Tag Archive for 'Department of Commerce'

Three new reasons to expand your market horizons

More than ever, 21st century small businesses have reasons and resources to expand opportunities beyond local markets, including international trade, and specifically exporting. Yet even though 97% of all U.S. exporters are small companies, only a fraction of that sector are exporters.

But there’s good news that should cause the number of small exporters to increase. The convergence of new technology, a global “new economy” culture more inclusive of small businesses, and believe it or not, help from the government, are making it easier for small firms to expand their market reach. But easier doesn’t mean effortless, inexpensive or justified, which are three of the key factors of any export strategy.

Let’s take a look at the possibilities of creating a trade strategy by getting help with those three factors, with emphasis on help from the government.

Effort
For a long time, exporting was the domain of those large firms that could afford to have international professionals on payroll or contract. The education and prospecting process alone was daunting enough to dampen the ardor of even the most determined prospective small exporter, let alone the actual execution of doing business abroad.

But today, it’s hard to imagine something with so much potential being as easy as walking into one of the 100+ U.S. Commercial Service offices (a Department of Commerce division) around the U.S. and asking them to help you begin the education and prospecting process. They have the staff, information and resources to get you started, and will help you along your export strategy journey. And any associated costs are minimal.

Expense
It wasn’t so long ago that someone had to physically travel to foreign markets, establish relationships with agents and customers, and then demonstrate the goods in-country. For most small businesses, those steps were financially prohibitive.

Today, that same Commercial Service office will help you find foreign prospects, coordinate introductions and demonstrations, and bring the parties together in the early stages of a relationship without prohibitive expense. It’s all done by video conference meetings in the Commercial Service office, between you and a prospect they likely helped you find. So by the time you make a significant investment, it will be spent a lot closer to fulfilling a sale. And you’ll consider any associated fees a bargain.

Justification
How do you justify developing an international strategy? Why spend time and resources trying to sell your stuff on the other side of the planet when customers are right next door? Consider these reasons:

  • More than 96% of the world’s consumers live outside the United States.
  • This year millions of Earthlings will have a smartphone for the first time who’ve never before been on the Internet or owned a computer. Don’t wait until some of them find you online to begin your international export preparation.
  • There are many examples of small businesses that minimized a downturn in the U.S. economy because their international strategy took up the slack.

New technology, new attitudes, new resources, and yes, help from the government, are bringing the world closer to your business’s door step. But you have to make the effort to meet the world halfway. Take your first step here: www.export.gov.

Write this on a rock … Education, expense, justification – check, check and check.

Connecting with global prospects and getting paid

This is the second of two articles on small businesses going global.

In the first article, I allowed that it can be exciting for business leaders to imagine a global prospect base of more than seven billion people. But for a small business to imagine an export strategy, it’s at once exciting and intimidating because of the three elemental global business questions, the first of which we focused on last time: Who are my global prospects? Now let’s focuses on the other two: How to connect with them and how to get paid.

The good news is that there are two government agencies standing by to answer both of these questions. Each one provides digital information, human assistance and global networks designed to help a small business maximize its opportunity to create and execute a successful export strategy.

The, “How do I connect with global prospect?” question can be answered by the U.S. Commercial Services, a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce. This should be your first stop for educationon finding and converting global prospects into customers.

When you consider all of their resources, the U.S. Commercial Service is a virtual one-stop shop for developing and executing a small business export strategy: a great website (Export.gov); a toll-free number (800-872-872) answered by a real person; over 100 offices around the U.S., plus dozens more around the globe you can walk right into and ask for help; and their book, A Basic Guide to Exporting, includes an excellent tutorial and several case studies.

All of that help is free, with the exception of the book and any direct expenses incurred on your behalf.

Export-Import Bank of the United States (ExIm.gov) can answer the “how do I get paid” question on many levels.

Part of the U.S. government, Ex-Im Bank will assist with the financial elements of your export sale. They will working with the banks on both sides of the transaction to coordinate funds transfers, provide loan guarantees, and even pre-delivery working capital for you and post-delivery financing for your customer.

For generations, big firms have owned the franchise on global business. But shifts in technology and demographics are making the global marketplace more compelling and feasible for small businesses.

Contact these two organizations and let them help you develop a global business strategy.

The global marketplace – and 7 billion prospects – are waiting for you.

I talked more about identifying your global prospects and growing your business through exporting on my radio show this week. Take a few minutes and click on one of the links below to listen or download.

Identifying prospects for your global business strategy

Connecting with global prospects and get paid

Check out more great SBA content HERE!

Small business, the Obama administration and IP

As we approach the second decade of the 21st century, it’s clear that the strength of the American economy will come more from our ability to create and sell intellectual property (IP) than the tangible things we were so known for in most of our history. And as globalization – efficiently transporting goods, services and financial assets around the world – continues apace, our IP is also being delivered away from American shores and, therefore, the protection of U.S. intellectual property laws.

Our trading partners around the world have their own IP laws that dictate how our property will be treated there, but unfortunately, those laws often don’t provide adequate protection and, frankly, our innovations can get ripped off. This is where our federal government comes in.

The U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) is the primary organization that negotiates our business relationships with other countries, including IP issues, and the leadership of that cabinet level department is changing. Barack Obama has chosen Bill Richardson to head up his DOC and since small businesses are creating more and more IP, and doing more and more international trade, this appointment bears watching. Richardson has an impressive resume as a governor and diplomat, but time will tell about his effectiveness as the head of the DOC.

Someone who will be watching the Richardson DOC is Dr. Mark Esper, with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Recently, Mike joined me on my small business radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, to talk about IP, trade issues and the Richardson selection. Take a few minutes to meet Mike and listen to our conversation. And of course, comments are always welcome.




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