How to Cash In on a ‘World’ of Opportunities

Earth from outer spaceConsider these developments:

Africa will be transformed economically over the next 10 years.

By 2016, China will be the world’s largest economy.

Dubai International just passed Heathrow as the world’s business airport for international travel.

Do these facts help put the future of commerce in perspective? If economic opportunity is knocking at a door for your business, that door may not be located in the next community, but instead could be half way around the world. Start with two simple questions…well, simple to ask, less simple to answer:

  • Is there demand for your product or service abroad?
  • How can you bring your product or service to market abroad?

If you are still with me, I’m going to assume—safely, I believe—that expanding overseas would be a new venture for you. Therefore, answering the first question above is the critical one, and also question which you are probably not prepared to answer.

Question #1

If you can budget for it, hiring a consultant experienced in helping businesses establish operations overseas is a great way to go. Just make sure you hire the right person. Contact references and make sure that previous clients have expanded successfully in the same geographic area.

If you want to dive in and do some digging yourself, one of your best resources will be the U.S. Commercial Service. The service has offices all around the country so there’s a good chance you can make an appointment and talk to a real person. You can also kick off the process by calling 1-800-USA-TRADE (872-8723). Also, be sure to check out the list of current webinars; you might find one that targets your industry sector.

The service works mostly with small and medium sized businesses, so there’s a good chance you’ll fit right in.

Making the move

Exactly the best way to bring your product or service to countries around the globe is a big question. You can export. You can manufacture overseas. You can do a combination of both approaches.

There is a good chance you’ll have to establish an office in another country and this can be tricky. Again, there are consultants who can guide you. Another option is to partner with a foreign company. This is often the preferred strategy because the foreign company will have a track record you can review as well as the infrastructure you’re going to require.

Using technology

Some small businesses will find that the Internet and various apps can provide the tools they need to sell overseas. Service providers looking to expand overseas can use products like GoToMeeting, WebEx, and WizIQ to give them a virtual “presence” with their new clients.

Translations services such as Acapelabox as well as working with overseas freelancers through services like Elance can prove to be very useful as US companies get their websites and marketing materials ready for foreign markets.

Sponsored by AT&T

I don’t know exactly which small businesses will expand overseas, but I know many will. Will yours be among them?