You don’t have to be a Fortune 500 company to expand your business globally! With the numerous resources and methods available on the internet, expanding into the international marketplace may be easier than you realize. If you’re like most small business owners, you’ve entertained visions of running a successful company that meets increasing customer demand for your product or service.
Maybe you’ve dreamed of regional, national or international expansion that would garner huge profits. That this is a typical entrepreneur’s dream is not surprising. What may shock you is that only four percent of American businesses export their products and services around the world. That translates to about 230,000 companies that do business overseas.
No doubt, the percentage is low compared to other countries because many small and midsize companies don’t seriously consider international trade for the following reasons:
* They are doing well domestically and don’t see a need to market overseas.
* They don’t know the economic and political climates, the culture or the language in other countries.
* They assume that international transactions are too risky.
Now, these are all valid concerns and if you share any of them, you may be surprised to know that you can find everything you need to enter the inter-national marketplace from the U.S. government – including support. The key is making sure you do your homework beforehand.
Here are five global marketing tips that will help you determine if going global is right for you and your company.
Tip: Utilize Government Resources to Identify Opportunities and Support Tools
Many small businesses in developed and emerging markets are constantly looking to partner and do business with American companies. There are many U.S. government resources that SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) should utilize prior to exporting their goods and services to find numerous international trade opportunities in developed and emerging markets. You will find free access to these government websites all in one easy to use portal.
* Department of State
* Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC)
* Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank)
* U.S. Export Assistance Center
* U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service
* International Trade Administration,
* U.S. Department of Commerce
* Office of Intellectual Property Rights, U.S. Department of Commerce
* Caribbean-Central American Action (CCAA)
Tip: Know the Benefits of Emerging and Developed Markets
In emerging markets, there are privatization opportunities due to governments divesting from state-owned firms.
In addition, there are often high rates of growth. If a market doesn’t have what you’re selling, that could be an excellent opportunity to export new consumer goods to that market.
Even better, the greatest opportunities in emerging markets are with small businesses looking for partners for joint ventures to import and export.
Now naturally, developed markets in English-speaking countries, such as Canada, Mexico and England, are often recommended for SMEs just starting out. These particular countries fall under the North American Free Trade Agreement, so the rules and regulations help with strategy. Beginning in a developed country will be far more comfortable for you and your business.
Tip: Consider Becoming a Sub-Supplier to a Larger Company
In emerging markets, there is often a high demand for infrastructure projects, such as waste disposal and energy.
Think about it. The larger companies often come into these regions first for these jobs, but they need suppliers. These projects often last years and allow you to become part of the supply chain. It is also a good way to test the marketplace while mitigating your risk.
Identify the Risks:
The perception is that greater risk comes with international trade.
In actuality, the risks are just different. Government agencies and thousands of companies offer tools to help you, as well as propose other areas of concern that you may not have contemplated.
Know this: The more questions you ask your resources, the better prepared you are to market your products and services internationally.
Below are just a few areas you need to consider:
* Time and distance it takes to ship products
* Making sure that you’re going to be paid for the transaction
* The political climate
* Restrictive trade policies
* Calculating your sale properly so that you don’t lose on foreign exchange
* The local legal practices of a foreign country
Tip: Know Who Your Foreign Partners Are
It is important that you get to know your foreign customers or partners.
You will want to pre-qualify them by using international credit-report services through companies, such as Atradius or Dun & Bradstreet. You will also want to know if they have lawsuits against them in their country, including liens.
Tip: Use the U.S. Government Resources, Foreign Commercial Service, State Department and the Various Publications Available
Make it your business to be briefed on the local political and business community, which is fairly small and closed. In addition, you will want to know who your U.S. contacts are in that country, should you need their help.