In today's tough economic climate, many small businesses are worried whether or not they will survive. If the future isn't looking bright, you may want to give exporting another look. A variety of factors make now a better time than ever:

  • A weak dollar means, relative to the field, your products are on sale.
  • Depression? Not everywhere in the world! Look to other markets to fill in for slumping domestic demand.
  • Is your product seasonal? Look to a different hemisphere to fill in off-season sales.

These tips come from Businessweek's great podcast, Smart Answers, that covers a variety of topics centered around small business. Recently, they did a show focusing on helping demystify exporting. I encourage anyone with a small business who has even the faintest idea that they might like to export to check it out and listen. Here are some other great ideas that I got out of it:

Small is strategic

Small businesses are more flexible than large ones - this is a crucial factor in global business where cultural differences make personal relationships more effective. Also, technology has taken away many of the risks - if you have a website, you are already functionally global.

Fear is the biggest hurdle - and the most solvable

You can only be afraid of what you don't know. Going international is a risk, but research and solid long term planning can help calm your mind. Just make sure you are prepared, and double-check to make sure your international partners are qualified buyers. Put policies and procedures in place, so you know where you stand when problems arise.

Less risky than you think

If you have a website, you are already international! Why not invest and make your website more global-friendly?

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