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Second, the Internet has exponentialiy increased the ease of working

with international customers and suppliers. "Technology erases boundaries
,presrclent ot Glotlelrade, a management consultlng and marketlng solutions

i':. . -l
The first step toward global trade is doing your

trong push to boost exporting, particularly by smal1 to midsized businesses, by providing more resources and expertise, and making financing more available. There's never been a better time to go global, says Delaney: "You have


homework. Fortunately, there are dozens of resources available to help you. Below are some

ofthe best.
Alibabd,C0lTl-search for products, manufacturers, wholesalers 0r buyers' sources by country, region 0r category.




Want to sel1 your products internationally? The first step is determining the right market. Delaney suggests these Web sites as good resources: BuyUSA gov, and the Internarional Trade
Administration's These sites have information and reports specific




to markets and industries, prepared by experts and available lor free
she says.


BUyUSA.gOv-rnis u.S. commerciat service web site has information for both importers and exporters. Find U.S. Export Assistance Center 0r U.S. Commercial Service locations near you, as well as country-

Look for a country that nor only has high demand for your product, but is also easy to work with. English-speaking countries, such as the U.K., Ireland, New Zealand and Australia, are easy to do business with in terms of
language, shipping and paymenr. Delaney says.

fl Export,g0v-The U.S. government's export portat -:), brings together resources from all the government ..; agencies that deal with exporting. You can find market
=,,,1 research, trade leads, financing information and more.

One way to keep things simple-F6f.-Amg online. For Couch, global e-commerce happened naturally, as international consumers discovered the site. "If you have something that is truly [unique]," says Perkins, "having a
Web site flauens the globe."



Good search-engine optimization is essential for anyone seiling online.

il:: import/export trade leads and events, as well as links
.r.'ri to 8,000
international trade-related Web sites.

Federation of lnternational Trade Associations (FlTA,org)-Find internarionar

"SEO is




e tonatsources.colJl-source products ontine 0r find trade shows, events and industry-specific reports.

lobeTrade, co



like the new Yellow Pages," Perkins says. "lfyou can get listed high in search results, you're in the world's phone book." Once your site is optlmized for search engines, "market, market, market via every lmaginable platform-blogs, Facebook, YouTube, Twitrer and Linkedln," Delaney says. "Keep a conversation going worldwide on what's so

market, export, im

company helps s0urce res0urces,



meisaraGgy- wofledloiCouch. The company's Web sire, blog and e-mail newsletters emphasize that the products are made tn the United States and

;iil nternational Trade Adm in istration a! (Tfade.gOV)-Find a tocat tTA office, counseting,


trade missions and events, research and more.

highlight well-known musicians who have purchased the straps-inciuding Beck, The White Stripes and Keith Urban. Perkins believes authenriciry
and personal relationships wtth customers are essential, so Couch sends personalized responses to orders and includes handwritten thank-you notes in every package. As satlsfied customers blog about the products (and the customer service), word has spread worldwide.

rISBA's 0ffice of lnternational

Trade utsba/sba0 ro0 ram s/ ihte rnlationaltrade/i ndei. trtin t;-e't
ba. q ov/abo

information about programs t0 help you import, export or finance global trade.

While Couch lets internatlonal e-commerce grow organically, you can also target your strategy. "If you know you want to se1l in Brazil, lor example,
then make that clear on your site Brazil opportunities, clich here-and
hopefully have that page translated in Porruguese," Delaney says. 'A


Show News Network (


Find vendors and trade shows worldwide.





Globol Guilorist
Don Perkins exponded his vegon guitor strop business from his goroge to o globol morketploce using the lnternet.

recognizable icon, such as a country's flag, helps enormously for visitors in determining where business gets conducted."

You've made the sale; now how do you ship? If you're shlpping a big order to a distributor, you may want to hire a broker or freight lorwarder to handle shipping and customs lssues. If you're selling direct to customers, like Couch does, FedEx, UPS or the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) are options. Because Couch wan[s to keep cuslomer costs low, Perkins uses USPS plus Endicia postal software ( "Even if you're starting small, if you want to do it we1l, set up that type of program to ship," Perkins recommends. "You'll be that much more organized and efficient, and won't spend time standing in llne at the post office ." Whether seliing directly to consumers or to distributors, how do you ensure you'll get paid? For smaller transaclions (under $5,000), Delaney _ .'ffierences, larger transa@ methods such as PayPal .For trade associations and your bank's internatlonal trade deparr ment to assess a new distributor's reputation. "Use the resources backed by our tax dollars, such as the U.S. consulate or U.S. embassy in that



60untry," Delaney adv ises. Comilunicatron is key, she adds: "You h4ve to f,nd oul how much ybu can'trtXst eacil other and what you dan er$ect,of each party." Once you're comfortable with the distributor, you may be able to ask for partial payment before you ship the product, or even get a down paymenl to finance making the product.
Sales to distributors are not high-priority for Couch, whose business model is to ellminate the middleman. But when dlstributors in Tokyo,

When Doing Business Overseos
) /
in English-speaking countries with a legitimate banking system and established transportation methods and regulations. "You want to import, export and manage payment without major hassle," says global expert Laurel Delaney.

1. 00 keep it simple. Start

Austria and Germany found the company, Perkins built relationships gradually: 'Just like in the United States. we start someone out with a sma1l order and see how it goes."

Today, Couch guitar straps are sold direct to consumers worldwide and in approximately
70 stores in the United States and overseas; the company has also launched a line of vegan camera straps, belts and wallets.


h /


overlook communication. trust and understanding are crucial to the success 0f any international business relationship. "[0ngoing] miscommunication and misunderstandings should be a red
flag," Delaney says.




3. D0 have a unique product.

Whether importing 0r exporting, "someone in another country will undercut you 0n price," warns smallbusiness owner Dan Perkins, "so make sure you have a product that doesn't exist anywhere else." From free resources provided by government t0 freight forwarders, brokers and consultants such as the GlobeTrade, there are myriad sources t0 assist you. "Anything that comes out 0f nowhere and l00ks like you can earn fast money is probably a scam," !9]gleylryqns,--'lf it s0unds too good to be true, it probably is."

Looking to source products overseas? The Federation of International Trade Associations
( rs a good place to begin your search. You can also get help from your state's Commerce Department, the U. S. Commercial Service Products

4. D0il'Ttry to go it alone.

and Services ( and's Gold Key Matching Service (export.govAalesandmarketing/eg_main-018195. asp). Attending an international trade show is a smart way to get started. At trade shows, you'll find products, manufacturers and brokers to help you with the complexitles of international sourcing. Adam Rizza took the trade-show route when



5. D0 be cautious.


he began seeking overseas sunglasses suppliers. He and his brother,
Wa11y, began

retailing sunglasses at kiosks in 1995; by 1999, their Irvine, Callf., company had 25 locations. But the product available
States "wasn't cool enough," he recalls. Rizza attended a trade show

Culturcl lssues to Wotch Out For
Doing business overseas requires sensitivity to cultural differences. "As in anything new, you must take time to understand and learn to respect people, however different they

in the United

in Hong Kong, found brokers, and the brothers began

importing. Sourcing overseas revolutionrzed the Rizzas' buslness model.
Today, their business is primarily wholesale. Sunscape Eyewear Inc. (of whrch Adam is president and CEO), imports and distributes sunglasses, readers and optrcals to 1,500 boutiques and 32 major retailers worldwide. Their retail business, Rizza & Associates (of which Wa11y is president and CEO), has four southern California kiosks they use as testing grounds to see what products sell. "There are all these myths about [overseas] factories," Adam says. "That's why we went with brokers at first-you pay a litt1e bit more, but they manage it lor you and guarantee you'11 get rhe product." By 2000, however, the Rizzas were ready to start dealing direct. "Through the brokers, we lound factories and slowly began communicating with them," Adan-r says. While some preliminary communication can be done vla e-mail and phone, when sourcing overseas, Adam cautions, "That face-to, face meeting is priceless. Anybody can te1l you they have a milllonsquare-foot factory and send you someone else's pictures-and, unfortunately, a lot of people do that." Meeting in person is essential to assessing a company's trustworthiness. "You don't go to China and spend a day at rhe facrory; you spend a couple weeks," Adam says. "You're living with them, seeing therr day-to-day operations and understanding what rhey're about. When you meet the rlght people, you'l1 feel that comfort zone." Of course, you should also do your due diirgence, just as you would with an overseas distributor. Asyou get quotes

may be," says global expert Laurel Delaney. Her tips:


Fallow your foreign csiltacts' lead. "Pay attention to how

[they] do things, and try to model that behavior," she says.


ASk a lot af qiiestions. "This not only helps you understand how they do things, but conveys that you sincerely care," Delaney says.

+ Get an introdUCtion.


lnternational Trade Association's

trade missions are a great way t0 learn about a new country; organizers not only arrange lodging and appointments for you, but also explain cultural do's and don'ts.


For women only: Women still face extra challenges in many countries. Depending on the region, Delaney says, you may need to put a male employee in charge oltourlniEineftnat business.


D0 y0ur homework, using all the resources available to learn what is expected. Two books Delaney recommends: Gestures: The Do's and Taboos of Body the Wortd,by Roger E. Axtell, and Leading with Cultural lntelligence: The New Secret to


Success, by David Livermore.

lrom potential
suppliers, assess the bottom line.

"Bringlng something from overseas
ve ry expensit'e transportationwrse," Delaney says. "wffi you trying to


typically need to be doing a large volume of business or getring a product you can't get anywhere else. Adam Rizza, for example, uses Chinese factories to produce his own eyewear designs more cheaply than he could in the United States. Also analyze the demand for the product locally and know how you plan to sell it. "Have an axis of drstribution before you buy anything," Adam Rizza warns. "You don't want to get stuck with products-that's how companies go belly-up." To manage the logistics of importing, including shipping, payment and cusloms, most businesses hire a lreight forwarder. "Look for one that is well-versed in the region where you're doing business," Delaney says. Depending on the scale of your importlng, she says.

ng at first, but if you do your homework, take advantage of rhe many resources avallable and start small, it can spur your business to heights you
never irnagined. "It's like getting the first olive out of the.lar, and then the rest just

accomplish Iby
importingl? Is the
net result going to
be a cost savings?" For importrng to

worthwhile, you

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