Small Business Global Guidance

Targeting the right international markets and using the right distributors don’t have to be a tall order when a small business goes global.
Learn about how to bring your small business global
Targeting the right international markets and using the right distributors don’t have to be a tall order when a small business goes global.

The international marketplace beckons: new customers, new opportunities, and new experiences. Still, you may have reservations. How will you guard against fraud from across an ocean? How can a small business protect its vision and grow its borders at the same time? How do you choose the right international markets, and the right partners to take you there?

To answer those questions and more, we’ve put together a series of articles about taking the next step. For the inside scoop from companies who made it work, check out the new articles at our Go International page. Want a taste of what you’ll find there? Read on.

Preparing for global expansion: Choose your next market

In this increasingly connected age, finding the right export destination is easier than ever.

As more and more small and medium-size businesses realize the benefits of going international, the question is no longer “Why should I export?” but “Where should I export?” For a company contemplating its next move on the import-export scene, there are some crucial considerations. It’s key to explore recent industry trends, think about target customers, and consider how current business relationships might include a foothold to take you into the next exciting market. And, of course, make sure to consult with the experts on how to put together a winning international strategy.

Exporting: Resources to help you get started

From free how-to guides to government programs, plenty of assistance is available for any business looking to expand its reach.

Today is an exciting era for U.S. companies looking to export. Recent free trade agreements have opened up markets from Mexico to Australia; “Made in America” still carries clout in the global market; and wealth of resources are available for small businesses looking for guidance or just getting started. The U.S. Department of Commerce provides extensive information on federal export assistance programs and international trade. The U.S. Small Business Administration connects entrepreneurs and companies with expertise, small-business solutions and overseas buyers. And handy guides make it easier to find and complete the customs forms you’ll need when it’s time to ship your first sale.

Alaffia boosts sales and spreads message of empowerment through exporting

A company with a beautiful mission shares its secrets for flourishing overseas.

For more than 10 years, Alaffia has paid hundreds of women in a Togolese cooperative to extract and handcraft local raw ingredients, such as cocoa butter. These ingredients are then shipped to Alaffia’s manufacturing facilities in Olympia, Washington. The result? Pure, natural lotions, shampoos, and beauty products — and sales revenues that go right back into empowerment projects in Togolese communities. For an idealistic company like Alaffia, exporting to a new country is a matter of picking the perfect distributors — people who understand their challenges and believe in their philosophy. Strengthening internal communication and taking advantage of U.S. federal and state assistance was also critical to keeping the vision alive.

Vetting your international buyers

Finding the right global distributor is key to exporting success.

When those first potential global partners come calling, it can be hard to know what to ask or how to decide what steps to take. For Phil Pittsford of NOW® Health Group, the first step is eliminating scams and determining a company’s industry knowledge with a short “get to know you” survey. Pittsford stresses the importance of only picking the buyers that fit. Rejecting an interested party can be tough, but sometimes it’s the only way. Robbin Turner of Sable Systems International suggests checking a would-be distributor’s financials — and the U.S. Commercial Service (USCS) makes it easy. For businesses still searching for distributors, the USCS offers a Gold Key Matching Program to connect U.S. firms with the perfect buyers. Knowing what to watch out for can guard against missteps, and guide a company on the road to great partnerships and a bright future.

Access fresh insights

For more information on international shipping, check out these articles under the tab Go International on the FedEx® Small Business Center site.

Source: FedEx Small Business Center,