While international trade is nothing new, we are in the midst of a globalization boom – driven by small and medium-sized businesses, technology and government incentives.

With more U.S. businesses operating overseas than ever before, companies of all sizes have been studying the risks, opportunities and challenges of going global. The international movement has had an unparalleled impact on e-commerce, global logistics possibilities and new trade rules/regulations worldwide. Knowing that the majority of the world’s population lives outside U.S. borders, a growing number of small and medium-sized businesses are actively trading outside U.S. borders or making plans to do so.

What should business owners consider as they seek global expansion?

  1. Potential exporters should know if they are ready to compete globally. In fact, DHL Express commissioned research on this very topic, offering a simple, yet practical test. (Click here for details.)
  2. Government programs are plentiful. For example, the National Export Initiative (NEI) offers a platform for companies to research international trade strategies, find buyers and sellers, participate in trade shows and missions, and receive export financing. Various Chambers, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, state and local, as well as other state-based economic development organizations can also provide assistance. Also, the U.S. Commercial Services, the trade arm of the U.S. DOC’s International Trade Administration, has assistance centers throughout the country that helps organizations with all steps of the transition.
  3. Businesses need a good logistics partner to get a dependable, up-to-date importing/exporting plan on track. If shipments are delayed, lost or damaged, goodwill with customers, vendors and suppliers could be jeopardized. Seamless logistics are critical to building good customer relations. Look for an international specialist (hint: the letters DHL are in the name) who have made it their mission to know the world.
  4. Travel will be key once you are ready to start. Study the country you are interested in doing business with and book that trip! Consider hiring a guide (and a translator if necessary) to maximize your visit and learn the customs, including greetings, dress and more.
  5. Lastly, make sure your employees are all onboard as you dive into the international marketplace. Share small, and big, victories with your entire team to make them feel included. If you employ staff globally, find a way to regularly include them in meetings and communications, while remembering off-hours and special holidays in other countries. Your employees are your best asset.

What are some resources you’ve found helpful in your quest to go global?