Once you have established the basics of your export business, where do you find your first customer? Many entrepreneuers start their export companies with no real idea as to what product to start with nor how to connect with manufacturers, suppliers, or distributors. But, this is not difficult and is probably an easier task than you might think. So, where do you get started?
* Existing Contacts. Some of you may already have contacts - perhaps you have an overseas contact that is seeking a specific American made product. Or, maybe you have a contact with a manufacturer.
* Product Expertise. Maybe you have expertise in a product area. For example, maybe you worked for a plumbing manufacturing company and you have expert knowledge of plumbing products.
* Your Area. Look around the area you are located. If there is a manufacturing sector, or industrial park, many of those manufacturers are potential customers. Whether the manufacturer is small or large, they have opportunity to broaden their customer base by exporting.
*Previous Exporters. There may be companies who have exported before that would like to expand their markets. Visit the website for the Export Import Bank of the U.S. (www.exim.gov), locate the map of the U.S. on th ehomepage, then click on your state, and congressional district/city. From there, a list will appear of manufacturers that have previously received export financing from the EXIM Bank. Look towards the bottom of the list and find those exporters who have smaller amounts of financing. Those companies have exported before, are probably looking to expand, and as they have previosuly secured financing, they will be able to secure financing.
* Statistics and Trends. If you are still at a loss as to product and international markets, look at statistics and trends. What are the top 10 exports of the U.S. and who are our top trade partners? You can easily get this information from the Census Bureau or at www.export.gov.
No matter what your avenue is to connect with a potential customer, get started!