International Business May Be For You

It is a big world out there and your small business could find a way to capture some of the customers that are just waiting to hear about you and your products. Do your products or services lend themselves to "overseas" trade? If they do, then maybe it is time for you to find out how you can take advantage of all the opportunities, just waiting to be won.

International trade is one way to find new and exciting markets for your business and a way to expand and find new customers or suppliers. Over the years, I have worked with many businesses that have seen their sales skyrocket because of the new markets they have found in other countries. Some of the products they import have helped the business owner reduce costs, by doing away with the middleman.

There are a number of government programs to help the small business owner with export business. The Small Business Administration (SBA) has workshops and loan guarantees that can help you figure out how to get started and even finance your sales. There is also the Export Import Bank of the U.S. (EXIM Bank) which offers various direct loans to exporters. A large number of banks have International Banking departments that can help you get started too. Banks offer products like, commercial letters of credit, trade finance, foreign exchange and international wire transfers, which all can help you execute your foreign transactions. Most states, and many municipalities, have foreign trade offices to help facilitate trade with local business and foreign buyers and sellers. They sponsor trade missions to specific countries and workshops about international trade and other related events, to help build awareness of the State or City in which they are founded.

If you have any interest in this kind of business expansion, you should begin to ask questions of others who already have an overseas component to their business. Make a visit to your bank's international department to find out what they offer. The bank will also know what resources are available in your city, county or state. Get on the internet and do as much research as you can and then begin to speak to your sales team and suppliers to obtain further information and input.

Once you have obtained as much information as you can, develop a marketing plan to take your business to the world. If you want to export, find only one or two of the most promising countries and focus on those markets to begin with. Then expand as you find success and gain familiarity with the idiosyncrasies of doing business globally. You may find it fun and rewarding to expand your business outside your established market. Be prepared to travel, however. Like any customer you already have, most foreign business owners want to meet and greet their suppliers or customers. Most business people in the world operate very much as we do here in the USA. International business may not be for you, but it can be a fun challenge and very rewarding. Good luck.

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