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Small Businesses Should Consider International Expansion



Just because you are a “small business” doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be thinking big. Your plans for expanding your enterprise may include opening a second location a few miles down the road or increasing your product line, but you should also consider how you can take advantage of the global marketplace. Are your goods/services needed in other parts of the world? Can you source your materials more efficiently overseas? International business holds enormous potential for business—not just large corporations but small operations as well.

Take it from international business consultant Bill Cairns, President of BCM Group, who recently shared his advice for small businesses finding their niche in the global marketplace. We asked him, “We hear so much about the global nature of today’s economy. Do small businesses have a place in it?” Bill’s response was, “Absolutely. They are more flexible to adapt to market demands, and to different regional and cultural needs. Also, close relationships are as important—and sometimes more so—in certain countries as in the USA, small business is better able to cultivate that kind of relationship than a large company.”
Read the full interview with Bill to gain even more expert insight into finding your business niche in foreign lands.
For small businesses, especially during down times, keeping costs low and quality high is absolutely key to survival. Importing from overseas represents a fantastic option for many small businesses to dramatically reduce their costs or gain access to alternative material options and service providers. Jennifer Shin, founder and principal consultant of 8 Path Solutions, LLC, offers insight into important issues for small businesses to consider before embarking on importing raw materials or finished goods. Careful consideration and planning for product quality, delivery responsibilities and timing of payments may help you avoid costly oversights. Use Jennifer’s insightful blog post as a “starting point to gauge whether the risk of using overseas suppliers is too high for your business and guide you in developing a plan to minimize your risks if buying overseas.”
Opening up your customer base to include international clientele could represent a huge new growth opportunity for your enterprise. The U.S. government estimates two-thirds of the world’s purchasing power are in foreign countries. According to Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, “So much of what America makes is in great demand. Small and midsize companies’ growth potential is outside the U.S.” Latin Business Today shares tips for increasing your revenues and profits through exporting. Did you know that American-made food products are often thought of in Asia as more “organic” and “safer” than Asian-made products? Read on to learn more about how to take advantage of differing perceptions and economic conditions around the world.
Perhaps your next big customer or new supplier relationship is right down the street, or perhaps they live halfway across the world. With technology at our fingertips, there’s no reason to dismiss the opportunities for small business abroad. Take advantage of all these resources SCORE has to offer to help you consider the international route. And connect with a free SCORE mentor who has the experience of not only working internationally but aiding small businesses in their expansion.
Published: November 15, 2013

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