Export and expand your business globally

Exporting can increase sales and revenues and make your business competitive domestically and internationally.

Upcoming events

U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of International Trade's "Grow Your Sales Through Trade" webinar for small businesses (July 16, 2024)

The SBA is hosting a webinar to help small businesses learn about how to sell internationally and its advantages to a business' bottom line. Join now to learn about accessing export resources and grow your business internationally. Follow the link for more details and registration.

Why you should consider expanding your business globally

Your business is only as strong as the opportunities you explore and use. Expose your brand to new markets to create a long-lasting business

Consider the following:

  • 96% of consumers live outside the United States.
  • 66% of global consumption will come from Asia by 2030.
  • Only 1% of small & medium-sized businesses export, making them too reliant on domestic markets.
  • Businesses that export are far more competitive.
  • Businesses that export generally experience greater revenue growth.
  • Businesses that export are better positioned to weather future recessions.
  • The world continues to be more competitive. If businesses don’t look outward, they may not succeed.

You might have many questions about whether your business is ready to expand. Start here to learn more and get connected to those that can help you.

Start your research

The Small Business Administration (SBA) has tools to help you understand what it takes to do business globally. The International Trade Administration (ITA) provides online export solutions that can help you know everything you need as you consider expanding your business around the world.The Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) also has resources to help you learn about growing export sales.

Draft your export and expansion plan

There are many important things to consider when you begin your efforts to expand internationally, and it is essential to develop an export business plan that defines your goals, objectives, and strategies. The International Trade Administration has tips on how to develop an export plan that can help you start designing your approach to selling your business to the world.

Get expert advice

As you develop your plan, contact the U.S. Commercial Service to speak with a trade specialist who can offer to help you further improve your export strategy. The California State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) helps small businesses understand how to export and has a team ready to answer your questions. Additionally, the San Francisco Small Business Development Center can connect you with an export consultant with knowledge about exporting and expansion.

Consider how your company will plan to finance this new operation. The Small Business Administration has information on export loans and products, and San Francisco has several loan options to consider as well. The International Trade Administration also has information about export financing for you to review as you continue to develop your plan.

Understand international markets

You should carefully analyze what geographies would be the most advantageous to your business. Start by researching where the best opportunities exist for your type of business. The International Trade Administration’s Market Intelligence provides you with country-specific information that will help you get an understanding of various markets' opportunities and challenges. To learn more about the economy and demographics of countries around the world, the World Factbook has regularly updated information that will aid in your research.

The Office of Economic and Workforce Development provides resources for you to consider as you conduct your analysis of different markets.

Review your export plan with experts

Once developed, review your plan with experts. Contact the San Francisco office of U.S. Commercial Service to discuss your exporting plans.

The Export Legal Assistance Network will provide legal consultation once you have developed your plan and spoken to the U.S. Commercial Service.

Connect with future buyers and partners

As part of your strategy, you should visit your desired foreign market(s) to connect with your future buyers and partners. One avenue to help you connect with overseas partners is to join a trade mission. The International Trade Administration has a schedule of upcoming trade missions that you may want to look into. The California Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) has a calendar of events and trade missions that you should explore as well. Assistance is available with connecting your business with overseas partners through the International Trade Administration's Gold Key Matching Service. The International Trade Administration also has tips to help you plan your international business trip.

For more information about expanding your business overseas, please email the Office of Economic and Workforce Development at oewd@sfgov.org. We would be more than happy to help you out.

Featured resources

Small Business Development Center (SBDC)

The US Small Business Administration (SBA) Small Business Development Center (SBDC) provides a vast array of technical assistance to small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs, including step-by-step business planning. The SBDC provides free, confidential one-on-one business counseling, hands-on workshops and access to capital for existing small businesses and ready to launch startups. SBDC services include counseling and assistance with business plans, financial projections and budgeting, operating challenges, loan packaging and more.

International Trade Administration (ITA)

The International Trade Administration (ITA) provides comprehensive support for U.S. companies to realize their dreams of international expansion through advice, business tools, and other services.

Small Business Administration

The U.S. Small Business Administration provides you with resources and tools to understand all facets of exporting.

California State Trade Expansion Program

The California State Trade Expansion Program offers financial assistance and resources for small businesses that are interested in selling in foreign markets.

Last updated June 18, 2024