Did you know that 95% of the world’s consumers live outside of the United States? The U.S. remains the world’s largest consumer market, but 85% of global economic growth is projected to occur abroad during the five-year period that ends in 2018.
If you’re a New York State manufacturer who’s not exporting, you may be wondering if your business is too small for international sales. Don’t let your company’s size deter you, but prepare to follow the plan that’s outlined by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
One Planner, Two Plans
In a downloadable tool called the Export Business Planner for Your Small Business, SBA describes the steps you’ll need to take to achieve exporting success. Training and counseling is the place to start, so begin by accessing available resources. Your local Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) center can help. For example, in the Capital Region, the Center for Economic Growth (CEG) offers ExporTech training, a program that’s designed to help manufacturers reach global markets.
Empire State Development (ESD), New York’s largest economic development agency, offers resources to offset the costs of pursuing new export markets through the Global NY program. These include rolling grants of up to $25,000 for market customization and product adaptation, or for participating in trade missions and workshops. Global NY also administers SBA’s State Trade & Export Promotion (STEP) program. Finally, don’t forget to explore SCORE and reach out to your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC).
Once you’re familiar with the many resources that are available, it’s time to build your export business plan. The SBA’s downloadable tool contains worksheets that you can print or complete on-line. Take the time to assemble the data, identify potential constraints, and set specific goals and objectives. Creating this strategic plan will focus your efforts and provide a way to measure results.
After you develop your export business plan, refocus your efforts on developing a marketing plan. Start with a market factor assessment, and consider your industry in terms of target global markets. If you need to build distributor or agent relationships, SBA provides worksheets you can use. The Export Business Planner can also help you to define your marketing strategy and identify international customers.
From Sales Forecasts to Shipping and Tracking
Once your export business plan and marketing plan are complete, it’s time to account for costing, financial forecasting, and product pricing. As part of this process, you’ll need to project income and cost of goods sold (COGS). Technology alone won’t solve all of your accounting challenges, but e-commerce tools such as electronic banking and electronic data interchange (EDI) can help. Shipment tracking is valuable, too.
Transportation and documentation are major concerns for small manufacturers that want to start exporting. That’s why SBA’s Export Business Planner covers freight forwarders, modes of transportation, packaging, and licensing. With regard to documentation, you’ll need more than invoices and an export license. Insurance and inspection certificates are also required overseas.
As SBA explains, your export plans may need to change and evolve as you grow internationally. Remember to update your marketing plan summary, especially before sharing this information with bankers, lenders, potential investors, or potential international partners. SBA’s Export Business Plan is an excellent resource for small manufacturers, so be sure to download this planning tool.
Need More Information?
Contact FuzeHub for more information, or reach out directly to resources like SCORE, your local SBDC, or Global NY. Your local Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) center can also share experiences and insights based on their work with small-to-medium manufacturers in your area.