My question is about international business. I’ve recently received some inquiries about selling my water overseas. Shipping overseas appears to be a logistical nightmare for a small business. What resources are available to aid businesses that are expanding to new global markets?
Shipping products for sale overseas presents challenges to a small business, but it should not be a logistical nightmare. You have several resources available that can assist you with all of the questions raised by a growing business on the verge of going international.
Do you already have potential customers to whom you want to ship directly? Or, do you need to find local distributors to place your product in their markets? Do you plan to invest directly and establish your company’s presence in foreign markets once your product has met with success? Whatever your business structures, marketing and shipping arrangements, you will face financial and exchange rate risk. I suggest you take advantage of the following resources:
• The Minnesota Trade Office (MTO). One of MTO’s missions is to assist companies with the export of their products. To that end, MTO is structured by industry and geographical regions. The MTO staff is highly experienced, knowledgeable and dedicated industry and country experts. Contact: 651-259-7498.
• Small Business Development Centers (SBDC). Partly funded by the U.S. government, SBDCs operate in cooperation with universities and offer advice on growing a business. SBDC counselors at the University of St. Thomas are all experienced business people and are available to help with advice and connections. Contact: 651-962-4500.
• Your bank. Regarding the management of exchange risk and the financing of international ventures, your bank may prove helpful.
About the author: Heino Beckmann, Associate professor, Finance Department, University of St. Thomas, Opus College of Business