For the global marketplace, seven billion prospects is exciting. But 96% of those folks live outside the U.S.
Once, small business growth meant expanding across town or the next county over. But new technologies and demographic shifts have made expanding outside America’s four walls increasingly compelling. It’s also produced three elemental global business questions: Who are my prospects, how do I connect with them, and how do I get paid? Let’s focus on the “Who” first, with these global stats from National Geographic, plus my editorializing.
- Nineteen percent of Earthlings are Chinese, 17% are Indian and 4% are American. By 2030, the first two will invert.
- In a historical shift, just over half of Earthlings are now urbanites. Remember, city folk use different stuff than their country cousins.
- Globally 40% of us work in services, 38% in agriculture and 22% in industry. This means different things to different industries, but it means something to all businesses.
- English is the international language of business, but is the first language of only 5% of global prospects. When doing business outside the U.S., be culturally sensitive and patient with the translation process.
- Breaking news: 82% of your global prospects are literate. If you can read and write you can improve your life, which explains the growth of the middle class in emerging markets. A growing global middle class means millions of new, affluent consumers each year.
- Computers are luxuries for most Earthlings, but mobile networks are exploding across the globe. Soon billions who never owned a computer or used the Internet will do both with a smart phone. What does your mobile strategy look like?
- For American small businesses, export opportunities abound in our own hemisphere without crossing an ocean, especially Canada, Mexico, Panama, Columbia and Chile, where trade agreements are in place. But keep an eye on the Trump trade tactics, part of which may manifest in tax reform.
The good news is there are two government agencies standing by to answer questions about your export strategy. 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.
U.S. Commercial Services
The, “How do I connect with global prospect?” question can be answered by this agency, and it should be your first stop for education on finding and converting global prospects into customers. It’s a virtual one-stop shop for developing and executing your export strategy: a great website (Export.gov); a toll-free number (800-872-8723) 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,” which includes an excellent tutorial and several case studies. It’s all free except for the book and any direct expenses they incur on your behalf.
This is where you get the “How do I get paid?” answer. Part of the U.S. government, Ex-Im Bank (exim.gov) will assist with the financial elements of your export sale. They’ll coordinate with the banks on both sides of the transaction to transfer funds, provide loan guarantees, and even pre-delivery working capital for you and post-delivery financing for your customer.
For generations, big firms owned the franchise on global business. But shifts in technology and demographics are making the global marketplace more compelling and feasible for small businesses. And for all the government agencies that gets in our way, these two will actually help you.
Write this on a rock … The global marketplace – and 7 billion prospects – are waiting for you.