By Tammy Marquez-Oldham
Director, OSBDCN Global Trade Center and the Portland Community College SBDC
President of NASBITE International
Making the decision to take a step into the global marketplace can be daunting and mysterious. So many rules and regulations. How do I know what I do not know? What if I do something wrong?
According to the Small Business Administration, only one percent of the United States’ 30 million businesses export their products. This percentage is lower than any other developed country in the world, yet, 95% of all customers are found outside the US. Wow, really?
What this means is that there is a relatively untapped market place available to those who are in a position to take advantage of the opportunity to sell globally. Especially for those who are able to expand into multiple countries. Only 58 percent of the companies that export goods do so to one country. If making the move into the global market is right for your business, there is the potential for improving your sales by going global.
Questions to Ask Before You Go Global
Is your company profitable and strong at home?
Key things to consider: operations, finance, management, marketing strategy, and staff. You must be confident with where your business stands on a day-to-day operating basis as well as trust that your staff is knowledgeable and capable of maintaining operations and expansion before you begin selling globally. Do you have management commitment? Is there an export plan? Does your product need modification?
Can you financially afford to go global?
Any time a business expands, the preexisting location may have to take on part of the burden of that expansion. What additional financial resources are needed? Will your company be able to not only survive but continue to thrive during this transition? Answering this question to the best of your abilities will give you a much-needed perspective on whether or not to proceed. An export plan will test your assumptions.
Should you expand your online presence instead?
Also considered in your export plan: is there enough of a demand for your products or services to warrant a physical expansion of your business globally or would you be better off improving your website to cater to global customers. This may be a good interim-step to test out the new global marketplace before considering more advanced stages of exporting.
Do Your Global Market Research
Global Market Research will help you identify which country, how many customers, what are the customer’s preferences, how much of a product similar to yours is being consumed and so much more. If you identify data which indicates a possible global market place there are resources able to confirm your assumptions.