Exporting and importing can open up a small business to great deal of opportunities. According to the Small Business Administration, nearly 96% of the world's consumers reside outside the U.S., that’s a pretty big percent of the market to leave untapped. Export can diversify a business’s revenue sources and extend sales potential while importing provides more supply and product selection at competitive prices. Here’s what every business needs to know before taking their business to the global market.
Like with any business ventures, it is important to have a strong plan in place in order to make exporting a successful aspect of your business. The U.S. SBA provides an export planner to help your business be prepared. There are also a number of government programs and resources to assist you such as the U.S. Trade and Development Agency and the U.S. Export Assistance Centers.
Exporting or importing certain products, such as agriculture, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, is regulated by federal government agencies. Before jumping in, make sure you are compliant with obtaining the proper licenses or permits.
Importing products is a great way to bring new products to U.S. consumers and good for your bottom line, but keeping track of the rules and regulations governing importing can be expensive and time consuming. There are assistance programs and resources including the Customs and Border Protection and the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America that help make the process less time consuming and costly for small businesses.
There are loans available through the U.S. SBA or SBA-approved banks to help finance your business' exporting efforts. The federal government has programs offering loans, insurance and grants for small businesses looking to begin or expand their exporting efforts so be sure to do your homework and find the program that best suits your business’ exporting objectives.
The U.S. has trade agreements with many countries that help reduce the cost and other barriers to importing or exporting. Before entering into agreements with foreign suppliers, check to see what policies have been put in place.
To give your business the best chance for success with exporting you must first assess how your business's readiness and potential by conducting market research to assess the best potential markets for your products. Reach out to potential buyers in those markets and investigate financing to help fund the additional costs for exporting.
Many entrepreneurs are looking to take their businesses global in an effort to increase their customer base and decrease their dependence on the domestic market. The Small Business Administration offers the following tips on exporting and importing.