If your company only does business in the United States, then you're missing out on 96% of the world's consumers—and more than two-thirds of its purchasing power.
Small businesses make up 98% of all U.S. exporters, and selling internationally can increase profits, reduce market dependence, and stabilize seasonal sales, according to David Glaccum, associate administrator for the Office of International Trade at the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Glaccum cited a study by the Institute for International Economics showing U.S. companies that export grow faster and are 8.5% less likely to go out of business than non-exporting companies.
And he singled out the SBA's Exporter of the Year, EarthQuaker Devices, an Ohio company that creates effects pedals for electric guitars, which was able to go from a basement business to a two-story, 15,000-square-foot renovated building with profits earned from exports.
"You, too, can leverage international trade opportunities to advance your business' goals and flourish as an exporter,"Glaccum said.
He suggests learning more by using U.S. Census Bureau export statistics to identify large international markets where growth has been consistent over the past few years.
"Don't forget to also research up-and-coming markets, where there may be fewer competitors," he said.
He also suggests using U.S. Export Assistance Centers to help with this process if you don’t know where to start or you’re not sure if your products will sell in these markets.
Another step is to connect with buyers or distributors and determine whether direct or indirect sales will work best.
"Indirect selling means selling your products through an intermediary," he said.
"Hiring export management companies and export trading companies can often be the easiest way for small businesses to break into a new market, since these companies already have international contacts.
“Direct selling, on the other hand, means that you are responsible for finding international buyers for your products, whether through advertisements, trade shows, or an e-commerce presence."
Then you need to find secure financing.
"U.S. banks often consider lending to exporters risky, but alternate funding sources exist," Glaccum said.
"For instance, the SBA has programs that provide lenders with up to a 90% guarantee on export loans."
Here is a full list of financing options for exporters.
Exporting accounts for billions of dollars in trade for Connecticut companies.
Our top trading partners are France, Germany, Canada, Britain, and Mexico.
In 2018, commodity exports represented about 6% of Connecticut's $276 billion gross domestic product for the year.
Considering that less than 1% of America's 30 million companies export, many businesses could benefit from learning more about international opportunities and available resources.