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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 Michael Lambert, Wyoming Entrepreneur Market Research Center manager
"I would like to sell my products outside the United States -- how do I start?" Ben, Thermopolis
Selling in the international market can be extremely lucrative and will be key to maintaining the U.S. as the world's No. 1 economy. But how do you find customers in other countries?
If you already sell to Canada, then adding Mexico or Chile would probably be good places to expand because the import regulations are friendly toward American-made products. The key to exporting is knowledge about the market. One thing that many company owners do not realize is that there is a great source of detailed information on more than 100 countries available for free from the U.S. Commercial Service (USCS).
The USCS country commercial guides are updated annually and contain information about market conditions, purchasing power, consumer trends, distribution channels, navigation of the country's import rules, best sectors, key contacts and more. To view the guides, visit the Web site at http://www.export.gov/mrktresearch/index.asp.
The site offers great advice about how to evaluate each country you are interested and can help guide in making plans to enter the international field. Things to consider include:
-- Use historical value and volume data to determine market demand and trends. Statistical data on exports are available from the Foreign Agricultural Service, Department of Commerce and the National Trade Data Bank.
-- Identify several markets that are large and growing. Also look for smaller market that may provide "ground-floor" opportunities. Decide which markets have the most potential and the strongest supporting data.
-- Once potential markets have been identified, assess each by looking at product trends, competition, marketing, trade barriers, tariffs and promotion opportunities. And when the market has been evaluated, chances are that one will pop out as being the best opportunity.
For more information about starting international marketing, contact a local Wyoming Entrepreneur office. 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, e-mail email@example.com or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY, 82071-3922.