Inconsistency - crippling SMB export initiatives at multiple levels

Ed Marsh | Jun 16, 2014
"Report finds small business export initiatives lack consistency"
So true......

Government support programs

The GAO report was speaking generally about the multitude of government programs intended to support SMB international sales growth.  

The good news is there are many.  And the bad news is the same.

The National Export Initiative intended to streamline and consolidate resources as did the elevation of SBA administrator to a cabinet level position.  Despite the good intentions, and some progress, there is much more to be achieved.

While it's not perfect, though, numerous success stories highlight what SMBs can do when they decide to succeed globally and expend a bit of effort to engage with the government programs which can help them.

Company programs

But the same headline is essentially just as applicable to most companies' internal export initiatives.  They lack consistency and are often chaotic and disorganized.

Most SMB international sales efforts are "accidental."  The vast majority of initial overseas forays are in response to their domestic customers own global support requests.  And once they decide to go, they typically focus on "transactional" details while ignoring important strategic questions.

Sales channel is often an randomly selected; marketing isn't localized; market selection is in reaction to inquiries rather than proactively against criteria for success; key risks are unmitigated (and often unrecognized); and the net result is that the results suffer.

The justification

But why go through the hassle?  Why labor to find the right government programs even if it takes some work?  Why work to build internal capability and a cadre of capable advisors?  

Here's the answer from Wells Fargo
"The global marketplace is no longer the exclusive domain of large corporations as mid-sized U.S. companies focus on doing business internationally in order to be financially successful...'U.S. companies are bullish on international business ,' said Sanjiv Sanghvi, head of Wells Fargo’s Global Banking Group. 'They view international markets as growth opportunities for their products, services and supply chains. The results of our inaugural International Business Indicator provide insights into the ‘why, how and where’ of the international strategies for these U.S. companies.'
Business is global.  Just as you might have initially held out on a fax machine, a cell phone and a website...and eventually caught up, the same will happen in this regard.

Wouldn't you rather drive the range rather than be buffeted by it?

Check out our free guide on selecting your first export markets.

Click me