Going Global: Resources for Entrepreneurs and Small Businesses

More than 96 percent of the world's customers live outside of the United States. More small businesses are going global - why not look at opportunities for growth abroad?

More than 96 percent of the world’s customers live outside of the United States. More small businesses are going global – why not look at opportunities for expansion and growth abroad?  There are abundant resources to help you sell your products and services overseas.

Small Business Growth Through Trade

The growth in real total trade (exports plus imports) equaled 46 percent of U.S. economic growth from 2000 to 2014, with real exports equaling 23 percent of growth over the period. International markets are increasingly important for the growth of U.S. small firms.

According to the International Trade Association:

• A record 305,000 U.S. companies exported goods in 2012, nearly 98 percent of which (297,995) were small or medium-sized companies (SMEs) with fewer than 500 employees.

• SMEs were responsible for 33 percent of goods exports in 2012.

• Of manufacturers, 97 percent were small and medium-sized firms, accounting for 18 percent of sector’s export value.

• Of firms engaging in trade, 83,000 both exported and imported merchandise in 2012. Of these, 79,000 (or 95 percent) were SMEs.

• SMEs accounted for 97 percent of identified importers in 2012.

See the ITA information here.



• Nearly 96 percent of consumers live outside the U.S.

• Two-thirds of the world’s purchasing power is in foreign countries.

• There is a significant opportunity for small businesses to profit through exporting, but entrepreneurs need to GO WHERE THE CUSTOMERS ARE. 



The U.S. government, state governments, business organizations and leading corporations provide abundant “how to” resources — and many are FREE. Below are some useful links to resources and information that may assist you in researching global markets and selling your products or services abroad generally.  Please make sure to sign up for SBE Council’s enews, which brings you regular reports and alerts from the International Trade Administration on information and opportunities for your small business.

SBE Council President & CEO Karen Kerrigan listed the top Twitter accounts for entrepreneurs to follow if they are interested in learning the latest information and trends about doing business globally.

SBE Council President & CEO Karen Kerrigan listed the top Twitter accounts to follow for entrepreneurs who want to learn about the latest information on doing business globally.

The United States currently has 20 trade agreements with other countries. Several other major trade agreements are being negotiated.

NEI NEXT: A initiative to build upon the National Export Initiative (NEI).  NEI NEXT will feature new support programs and information for businesses exploring global opportunities or expanding their international presence. Visit the resource portal here.

Resources and Experts to Follow: Twitter can act as your news feed for everything global. Go here to learn about the experts and entities to follow on Twitter as recommended by SBE Council President & CEO Karen Kerrigan.



UPS Global Trade Portal:  This UPS resource site can help you navigate the complexities of going global. “Whether you’re new to the global marketplace or new to international shipping with UPS, you’re in the right place. Working with UPS can help you reduce the risk, complexity and cost of global trade.”

“It’s Time to Go Global: Small Businesses Now Have More Support than Ever,” by Dan Brutto, president, UPS International


U.S. Small Business Administration:

Commerce Department and SBA Provide Online Tool to Help Small Businesses Begin Exporting: Small businesses interested in exporting now have a new online tool to help them tap into the global marketplace to grow their business. Developed by the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Small Business Administration, Six Steps to Begin, is the latest tool in the National Export Initiative toolbox to help entrepreneurs begin exporting.logo-1

Small Business Guide to Exporting (FREE Online Resource): Sections include identifying international markets, foreign markets entry, export financing, strategic alliances and more. To access the guide, please click here.

Local SBA U.S. Export Assistance Centers:  The one-stop centers are located in major metropolitan areas throughout the U.S. and are there to provide your small- or medium-sized business with local export assistance.  Please click here.

Export Finance ProgramsSBA’s three specialized loan guaranty programs that help provide export financing, credit to close a sale, and funds for working capital.  Please click here.

Export-U:  The U. S. Export Assistance Center in Atlanta and the University of Georgia’s Small Business Development Center international business webinar site.  The site is designed specifically for busy professionals who need quick answers to trade-related questions. The free webinar topics include: How to know if you are ready to export, Global market research, Costing and pricing, Commerce Department services, Payment terms, SBA export financing, and more.  To visit the site, please click here.

Export-Import Bank – Small Business Portal: An interactive guide for U.S. small business exporters. Please click here.


U.S. Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration (ITA):

U.S. Commercial Services:  The trade promotion unit of the International Trade Administration (ITA) will help you get started in exporting, or help increase your sales to new global markets. They have trade specialists in 107 U.S. cities and in more than 80 countries.  Services include: world class market research, trade events that promote your product or service to qualified buyers, introductions to qualified buyers and distributors, counseling and advocacy through every step of the export process.  To learn more about how the U.S. Commercial Service can help your company export, contact a U.S. Export Assistance Center near your or call 1-800-USA-TRAD(E).  Visit the website for additional information and resources.

A Basic Guide to Exporting:  Whether your firm is new to exporting or in need of a refresher on the latest ideas and techniques, this comprehensive guide, now completely revised and updated, provides the nuts-and-bolts information you will need to meet the challenges of today’s global economy. There is a charge for the guide. For more information, please click here.

Videos on Export Basics: Need to know how to complete a NAFTA Certificate of Origin, or comply with customs regulations for outbound shipments?  These “how to” videos are among many others that provide step-by-step instructions.  Save yourself time, money, and headaches by learning how to get your goods to the buyer.  Click here to view videos, and list of video options.


Other ITA Resources:

The Export Yellow Pages: Advertise worldwide free or upgrade to fee-based ads – online and in print.  More than 27,000 U.S. members are participating.  Browse company profiles free.   Accessible by clicking here.  New print edition available worldwide via U.S. Commercial Service network:

Trade Finance Guide: A Quick Reference for U.S. Exporters: Discover the basic fundamentals of trade finance. Turn your export opportunities into sales that you get paid for and paid for on time.  The Manufacturing and Services unit of the International Trade Administration offers the guide by clicking here.

Trade Compliance Center: Are you facing foreign government trade barriers when exporting or investing abroad? The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Trade Compliance Center helps American exporters and investors overcome foreign trade barriers and works to ensure that foreign countries comply with their trade agreement obligations to the United States.  If companies have a question about investing overseas or need help addressing a foreign government trade barrier, complete the form at  — it will be evaluated, and a response provided.

Need Help with Standards? StandardsPortal aims to facilitate trade by helping companies better understand the market access and market acceptance requirements they face around the world.

Profiles for U.S. Exporters
On April 9, 2009, the U.S. Census Bureau, Department of Commerce, released the report, A Profile of U.S. Exporting Companies, 2006 – 2007. The report contains information on U.S. exporters linked to export transactions. View the report by clicking here.


Stats and Data:

TradeStats ExpressTM: The most up-to-date annual and quarterly trade data. You can retrieve, visualize, analyze, print and download your own customized output.  Please click here.

State Data (U.S.): A series of reports outlining the effects of international trade on all 50 states’ economic infrastructures. Please click here.


News and Media Releases