Commerce, SBA Plan to Help Exporters

The U.S. Department of Commerce  (Commerce) and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) recently launched a new tool to help small- and mid-sized exporters. The new tool is aimed primarily at firms new to exporting or considering beginning exporting.

Part of President Barack Obama’s National Export Initiative (NEI), this new tool, “Six Steps to Begin Exporting, ” includes a self-assessment for small businesses to take which will help them gauge their export-readiness. The new tool will give businesses a score indicating their export-readiness and a list of additional resources and resource partners such the Small Business Development Centers and Commerce’s U.S. Export Assistance Centers, which provide individualized support.

Following the self-assessment, this new Web site will: walk small firms through sections on available training and counseling programs; provide resources to craft an export business plan; give small firms information on how to conduct market research for their exporting venture; provide assistance for finding foreign buyers; and offer financing assistance and research to fund the new exporting venture.

Both Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and SBA Administrator Karen Mills touted the program as a new and easy way to connect small firms with a relatively untapped global market. Mills stated that, “One of the main hurdles potential exporters face is their fear that exporting is too complicated.”

According to a recent survey conducted by SBEA and the National Small Business Association (NSBA), nearly half of small-business respondents said they would consider exporting their goods or services if the most significant challenges and barriers were addressed.  Given that, according to the SBEA survey, 96 percent of small exporters handle exporting operations within the company rather than use an external export-management company, this enhanced assistance from SBA and Commerce is a welcome addition to NEI.

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