Small businesses across the U.S. have discovered that exporting products and services provides an opportunity they had not considered before. In the coming weeks, we will be exploring some of those opportunities and how to access them. A good place to start is dispelling some of the myths about small business and exporting that many small businesses may have. From the SBA, here are a few of the common misperceptions about small business and exporting:

Myth #1: Exporting is only for large companies.

Fact: Small firms account for 97 percent of all exporters.

Myth #2: Only tangible products, not services, can be exported.

Fact: Service exports are a fast-growing and profitable endeavor. In fact, U.S. service exports more than doubled between 1990 and 2000, increasing from $148 billion to $299 billion. By 2010, U.S. service exports reached $543 billion annually.

Myth #3: It’s difficult to get financing for exporting.

Fact: The U.S. government offers many opportunities for business financing and loans. (Among several other exporting resources, the SBA has specialists in assisting small businesses to secure financing.)

Myth #4: Small businesses don’t need to export when the domestic market for their product is strong.

Fact: Your overseas-based competition is almost certainly looking at the U.S. market also. Meeting your competition in their market will lead to a global competitive advantage for you.

Myth #5: A small business owner needs to be fluent in a foreign language to export.

Fact: The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Foreign and Commercial Service can provide translators for small businesses. In addition, many small businesses have found that English is spoken in many countries around the world.

Myth #6: Only experienced exporters should accept payment in foreign currencies.

Fact: Only quoting in U.S. dollars makes U.S. exporters less competitive. There are many tools, strategies and government programs to help you, as a new exporter, manage foreign risk.

Myth #7: Licensing requirements for exporting are not worth the effort.

Fact: Most products do not need an export license. Exporters simply write “NLR” for “no license required” on the Shipper’s Export Declaration. (An export license is needed only when exporting certain restricted commodities, like high-tech goods or defense-related items, or when shipping to a country currently under a U.S. trade embargo or other trade restrictions.)

Myth #8: Companies interested in exporting have to “go it alone” to learn how.

Fact: There are a vast array of services available, from financing to training to one-on-one counseling.

Photo: ThinkStock

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