Less than 1% of the 26 million small firms in the U.S. are exporters, but the savvy entrepreneurs who do sell their goods to other countries have access to a business-boosting global marketplace.
With 96% of the world’s consumers living outside of the U.S. - representing two-thirds of the world’s purchasing power - what’s stopping you?
Larry Harding, president and CEO of High Street Partners, an Annapolis, Md.-based consultancy that helps small and medium-size firms navigate the world of exporting, says if you’ve got a market in the U.S. for your products or services, then there’s a bigger market for you outside U.S. borders.
He’s seen his clients expand into the United Kingdom, China and Japan, although the top trade areas for U.S. firms are with Canada and Mexico, he says. Brazil, Russia and India also offer “large and growing markets,” says Harding.
To get started, there’s a bevy of free resources available to entrepreneurs ready to explore the world of global trade and “it’s really easy,” according to Richard Ginsburg, a senior trade specialist with the Small Business Administration’s Office of International Trade.
He recommends that a business have a minimum of one year of successful business ownership behind it before taking the export plunge.
Ginsburg also advises an entrepreneur to make sure to create or modify a business plan to include the firm’s trade goals.
“It really depends on the stage of the business, its sophistication, knowledge or success of the business as they’re operating now as to how they can adapt their business plan to going global,” he says.
Don’t have a clue what to include in that new business plan? You’re not alone. Most small firms that export have less than 19 employees, according to Ginsburg, and they’re just trying to run and grow their business in these tough times. But don’t despair, help is on the way.
His office, in partnership with many other government agencies, offers free export seminars, workshops and counseling services across the nation for small firms.