Export With Confidence
It’s no secret that exporting makes good business sense. Shipping internationally lets your company:
- Reach exciting new markets.
- Tap into new sources of revenue.
- Grow your brand.
At the same time, it can raise many questions:
- How do you find the best market for your product?
- How will you prevent customs delays?
- How can you make sure you’ll be paid?
We caught up with some experienced exporters at a U.S. Commercial Service’s Discover Global Markets conference to learn what it takes to export with confidence — and how an aspiring small business can follow suit.
Become a confident exporter
Shipping internationally? Don’t just export — export with confidence. Entrepreneurs are finding great success beyond the U.S. border by making their export-import process as efficient as possible.
Watch the video to see how other small-business owners overcome shipping obstacles. Plus, get expert tips to help you grow in markets all over the world.
Find the perfect export destination
Whether you’re deciding on your first country or choosing where you’ll grow next, you want to market to a region with a steady supply of customers who want what you’re selling. However, your strategy may depend partly on what that item is.
AnaOno founder Dana Donofree has a mission to provide intimate apparel for breast cancer survivors. It’s a unique product that people all over the world need. As such, her company is currently focusing on Canada and several countries in South America.
“Cancer doesn’t just happen to women in America.”
− Dana Donofree
For many businesses, it’s crucial to take the time to locate countries where the market hasn’t yet been cornered and where they can invest in a future.
The U.S. Commercial Service can be a great place to get started with your research. Check out its Country Commercial Guides for market conditions and Top Markets Reports for industry-specific opportunities and more.
“We seek for areas not only where we can get in to be new but that have growth potential as we move forward.”
− Rodney Burt
Star Building Systems
Ensure you’ll get paid
A crucial aspect to confidently conducting business internationally is knowing you’ll be paid for your products. When your customer is a world away, that can be stressful. But it doesn’t have to be.
The Export-Import Bank (EXIM Bank) was founded to help U.S. companies more easily trade overseas. It protects businesses against buyer nonpayment, offers multiple forms of financing and even helps secure competitive financing for foreign buyers.
It’s a service that’s come in handy for Laura Teter of Miller Weldmaster, a company that makes heat seaming machines.
“I had a customer in Argentina a few years who got their financing through the EXIM Bank. It made us comfortable because we knew they had the money, and it made them feel comfortable because they knew that the EXIM Bank was involved.”
− Laura Teter
Clear the border with ease
Selling and shipping internationally means knowing how to get your shipments through customs and on their way as soon as possible.
Teresa Tapia, who works for Protech Global Solutions, explains that her company took an extra step to expedite its exporting operations: The company got certified by the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT). Businesses join the program for free, and the application is relatively quick and available online.
“We are precleared by U.S. customs to have our goods flow through the border, which eliminates the possibility of losing valuable time right there.”
− Teresa Tapia
Protech Global Solutions
The best way to work toward a smooth experience is ensuring your documentation is complete and correct. Find forms and helpful hints here.
Have a backup plan
Another tip to feeling assured about your business’s approach to exporting: Anticipate possible challenges, and make sure you have procedures in place to counter them. The more you can prepare yourself for possible roadblocks, the easier it will be to calmly and efficiently clear them.
For instance, delays caused by weather or increased customs activity may be out of your control, but choosing an international shipping service that offers proactive tracking can make all the difference.
FedEx® Tracking allows you to sign in to create personal watch lists, follow your shipments from your computer or handheld device, and receive updates in the event of customs complications.
“If a FedEx truck gets stuck in the border with some of our products,” Tapia says, “FedEx Tracking automatically triggers a call to our center with our buyers and our materials and logistics people to make sure that we provide all of the information that it is missing, so it can be cleared up.”