As the U.S. economy recovers in fits and starts, more businesses are shifting their focus from survival to growth. For many, that means looking beyond our borders. Small- and medium-sized enterprises account for about one-third of the goods imported and exported by U.S. companies, and their piece of the pie is growing each year.

With that in mind, the upcoming issue of our Foresight newsletter is focused on international operations.

The cover story highlights the international expansion of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and offers advice for companies that are pondering such expansion:

Can you allocate sufficient funds to the effort? There are significant start-up costs involved in launching an exporting initiative. Prepare a budget that includes all anticipated expenses — including both primary (or on-the-ground) and secondary research — and determine how you will fund the initiative.

How strong and deep is your management team? Don’t make the mistake some owners do of neglecting their core business while focusing their attention on exporting. Be sure that your managers are capable of holding down the fort if you shift your primary attention to this initiative for an extended length of time.

Can you finance the effort yourself? Most U.S. banks do not finance overseas assets and collateral, so you may need significant liquid assets of your own to finance the initiative.

Have you fully tapped potential domestic markets? Keep in mind that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the pond. Sure, there are lots of potential benefits to exporting. But before you launch an ambitious overseas program, make sure you haven’t ignored lucrative new markets right in your own backyard. 

In addition to the main story, this issue of Foresight includes a sidebar on the importance of first-hand research and a look at the shift toward global accounting standards.

For more information, click here to view our updated International Services page, which includes resources that could help you decide whether (and where) to expand.

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