According to data compiled by the U.S. Small Business Administration, about 96 percent of consumers live (and buy) outside of the United States. If you’re a small business owner looking for ways to expand into new markets, stabilize a seasonal business, or explore new supply sources, the international marketplace has enormous potential. Is it easy to go global? Well, like learning math when you were a kid, or a foreign language when you were in college, or the vocabulary of finance when you were starting your small business, expanding into the global marketplace has its challenges. The bad news is that there’s a learning curve. The good news is that there are more tools to help you prepare to deal with international customers and suppliers than ever before.
Being a small company may be more of an advantage than you realize, too. When you contemplate dealing with foreign clients or suppliers, it might seem like a tangled web of nations, languages, currencies and laws. Often, though, it comes down to having a knack for developing a rapport with people who look and sound different from you but want what you want: professional and mutually beneficial business ties. Sometimes small businesses are actually in a better position to cultivate and nurture relationships with foreign companies than large conglomerates. It’s another example of smaller businesses being leaner, faster, and more responsive.
Finding out More About the Global Marketplace
Organizations like SCORE (mentors to small business) and the SBA (U.S. Small Business Administration) offer comprehensive information to help small business owners understand the ins-and-outs of working with off-shore suppliers and customers. Discovering whether you should trademark your logo (yes), and finding answers to other questions about how to address the global marketplace isn’t as difficult as you may think. Should you start now? The answer is a definite yes. The sooner you recognize what’s involved, the better you can strategize your approach to domestic challenges and position your company to tackle global ones. The look of your logo, the plan for your website, and even the name of your company could change depending on what you discover.
The SPA has a free, customizable Export Business Planner tool to help get you started. The SPA also has an updated list of lenders that participate in SBA Export Loan Programs. Visit the link above for these and other tools that will help you discover more about the global marketplace:
- Importing or Exporting Specific Products
- Understanding Trade Agreements
- Express Factsheet for Small Business
Taking the time to learn more costs you nothing and may start you on a new and lucrative path.