From the September 2001 issue of Startups
 
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Visit the International Trade Administration's Web site for several useful tips on exporting.
 

In the past, going global was only an option for huge corporations that possessed the resources to do so. But with technology enhancing our lives more and more, the global market is increasingly opening its doors to homebased businesses. Before you jump in headfirst, however, you've got to figure out whether it's the right move for your product or service. "Whether or not your product fits a particular global market may be the single most important factor to success or failure," notes William Mayfield, associate professor of economics and business director of the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at Washington & Jefferson College in Washington, Pennsylvania.

So your first step in going global is doing plenty of research. "You need to be cognizant of the customs, linguistics and nuances of the languages," says Mayfield. Knowing your target country will not only help you reach foreign customers, but also prevent you from making critical marketing blunders.

 
NEXT STEP
Match international buyers and sellers by starting an import/export business. Our guide #1092, How to Start an Import/Export Business, will help you get there.
 

There are several ways to familiarize yourself with the country you want to sell to. Contact that country's consulate or embassy and ask whether there are trade organizations. Make foreign contacts. William A. Ward, Warehime professor of business administration at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, also recommends teaming up with a joint venture partner or agent; the U.S. Department of Commerce can likely help you locate one.

When expanding into unknown territory, it just makes good sense to know what you're getting into. You'll save yourself the trouble of having to go back to the drawing board later.