Is your small business exporting? If you've ever thought about it, now's the time. New statistics from the Commerce Department show that U.S. exports of goods and services rose by 16.7 percent in the first quarter of 2010. Part of that growth is due to enhanced efforts by Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank) of the United States to reach out to small businesses and help them get the financing they need to get involved in exporting. The efforts are part of the federal government's National Export Initiative, which President Obama announced earlier this year. The initiative seeks to double U.S. exports and create 2 million U.S. jobs in the next five years. U.S. exports in the first quarter of the year totaled $434 billion, with the largest percentage increases occurring in Taiwan (80%), Korea (66.2%), Malaysia (49.2%) and China (46.6%). "Major opportunities exist for U.S. companies to break into or expand business in that region, backed by Ex-Im Bank financing," said Fred P. Hochberg, chairman and president of the Ex-Im Bank. "Our goal is to create more opportunities in more countries so U.S. businesses can reach more customers, and in doing so create more jobs." Ex-Im Bank's loan authorizations more than doubled to $13.2 billion during the first half of the current fiscal year (starting Oct. 1, 2009), a 125 per cent increase over the record $5.9 billion authorized during the same period in fiscal year 2009. Small-business export loan authorizations increased half a billion dollars during the same period to $2.3 billion, 28 per cent greater than the first half of fiscal year 2009. Last month at Small Business Week in Washington, DC, I had the chance to talk with Dale Hayes, VP of U.S. Marketing for UPS, who told me less than 1 percent of U.S. small businesses currently export-even though there's huge demand for high-quality, American-made products. UPS is working with federal agencies to help show entrepreneurs how simple exporting can be. I recently talked to one small-business exporter, Dan Perkins at Couch Guitar Straps, for an article I wrote for Success magazine about taking your business global. Dan started exporting almost by accident when foreign customers began requesting his products, but he quickly learned the ropes and now says foreign sales are a key part of his business. Sure, exporting might sound scary-Hayes told me cultural and language issues, along with plain old "fear of the unknown," keep many U.S. business owners from exploring it. But the latest UPS Business Monitor survey found that more than one-third of small businesses that export see a "significant" impact on their sales. If you're ready to consider exporting, you'll find lots of resources in my Success article. UPS offers resources on its website too.