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March 25, 2013 — A weekly look at Wyoming business questions from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (WSBDC), part of WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.
By James Drever, WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz business adviser
“We just started our business and would like to know if exporting is something for us.” Fiona, Cheyenne
Most people think of direct exporting when the subject is brought up.
Direct exporting is when you often travel, find buyers, negotiate payment methods and navigate complicated customs regulations and more. The reality is that you might already be passively exporting indirectly and don’t even know it. For example, maybe one of your customers buys your products and then sells them directly to overseas markets. What you probably want to look at is actively pursuing indirect exporting.
When looking at entering foreign markets, and you don’t have the experience or knowledge to export directly, maybe exporting indirectly is the best route. This is where you have others, such as export agents, merchants, remarketers or other people or organizations, take care of everything for you in exchange for a share of the profits.
Before actively pursuing exporting, your business does need to be prepared. Here are some considerations to address before you head to your next export trade show:
-- What are your goals in exporting, and are they in line with your business’s goals? For example, long-term expansion, smoothing out business cycles or using unused production capabilities would make sense, whereas exporting to claim you are a global company in marketing brochures is probably not in anyone’s best interest.
-- Is there a market for your product? Can you see potential unmet or not-well-met needs to fulfill?
-- Do you have the resources for exporting? Even with an intermediary taking care of much of the marketing, selling and handling, you will need to consider things such as production capacity or how customer service will be handled for questions, problems and feedback.
It would be wise to contact Wyoming Entrepreneur representatives, who can help you evaluate whether you are ready to export and, if not, how to get ready.
Remember that 96 percent of the world’s consumers live outside the United States and more than 288,000 small and medium-sized businesses were already exporting in 2008. Once you are ready to export, the next step is to develop an export plan, the topic of our next business tips.
A blog version of this article and an opportunity to post comments is available at http://www.wyomingentrepreneur.typepad.com/blog/.
The WSBDC is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Wyoming Business Council and the University of Wyoming. To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, email firstname.lastname@example.org or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY, 82071-3922.