The First Steps In Preparing Your Small Business For The Export/Import Markets


America’s small business exports have increased 80 percent since 2003. They now account for $541 billion in revenue for the economy, and with the SBA recently awarding $19 million to small business expansion plans, there has never been a better time to explore adding exporting as a way to expand your business. Getting started in exporting can be a great way to explore new global avenues for your business and its sales. The only problem is, many small business owners don’t know where to start when it comes to exporting.

Have A Well-Researched International Business Plan

Before a business can reap the benefits of international trade, it must first design a comprehensive roadmap of how to get there. The business goals and tactics you have adopted for your local operations will not translate perfectly to the international market, so small businesses need to draft an international business plan if they plan on importing or exporting goods. A good place to start is to identify the business goals that are fueling your move to global trading. Is it the next step in your business development plan? Are you looking to expand markets? 

A good international business plan should also include reliable research on the markets you plan on trading in. International markets all have their own shipping regulations for exports and imports. For instance, businesses importing merchandise into the U.S. are required to have a customs bond if shipments contain goods subjected to government regulations or valued above $2,500. While gathering your market research, it also helps to create a database of the additional resources you may need, such as the additional funding needed to cover surety duties and taxes, additional employees, and an expanded business website for international trade.

Reach Out For Advice On Your Business’ Export Readiness And Buyers

To succeed in the international trade market, small businesses need to locate overseas business opportunities like international buyers and suppliers. The good news is that there are now great resources to help you with this like the U.S. Trade and Development Agency and the U.S. Department of Commerce Advocacy Center. You may also be required to apply for an Export Control Classification Number (ECCN) or an exporting license for particular commercial items.

Make Room In Your Budget For The Added Overhead Charges

Expanding your business for international trade also comes with expanding financial obligations. There will be additional shipping costs like trade tariffs, customs bonds, and expanded shipping insurance. On the backend of the business, small business owners may also need to spend more on redesigning their website for international commerce, or expand their shipping team to keep up with exports or imports. Before embarking on international trade, make sure your business budget is liquid enough to handle the additional expenditure without leaving your business exposed to cash flow issues.

The global opportunities that come with trading internationally can open productive doors for your small business. But, you need to make sure it’s the right time to expand your business to the export/import market. Although it comes with plenty of rewards, it also has significant risks. Taking the time to properly prepare your business before taking that step is the best way to ease the transition.

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