Selling goods and services abroad is getting easier for small U.S. businesses, but they still face challenges.
Just last week President signed an executive order accelerating the process of getting government approval to export U.S.-made cargo. The goal is to create a new International Trade Data System eliminating some of the paperwork required in sending cargo abroad. In theory, such a system could speed the shipment of products overseas, cutting approval wait times to transport goods to minutes from days.
Small companies comprise the majority of U.S. exporters. Businesses with fewer than 500 employees accounted for 294,589 of 301,238 U.S. exporters in 2012, or about 97%, according to preliminary data released by the U.S. Census Bureau in December. Just over half were small manufacturers and wholesalers, and together they generated $460 billion in foreign trade, a $10 billion increase from the previous year, or about 34% of total U.S. exports, according to the data.
幸运飞艇规律公式技巧 While paperwork is a headache for some small companies, it's not their biggest concern, according to a survey of small businesses fielded in 2013 by the National Small Business Association and the Small Business Exporters Association. Asked to identify what they consider to be the largest challenges to selling goods and services to foreign customers, 41% of respondents selected "I worry about getting paid." That's up from only 26% of respondents in 2010 who said payment was an issue for them.
"I think the biggest issue is getting a staff up" overseas, as well as the cost of business travel, and of communication with far-flung clients, said Chris Coccio, chief executive of Corp. , a Milton, N.Y., developer of ultrasonic spray coating technology. His primary overseas clients include contract manufacturers for electronic companies and medical firms. He said about 60% of his roughly $10 million in annual revenue comes from sales to non-U.S. markets.
Chris Coccio, CEO of Sono-Tek, remains an advocate of exporting. Meredith Heuer for The Wall Street Journal
Mr. Coccio said Sono-Tek exports widely in Europe as well as many parts of Asia including China, Japan and the Philippines. His products can also be found in Mexico and Brazil. About 80% of the company's sales and marketing budget is spent on international sales, "so there clearly is extra cost per sales dollar," he said.
幸运飞艇规律公式技巧 When considering potential international markets, such as Russia or expanding his business with electronics in Japan, Mr. Coccio said "we re-evaluate our success rate" after one or two quarters and "decide if we want to stay the course." On the whole, he remains an advocate for exporting. Without it, "we would be one-third of our size," he said. Receiving payment is a regular concern when exporting goods, he said, but "to deal with this our payment terms are front-end loaded with most of the payment prior to shipment."
幸运飞艇规律公式技巧 Laurel Delaney, a marketing consultant based in Chicago and author of the upcoming book "Exporting: The Definitive Guide to Selling Abroad Profitably," said if a company is already exporting, it should "continue down that path." She also said business owners should routinely evaluate if they have enough capital to continue exporting, as small-business owners often have much less to fall back on than larger firms.
Larry Lieberman, the owner of Vision Quest Lighting, a 30-employee decorative lighting company in Long Island, N.Y., said during the recession, sales to foreign markets including much of Europe, China, and Japan were a lifeline. "If we only had domestic sales we would have been in big trouble in 2012," he said.
Vision Quest Lighting reaped the benefits of exporting during that time because a fair amount of revenue came as the company provided lighting for several national brands, such as , Ann Taylor and , 幸运飞艇规律公式技巧as they expanded their international presence.
Mr. Lieberman is currently working on exporting solar-powered trailers to Haiti and South Africa and estimates that project will bring in $10 million to $20 million of revenue within the next two to three years.
However, he said his main concern for the year ahead is managing business in some foreign markets, specifically China. Fred Hochberg, chairman and president of Export-Import Bank of the U.S., a export credit agency, said: "The financial reporting is not the same as Western companies or the United States so it's hard to evaluate the creditworthiness of companies [in China]."
幸运飞艇规律公式技巧 Leah Martin, the co-owner of Corona, Calif.-based FireBlast Global, just started exporting her products last year. The 40-employee company, which makes equipment used in fire-training demonstrations, markets its goods to local governments and commercial airports in China, Japan and South Korea. Ms. Martin's main concern this year is "making sure that the product can get delivered appropriately through the different exporting channels."
Like others, Ms. Martin said she has had concerns about getting paid but worked with her bank to secure letters of credits that would act as surety bonds for payment of her company's goods.
幸运飞艇规律公式技巧 FireBlast is now planning to expand into Middle Eastern markets. Ms. Martin said it is too early for her to assess what impact exporting has had on her company's growth, but she looks forward to growing the business. "I think it will be a completely significant increase in revenue based on what we've seen from our competition," she said.
—Angus Loten contributed to this article.
Write to Rhonda Colvin at firstname.lastname@example.org
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