Companies can tap a variety of export assistance resources to support international business opportunities. These tools are more important than ever as the opportunities to sell products and services internationally are unprecedented.
At the same time though exporting is not for everyone. Companies that want to sell products or services internationally need to make sure they are ready and have the capacity to serve foreign markets. If your business is thinking about developing international sales or wants to expand into new countries we recommend you take an export readiness survey. This questionnaire will help you understand how well prepared you are to start or expand international sales.
If you do indeed have the desire and capacity to develop export markets, there are a variety of helpful resources available:
Export Counseling and Assistance: There are a variety of resources available to companies needing help with exporting. The WSU Small Business Development Centers operate two export centers, one in Spokane and one in Seattle. Both offices have seasoned business advisors who can tangibly help companies with exporting questions or issues. The state Department of Commerce also has several trade specialists that can help companies with exporting. Companies can also connect with the US Export Assistance Center in Seattle or Spokane. These offices have several seasoned trade advisors.
For farmers and agricultural companies interested in exporting the State Department of Agriculture offers international marketing assistance.
In addition to counseling resources here are additional links local, state and federal export resources. There are also a number of good webinars on exporting.
Planning for Success: Whether you are exporting for the first time or moving into new countries or regions, proper planning is essential to ensure all key details are considered and covered before going abroad. The best way to accomplish this is to write a business plan that considers the following issues:
As part of this planning think about who and how your product will be sold. You may want or need to connect with foreign buyers or distributors. You also need to have a good understanding of export and import regulations impacting your product or service. Think through and articulate how your product or service gets to the customer. And last but not least businesses need to determine how much their product or service should cost in foreign countries.
The US Small Business Administration provides a helpful Export Business Planner that guides people through this planning process. Another similar resource is the Washington State Small Business Development Centers' Export Readiness Center. You will also benefit from knowing where to look for market research on foreign countries.
Export Financing - There are a variety of financing programs available to support international business. The US Small Business Administration offers export loans that help businesses access term and working capital funding as well as operating lines of credit. The US Export Import Bank serves as an important financing resource by providing guarantees, insurance and direct loans needed to support international business transactions.
Grants for Exporters - Typically grants for small businesses are nonexistent and bunch of hype. Here is an exception though! The Washington Department of Commerce can provide grants of up to $5000 to businesses that are in a position to export and need help.
The Washington State Department of Commerce’s Export Voucher program, funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) State Trade and Export Promotion grant, offers qualified companies new to exporting or expanding into new export markets up to $5,000 for export-related expenses (a minimum 25 percent cash match is required).
To qualify for these grants companies must:
The following types of programs and expenses are eligible for an Export Voucher:
For more information about STEP Export Vouchers contact:
Washington State Department of Commerce
Phone: 206-256-6143 or firstname.lastname@example.org