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Going Global: A Virtual Toolkit for Small Businesses

April 29, 2016

Ashley Zuelke is the Senior Advisor for Export Policy, Promotion and Strategy at the International Trade Administration.  

World Trade Month logoIn recognition of World Trade Month in May, communities across the country will focus on the importance of trade and its ongoing contribution to U.S. economic and job growth. The first week of May recognizes National Small Business Week, a fitting start to the month given the role of America’s small and medium-sized business which fuel our economy. These businesses make up the vast majority of U.S. exporters and an increasing share of the value of U.S. exports.

For many small U.S. companies, however, the path to expanding globally requires a large time investment and management commitment. Many firms are not sure where to begin, who to talk to, or how to navigate available resources. As a part of the National Export Initiative/NEXT and the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee, U.S. government agencies are committed to helping businesses tackle these challenges, and have produced a streamlined guide of federal export resources. The tools and resources we provide help answer questions regarding how to:

  1. Identify markets through independent research
  1. Assess markets of interest
  • Country Commercial Guides provide market intelligence and guidance on doing business in specific markets around the world.
  • StopFakes.gov and its Online Training Module is a good starting point for learning how to protect your Intellectual Property (IP) in markets of interest.
  • Talk to an expert:
  1. Make Connections
  • The U.S. Commercial Service can also help with:
    • Conducting background checks on potential buyers and distributors.
    • Connecting your business with pre-screened potential overseas partners.
    • Promoting your product or service to prospective buyers at trade events worldwide.
    • Meeting with international industry and government decision makers in your target market(s).
    • Navigating cultural differences.
  • Exhibit at U.S. trade shows: ITA recruits and vets foreign buyer delegations for certain shows.
  • Showcase at an overseas trade show in U.S. pavilions: Go to export.gov and search events.
  • See if your state is an awardee of the State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) matching-fund awards from the Small Business Administration. State awardees administer STEP funds to help small businesses enter and succeed in the global marketplace.
  1. Take Advantage of Financing and Insurance
  1. Navigate mechanics

    Basic Guide to Exporting Cover

    Download “A Basic Guide to Exporting” Now!

  • Making international sales online? Learn about eCommerce mechanics.
  • The U.S. Commercial Service can also help with:
    • Understanding export documentation requirements and import regulations of foreign markets.
    • Navigating U.S. government export controls, compliance, and trade financing options.
    • Overcoming trade obstacles to successfully enter international markets.
  • Logistics resources and guidance: http://www.export.gov/logistics
  • When you export any good valued at over $2,500 (or requiring a license), you must submit information on the shipment to the Automated Export System (AES). Get help on filing AES, classifying merchandise, regulations and trade data by calling 1-800-549-0595. More information available on the Global Reach blog.
  • Screen potential buyers and partners to make sure you can do business with them and that they are not on one of the U.S. government denied parties or export control lists.

All of this information and more is available through “A Basic Guide to Exporting.” SBA also has an online tool to help you develop your Export Business Plan.

Exporting can be an important way to grow your business and your bottom line. These available tools are at your disposal to help you succeed in the global marketplace.

For more information on U.S. government export programs and services, visit www.export.gov.

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