Resources to help you scale your business to a global level are available in your own backyard.
Article by Jennifer McGreaham | Graphics by Alondra Flores
If your business is dreaming of breaking borders and going global, know that you don’t have to figure it out alone. In fact, we have an excellent resource right here in Eugene with the Lane Small Business Development Center (SBDC). But, don’t let the name fool you—small business, by their definition, is any business with up to 500 Employees.
The biggest challenge can be getting started, so it’s important to build out a plan that is viable.
SBDC begins by meeting with local businesses so they can get a sense of their desires and dreams to export, and they will ask questions to find out where the business is at in that process. Before considering going global, there are several things to evaluate beyond the typical day-to-day business functions. understanding the local market you live in is one thing, but going into another country adds numerous layers of complications.
There are many more logistics, regulations, customs processes and cultural considerations.
We don’t know what we don’t know and in a global setting that grows exponentially. Today, with the rise of eCommerce, we live in a global marketplace and many competitors have already "figured out" global trade. It’s not just a place for selling, but a place of competition. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a market or need for your product or service. There are many businesses here in Lane County that have made the journey around the world with their products.
A popular Kombucha company came to the Global Trade Center a few years ago to seek assistance with the development of their company and expansion into new markets. Self-identified as wanting to be an exporter, the company qualified for an international trade loan program to purchase equipment to standardize the processing so they could meet trade requirements. This allowed them to produce a product and export to Canada, while also facilitating distribution through Whole Foods and other national grocery chains.
This process added jobs, increased production capacity and strengthened their local footprint—all positive impacts on our community.
Recently, a craft distiller took the global trade management class, connected with trade partners and along with the no-cost advising provided by the GTC, went to a trade show in China and expanded to new markets, such as Japan, where they are collaborating with another Oregon SBDC Global Trade Center client. This activity has expedited its successful trajectory and has allowed them to expand operations locally as well.
There are two classes in particular that are recommended for starting on the international path: Business Planning and Understand Your Financials. Should a business be further along in the process, Lane SBDC will engage the global trade team, consisting of experts out of Portland, who provide specific consultation and education for businesses wanting to operate overseas. SBDC also partners with other agencies to act as extended networks of support and can pull in other entities and resources as needed.
Our local Lane SBDC staff are working diligently on certifications to be able to assist our local businesses in this important part of the business journey. Counselors are currently being trained to get Certified Global Business Professional certification (CGBP) through the National Association of Small Business International Trade Educators (NASBITE—now that’s an acronym!).
For a business to engage in global trade, you have to have a strong understanding of your business, the financials and what your business can do to engage in these markets. You have to be intentional with your business and processes, and also need to know what steps you may need to take to keep moving forward.
With the free and low-cost business-centric services offered by Lane SBDC, they are here to help you evaluate potential opportunities and build a plan that can get you to where you want to go—literally and figuratively.
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