Go Global and Grow

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The world offers a whole lot of buying power, and a well-prepared entrepreneur can tap into that revenue ocean more easily than ever. These tips and resources can help.

If you dream of business growth and expansion, you might consider looking beyond your area code. Way beyond your area code. According to the SBA, 96 percent of the world’s consumers live outside of U.S. borders. And, while global trade used to be the purview of huge multinationals, the times have changed – along with the cost and complexity of doing business overseas.

As Michael Lee, the director of global marketing for Alibaba.com, an international B2B ecommerce platform, tells Pedro Hernandez at Small Business Computing, small business owners can now expand globally at a “low or minimal cost.”

If you’re ready to expand your business horizons and scoop up your share of global customers, consider these tips and resources.

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Globe Trotter

Make the Explore Exporting resources at SBA.gov the first stop on your quest for world-market domination. It’s a helpful resource for learning everything you always wanted to know about being an exporter. Maybe even more.

Educate Yourself

This is no time to skimp on market research or slack off on your due diligence. You’ll find plenty of information at The Market Research Library and Trade Stats Express to help you determine whether it’s worth your while to go into a particular market. And if that’s not enough, be sure to avail yourself of the U.S. government’s trade statistics.

Build Strong Partner Relationships

As with any business partnership, it’s important to develop a good relationship; doing that with an ocean between you and your supplier can be tricky, so invest the extra time and effort to ensure a good result. It also pays to trust your initial instincts. If you sense an online supplier isn’t forthcoming, presents you with incomplete information, or the company’s website looks sketchy, Lee recommends that you look elsewhere.

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Communicate Like Crazy

As you might imagine, global trading comes with its share of cultural differences and language barriers. Make sure you communicate clearly, and that all parties involved understand your expectations and terms before signing anything. Online suppliers don’t want to lose business; as a result, they may agree to terms they can’t meet, says Lee.

Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of Small Business Computing. Follow Lauren on Twitter.

Adapted from 5 Global Trading Tips for Small Business by Pedro Hernandez at Small Business Computing. Follow Small Business Computing on Twitter.