For more than 50 years, the Small Business Administration’s National Small Business Week has promoted the accomplishments of entrepreneurs across the country. The week recognizes not only the value that small companies bring to the marketplace, but also just how much they are evolving in today’s global economy.
How are U.S. businesses changing to meet the demands of a digitally and logistically interconnected world? A look at one of the key awards handed out on day one of Small Business Week will give you a good idea. The award – Exporter of the Year – is testament to the important opportunities that small companies are finding abroad. Consider that, according to the International Trade Administration, small and medium-sized companies account for 98 percent of U.S. exporters.
So if Small Business Week teaches your company one thing, it should be that exporting can redefine your future.
The fact is that, even with the vast potential that international markets provide, many small businesses have yet to launch their global strategies. For some, the challenge of managing Customs and border clearance procedures seems too daunting, while others are held back by some common misconceptions about the exporting process itself. To help encourage small companies to reach some of the 95 percent of consumers living beyond our borders, we have assembled some useful resources here, and below we have highlighted some important exporting fiction vs. fact tips.
FICTION: Exporting is too risky
FACT: Exporting can be as easy as selling domestically
Exporting to some markets, such as Canada, is no riskier than selling in the United States. Of course, different international markets have different levels of risks. Almost any perceived risk can be identified and reduced by using the affordable export assistance tools now available.
FICTION: Getting paid is cumbersome
FACT: Reliable payment collection is easy to find
Trade finance and global banking have evolved to the point where buying and selling things internationally is routine, safe and efficient. Reliable payment collection methods are numerous and include letters of credit through banks, credit cards and online payments. Some delivery companies will even collect payment at the buyer’s door.
FICTION: Exporting is too complicated
FACT: Exporting has never been easier
Most exporting efforts require minimal paperwork. Researching markets and finding buyers can in many instances be done from your computer, using free or low-cost information. Third-party export facilitators, such as e-commerce platforms, can remove much of the complexity and risk, real or assumed. There is plenty of help available, and much of it is free.
FICTION: Businesses can’t be successful internationally if they don’t speak the language
FACT: Language and cultural help are readily available
The English language will take you a very long way, and help is readily available for situations in which interpreters and translators are necessary. In fact, English is spoken at a useful level by 1.75 billion people worldwide—that’s one in four people!
FICTION: I’m too small to go global
FACT: No company is too small to go global
In fact, 67 percent of exporters have fewer than 20 employees. If your product or service sells well in the United States, there’s a good chance an overseas market can be found for it. What’s more, help is available to test acceptance of your service or product in more than 100 countries around the globe.