Growing Your Business Abroad

Dear Professor Bruce: My small business has seen some rapid growth recently. I think it’s time to begin selling in other countries, but I’m not sure how to begin. What’s the best first step?
Answer:
Congratulations on your company’s recent growth, despite a challenging economy. It’s exciting that you’ve decided to begin looking in other markets to continue growing. After all, 95 percent of the world’s population is outside of the United States, so there are many economies waiting for you.
According to Debi Durham, director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA), “Entering the international economy can make a tremendous difference for a small business.”
Here is some excellent advice:
Seek out training and consultation programs organized by your state. State international trade offices  cover critical issues that small business-owners should know about before entering global marketplaces. Topics can include information on export compliance, international banking, logistics and transportation. Companies also take advantage of one-on-one counseling from marketing managers with over 100 years of international experience and access to qualified contacts, distribution channels and more.
Participate in international trade shows and trade missions. These events are often among some of the most effective ways to enter international markets. By participating, you have the opportunity to meet potential buyers, test market interest and even evaluate the competition. Your state’s international trade office should work with you to identify the best international trade fairs and help with planning for shows, as well as follow-up.
Take advantage of state offices abroad. When you’re traveling in global markets in order to grow your business, know where your state’s trade offices are located and make an appointment. For example, some state offices have a presence in strategic locations around the world with foreign offices in Frankfurt, Germany and Beijing, China and representatives in Taipei, Taiwan; and Mexico City, Mexico. Representatives in these outposts can provide valuable insights into local markets and help you begin to make connections.
Resources may vary from state to state, so make sure you’re aware of what is available to you.
For further information, please visit: www.iowaeconomicdevelopment.com
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