Small businesses are an important force in the American economy. Though more than half are home-based, they employ more than half of the American workforce. That’s not to say that owning a small business is easy, however. About half of all small business owners have to use their own personal credit to finance their companies, and 800,000 others seek small business loans every year. Many of those small business owners aren’t just taking out loans to cover day-to-day expenses — they’re taking calculated risks by growing and expanding their businesses.
It may seem hard to believe, but small businesses make up the largest group of exporters in the U.S. In 2011, 93% of the companies that sold goods across borders were small businesses, and their sales made up nearly a full quarter of the nation’s total exports. Though selling goods in multiple countries can be difficult, there’s plenty of room for small business expansion to overseas markets. Here are our five best tips for small business expansion to other nations.
- Keep a tight focus. If you research and develop a product for every possible market, your payoff won’t be clear. Instead, start by focusing on one product, finding ways to customize it and make it relevant to other markets.
- Do some networking. Many world cities have industry-specific business clusters designed to incentivize new companies. Look around for small business programs and organizations that can help you get started.
- Ask what your country can do for you. Sometimes, it’s okay. The United States Commercial Service has officials in embassies and consulates who can help companies with overseas trade. Don’t be afraid to use them as resources!
- Stay connected with the cloud. If you’re expanding overseas, you’ll need international offices, and if you have international offices, you’ll need to stay in close communication. Utilize management and tracking tools to help you stay uinformed about financials and customer information.
- Crowdsource your marketing. Your passionate customers are an important resource for your growth. Word of mouth is essential to success if you’re planning to build a following overseas as well.
The overseas market is ripe for small business expansion, as long as you’re careful to utilize the right resources. If you’re serious about taking out a business expansion loan for overseas expansion, incorporate these tips into your business plan. They’re sure to make a great impression.