Steps a Small Business Can Take to Expand into Exports and Imports

An important step in the life of any small business is being firmly established in a home market. If you’ve made it to this vital milestone, congratulations! At this point, you are likely looking to expand. When savvy entrepreneurs and small business owners are ready to grow, they often look to a time-honored practice once only available to big business: international trade. Times have changed. Leveraging imports and exports can help make your small business bigger. 

Let’s look at how. 


Why Your Small Business Should Import and Export

If you’re wondering if imports and exports are the logical next step for your business, you’re thinking big in all the right ways. By opening your operation to imports and/or exports, you stand to improve and grow your business. Here are a few recognized benefits.

  • Increasing sales by accessing customers on a global scale.
  • Reducing production costs by sourcing parts or materials at a lower price.
  • Becoming an industry leader by introducing a product to new markets. 
  • Improving the quality of your products at a cost your business can afford.
  • Level out any seasonal fluctuations experienced in your home market. 
  • Diversify risk by not being overly reliant on one country or market’s economic health.

Factors to Consider Before Expanding with International Trade

Your business hasn’t experienced domestic success by making rash decisions. The choice to expand internationally has to be approached thoughtfully. Before making your first transaction internationally, here are some considerations to make. 

Market Research

Just as you did in preparation to launch your business domestically, you’ve got to do market research internationally before expanding beyond your borders. 

Pay attention to growth sectors in particular countries to take advantage of especially fruitful opportunities. For example, by 2025 India is expected to be the third largest consumer economy. This presents near-limitless opportunities for retailers as buying power and habits rapidly change and expand in the country. Position your business for a strategic advantage in this opportunistic market with Tradeleaves’ expertise in India.   

Understand the Rules

Different countries, states, and territories have their own set of rules and regulations regarding what can be imported and how those imports are to be received. From packaging compliance to proper documentation and delivery regulations, it’s very important to understand the rules and abide by them to avoid complications and potential loss. 

For instance, if shipments are not classified properly, packaged or labeled correctly, or supported with the right documentation, customs agents have to spend more time conducting inspections. As your shipments sit on a dock waiting for a lengthy inspection process to be completed, your business is racking up demurrage fees. This not only increases the overall cost of your product and directly impacts your bottom line, it can have far reaching consequences. If your demand is seasonal, these delays can mean the difference between making or missing the season. Left uncorrected, your business could actually be blacklisted as an importer. It’s critical to get these details right. 

If it all sounds a bit overwhelming and confusing, don’t worry. Some small businesses avoid expanding for that very reason! Don’t miss out on exponential growth for your business. Partner with someone who can help! TradeLeaves can help, every step along the way, allowing you to focus on what you do best: running and growing your business. 

Partner with Logistics Providers Your Business and Customers Can Rely Upon

Team up with a logistics partner that can be relied upon. If your shipments are late, sent to the wrong location, or held up in customs this will cost your business and could mean a premature end to your planned expansion. It’s that important. 

You need freight forwarders, customs brokers, and inspection agents that can smooth the way for your business. Tradeleaves acts as your inspector on the buying side and gains you access to fully vetted logistics companies that can manage the selling side. We make sure that you have agents in the right ports at the right times with the right resources to keep your shipments moving. 


Typical Problems Small Businesses Encounter in Importing and Exporting 

With any expansion, there are going to be growing pains. When you open your business to the international stage, be prepared to face some challenges. Common pain points include:

  • Knowing and managing the import and export rules, regulations and ensuring compliance. 
  • Managing the logistics of importing or exporting.
  • Making your online presence export and import ready.
  • Issues related to payment, including credit, payment receipt, and currency exchange.
  • Preparing your product for individual and unique markets.
  • Accessing necessary funds to support the expansion.
  • The long list of bureaucratic processes in each transaction.

Solutions to Trade Challenges

The best remedy for your small business trading challenges is to secure a solid partner who can guide, protect, and help direct your strategies. TradeLeaves has solutions to importing and exporting problems. 

  • The TradeLeaves MarketPlace is a vast and ever-expanding digital marketplace of buyers, sellers, and service providers in virtually every sector.
  • TradeLeaves BLISS is an online directory that immediately increases your business’s visibility to verified buyers on a global stage. 
  • TradeLeaves Classified improves your finished consumer product visibility online.

When you join the TradeLeaves community, you get customer success team on call at every stage of the process. TradeLeaves supports members with:

  • Logistics, customs, documentation
  • Inspection Services
  • Packaging
  • Certification 
  • Online visibility 
  • Genuine relevant inquiries to or from vetted buyers, sellers, and vendors
  • Promotion of products and services
  • And much, much more. 

To learn all the ways in which TradeLeaves can support your small business’s international growth, contact TradeLeaves today.

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