ARKSourceLink: Getting Started Exporting
Arguably the biggest sporting event in the world begins on Thursday with the first game of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Every four years, the best soccer players in the world put on their nation’s colors and represent their home countries in the competition. Today more so than ever, soccer, like business, is very global. Teams from different countries do different things well. The Brazilians are known for their showmanship and playing a beautiful game while the Dutch are very tactical and play a style known as “total football”.
The concept of different groups doing different things well is not new. It can also be applied to business. Depending upon a country’s workforce, natural resources and infrastructure, they will produce very different products at varying degrees of quality. As consumers, this is great for us because we have plenty to choose from. As business owners this also creates opportunity. With the emergence of e-commerce, businesses can now sell and ship their products around the world much easier than in the past.
Many small businesses don’t think they have the ability to export their products. Just figuring out where to get started often seems like a monumental task. There are quite a few resources out there that can help jump start exporting for your business.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers lots of great resources for helping get started. One is the Export Business Planner. This downloadable (the link is to a PDF) tool allows you to save and customize your work as you progress through the tool. The tool includes:
How to determine your export readiness
Training and counseling information
Worksheets for global market research
Financing information and options
Customizable export business plan and marketing plan templates
Another great resource offered by the SBA is a two-part blog series on exporting that helps guide small business owners through the initial question of whether or not to export and how to go about it. Part 1 addresses exporting basics that need to be considered. Things such as trade agreements, finding business opportunities, export controls and licenses, and how to export technology. Part 2 goes more in-depth on finding financing for exporting. There are several programs offered by the U.S. government to assist in exporting and details of each is given.
If you’re more of a hands-on learner, the SBA also offers an online course designed to introduce small business owners to the subject of exporting. The 30-minute course, titled “Take Your Business Global – An Introduction to Exporting” is intended to be a guide to small businesses to determine if exporting makes sense and whether the basic ingredients for export readiness are in place.
If you prefer talking with someone face-to-face, you can do that by finding your local U.S. Export Assistance Center. The Export Assistance Center’s offer a variety of services such as trade counseling, business matchmaking, and market intelligence. They also conduct seminars and workshops on specific exporting topics and issues. You can find more information about Arkansas’s Export Assistance Center at their website: http://www.export.gov/arkansas.
The decision on whether or not to use exporting as part of your business strategy is determined by several internal and external factors. When you don’t know something, (i.e. whether or not to export) doing research is always recommended. The resources above are great places to do that research. After gathering the facts and considering the options, you’ll be able to make an educated decision on whether or not exporting is right for you and your business.
Content contributed by Aaron Harris, ARKSourceLink. ARKSourceLink is a proud affiliate of U.S.SourceLink, America's largest resource network for entrepreneurs.