SCORE Tip of the Week: How to Know if You’re Ready to Sell Globally

SCORE's CEO, Kenneth R. Yancey, asks questions to help determine if your small business is ready for international expansion.

Selling your products overseas can sound intimidating for a small business, but in reality, global expansion is easier than ever. Technological advances like email, videoconferencing and ecommerce have simplified the process of working with overseas distributors and connecting with potential customers. Still, there are some key questions to ask before you start selling overseas.

  • Do you have the resources—including money, staff and time—to devote to expanding overseas? Without adequate resources, premature overseas expansion could drain the lifeblood from your existing business.
  • Is your small business well established in the U.S. market? It’s important to make sure your U.S. distribution channels, systems and processes are running smoothly before you take on the added challenge of global expansion.
  • Do you have any connections to foreign countries? You may not know potential distributors or partners just yet, but even something as simple as knowing the language, having friends or family in that country, or having worked in that country in the past can simplify the process of making business connections.
  • Does your product have the potential to appeal to a foreign market? Not all products “translate” well to an overseas audience, so research your market to identify potentially lucrative markets for what you sell.
  • Do you have a strong online presence? Selling via ecommerce is one of the simplest ways to move into international markets, so a business that already has a well-developed website and online presence has an edge.
  • Are you willing to approach overseas sales in a well-thought-out, strategic fashion? Rushing into international sales too quickly can lead to big problems, so make sure you take the time to think through your approach to global expansion.