To succeed in exporting, you must first identify the most profitable international markets for your products or services. Without proper guidance and assistance, however, this process can be time consuming and costly — particularly for a small business.
Last Published: 10/18/2016

Thorough market research is key to success. Understanding your export markets will give you vital information about how to manage your efforts.

Do not choose too many markets. For most small businesses, three foreign markets will be more than enough, initially. You may want to test one market and then move on to secondary markets as your experience level develops.Focusing on regional, geographic clusters of countries can also be more cost effective than choosing markets scattered around the globe.

Tools & Resources:

  • Find your HS (Harmonized System)/Schedule B number
  • Find Market Research Access to more than 100,000 industry and Country Commercial Guides, web sites, events, and trade directory listings.
  • Get Customized Market Research:  To order a customized market research report, contact your local U.S. Commercial Service Office and ask to speak with a trade specialist.
  • Access the webinar/video library.   These international business broadcasts offer unique perspectives and opportunities on top markets around the world, presented by in-country industry experts.
  • Find Trade Statistics. Which countries are currently importing your product from the U.S. and how large is the potential market? Find trade statistics by country and industry.
  • How can you leverage Free Trade Agreements in your target markets?

Questions to Ask Yourself:

  • Do you know your HS classification/Schedule B code?
  • Which target market(s) have you selected for your company?
  • What are the pros and cons of the market(s)?
  • What R.O.I. do you need to achieve to make the market(s) worthwhile?
  • Do you know where you can find help to identify the best markets?

Prepared by the International Trade Administration. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the International Trade Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting

Market Access