6 Steps to Help You Get Started in Exporting


Are you interested in growing your business in a global economy?

Today, nearly 96 percent of consumers and over two-thirds of the world’s purchasing power reside outside the United States. Small businesses now constitute 34 percent of total export dollars, and comprise approximately 97.8 percent of all exporters.

If you’re considering exporting as a way to expand and grow your business in new markets, where should you start?

Well, there are a number of free government tools, resources and programs that can help you plan your strategy, market to overseas customers, find buyers and finance your exports. A great place to start is Export.gov. The site brings together resources from across the U.S. Government to assist American businesses in planning their international sales strategies and succeed in today’s global marketplace. It’s a great one-stop resource to help you navigate exporting and get the right help as you go.

Below are six essential steps any potential small business exporter should follow as they get started.

6 Steps to Help You Get Started in Exporting

1. Determine Your Readiness

From committing staff and resources to developing an international marketing plan, is your business really ready to start exporting? Take this online questionnaire from BusinessUSA.gov and see how your business rates in terms of its exporting readiness. The tool also serves up useful resources based on your responses and readiness.

Once you register with Export.gov, you can start planning your entry with market research tools, track global demand for your product and more.

2. Get Free Advice

Ready to explore more? Contact your local U.S. Export Assistance Center. These centers provide free training and counseling to export-ready small businesses. There are 165 offices nationwide and overseas, staffed by pros who can offer in-depth industry and trade counseling and access to a variety of services, including financing programs and connections to international buyers.

You can also find the names of local and international U.S. Commercial Service Trade Specialists, in the United States or overseas.

3. Conduct Market Research

What potential does your product have to sell in a particular international market? Who’s the competition? Are there any barriers to trade?

Using Export.gov’s market research guides and tools like Trade Stats, you can take a step-by-step, structured approach to doing your research and identifying potential target markets.

4. Create an Export Business Plan

Here’s another great free government tool that can help you plan your export strategy – the Small Business Export Planner. The planner is customizable and can be worked through as your exporting activities grow.

In addition, Export.gov also offers a free sample outline of an international business plan.

5. Find Potential Buyers

The government can even help you locate and connect with potential buyers overseas. Opportunities range from meeting foreign buyer delegations at select U.S. trade shows to signing up for a foreign trade mission or trade show overseas. Export.gov will even help you with your marketing efforts.

6. Finance Your Exports

Whether you are entering the export market, looking to upgrade your equipment or facilities in preparation for exporting, or even help your international buyers do business with you—there are a number of U.S. government financing program that can help.

Use BusinessUSA.gov’s Financing Wizard (select “Exports” in the third step) for a breakdown of financing programs from across the federal government.

Export Photo via Shutterstock


US Small Business Administration The US Small Business Administration is an independent federal agency that works to assist and protect the interests of American small businesses by delivering the answers, support and resources small businesses need to start-up, succeed and grow. The SBA Community is an interactive extension of the site and features a variety of discussion boards and blogs that allow business owners to connect with their peers, industry experts and government representatives to ask questions, share best practices and get advice.

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