Have you ever toyed with the idea of finding customers in countries outside of the United States, but were afraid to dip your toe in the water? Perhaps you didn’t know where to start. Or perhaps you’ve already started expanding outside the U.S. border, but have nightmares of losing money by not understanding all the requirements.
If so, then you will want to make Laurel Delaney’s new book a must read.
Exporting: The Definitive Guide To Selling Abroad Profitably  is hot off the presses as of December 2013.
Anything with the title of “definitive guide” is something I examine with a jaded eye. Why? Because all too often that title is overused. Too many times I’ve seen 650-word articles that the writers claim to be the “definitive guide” to something or other. Of course, they are nothing of the sort. Those deceptively-labeled efforts don’t live up to the promise, and only disappoint the reader.
Delaney’s book, however, doesn’t have that problem, I am happy to report. Exporting truly is a definitive guide.
Published by APress.com , a niche publisher of technical and professional books, at 550+ pages it gives a thorough overview of exporting today. It’s ideal for those who are launching a new exporting business or accelerating growth of a fledgling one.
Not Your Father’s Exporting Business
When you think of an exporting business, what pops into your mind? Perhaps it is a vision of heavy, old-style manufactured goods being piled on container ships to slowly sail to another country.
But as Exporting outlines, going global today may be about exporting software. Or it may be a purely service-based exporting business, such as consulting or design services. It may be about selling on eBay or some other e-commerce platform, and shipping crafts or artwork through the mail or a delivery company.
That’s one of the things I like about this book. It breaks all stereotypes of traditional exporting, and examines the way entrepreneurs are doing business in today’s world.
The book takes an up-to-date view of the role of the Web and social media, pointing out how technology and today’s communications and social platforms enable exporting businesses to launch and grow:
“Because social networks enable us to extend our worldwide connections rapidly, increasing our ability to identify opportunities on a more open, transparent basis, none of us operates in a vacuum as a solo entrepreneur any longer. What does this have to do with exporting and your readiness to do so? Plenty. It defines how an export business is born and can grow, if nurtured correctly….”
There’s a full chapter on creating and leveraging a social media presence and network. There’s an entire chapter on “Online Fundamentals” about building a website and blog, in order to attract business on the global stage — and another about website design for attracting and serving global customers. There’s also a chapter dedicated to what you will need for a full e-commerce site, if that’s the route you decide to take.
Beyond that, you’ll find a lot of material about using large e-commerce platforms as stepping stones to grow your business — sites like Amazon and eBay, of course, but also lesser known sites like Alibaba and its affiliated sites. Harnessing the mobile trend and mobile apps is another section of the book.
Exporting Basics for Newbies
Don’t be fooled and think this is one of those fluff books about social media and mobile, telling you generic stuff you can find anywhere online. Exporting is really about giving those who are relatively new to exporting or those aspiring to go global, a solid foundation.
Right at the beginning it starts with a chapter on writing an exporting business plan. Any good business should have a plan – but not just any plan. You need one that takes into account the specific requirements, risks and opportunities of exporting.
Deep in the book are the nuts and bolts of conducting international business, including export documentation, customs duties, international insurance and shipping. Delaney also addresses such issues as international customer service and how to get paid without putting your shipment at risk.
Beyond those exporting basics, you’ll find lots of tips and pointers about doing business outside of the United States — pointers that Americans in particular need. Sadly, we as a nation are rather insular and not very knowledgeable when it comes to other countries and cultures.
Most Americans can only speak one language. The good news for us is that English tends to be the international language of business, so we can often communicate.
However, that can lull us into a false sense that everything is the same in other countries, just because the customer or officials may be using English. For those Americans who don’t know much about the world outside our borders, it may be a shock to learn how business is conducted in other countries, especially where bribes are the norm. The chapter on global ethics will be especially helpful.
Other useful sections include a chapter on business travel and security, and a short chapter on women business owners operating globally.
About the Author
Laurel Delaney (@laureldelaney on Twitter) is well-qualified to write this book. She is founder and president of GlobeTrade.com , a Chicago-based consulting company that consults with companies on their global strategies and plans. She was named Illinois Exporter of the Year by the SBA, is on numerous boards and serves as the Chicago Chapter Chair for the Women Presidents’ Organization. Oh, and she is a long-time expert contributor here at Small Business Trends.
I could go on, but suffice it to say, she has years of success under her belt. More to the point, she has a long list of qualifications when it comes to doing business globally and helping others in that endeavor.
An Exporting Business Book Designed for Today’s Entrepreneurs
What I especially like about this book is that while it covers the nuts and bolts of exporting, in detail, it also is up-to-the-minute about how business is conducted today. There are lots of references to online resources that can help you dig deeper into topics covered in the book. After all, no book can cover everything — but it does an important job to point you to places to extend your knowledge for exporting.
I can’t emphasize enough how helpful the book is to today’s entrepreneurs who may have a very different-looking export business versus the one their fathers or grandfathers had.
If you intend to grow your business beyond the U.S. border, Exporting: The Definitive Guide to Selling Abroad Profitably  is a great place to start.