Posts Tagged ‘Basic Guide to Exporting’

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Four Questions to Ask Before Your Business Looks Overseas

May 21, 2014

Business people closing the deal by shaking hands.   [url=http://www.istockphoto.com/search/lightbox/9786738][img]http://dl.dropbox.com/u/40117171/group.jpg[/img][/url]  [url=http://www.istockphoto.com/search/lightbox/9786622][img]http://dl.dropbox.com/u/40117171/business.jpg[/img][/url]Ken Mouradian is the Director of the International Trade Administration’s Orlando Export Assistance Center.

I work with a lot of small businesses looking to begin exporting. It’s not uncommon for me to be asked, “How do you know if a company is export ready?”

The more relevant question is, “How does a company know that it’s export ready?” That’s a tricky one! For me, there are four main questions a company has to answer before it knows it’s export-ready:

  1. What’s your goal? It’s important to understand what you want to get out of exporting. Do you want to soften sales cycles? Do you want to diversify risk? Do you want to grow sales or keep production facilities busy?There are a variety of potential objectives and there may be more than one driver behind your interest in export. It’s important to be clear about the objective that is most important, though, and avoid objectives that are unrealistic or unattainable.
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  3. Do you have the resources? Drilling down a bit, you need to know the resources necessary to achieve your most important objective. When it comes to resource constraints, these are the big three:

    • Management and Personnel: Can management devote the necessary time and manpower to support global business?
    • Production Capacity: Can your business meet an increase in demand?
    • Financial Resources: You don’t necessarily have to have money in the bank, but you do need to be bankable.

     

  4. Have you done your research? You really need to do some evaluation here – both about your company and your target markets. You need to know your competitive advantage and whether it’s something global consumers will value. You have to know your buyer’s profile and how buyers will find you and your products. You also need to know how much risk you are willing to take. There is no right export market but there are a lot of export markets that may be wrong for your company. Following the herd can lead you over the cliff!
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  6. Are you committed? If you’ve read this far, you probably have the final thing I look for in determining export readiness: commitment. Export isn’t any more complicated than any other line of business. However, export requires compliance with U.S. and foreign government regulation, observance of foreign cultural and business norms, a willingness to follow and anticipate current events, and the flexibility to roll with the punches. Export isn’t for everyone, but with the right planning and support, there’s no reason that export has to be wrong for you.

If you know the answers to the above questions and you feel ready to get started exporting, it might be time for you to visit your nearest Export Assistance Center. If not, you might want to talk to your local Small Business Development Center.

If you need a little more information, our Basic Guide to Exporting is a great resource to help you evaluate your export readiness.

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College Teachers Take Export 101

October 25, 2013

This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

Doug Barry is a Senior International Trade Specialist in the International Trade Administration’s Global Knowledge Center. 

Business instructors from community colleges in 18 states attended MSU's business education program in June 2013.

Business instructors from community colleges in 18 states attended MSU’s most recent business education program in June 2013.

Educators at Michigan State University are leading a program to help community colleges increase their coverage of international business.

MSU’s International Business Center (CIBER) is bringing community college business instructors back to school to help them learn the best ways to develop new classes or expand on the subject.

The International Trade Administration’s (ITA) Commercial Service is proud to partner on the initiative, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Education.

CIBER uses ITA’s Basic Guide to Exporting to teach these instructors the basics of international business. An accompanying online portion provides slide shows and narratives that augment the text.

These tools aim to help teachers become comfortable with an important topic – doing business overseas – and give them a starting point for developing their own courses.

Community colleges may be overlooked in international business education, but these schools are great tools for helping drive export success.

“A lot of small business leaders seek additional skills by attending night classes at their local college,” said Thomas Hult, director of the CIBER program at Michigan State. The skills developed at community colleges can translate to success in the global marketplace.

Studies show international business is becoming a more common subject in community colleges. About 51 percent of community colleges offered courses in international business in 2008; four years later, it was 81 percent.

The course followed the International Trade Administration's Basic Guide to Exporting, which covers everything from global marketing plans to international business travel.

The course followed the International Trade Administration’s Basic Guide to Exporting, which covers everything from global marketing plans to international business travel.

Diane Hargens of Western Iowa Tech Community College is sharing the lessons she learned at an event with her faculty colleagues.

“I will be showing them the resources that we talked about and asking each of them to incorporate international concepts into their classes,” she said.

Partnerships like these help ITA inform more business leaders about the process and benefits of exporting.

You can learn more about the CIBER program from Michigan State’s Broad School. Students interested in attending community college can find information at the Department of Education’s Office of Vocational and Adult Education.

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