Curt Cultice is a Senior Communications Specialist for the International Trade Administration’s U.S. Commercial Service.
Since May is World Trade Month, it’s only fitting that the U.S. Department of Commerce reiterate its commitment to helping companies—especially small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) —that are interested in exporting. Earlier today, we released the 11th edition of ‘A Basic Guide to Exporting’ which will help businesses navigate the avenues of trade.
U.S. companies, particularly SMEs that are new to exporting, as well as those looking to expand their current export sales, will find this fully revised and expanded publication an invaluable tool. With 96 percent of the world’s consumers outside of the United States, exporting holds excellent opportunities for U.S. businesses to expand market share, build competitiveness, and add to their bottom lines.
For many businesses, the export process can seem overwhelming and too difficult to pursue. This book dispels the myths that exporters need to be big, or that exporting needs to be complicated, making exporting more viable than ever for even the smallest businesses. In A Basic Guide to Exporting, first-time exporters will find information on topics including:
- Identifying markets for their products
- Writing an export plan
- Selling abroad through e-commerce
- Eliminating tariffs through Free Trade Agreements
- Financing export transactions
- Handling orders and shipments
- Finding free or low-cost export counseling
In addition to practical, “how to” advice, the publication includes case studies of successful exporters. Take for example, Dallas-based Avazzia, Inc., highlighted in Chapter 8: Preparing Your Product for Export. Founder and CEO Tim Smith, whose father taught him the basics of electronics as a youngster, applied his engineering expertise honed in high school to help the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) put a man on the moon. After leaving NASA, Smith created electronic devices that manage chronic and acute pain, and started his own company in 2004. The firm manufactures 11 varieties of therapy devices and 50 accessories, selling to markets in Canada, Malaysia, Korea, Singapore, United Kingdom, and India.
Today, Avazzia’s exports account for 20 percent of the company’s overall sales, and could well grow to 50 percent within two years. As its sales have grown, so have the number of employees, which now total 15. Along the way, the firm has benefitted from U.S. government export assistance dealing with quality and safety certification issues, and the business matchmaking services of the worldwide U.S. Commercial Service that helped the company connect with international partners. “Our sales generate increased cash flow, which helps us meet payroll; so you might say I’m bullish on our export potential,” said Tim Smith. To those companies interested in exporting, Smith advises them to, “Leverage your ongoing business experience, [because] you may have a greater skillset than you realize. If you’ve sold here in the United States, that’s a great asset to becoming a successful exporter.”
Smith is by no means the sole source of export encouragement you will find in the book. Read the chapters on export advice and the experiences of entrepreneurs who took on the challenge of selling internationally and never looked back. We hope you will be inspired to join their ranks.
This is part one in a series of four blogs. Next week, we will discuss what’s new in the 11th edition of A Basic Guide to Exporting, available at www.export.gov/basicguide, and soon in hardcopy at GPO Bookstores.