At the Kansas SBDC, we offer a wide variety of resources and training to help our small businesses identify and manage opportunities for growth such as those opportunities present in international markets. On July 28th, John Addessi, Certified Global Business Professional with America’s SBDC Kansas, presented The Riddle of The Exporter in Manhattan. Thank you to John and to everyone who attended for making it a great seminar!
Attendees walked through the steps of how to find important information for determining whether entering new markets is worthwhile for their product or services, how to manage risks, legal issues and regulatory compliance, documentation, contractual issues, financial transactions, freight and cultural differences.
Chang Lu (below) from the Kansas Department of Commerce also did a presentation on how KDOC can help Kansas businesses get established in exporting.
Below – good fun as participants pose with the “Riddle Trophy” after competing for export “points”. From the right: Ben Kohl of Piestar, Inc., Grace Friedel of Radiation Detection Technologies, Inc., Aaron Hund of MS Biotech, LLC, Cathy Joy of Contractor’s Engineering, Inc, and John Addessi. Great job, teams!
In the seminar, participants took an in-depth, hands on look at resources for managing export challenges – much more than can be shared here!
While this is hardly a complete guide, here are a few general points that small businesses should know about exporting.
7 Important Facts about Exporting
(1) You could already be an exporter and not know it. To cite a few examples: a small retail shop that mails a package to a customer in another country is exporting even though it is just one package; a component made by one company for a product exported by another company exports is an indirect export; an intangible service provided for a client in another country is just as much an export as a physical product shipped over the seas; an email containing sensitive information could be a deemed export; and a lodging establishment or attraction with guests from other countries is a tourism exporter.
(2) It is important to check out your W’s. When exporting – even in the sort of cases described above – it is important to make sure that there are not any legal restrictions on what you are exporting, the place to where you are exporting, or the person to whom (or organization to which) you are exporting. Even seemingly innocent exports can be illegal, e.g. if they have a dual use one of which is prohibited for export. (Two places to look for more information are the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security and Export.Gov.)
(3) A U.S. patent or trademark does necessarily not protect your intellectual property in other countries. If you are selling, marketing or manufacturing your product in another country, you may need to take additional steps to protect your intellectual property. (FAQ about the Patent Cooperation Treaty.)
(4) If you are serious about expanding your sales by participating in international trade, it pays to do not only market research regarding the potential for selling your product or services in other countries, but also to research cultural expectations (including those in business culture) when making strategic decisions about entering foreign markets. Seemingly little things, such as cultural norms about punctuality or dress, can affect business deals and the viability of the market for your product or service in other countries.
(5) The KS Department of Commerce, U.S. Commercial Service, and SBA can be your friends in export. Because companies that export intentionally and strategically often generate more jobs, job stability, higher wages, and tax revenues, these government agencies are ready to provide assistance to businesses wanting to get established as exporters. Resources available include services such as assistance in finding trading partners, access to international trade shows, loan guarantees for getting a product to market, credit checks, and translation of marketing materials and product labels for international sales.
(6) An experienced and reliable international banker, international attorney and freight-forwarder are other good friends to have when exporting. These people can help you reduce the risk involved in financial transactions, contracts, sharing of intellectual property, documentation, and getting your product from here to there.
(7) Though exporting – and making decisions about whether or not to export or where to export to – might seem intimidating, there are many resources available to help small businesses access the information and connections that they need to make informed decisions and forge international relationships. For small businesses in Kansas, a good place to start is with their local KSBDC.
(Above: On a winning streak – learning about the opportunities for business growth in international markets and how to manage the associated risks!)
Thank you to our attendees for being excited learners, to Commerce Bank in Manhattan for sponsoring the seminar, to the Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce for the venue, to the Kansas Department of Commerce and SBA for STEP grants, to Chang Lu for joining us, and to John Addessi for a great presentation of The Riddle of the Exporter!
Laurie Pieper, Ph.D.