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Successful Small Business Exporters can set themselves apart by demonstrating certain habits that allows growth to foreign sales at a fast rate. Below are seven successful habits: 

1. Create and build off of an export business plan
Creating an export business plan takes time and resources. But, it is essential to do before you begin any international transaction because it will ensure that you have checked off all of the boxes before shipping off your product.

2. Create a systematic payment process
Creating a systematic payment process ensures all of the proper documentation has been filled out and payment has been collected in a timely manner. Click here to learn more about getting paid from international customers.

3. Build an in-house international department
A person (or department) dedicated to international sales is key to quickly grow your business. Alongside the CFO, an international marketing manager will ensure international inquiries are being responded to in a timely manner.  In addition, they will be responsible to ensure that your website is constantly “export ready."

4. Vet international leads and/or partners
Doing your homework (i.e. conducting research online) on international partners is crucial. Meeting face to face and at their international location gives you a better sense of their business operations. Consult with foreign embassies to see if your partners are legitimate businesses as these embassies contain knowledge about the foreign business landscape that you’re targeting.

5. Participate in government export programs
Government agencies such as the International Trade Association (ITA), EXIM Bank, and Small Business Administration (SBA) all have programs and products to help jumpstart your export business. Whether it’s trade financing or assisting with finding new international leads, your government partners are here to help.

6. Join trade associations
Trade associations are valuable as you gain access and insight to companies trying to achieve the same type of success abroad. They provide education, seminars and events within your specific industry to help guide you in your export endeavors.

7. Utilize "open account" terms
Once you’ve established a relationship with a customer or partner abroad, it may be wise to have them pay on "open account" credit terms vs. cash in advance because this allows your customers to purchase more in advance, thus increasing your foreign sales. "Open account" terms are common when negotiating with business leaders across the world. You can also use Export Credit Insurance to protect you from foreign buyer nonpayment.

Source: Export-Import Bank of the United States

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