Technological innovations over the last few decades have simplified the process for selling globally, making it a much more accessible business strategy. It used to be more difficult and risky to expand sales into new countries but now the internet has the power to launch businesses on a global growth journey. While it’s true that growing globally is easier than ever, like any new business strategy it can raise questions and introduce new challenges for business owners. These new challenges don’t need to be a major cause for concern though. In fact, there are many resources that can help business owners navigate obstacles and determine the value of engaging with buyers overseas.
These resources can help business owners to:
- Identify the best potential markets for their business
- Navigate the international selling, shipping and payment processes
- Meet other professionals who can help along the international selling journey
Find markets and buyers
Through a network of U.S. Export Assistance Offices (USEACs) in more than 100 U.S. cities and 80 foreign countries, the U.S. Commercial Service is the first stop for many future exporters. Industry experts are able to provide one-on-one counseling on markets, payments, compliance and more. Also, the Export.gov website offers extensive self-service resources including “deep dive” guides to markets, industries and export know-how.
According to the 3rd annual American Express Grow Global survey, 55% of respondents find travelling to markets helps them learning more about sales opportunities. A great option for this is the Department of Commerce’s trade missions, which are organized around key industries and provide opportunities for guided, organized meetings and experiences in markets.
Trade advisors in the USEACs can also serve as the gateway to foreign market assistance. Programs such as “Gold Key,” “International Partner Search” and “Single Company Promotion” assist U.S. companies in making connections with curated international buyers. These resources include fully scheduled itineraries of meetings complete with transportation, interpreters and accompanying commercial officers from the local consulate.
Manage transactional challenges
Finding potential buyers and partners is an important step – to be followed up with the challenge of execution. Survey respondents cited compliance (40%), safety (40%), transportation/shipping costs (39%) regulations (37%), IP risks (34%), delays in payments (31%) and exchange rate volatility (31%) as very significant challenges that they face in expanding their global sales.
USEAC representatives can make introductions to local resources who can advise business owners on meeting these challenges. Additionally, states offer trade counseling, as well as grants through the State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) program. STEP aims to defray costs that companies incur in managing these challenges.
The relationship which companies build with their local USEAC can often extend beyond formal programs. For instance, if compliance issues arise with your business, local diplomats can collaborate with the U.S. Departments of Commerce and State to find a solution.
That’s a powerful team to have working on your behalf!
Grow your network
Attending industry events is an important part of growing your network. American Express’ GrowGlobalSM program delivers online content, digital mentoring and events around the U.S. As a strategic partner of the U.S. International Trade Administration, American Express convenes Commercial Service experts at events to share their insights on markets, common challenges and unrecognized opportunities. They’re often joined by representatives of the SBA, Ex-Im Bank and other federal agencies, along with export development advocates from state and local agencies.
These events are powerful forums for sessions and presentations as well as networking. At these networking events, business owners are encouraged to mingle with other business professionals in various stages of their global growth journey. According to the Amex survey, networking is the most common method that companies use to learn more about new markets. Fully, 45% indicated that networking is a source they rely on to obtain knowledge about international markets where they do business.
American Express also offers their Insight Guide, Bench Strength: Federal, State and Local Export Resources for free download online. The 12-page guide provides a roadmap to many of the most popular agencies and programs in one handy reference guide.
A team to support your growth
It’s easier than ever to get started selling globally. Over four in ten (41%) companies feel more interest from international buyers is prompting them to adjust their strategy, and 78% said that international sales became a substantial part of their business within their first three years exporting.
The growth and success of a business will come from careful research and effective execution. Federal, state and local government programs combine with private sector initiatives to support company’s sales, compliance, operations and community resources. These resources compliment mentorship to lay the foundation for global expansion.