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Accelerate Your Exports – Don’t Go It Alone!
August 15, 2017 Elizabeth Thomas, Business Development Specialist, Office of Small Business
The Small Business Administration (SBA), Department of Commerce (DoC) and EXIM Bank work closely together to help small businesses obtain working capital for export related activities, meet potential international buyers and protect a company’s foreign receivables from non-payment. Here are three of the most important lessons I have learned from colleagues at each of these agencies.

Lesson 1:  You can do it by yourself, but why would you?

SBA’s Bill Houck, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Manager for the Office of International Trade urges small business executives to do three things:

  • Build your export expertise;
  • Gain management buy- in; and
  • Be export ready!

The SBA website (www.sba.gov) has a wealth of information to help you get started including:

  • The Export Business Planner – a customizable tool for small businesses that are exploring exporting
  • An online export training course
  • Information on SBA export loan programs, and more

For early stage companies, the Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), a partnership between the SBA, universities and state economic development agencies, provide a variety of free consulting and low-cost training services including:

  • Business plan development
  • Procurement and contracting aid
  • Market research

Finally, SCORE, a nonprofit association of volunteer business counselors located throughout the United States, is another of the SBA’s many resources for small businesses. With over 13,000 counselors across the country, seasoned executives are there to help maximize the success of your business.

Lesson 2:  Exporting is a contact sport!

Sandra Collazo, Senior International Trade Specialist for the Department of Commerce U.S. Commercial Service, counsels small business owners to meet face-to-face with international partners and buyers, preferably in the local market. Many small business exporters have benefited from Department of Commerce programs including:

  • International Buyer Program (IBP) Trade Shows – industry specific trade shows and events that bring thousands of international buyers to the U.S. for business-to-business matchmaking with U.S. firms
  • Gold Key Service – in person meetings with pre-screened buyers, distributors, government contacts and others
  • Single Company Promotion – a promotional event to reach a target audience of clients and key decision-makers in markets around the world

Lesson 3:  Want to sleep at night? Get export credit insurance.

Sharyn Koenig, Managing Director, EXIM Bank, educates small business exporters on the top three reasons to have export credit insurance:

  • Risk Protection - protect receivables from nonpayment by international buyers due to political or commercial reasons
  • Sales tool – offer competitive terms to foreign buyers (generally up to 180 days, some products may qualify for 360 day terms)
  • Financing Aid – insured receivables may be added to your borrowing base by assignment of policy proceeds to a lender

Click here for more details on leveraging your export credit insurance policy and negotiating competitive credit terms with your foreign buyers.

In many locations the SBA, Department of Commerce and EXIM Bank are housed together in one convenient location known as a U.S. Export Assistance Center (USEAC). They are there to help you accelerate your exports – you don’t have to go it alone! Contact your local EXIM representative to make an appointment for one-stop shopping today:

Get a Free Export Finance Consultation Today!