This is the first in a two-part series on Exporting.
It may or may not have been in your initial business plan or model, but your product has had such appeal that it may be time to take the next step and look to export. You may have a niche product which may work well in other countries, or you are just looking for new revenue streams outside of your current sales flow. The first step is to see if you are ready to meet the demands of international trade. It can be both quite exciting and daunting. The Small Business Administration shows that over 95 percent of the world’s population lives outside of the United States. That alone would make you at least think about taking the next step to see if your business is export ready.
The life expectancy of a small business will increase in a global market where additional profits can lead to domestic economic growth and additional employment. It is critical for small U.S. businesses to think globally. You may have already discovered that your company is competing internationally because foreign-owned companies are competing with you in your home markets. The line between domestic and international markets is becoming increasingly blurred. The world is a different place today than it was for the entrepreneur in the past. New technologies, advanced communications and improved travel and delivery options are making the world smaller. Today, via the Internet, we can communicate across the globe in an instant. We have access to information and markets all over the world, making it easier to identify new opportunities and increase sales in foreign markets.
While it is true that there is a large market beyond our borders, you must be honest with yourself and determine whether your business is suitable and ready to expand abroad. This step is not as hard as you think. The question should never arise if your business is failing to grow domestically. Unless your business plan is to target international markets, then not selling in the U.S. means exporting should be a no-go. The SBA and the Foreign Agriculture Service has put together a list of questions that you should answer before taking the step to export.
- Does your company have products and services that are successfully sold in domestic markets?
- Why will your products be successful in international markets?
- Do you have the commitment, persistence and financial resources to actively support the marketing of your products in targeted international markets?
Basic and straightforward questions like these can prevent you from taking the wrong step into exporting, or solidify your reasoning for going abroad. Success in business often depends on how well you prepare yourself and your business, which you are fully aware of. If you are already in business, you know things just don’t fall into place, without proper research and planning. The same goes for attacking international markets. It is no different in the world of exporting. To successfully penetrate international markets, you need to understand them. There are many ways you can research global markets. Part two of our series will look at this and other areas of how to export successfully.