borders. Is exporting right for your small business? How can you get involved?
Define Your Target Markets
Much like marketing to individuals domestically, figuring out which countries to export to requires that business owners figure out which countries their products have realistic chances of succeeding in. Priority should be given to nations that have good trade relations with the U.S., as they are likely to present far fewer barriers.
Whether or not the products intended for export will meet with strong demand can be researched by investigating the reception of similar products in those markets, and by paying attention to cultural preferences. The U.S. Department of Commerce offers a very useful tool for evaluating a product’s prospects abroad. It’s called TradeStats ExpressTM, and it’s free to use.
The trade tariffs should also be investigated in each country that a business intends to export to. Generally speaking, Canada, Mexico, most South American countries, and the UK and Western Europe are the easiest markets for small-business owners to get into, as they have free trade agreements and/or similar business cultures.
Draft an Export Business Plan
When creating a new business, creating a business plan is essential. Turning that business into an exporter is the same way. It requires plenty of advance planning in order to make efforts successful. The SBA’s free Export Business Planner walks small-business owners through the processes of creating an export business plan, honing international marketing, and financing export efforts. It’s an excellent resource for exporting newcomers.
Consult With the Experts
Some export businesses that fit your profile may be unwilling to share their experiences, but others will be happy to help. Small-business owners interested in exporting should attempt to network with other businesses who have been through similar experiences. These contacts can often be made via trade associations, local chambers of commerce, or a business’s network of partners. In addition, contacting the local SBA trade specialist can provide export-eager small-business owners with a wealth of assistance, helping them to explore their product’s export viability, applicable regulations, and potential distribution network.
Know Your Business Partners
Being separated by a great distance can make it difficult to verify the reliability and reputation of potential trade partners, but Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp. offers International Credit ReportsTM on businesses all over the world. These credit reports include risk assessments, verification of potential partners’ size and existence, and D&B credit ratings. This information can help small-business exporters make informed decisions with regard to their business partnerships abroad.
[Photo Credit: www.theguardian.com]