Export and expand your business globally

Exporting can increase sales and revenues and make your business competitive domestically and internationally.


Your business is only as strong as the opportunities you explore and use. Expose your brand to new markets to create a long-lasting business

Consider the following:

  • 95% of consumers live outside the United States.
  • 66% of global consumption will come from Asia by 2030.
  • Only 1% of small & medium-sized businesses export, making them too reliant on domestic markets.
  • Businesses that export are far more competitive.
  • Businesses that export generally experience greater revenue growth.
  • Businesses that export are better positioned to weather future recessions.
  • Only 1% of small & medium-sized businesses export, making them too reliant on the domestic market.
  • The world continues to be more competitive. If businesses don’t look outward, they may not succeed.

You might have many questions about whether your business is ready to expand. Start here to learn more and get connected to those that can help you.

Start your research

The Small Business Administration (SBA) has a short tutorial to help you understand what it takes to do business globally. The SBA provides free online export training. You should also complete this questionnaire, which will help you get more information about your exporting needs. For more information, the International Trade Administration provides an export education guide to walk you through everything you need to consider for exporting.

Draft your export and expansion plan

There are many important things to consider when you begin your efforts to expand internationally, and it is essential to develop an export business plan that defines your goals, objectives, and strategies. The Small Business Administration has a free export business planner that can help you start designing your approach to selling your business to the world.

Get expert advice

As you develop your plan, contact the U.S. Commercial Service to speak with a trade specialist who can offer to help you further improve your export strategy. Additionally, the San Francisco Small Business Development Center can connect you with an export consultant with knowledge about exporting and expansion.

Consider how your company will plan to finance this new operation. The Small Business Administration has information on export loans, and San Francisco has several loan options to consider as well. The International Trade Administration also has information about export financing for you to review as you continue to develop your plan.

Understand international markets

You should carefully analyze what geographies would be the most advantageous to your business. Start by researching where the best opportunities exist for your type of business. The International Trade Administration’s Market Intelligence provides you with country-specific information that will help you get an understanding of various markets' opportunities and challenges. To learn more about the economy and demographics of countries around the world, the World Factbook has regularly updated information that will aid in your research.

San Francisco has several programs that focus on three key geographies: Latin America, China, and Asia. For more information about exporting to these regions, visit LatinSFChinaSF, and SFAsia.

The Office of Economic and Workforce Development provides resources for you to consider as you conduct your analysis of different markets.

Review your export plan with experts

Once developed, review your plan with experts. Contact the San Francisco office of U.S. Commercial Service to discuss your exporting plans.

The Export Legal Assistance Network will provide legal consultation once you have developed your plan and spoken to the U.S. Commercial Service.

Connect with future buyers and partners

As part of your strategy, you should visit your desired foreign market(s) to connect with your future buyers and partners. One avenue to help you connect with overseas partners is to join a trade mission. Export.gov has a schedule of upcoming trade missions that you may want to look into. BusinessUSA has a calendar of events and trade missions that you should explore as well. Assistance is available with connecting your business with overseas partners through Export.gov's Gold Key Matching Service.

For more information about expanding your business overseas, please email the Office of Economic and Workforce Development at oewd@sfgov.org. We would be more than happy to help you out.

Featured resources

Small Business Development Center (SBDC)

The US Small Business Administration (SBA) Small Business Development Center (SBDC) provides a vast array of technical assistance to small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs, including step-by-step business planning. The SBDC provides free, confidential one-on-one business counseling, hands-on workshops and access to capital for existing small businesses and ready to launch startups. SBDC services include counseling and assistance with business plans, financial projections and budgeting, operating challenges, loan packaging and more.


Export.gov provides comprehensive support for U.S. companies to realize their dreams of international expansion through advice, business tools, and other services.


The BusinessUSA exporting page provides you with resources and tools to understand all facets of exporting.

California Business Portal

The California Business Portal’s International Trade and Investment webpage provides you with a list of state and federal resources that can provide you with additional avenues of support.

Last updated July 26, 2022