Small Business Development Center

The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is a wise first stop for any small business interested in exporting and a useful activity for experienced exporters too. A export development specialist can help assess your product to determine its export potential and help you examine the risks. Their goal is to help you outline a strategy to meet your business needs.

The SBDC offers a variety of services from product introduction to market development to advanced consulting. From the onset it increases your awareness of the international marketplace. They have the necessary resources to conduct any foreign market research. Staff can help you assess your market potential, identify international companies and establish distribution centers. They will review your product with you, to ensure it meets foreign country product specifications. Included in this process, they can help you reduce the riskiness of new trade ventures and ensure you are protected so that your core business is not exposed. They can help your prepare for the resulting growing pains of adding new production and management to ensure success.

Although the SBDC cannot represent your business in negotiations, they can offer advice and clarify points discussed. They can also prepare you for cultural differences that arise when building your foreign alliances. With their extensive experience in the field, they can help identify issues you might have overlooked. For example - they are used to adjusting for hidden costs associated with getting products to foreign distributors or common delays in receiving payment for international transactions. With the SBDC's assistance, you can identify high-risk transactions and pursue payment in advance. It is also valuable to draw on previous experience for international financial issues like letter of credit, currency exchanges, foreign banking transactions, trade financing and credit insurance.

Another service the SBDC provides is helping to develop your company's International Business Plan, which is often necessary to arrange financing. They can help you create a viable international warrantee for the chosen foreign market. They also have experience with the problems that sometimes occur when domestic prices are incompatible with the foreign rate of inflation.

If your company is already engaged in exporting and is having trouble, the SBDC may be able to help. Previous efforts by the SBDC have saved U.S. companies money including helping to connect with local U.S. government officials and securing the release of goods.

The SBDC is co-located with other government agencies to provide one stop service. In the same location, you can also benefit from the following organizations:

The SBDC and the U.S. Export Assistance Center do not function like bureaucratic agencies. Instead, the program runs like consulting businesses and tailor each session by product or service in an attempt to meet your business needs. The services SBDC provides are free. It is hosted by North Seattle Community College with funding from Washington State University. Professional training is also available through the International Trade Institute at NSCC. Workshops and seminars offer business owners and employees timely information on new economic, political and business trends.

For more information, contact the U.S. Export Assistance Center through their Website at:

- Article by Lynn Briere, based on an interview with SBDC staff