Growth & Customers

5 tips for doing business across borders

Exporting for Small Businesses

Thinking about exporting as a small business can seem a bit daunting—there’s a lot to learn, all while finding the time to keep your business journey on track. But lots of US businesses are finding success doing business beyond the border, and there’s plenty of help and advice on hand. Our tips will help you get started on the path to exporting success.

Develop your networks.

You don’t have to be an expert to start exporting. Build up your network of people who can help and advise you on tax, licensing and more. The International Trade Administration (ITA) website gov is a good place to start.

Do your research.

Before you take your first steps, find out about local markets, customers, trading options, customs and costs. Try the ITA’s exporting guides as a starting point to learn how to tackle almost any challenge you’ll encounter as you begin exporting.

Develop your strategy and direction. Your export plan should include:

  1. Route to market. How will you distribute your services?
  2. Business model. Will you use agents, distributors, a subsidiary or sell direct?
  3. Marketing strategy. How will you promote overseas?
  4. What are your costs and income forecasts?

Select your partners carefully.

Build up relationships and ensure agreements are fully understood. For example, the US has robust laws on bribery, and you could find yourself liable if one of your agents or partners abroad doesn’t comply.

Select your market.

The EU? South America? China? Or even just other states in America? Demographics, competition, costs, distribution networks, legal considerations and taxes may all have an impact on your choice.

Once you’ve taken these steps, you’re well on your way to expanding your business. But don’t stop here—there are still issues of marketing, pricing, and cultural exchange to consider. For five more tips on doing business across borders, download our free “Exporting for Small Businesses” e-book.