Tag Archive for 'Trade'

How to connect with global prospects – and get paid

In case you haven’t heard, the seven billionth Earthling was born recently.

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.

Export-Import Bank

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.

Is China a duck or a gorilla, and should Small Business USA care?

The cartoon character Baby Huey is a duck whose gigantic size is so out of proportion to other ducks that, combined with his clumsiness, he often creates chaos wherever he goes. He’s a lovable creature but also, sometimes a problem.

Here in the real world, planet Earth has a kind of Baby Huey – China. Like the duck, in most ways, China is out of proportion to its peers. For example, one out of every five Earthlings is Chinese. Its middle class is the size of the entire U.S. population. China has more gifted students than the U.S. has students and more Internet users than the U.S. has people. And while China’s GDP is about 20% of the U.S. economy, it produces carbon emissions comparable to the U.S. carbon footprint.

With its economy growing at an astounding rate of 9% to 10% annually for some time, much of the chaos China created can be attributed to growing pains. Externally, some of that pain has been visited on China’s global marketplace competitors. But one man’s chaos is another man’s candy: To global consumers, China is more lovable because the low cost, high quality products it typically delivers has increased their standard of living.

The China expert in my Brain Trust is Ted Fishman, author of China, Inc. Based on what Ted has told us in previous visits, this Baby Huey is likely to transform into another kind of animated character, the proverbial 800 pound gorilla (my metaphors, not his). And as the duck morphs into the ape, Ted predicts the day will come when China will not just influence global trade, it will establish the rules.

Recently, Ted joined me again on my small business radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, to talk about how China is doing in the global recession. One of the things he reported was that, as a result of the economic slowdown, “tens of thousands of Chinese manufacturing plants have closed and millions of workers have been laid off.”

We may soon find out whether China is an infantile, overweight duck whimpering with a stomachache, or a gorilla with a dangerous condition that puts itself and others in peril. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear this China expert share his thoughts on this important issue. And, as always, be sure to leave a comment.

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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