Small businesses have increasingly found opportunities to expand globally over the past few years and have only more reason to continue to do so in the future. But as a recent article in Inc. Magazine points out, importing and exporting isn’t as simple as booking a spot on the nearest cargo ship.
In fact, companies face a staggering number of regulatory hurdles when looking to import or export. “Know your customer” laws prevent US companies from sending potentially dangerous items to US enemies overseas, and they can be difficult to navigate, especially for smaller companies with limited compliance staff.
Take Cincinnati Thermal Spray, for instance. The 200-person company manufactures high-performance coatings for the aerospace, steel, and energy industries, and exports to Great Britain, France, Italy, Singapore, and Turkey. To do so, they must decipher multiple, separate lists of over 100,000 restricted trade entities issued by various governments. They must also obtain licenses for many of their products that are contingent on where these products end up, and they must monitor for fake companies trying to mask the identity of the final owner. The stakes for compliance are high – fines can reach $250,000 per transaction.
Inc. offers some tips to deal with the overwhelming amounts of data: create a formal export compliance program. Educate your employees on the types of regulations they’re responsible for. Trust your gut. And if the field becomes too complicated, find a software provider to take care of it for you.
Read more on Inc.’s analysis and advice here.