When it comes to exporting, there’s a disconnect in today’s business environment. Worldwide demand is growing — the global middle class will expand by up to 3 billion people over the next two decades. And today’s communication and transport networks make cross-border commerce easy for even small businesses.
And yet the U.S. Department of Commerce reports that less than 5 percent of U.S. companies sell goods overseas. What gives? Concerns over language and cultural differences? Check. Unfamiliarity with tariffs and government regulations? Yes. Uncertainty over choosing the best global markets, trading partners and distribution networks? Absolutely.
Want to move your business into the 5 percent that’s capitalizing on global opportunities? The following mix of resources can help you get started. The bonus: Many of the services listed here are free for U.S. businesses.
1. U.S. Commercial Service (USCS)
The USCS is the Department of Commerce’s trade promotion arm. Its mission it to help businesses get started with exporting or boost sales to new global markets. With that in mind, it offers a number of services — planning and strategy support, legal and regulatory advice, market intelligence reports and more. It also has a business matchmaking service that can help companies identify and market to potential trading partners.
Check it out at: www.trade.gov/cs.
Think of Export.gov as a one-stop portal for exporting information and services. It brings together export-focused information, tools, and services from multiple federal government agencies and programs. The offerings include details on the basics of exporting, interactive tools to help companies assess their readiness to sell overseas, and even advocacy and dispute resolution services. It also offers case studies of U.S. businesses that have overcome challenges to sell products in global markets.
Find more information at: www.export.gov.
3. Export University
Export University is a nonprofit organization that partners with the USCS to offer education and training programs around the U.S. Its courses feature a tiered approach that allows participants to select classes based on their level of experience. The courses start at the beginner level and progress to offerings for executives looking to fine-tune their understanding of global trade.
Find out more at: www.exportuniversity.com.
4. FedEx Know and GrowSM
FedEx Know and Grow also offers export education events at locations around the U.S. The program works with a variety of partners, including Export University and Exportech, a joint initiative of the USCS and the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership. The program offers close to 100 events, seminars and training sessions each year. Topics include finding viable markets, managing compliance and regulatory requirements, financing options, growth strategies and more. The program has provided training to more than 65,000 small business owners since its inception in 2009.