Many Missouri businesses think they are too small to compete internationally.

Many Missouri businesses think they are too small to compete internationally.
If you’re one of them, consider this: According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), 97 percent of all U.S. exporters are small businesses, and 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside the United States.
Think about that for a moment. 95 percent. Is that a market opportunity you can afford to pass up?
But knowing where to start can be tough. Another SBA survey says 40 percent of businesses expressed concern about entering new overseas markets because they didn’t know how to begin.
And that’s precisely where the Missouri Small Business & Technology Development Centers’ (SBTDC) International Trade Center can help (http://missouribusiness.net/international-trade-services). Headed by Larry Dill of the St. Louis Regional SBTDC, the Center helps Missouri businesses export their goods or services in four broad areas:

• International market research
• Management capacity and planning
• Supply chain and logistical support
• Trade finance
 
“Our mission is to help Missouri businesses export their products to other parts of the world,” says Dill. “And we have the best partnership in the country to do so.”
The International Trade Center strongly believes in collaborating with private and public partners to create or secure export plans, networking opportunities, vital contacts, finance, logistics and more. The staff works closely with the U.S. Department of Commerce, SBA export programs, Missouri Department of Economic Development Office of International Trade and Investment, Missouri Department of Agriculture, the World Trade Centers in Kansas City and St. Louis and other entities.
“We all work together,” Dill says. “We refer clients to each other. There’s no competition. We’re united in one goal — to help small businesses in Missouri grow internationally. We collaborate more than anyone else in the entire country.”
Here are the stories of just a few companies this team has helped export. And lest you think you have to be highly specialized to export, think again: US Foods, Creve Coeur (formerly American Food Exporters), exports American snack foods to Asia, especially to China. The company has just been named Small Business Week Eastern Missouri's Small Business Exporter of the Year. Then there’s RK Stratman, Wentzville, who make Harley T-shirts; Dacor Manufacturing, Fenton, blood donor chairs sold as far afield as Bangladesh; Missouri Thistle, Owensville, who make such vinyl products as badge holders, banners and the omnipresent price tag holders seen on the shelves of grocery stores and large retailers; and the prize-wining whiskeys, botanic gin, three-grain vodka and tonic syrup of Pinckney Bend Distillery, New Haven.