September 25, 2020

10 Questions Every U.S. Exporter Should Ask

In a post previously published on this blog, I discuss strategies on how to choose an export market for your business. That post references how the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM), an independent, self-sustaining Executive Branch agency with a mission of supporting American jobs by facilitating the export of U.S. goods and services, is one of a number of government agencies that produce useful resources for exporting businesses. One such document presents ten questions, segmented in three sections, every U.S. exporter should ask:

Consider the Basics

1. Am I maximizing my current export revenue?

2. Do I know my current market’s cultural factors and infrastructure limitations?

3. Am I currently reaching all of the markets I've targeted?

4. Do I know how to leverage conditions in this market to add new customers & increase sales with existing ones?

Examine Potential Global Markets

5. Have I located a complimentary market opportunity in a geographic region I am already serving?

6. Have I studied the competition in my targeted market?

7. Do I know how to penetrate this new market effectively and efficiently?

8. Do I have a partner or distributor to help me expand into this market?

Develop Trade Connections

9. Do I know what resources I need to succeed in growing my export base, and where I can acquire them?

10. Do I have a plan for financial obstacles that may arise while I am trying to grow my export sales?

To facilitate in responding to the checklist's initial four questions, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) published the Export Business Planner For Your Small Business, which the SBA explains is an innovative tool "designed to serve as your roadmap for creating your Export Business Plan, exploring foreign markets, developing a Marketing Plan, exploring financing, costing your product, and more."

To help business owners answer the second group of questions on examining potential global markets, Country Commercial Guides prepared by International Trade Administration (ITA) trade professionals at U.S. embassies worldwide provide valuable information on a variety of topics such as market conditions, opportunities, regulations, and business customs for more than 70 major markets. Furthermore, the State Department Partner Posts produces Country Commercial Guides in over 60 markets.

Regarding the third group of questions on developing trade connections, EXIM's Multi-Buyer Credit Insurance is a policy that protects an exporter's accounts receivable and has significant benefits.

While these ten questions are intended for U.S. exporters, any business, irrespective of their home country, will also benefit from this list.

What resources do you recommend for creating an export plan?

Aaron Rose is a board member, corporate advisor, and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of GT Perspectives, an online forum focused on turning perspective into opportunity.

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