How Do I Expand My Small Business Globally?

If you want to do business internationally it can be tough getting started, but the upside can totally be worth it. You may lack the contacts you need to build global business relationships. it may be financially challenging to fly all over the globe to make those connections. What can you do to start selling to customers worldwide?

Go Global
Since the introduction of technology, the world is getting smaller. Your competition is global, but so is your opportunity. You may find a lot of competition here in the States. However, there are thousands of customers around the world that might clamor for your products or services. The state of the US economy might not always be as stable as it is today. Expanding your business overseas, is a proactive approach to protect your business from an economic downturn. Your opportunity is unlimited.

Finding the Right Network
The connections you need might be in your own backyard. There are organizations in your community that cater to doing international business. It's a matter of finding those groups and spending some time getting to know members of the groups.

Your local Chamber of Commerce may participate in international trade missions with countries your city is trying to build bonds with. For example, in Mobile, Alabama (a major trade port), the Chamber has trade missions with Spain, Morocco, and Mexico. And the California Chamber of Commerce has held trade missions with Tokyo, London, and Frankfurt.

These are just examples; look to your Chamber of Commerce to see what alliances it's forging with cities and countries around the world. Typically there are workshops and networking opportunities for you to participate in, and getting even more involved through volunteering could help you get to know influential people or even give you the opportunity to travel to another country.

The US Commercial Service is another valuable resource to help you build your business internationally. Not only does this organization, with representation across the United States, offer trade missions, but it also provides webinars on useful topics like getting a letter of credit for international trade or working with a specific sector in another country. Additionally, its International Buyer program serves as a sort of business matchmaker, and you can find great business opportunities by participating in one of these events.

Investigate Internet Resources
Beyond networking, you'll also need ample information about how to start exporting or building your customer base overseas. Export.gov, a site hosted by the US government, provides a wealth of information and offers a variety of training opportunities, from webinars to trade fairs and seminars.. Their Discover Global Markets Business Forum Series is your opportunity to meet commercial diplomats, hear experts speak, and learn about US export programs.

Becoming a member of the site will get you access to more information, as well as trade leads and market research. And if you live near one of the offices, you can receive counseling services in-person.

Travel Is Essential

If you're serious about growing your business in other countries, it is time to travel. But be strategic: if you're planning a visit to a potential customer, or manufacturing partner see what networking events there are in the area. You could also ask that potential customer or vendor to make recommendations; more than likely he will be happy to help you make connections in his country.

Add on a few days to get to know the city you're visiting. Not only will this help you better understand your place there, but you may also find other opportunities to get to know people and grow your network. A casual dinner -- even if business isn't discussed at all -- can be a fabulous launch pad for doing business in the future!

Determine What You Want to Accomplish
Attending these networking events and workshops is one thing, but unless you have goals in mind, they may not actually help you. It's imperative that you know what you want in terms of growing your business internationally.

• Would you like to find US-based broker who can open you up to new markets overseas?
• Are you looking for contacts in a particular industry or country to assist you?
• Are you looking for a foreign manufacturer to lower your production cost? Do you need to deepen your knowledge of doing business in a particular country?

Once you decide what you want to accomplish, focus on those goals. For example, if your focus is on a particular market in China, you could target your networking efforts on events that cater to doing business with China, as well as conferences on that market. You could search for professionals who fit into both categories on LinkedIn and build relationships with them that could, over time, prove fruitful.

Growing your business globally takes a precise plan. It will take laser focus to get your operations up and running smoothly as your bottom line increases. Building new business relationships can be scary. There may also be delays as you learn government policies and procedures. Do not anxious. Use wisdom. Allow time. Forge ahead and persevere. The benefits for you oversees will pay off!