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How To Increase Exports by Selling Digital Content

In an effort to reduce unemployment, President Obama announced during the State of the Union Address on January of 2010 the ambitious goal of doubling exports in five years. According to the U.S. Census and Dept of Commerce, total exports for year end of 2009 were $505 billion in services and $1.069 trillion in goods for a total of $1.575 trillion in total exports to the world. The majority of current exports are industrial and agricultural goods.

If the United States is going to meet the challenge of doubling exports, the United States must export just over $3 trillion of goods and services by the end of 2014. With the rising cost of fuel and other transportation costs, I’ve always liked the idea of selling digital content that doesn’t require something to be physically shipped. Ordinary Americans have a unique opportunity to do business oversees without leaving the country. The U.S. already produces movies and music enjoyed by the rest of the world, but we now have much easier access to the rest of the world with an internet connection and can fulfill the growing demand of information.

When traveling around the world to Western Europe, Asia and some Latin American countries, I’ve seen first hand the influence of American culture and have noticed that much of the world still thinks we’re “cool” and is curious to learn more about the U.S. Whether we are liked or not, the entire world pays attention to current events happening in the U.S. because chances are it affects them in one way or another even if it is indirectly.There is a real opportunity for entrepreneurs to cater to people in other countries by creating websites for them in their language that satisfy their curiosity to learn about the U.S.

Services such as teaching English, and informing foreigners about our culture, government, history and democracy can all be taught online. A handful of teachers in the U.S. can lecture and interact with thousands of students around the world in real time. A huge population of the world is also interested in traveling and/or living in the United States. Information about American work and tourist visas can be published with a premium service of helping with required paper work and giving people that want to travel here the best chance of successfully obtaining the visa they need. Points of interest in America’s most popular cities would surely be popular for anyone looking to visit the country. Subscription websites that deliver premium content can be sold to foreigners looking to learn more about the U.S. Tools like webcams and microphones add a personal touch and help develop trust.

If you’re hoping to market your services to people abroad you obviously must be able to speak their language and accept their currency among several other challenges we never have to consider when doing business in our home country. You have to know what they are interested in and be able to advertise your product on search engines or other websites they use.

There is no doubt that doing business abroad is more challenging than in your own domestic market, and I would argue this is especially true for Americans. Entrepreneurs in developing countries with tiny populations take their businesses global and export their products from the beginning because they must in order to run a sustainable company. Often times there simply isn’t a market large enough in their home country for what they sell and they must look abroad to stay in business.  Since the United States has over 310 million people and has a purchasing power much stronger than most countries, Americans have been able to create fortunes without looking beyond our borders. Americans don’t have to do business abroad to grow a profitable business, which is why it can be more challenging for us to start a business that caters to other cultures in a different language. If you are familiar with a particular country and can identify a product or service that is in demand however, working with people with different cultures and backgrounds can be a fun and profitable way to make a living.

When deciding which country to do business with you generally want to target developed countries with lots of people. You must identify how you can best help them, either by teaching English, providing information about visas, creating partnerships with universities for foreign exchange students or whatever you think is in demand. Americas current top ten trading partners are:

1) Canada
2) China
3) Mexico
4) Japan
5) Germany
6) U.K.
7) South Korea
8) Brazil
9) Taiwan
10) Netherlands

Most people in business for themselves don’t worry about statistics such as doubling exports or care about trade imbalances. If you run a company you typically only care about where the biggest profit is. In the 21st century however, the biggest profits may now be abroad where most have never considered doing business. The weakening of the dollar in the past few years will also work in your favor since this makes anything you sell more affordable in other countries.

If you do care about tracking international trade statistics and to see if we meet our goal of doubling exports you can check out the Census website. Last year the U.S. exported a total of $1.837 trillion dollars worth of goods and services. A step in the right direction from 2009 exports, but we are going to have to step it up if we will in fact double exports.

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