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Startup Global starts local

October 12, 2017

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By Tricia Van Orden, Deputy Director of the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee Secretariat

Philadelphia-area startups recently gathered at Temple University’s Fox School of Business for advice on going global with business. The Startup Global event, a partnership between the International Trade Administration (ITA) and the Global Innovation Forum, helps entrepreneurs and early-stage companies strategically plan for international business. Ninety-five percent of the world’s consumers live beyond the U.S. borders, and modern technology has made it easier than ever to reach them. International business expert and attorneys offered some important lessons:

1. Start with what you know and leverage others’ knowledge. Whether it’s tapping into big data from online platforms to gain market insights or scheduling a meeting with a business counselor at a local Small Business Development Center (SBDC) or U.S. Export Assistance Center (USEAC), you don’t have to do it all. A plethora of online tools and community resources are available to help startups and small business find success in international markets. The U.S. Government, and in many areas, State and local governments, offers free training and counseling to develop an international business plan and get started doing business globally. A great starting point is your local SBDC.

If your startup or small business has done business in one or two foreign markets and you’re interested in finding new opportunities and expanding sales, contact your local USEAC.

2. Know when to seek the counsel of a lawyer you trust. International business can be complicated, and you need to ensure your ideas, trademarks, and copyrights are protected and that you’re compliant with U.S. and international laws. Professional legal guidance will help you find the right path. Until you’re ready for that step, peruse the intellectual property information available on export.gov.  Another resource is the Export Legal Assistance Network, a network of attorneys who volunteer their time to provide an initial legal consultation free of charge to new exporters to assist with issues related to export licensing, taxation, tariffs, and intellectual property.

3. It’s never too late to go back to school.  Your campus days might be over, but local universities and community colleges often provide opportunities for business expansion. You might find your next partner or investor at networking event, and many schools offer international immersion programs that can broaden your global mindset and help you make connections in markets of interest. At many business schools, students team up with local companies to conduct market research and develop market entry strategies.  Companies interested in exporting can take advantage of these cooperative agreements and receive market research products either free of charge or for a very low fee.

If you are interested in hosting a Startup Global event in your city, please contact Pat Kirwan  from the Department of Commerce or Jake Colvin from the Global Innovation Forum.

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