When you think of exporters, you may automatically think of big businesses—major manufacturers selling cars, electronics and airplanes. And it’s true: Large corporations sold the bulk of the $2.5 trillion worth of goods and services exported from the United States in 2018. 
But they’re not the only players in the game. Nearly 300,000 small- and medium-sized businesses export products or services to at least one country outside the U.S., according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
A wealth of resources is available to help you branch out into global markets. Because exports are good for the country, government agencies at the federal, state and sometimes local levels provide a tremendous amount of support to would-be exporters.
These agencies can help you learn about markets, find buyers, work through unfair trade practices, obtain financing and more.
In this export guide, we’ll provide an overview for small- or medium-sized businesses looking to make the move into international trade and outline several ways it can help your company. We’ll also point you toward some helpful resources—many of which are free.
Keep in mind that in light of recent disruptions caused by COVID-19, shipping restrictions or bans may be in place for certain items, such as personal protective equipment (PPE). To ensure you’re adhering to all necessary guidelines, check the FEMA websitearrow_right_alt and trade.govarrow_right_alt regularly.
- "Preliminary Profile of U.S. Exporting Companies, 2018" U.S. Census Bureau, Feb. 5, 2020.
- "Exports of goods and services (current US$) - United States," The World Bank, 2018.
- "Preliminary Profile of U.S. Exporting Companies, 2018," U.S. Census Bureau, Feb. 5, 2020.
- "Independent States in the World: Fact Sheet," U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, March 27, 2019.
- "International Mail Manual: Individual Country Listings," USPS.
- "U.S. Free Trade Agreement Partner Countries," International Trade Administration.
- "U.S. Export Licenses: Navigating Issues and Resources," International Trade Administration.
- "The Benefits of International Trade," U.S. Chamber of Commerce.