Strength in numbers: International trade missions
Attending overseas trade shows and trade missions is extremely important and beneficial to companies who are exporting and to those companies starting to export their products and services. Actually, this is a critical step toward the success of every exporter’s foreign market entry strategy.
Nothing illustrates that more than the 2016 Hannover Messe tradeshow taking place in Hannover, Germany from April 25 – 29. This year, the United States is the “Official Partner Country” of the show and as such, President Barack Obama will address the participants during the opening ceremony. This is a historical moment for the U.S., as the first time ever, to partner with the largest industrial show in the world and the first sitting U.S. President to attend and participate.
According to US Department of Commerce, this will be an unprecedented opportunity for U.S. businesses to showcase their goods and services to more than 200,000 attendees and benefit from the exceptional global exposure that will result. The 2016 Hannover Messe show exemplifies the importance of participating in trade shows and missions.
The benefits for U.S. exporters far outweighs the cost of participating and with the many resources available, the cost is significantly reduced. For example, Enterprise Florida provides several grants which help offset the cost of exhibiting at a trade show, business matchmaking services by the US Commercial Service and Export Marketing Plan services by the Florida SBDC at USF.
Small and medium-sized businesses certainly benefit financially from grants, but there are additional benefits that are just as important. Coordinating travel arrangements and meetings does take some time and as Benjamin Franklin said, “Remember that time is money.”
Think about the time and money that small businesses spend generating domestic sales leads and then imagine what that would be for an international business. With offices in more than 80 countries, US Commercial Service provides a wealth of assistance to U.S. exporters, saving time and money.
Their business matchmaking services procure, pre-screen and set up appointments with prospective buyers, agents, distributors and/or partners before you travel overseas. Just imagine a foreign business owner receiving a call from the US Department of Commerce asking for an appointment on behalf of a U.S. exporter. That’s impressive. This service not only opens doors to overseas businesses for U.S. exporters, it provides a strong support system much needed by small businesses.
U.S. exporters who participate in trade missions receive such support. Tampa Bay Export Alliance’s October 2015 trade mission to Toronto, Canada, and December 2014 trade mission to Santiago, Chile, both consisted of a 40-person delegation including Mayors Bob Buckhorn and Rick Kriseman, community and business leaders, international trade service providers and local small business exporters. Chile trade mission participant, Curt Thomas, COO of Monster Transmission and Performance in Brooksville said he was, “overwhelmingly happy with the results,” and “without this liaison, he would’ve never made those connections.” In this interview with Pat Crowley, President of the Greater Hernando Chamber of Commerce, Thomas goes on to say, “I didn’t have to go in blind and the companies were excited to meet us and very interested in buying our products, even right there on the spot.”
Missions not only provide a great support system for small businesses, they provide access to high-level networking and learning opportunities. After attending a country briefing by U.S. Embassy officials, exporters are driven to their pre-arranged business meetings followed by networking events in the evening. This is a great opportunity to meet other exporters, as well as network with people that can help grow a business internationally.
International business and new market entry can be overwhelming for small and medium business owners but with all of this support, small businesses are not alone.
There is strength in numbers and we are all working towards the same goal – more business opportunities for Florida companies who want to grow and expand their businesses internationally.
Selma CanasCanas, Consultants, International Consultants 2, Tampa
NASBITE Certified Global Business Professional (CGBP), Florida SBDC at USF, Tamp
Specialties: International Trade, Export Marketing Plans, Market Research
Selma Canas is responsible for guiding small businesses through the complexities of developing export marketing and international expansion plans and teaching seminars on basic international trade. She has developed more than 30 Export Marketing Plans during the past six years for local businesses, and participated in trade missions to Brazil, Chile, Canada, and the Dominican Republic. Canas has more than 15 years of experience in sales, marketing and customer service in a variety of industries, including freight forwarding, real estate and advertising. As a co-owner of Restaurant Guide USA, she increased sales and distribution points and tripled the size of the distributed product.
As a real estate broker-owner, Canas carved a niche in the Latin American community and had a career sales volume of more than $37 million. Canas earned her bachelor degree in economics from the University of South Florida. She is a NASBITE Certified Global Business Professional and holds an Export and Trade Counseling Certification from the U.S. Small Business Association. Selma earned Florida SBDC at USF Employee of the Year honors in 2016. She is a member of Toastmasters international and is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese.