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Just One Place to Go to Learn the Basics of Exporting

September 9, 2011

With the recent rerelease of A Basic Guide to Exporting, the Department of Commerce’s indispensible how-to book for U.S. exporters has been rebooted. All businesses, but most especially small and medium-sized enterprises, will want to take a look.

by Doug Barry, a senior international trade specialist in the Trade Information Center.

A Basic Guide to Exporting, a critical element in the effort to increase U.S. exports, is being redeployed this September with a revised 10th edition. Drawing on the collective experiences of hundreds of trade specialists and the wisdom garnered over a publication history dating back to 1934, A Basic Guide to Exporting presents a succinct, self-contained course—a true “Exporting 101.”

A Learnable Process

Mary Ellen Sheets (left), founder and chief executive officer of Two Men and a Truck, is one of 17 business owners profiled in A Basic Guide to Exporting, which was recently updated and reprinted by the Department of Commerce. According to Sheets, the help made available to world-be exporters by the Commercial Service is invaluable. “It is a source of information, market research, and due diligence that we know we can depend on when doing business around the world.” (photo courtesy Two Men and a Truck International Inc.)

Mary Ellen Sheets (left), founder and chief executive officer of Two Men and a Truck, is one of 17 business owners profiled in A Basic Guide to Exporting, which was recently updated and reprinted by the Department of Commerce. According to Sheets, the help made available to would-be exporters by the Commercial Service is invaluable. “It is a source of information, market research, and due diligence that we know we can depend on when doing business around the world.” (photo courtesy Two Men and a Truck International Inc.)

The revised edition, like its predecessor,treats exporting as a learnable process for readers who carefully study its 17 chapters and their accompanying case studies, which detail the experiences of small business exporters. This approach has resonated with readers since the first appearance of the 10th edition in late 2008: all 20,000 copies of that first printing were either sold or distributed within 18 months.

This newly revised edition is timely, with the National Export Initiative (NEI) now in its second year. NEI, announced by President Barack Obama in January 2010, calls for doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014 and supporting millions of new jobs. So far, the U.S. economy has already responded by posting an 18 percent increase in exports in 2010 over 2009.

SME Focus

A Basic Guide to Exporting is particularly targeted at small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to help them develop a strategic approach to exporting rather than passively reacting to orders from overseas buyers that happen to find them. Many SMEs have products and services that appeal to international buyers. “There may be several hundred thousand of these companies,” said Susan Lusi, director of the International Trade Administration’s Trade Information Center, which manages the book’s sales strategies. “If we can get the book in the hands of these decisionmakers, we’ll see U.S. exports increase further.”

Corporate and Government Partners

Added to the distribution mix this time will be the ability to download the book from Google Books, which handles a number of titles published by the book’s distributor, the U.S. Government Printing Office. In addition, FedEx, one of the International Trade Administration’s strategic partners, will again distribute copies of A Basic Guide to Exporting to customers that it has identified as being ready to export to new country markets.

Another critical player will be the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), which will provide copies to more than 1,000 Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) as part of a larger effort to train business counselors in how to assist small businesses to export.

Under the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, a percentage of business counselors in the SBDCs must be certified in export counseling. This effort will be kicked off in September in San Diego, California, at the annual meeting of the Association of Small Business Development Centers. Specialists from the Department of Commerce will join with their colleagues from SBA to conduct training sessions that will lead to certification. Additional training opportunities will be available online through tutorials based on the book.

How to Obtain the Book

Copies of A Basic Guide to Exporting are available for purchase from the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO). The price is $22, including postage. Contact GPO toll free at 1-866-512-1800 or visit http://bookstore.gpo.gov/. Ask for stock number 003-009-00739-9.

The book is also available for purchase from bookstores and online retailers. In addition, the full text of A Basic Guide to Exporting will be made available online on the U.S. government’s export portal, Export.gov, at http://export.gov/basicguide/. Order forms and additional information about the book are also posted on this page.

Required Reading

The International Trade Administration will continue to offer a series of Webinars based on A Basic Guide to Exporting. Thus far in 2011, the Webinars have reached more than 8,000 business participants.

RELATED: College Teachers Return to School to Learn about Exporting

Yet another audience for the book is business faculties at universities and community colleges. One faculty member at a recent seminar on how to teach international business, which was sponsored by the business school at Michigan State University, said she had never thought to add an international dimension to her business-planning course. “I’m going to introduce export planning to this required course in the fall,” she promised. “And I’m going to use A Basic Guide to Exporting as a text.”

The TIC’s Lusi did not have exact figures on how many universities and colleges are using the book, but she guesses more than 100. “Our goal is to help create a culture of making things for export,” she explained. “U.S. companies have said loud and clear: ‘Tell us how to export and we will.’ To that end, A Basic Guide to Exporting is required reading.”

3 comments

  1. Thank you for announcing this. Even though intended for small to medium businesses, even micro businesses can benefit from this. I am personally aware of many of my colleagues currently doing international sales over the Internet.

    Chapter 11 is a must read especially for anyone already doing business online with a U.S. focus: “Going Online: E-Exporting Tools for Small Business”: This entirely new chapter provides a primer on how the Internet has extended the reach of business.” By the way, this chapter is available right now and among other things reminds us that global economy is booming on the Internet.

    I want to add that anyone doing business but not immediately familiar with exporting should go directly to export.gov to take advantage of the excellent information available.


  2. This information just what i was looking for sometime. Thank you for this great information.


  3. Great announcment, and an important consideration. Yes the economy is tuff right now but globally commerce is booming! – When you can market to the word its a game changer.



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