Litmus test for going global with your business in 2020

With less than 1% of all U.S. businesses exporting, Baker Tilly’s international services leader, Jeff Jorge discusses how companies can consider themselves a candidate for sales expansion abroad with Steve Ruxton of Business First AM.

Steve Ruxton

If you are not doing business overseas, you are probably missing a big, big opportunity. Very glad to have Jeff Jorge here. Jeff heads up Baker Tilley's international service practice. Let's talk to international investing.

If you are a business owner or a business leader, how do you take a litmus test for what you're doing to decide if you should try to expand overseas?

Jeff Jorge

One of the things that we encourage companies to consider is that you don't need to have a breakthrough product to achieve breakthrough growth internationally. Often if you have just enough more than the local player. If you have a reputable brand, if you are known for something in your industry, chances are that with what you've already done, you have fertile markets abroad that can welcome your product.

We also find that there's somewhat of a self-limiting belief by either business leaders that haven't yet expanded abroad with their companies that maybe they think, well, international is great, but it's for those companies, it's not for us. In addition, what we find is that it's actually not the case. Most companies have the potential to do very well abroad if they know exactly what to do, where to go. And that's in our experience what we've seen happen. It's taking the surgical approach on identifying the right match between a market potential with the right product in the right company.

Steve Ruxton

What I found amazing when I started to do research for talking to you is you say most companies have the opportunity or the possibility of doing business overseas, but the great majority of U.S. companies are not doing business overseas.

Jeff Jorge

That's right. The statistics are staggering. This comes from the U S government showing that less than 1% of all us companies conduct some kind of foreign trade either by exporting or having operations services abroad. And, there are multiple reasons why we see that happen. However, one of them is the fact that with prosperity why companies often do not go abroad. Things are good here. Why would you go elsewhere?

In the end, we find that there is a bit of paralysis often by not knowing exactly what to do and how to do it. And, once companies are ushered and shepherd through that process, they recognize that the risks can be mitigated, that the traction can be accelerated, and that in the end they have an opportunity to grow abroad. It really transforms them and because of that, they can transform what they do at home.

Steve Ruxton

What if you're a smaller company and I don't want to necessarily say mom and pop, but why not? Do they have a shot?

Jeff Jorge

Absolutely they do. I think that one of the beauties of international markets that they don't discriminate on the basis of company size. And that's where I think often companies have an opportunity to do something abroad they have yet to break into a certain strata of the market right here at home.

If you are wondering whether international sales growth is a fit for you, please reach out to us — we would be happy to share our perspective.

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