Become an Expert in Export
Whether you’re new to international trade or looking to expand your existing export business, take advantage of the opportunity to make connections in overseas markets.
If you are a vendor at Global Pet Expo, chances are you have already gotten more than a few international leads. Being proactive in responding to those leads is every bit as important as what you do with your domestic ones. However, it may seem even more challenging to assess legitimacy, sales potential, credit worthiness and the other factors you need in a reliable business partner when the potential partner is on the other side of the globe.
If international trade is new for your business, first assess whether you are ready to export. For a quick overview of the export process and steps to help determine whether your firm is ready, visit the how to export section at www.export.gov.
If you decide that you aren’t ready or don’t want to enter the specific markets the leads represent, follow up with a brief email thanking them for their interest and promising to contact them in the future when you enter their market. Don’t neglect to do this, as they might be great partners in the future, but don’t put the time into evaluating them now while you focus on getting your domestic operations secure.
If your company is already exporting or the opportunity seems too good to pass up, get help from the nearest Export Assistance Center. Among other services, the staff can contact the U.S. Commercial Services representative in the foreign market for a quick, usually free assessment of whether the potential partner is a legitimate business. For a small fee, U.S. Commercial Services staff can create a full international company profile, including a detailed credit report, and can also assess market potential. And if you are deciding between opportunities, the Export Assistance Center can help you access trade specialists in more than 80 countries to assist you in identifying the best partners in the best markets for your products.
Many of these services are available for free, and those that require a fee usually cost less than trying to acquire that information through commercial sources or your own efforts. If you don’t have an Export Assistance Center nearby, check out the resources of the Small Business Administration in your area. Most Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) have personnel trained for international trade and can help you connect with the government resources available to help your business succeed. Many states also have their own networks of trade specialists. If you produce something agricultural, a number of other resources are available to promote your product to foreign buyers through the Department of Agriculture.
As a taxpayer, your business is entitled to the services the government offers to promote trade. Getting trade-ready includes familiarizing yourself with the people and programs in your area that will increase your chance of success. Your rivals, foreign and domestic, are probably making use of these or similar resources in their home markets. Using these tools can help turn that pile of potential leads into increased sales, new distributors and international expansion.