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Going Global: Is it Right For Your Small Business?

Jul 23, 2008
Have you been feeling the itch to send your small business global? Many are in your shoes--seeing the benefits of business expansion but also fearing the risk of taking products abroad. Although exporting your products may expand your business and bring higher sales, the task may seem daunting to a small business with fewer resources than a large company. But if you take your time and research the process, going global with your company may garner more rewards than costs.

To begin the international business process, look at potential foreign markets for your business. The U.S. Department of Commerce website can aid your investigation by giving information about foreign commerce. Look over the different markets and decide where your product would be received best. Also, think of the amount of merchandise you plan on sending to the overseas market. This number can change in the future, but you should start with an idea of whether or not you need to produce extra product or can simply internationalize a fraction of what you already are producing.

Next, test your product in the potential markets you found. Again, the U.S. government will come to your aid with opportunities to test-run your business with potential U.S. foreign partners. If you find your product is received well, start looking for ways to sell that product permanently in the overseas market.

There are generally two ways to sell in a foreign country. The first is to find a vendor in that country who would be interested in selling your product. You can create a partnership with this vendor, giving them a percentage of the profits. Doing business internationally in this manner is helpful because foreign vendors know how to market to the target culture. However, be sure to research the company thoroughly before making any lasting plans.

Another option for selling abroad is to find a broker or export management company to assist you. Both of these options would require a small commission in order to sell your product. However, such a commission is a small price to pay for the expertise found in such avenues. Also be sure to check out the legal requirements, cultural standards and appropriate pricing for the country in which you wish to sell in order to avoid future problems.

The cultural differences between your country and the foreign market you chose will make a big difference in business. For example, China is experiencing a booming economy and has become one of the top picks for exportation. It is important to note when doing business with a Chinese company that the personal relationship between yourself and the Chinese business is crucial. Showing long-term commitment in China as well as showing personal respect to your business customers and partners will bring you success. Take into account such cultural aspects before selling in any country.

Finally, find a reliable shipping company to export your products. Check the cost, time to ship and reliability of the shipper before committing. It may be helpful to ask the advice of other small businesses owners who decided to take their products abroad. Such companies will have experience with reliable shippers and may be able to refer you.

Once you've chosen a shipping company, make sure to take precautions when shipping your merchandise. First, be sure all items are packed securely as they will be changing hands multiple times in their journey to foreign lands. Second, mark all boxes clearly in your native tongue as well as that of the country to which the items are being shipped. This allows for less miscommunication during the travel. Third, insure your merchandise in order to protect it from any damage along the way.

Keep in mind when going global with your business that you should not expect immediate cash flow. It may take a few months or years to get the profit you desire. However, once you become accustomed to international business, you will find it to be truly rewarding.
About the Author
Melissa Mashtonio writes for Manta.com, the go-to site for researching company profiles. The site (http://www.manta.com) offers free research on more than 45 million companies in the U.S., Canada, Australia and the UK.
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