Ask the Experts
Florida is home to nearly 60,000 exporters — second highest number in the U.S. — and nearly all of them are small- and medium-sized businesses with fewer than 500 employees. Florida exporters here enjoy a multimodal system that ensures seamless movement of people and products between any two points on the planet as well as ready access to the nation’s second largest Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) network.
I’d like to explore the possibility of becoming an exporter. Where do I go for help and what should I do first?
Make it happen
Serious about becoming an exporter? Don’t go it alone; for best results, partner with:
U.S. Commercial Service With trade professionals in six Florida offices to help companies get started in exporting or increase sales to new global markets by identifying and evaluating international partners, creating market entry strategies and navigating documentation challenges. For general information on regulations, licensing, free trade agreements and other topics related to exporting, visit www.export.gov.
Florida SBDC Network In partnership with Enterprise Florida and the U.S. Commercial Service, Florida SBDC International Trade Specialists prepare Export Marketing Plans for qualifying Florida-based manufacturers and service providers. Approximately 100 hours is spent preparing each customized plan, which includes target market recommendations, overseas trade opportunities and an action plan for market entry. Each plan costs $4,000; qualifying companies are eligible for a $3,500 scholarship, bringing your company’s cost to $500.
Should I go global?
Questions to ask before you take the plunge:
1. Is my business ready? Complete the free “Exporter Assessment” at www.export.gov/article?id=New-Exporter-Assessment to determine if your small business truly is in a position to expand internationally.
2. Do I have a plan? Before jumping into uncharted waters, take some time to put your plans on paper. Assemble facts, identify constraints and set specific goals to ensure positive outcomes.
3. Have I done my homework? You wouldn’t take a foreign vacation without researching your destination, so why take your company overseas with no prior knowledge? Study up on markets, trade barriers, regulations and other exporting details specific to wherever you’re headed.
4. Where do I even start? If you know absolutely nothing about exporting, but would like to learn, a good place to start is at www.sba.gov/learning-center. Scroll down to “Grow Your Business,” then click on “Take Your Business Global” for an easy-to-understand introduction to exporting.
5. Where can I find help? Contact Florida SBDC or Enterprise Florida.