Andy Karellas is so well-spoken, and he graciously takes the time to share information about all the resources available for companies that want to export.
He explains why it’s worth it for you to take the time and energy to sell internationally.
The payoff for the effort is HUGE.
Learn where to start and the 10 top areas to focus on.
His role as the Executive Director of the State International Development Organizations (SIDO) and the Director of International Affairs at The Council of State Governments (CSG) gives him firsthand insight.
State International Development Organizations (SIDO) Links:
Connect with Wendy - https://www.linkedin.com/in/wendypease/
Connect with Andy - https://www.linkedin.com/in/andreaskarellas/
Music: Fiddle-De-Dee by Shane Ivers - https://www.silvermansound.com
ATTENTION: Below is a machine generated transcription of the podcast. Yes, at Rapport International, we talk a lot about how machine translation is not good quality. Here you see an example of what a machine can do in your own your language. This transcription is provided as a gist and to give time indicators to find a topic of interest.
[00:00:34] Wendy: Hello, global marketing show listeners. I am so glad you've tuned in today. There's always so many interesting things when I'm talking to visitors and today we're really blessed to have Andy Karellas here. He is the executive director. Of the state international development organization, the director of international affairs at the council of [00:01:00] state government.
[00:01:00] So Andy welcome.
[00:01:03] Andy: Well, thank you, Wendy. Really appreciate the opportunity to, to join you. Yeah.
[00:01:07] Wendy: Yeah. I'm looking forward to this conversation because I know I'm going to learn a lot. So you're, you are the executive director of, , what I know is sido. And before that you served as a senior staffer with the house, small business committee where you focused on international trade issues and you were instrumental in passing the.[00:01:30]
[00:01:30] Trade expansion program, the step program, which I think is a fabulous one. And I'm sure we're going to get into that more and the federal state trade coordination act. And so prior to joining sido, you also worked in the private sector in the us Congress and the us department of commerce. This is fascinating native of Missouri.
[00:01:52] And a bachelor's degree in international business from the Webster university and a master's degree in international commerce and [00:02:00] policy from the George Mason university. So different areas than I've ever worked in. You know, when you're starting to talk about DC and they are so, so why don't we jump in?
[00:02:14] How did you get an interest in international trade?
[00:02:18] Andy: Yeah. I think it started when I was really young. So my, my father was a Greek immigrant directly off the boat. So we, you know, grew up in a very international family and we spent [00:02:30] a lot of time traveling back to Greece and, you know, reminded me one of the times.
[00:02:36] I remember I was spread around. 1314, you can kind of figure out how life works and how things are operating. I remember seeing a purple Michael Jordan Jersey for sale in Greece. And I was like, why do they have a purple Michael Jordan Jersey? Why not a normal red one for the Chicago bulls? And that's when I started getting curious about trade, about why they have certain products here.
[00:02:59] Why, [00:03:00] why could I only find Kellogg's cereal over in Greece, not everything else. So then it really got me into, okay. The nuts and bolts of trade and really the export import process and figuring out how this works well, that's to be, you know, fortunate to, to have. You know, my father has exposure to, to traveling around.
[00:03:19] We spent many summers over in Greece with our families and we've traveled all around. And so that really got me interested, interested in international trade. And that's what took me [00:03:30] to a Webster university in St. Louis, Missouri. And. No. I was planning on going to a couple other bigger schools, but Webster had a really good international program along with the modern Greek program that I studied as well, really helped me with my conversational Greek and my family as well.
[00:03:46] But yeah, fascinating. I just, I would attribute it to the growing up and having that international family that really got me curious. So you would
[00:03:55] Wendy: get to go over every summer to the Greece and [00:04:00] hang out, like where are you on the islands and on the beaches over there with your
[00:04:03] Andy: beautiful, I know I sound really arrogant right now.
[00:04:06] Don't I am.
[00:04:08] Wendy: That's your home country really? Lucky. You got family had to go visit
[00:04:12] Andy: family. Yeah. Well, back in the day we used when you were 15 and you do it, you know, a handful of times before. You know, you're like, okay dad, do we have to go back to the same village in the same place? Can we go somewhere else in Europe now looking back.
[00:04:27] I'm like, oh man, I was, you know, I got to choose my [00:04:30] words a little wiser.
[00:04:32] Wendy: I think we all look back at when we were 15 and say that.
[00:04:38] So what was most surprising to you when you started learning about international trade or what was, you know, what's been shocking to you.
[00:04:48] Andy: Yeah, I think it's, you know, I love the dynamic of, you know, business economics, politics, geography. Logistics. When you put that all [00:05:00] together, it's a fascinating area it's ever changing.
[00:05:03] There's always something new and dynamic. Whether it's a trade war, a currency issue, a pandemic you know, these are things that it's not, it's just always interesting. You know, you're never, you're never bored. You constantly have to follow the news. Oh, the economics and figure out those opportunities.
[00:05:23] So I found it really fascinating when, you know, when you do your undergraduate studies and in marketing, you say, okay, [00:05:30] let's, you know, take a product and let's market it over here and let's sell it over abroad. Well, that's easier said than done. Once you start peeling back the onion. And I think having that curiosity, like when you start really going through the export import process, it's fascinating.
[00:05:46] There's all multilevels, as you know, you know, from, from finding your buyers, to understanding the compliance and the logistics and how to price it, how to market it. There's a lot of layers that are involved in that whole process. [00:06:00] And I just found that extremely fascinating and it's, it's something they don't really teach as much in detail and undergrad.
[00:06:06] And I think that's something all of us can really. Work together on is you making sure like that level of content is really taught. And I think that's where like internships are invaluable and really getting that hands-on experience and working through with companies on that export process.
[00:06:25] Wendy: Okay. So, you know, this podcast is geared towards people that want to do [00:06:30] international trade or might want to start exporting or doing business cross borders.
[00:06:34] And if I were listening and I just heard you say that I'd be a little intimidated, you know, with all this stuff that you have to learn what do you say. To business owners or business leaders that want to grow across borders on you know, what would the be the steps that you'd recommend that they do
[00:06:53] Andy: well jump right in.
[00:06:55] I would say there's, there's a lot of help and a lot of resources [00:07:00] out there that are ready to guide you through every step of the process. You know, I, I grew up in a small business and that's something that, you know, that's the majority of exporters that are out there right now of 98% of our exports are, are.
[00:07:13] You don't have to know it all. There's a lot of experts out there. When you look at, you know, the, the resources at the federal trade agencies, you have the us department of commerce where I worked, they have the foreign commercial service and the domestic commercial service. These are specialists that [00:07:30] are here to help guide you through the whole process.
[00:07:32] Everything from understanding what markets to go to, how to price it, how to find the buyers, how to ship it. They help you through the whole process. All they need is your time and interest in commitment. Similar. There's the U S department of agriculture. They have a huge forum forum ag process over there that can help.
[00:07:53] And then the association that I work for, we represent the governor's international trade offices. So each [00:08:00] state has resources as well, that that helps the companies navigate the opportunities. And that's part of the. The legislation that I worked on in my previous job is making sure that we have all of these robust resources from the federal trade agencies to the states, to the private sector, thinking the world trade centers.
[00:08:20] The U S department of commerce is a small business development centers and others out there that they all work together to really help that small business [00:08:30] demystify the trade process and make it easy for them because at the end of the day, That's what all of our missions are, is to really help that company make it as easy as possible.
[00:08:40] Find those buyers and secure that foreign sale. So I would say go right in. I think we're the best thing to do is just to call your state trade office and they understand all the resources in your state, how you can take advantage of this and work together.
[00:08:56] Wendy: Okay. So that was going to be my next question.
[00:08:59] You [00:09:00] just listed off a whole bunch of different places. People could go for help. And I it's like, where do you start? But if you look for your state trade office, so you just Google, you know, say you're from Missouri, Missouri trade office, then that something will come up and you can go right there to the state and ask, Hey, I'm interested in doing this.
[00:09:24] How do I say.
[00:09:25] Andy: Yeah, that's correct. I, you can go to our cyto [00:09:30] america.org site at cyto of America, where we have a trade directory of every state. So every state's economic development office is listed on there, along with their personnel and resources. I will say every state is truly. So not one state is exactly the same.
[00:09:47] Some state trade offices are under the governor's office. Some are under the economic development office. Some are designated in a public private partnership. And if, for example, but if you go there, that'll [00:10:00] give you a great spot to have that first conversation. Also encourage them to email@example.com.
[00:10:05] That's the U S department of Commerce's website. There's a lot of resources. They have webinars, trainings, videos stuff to, you know, if you're a new to Xsporter specifically, it's good. Just to spend some time learning these new new techniques and figure out okay. What do I need to know? How do I get myself in a position?
[00:10:26] And then we also have the small business development centers we mentioned. I [00:10:30] mentioned that the states can, can help you figure out each state has a relationship with their respective small business development center, which the SBDC is for background or a partnership of a university. The small business administration and the state.
[00:10:46] So they're very localized. So each state can have multiple SPD CS that play a role in international trade as well. So they might be able to help you with maybe the new to export strategy and helping [00:11:00] guide you through the process. And then the state can help you with another process in the U S department of commerce can help you with another one, but to your point I would direct them to the state office.
[00:11:10] Have them get familiar with all the resources there, have that introduction call make sure that you can discuss, am I export ready? Am I my going into this saying, all right, I have the time, the capacity, the interests, and then help them. The states can help them build their ecosystem is what we call it.
[00:11:28] All the resources in the [00:11:30] respective state.
[00:11:30] Wendy: To somebody, what are the top 10 things plus, or minus one or two or whatever that you'd say, somebody needs to understand to be able to export. So if they go on the trade.gov and they're looking for webinars and training, what are those top 10 things they need to
[00:11:48] Andy: know? Yeah. I mean, you just kind of go through the general export processes as you know.
[00:11:54] I mean, I think first is knowing your market, you know, you have to figure out here's my product or service, [00:12:00] where's it marketable. How do you find that information? So there's, there's data resources out there from the commerce department and ag department and others, and states have this information as well.
[00:12:10] So it's figuring out, you know, your market on that side, you know, second you've got to know your product and service. How do you both market it internationally? So thinking of language translations, thinking about your e-commerce platform, how do you make sure that your product or services visible on that?
[00:12:29] And you start [00:12:30] looking at, you know, as, as you're targeting, you know, foreign countries, he started looking at opportunities for there. Okay. Maybe there's a trade show. Maybe there's a trade mission. How are you going to physically get to that trade show in to sell your products to X country? And another thing as you know, is compliance and logistics.
[00:12:49] So we can't just export any product or service depending on the country and the type of product or service you have. There are certain license restrictions, most notably [00:13:00] ammunition, military equipment. Think of that. You just can't export that anywhere you want. Especially like North Korea. So there's a lot of guidelines between the state department, the commerce department, along with the U S treasury.
[00:13:14] That, that you have to comply with to make sure your export eligible Roche will be fine on that side. Then you start talking about logistics. So thinking about how do you physically actually ship this? How does this going to work with your margins? How does this negotiate into your. [00:13:30] As well thinking about the Inco terms, that's, you know, the shipping terms for, how do you, how do you transport this and who's responsible and liable.
[00:13:39] So that all goes into part of that pricing mechanism and say, how do you price it to make sure that it is it's viable and productive for you? And then kind of lastly, it's, it's going to mission. And then how do you, how do you find those buyers? And that's where states can help you? There's a lot of resources out there.
[00:13:59] [00:14:00] We mentioned in the introduction, the step grant, that's the state trade expansion program that is a federal grant program from the small business administration that goes to states to help small businesses participate in trade events so they can. The step grant to go on a trade show on a trade mission to use e-commerce to get there, their website marketed internationally as well.
[00:14:24] So that's the last step is really finding those buyers in that trade show, going, [00:14:30] having those discussions, having those sales, and then it's all about the follow-up as well. So I think just to your point, you know, there's, there's a lot of steps in the process. It's mapping it through and just kind of getting a good understanding of each one.
[00:14:44] And that's all what goes into the businesses export strategy, which the states and all the partners, especially the commerce department, SBDC is in our trade offices can guide you through.
[00:14:56] Wendy: Oh, that is fantastic. I mean, you had no [00:15:00] preparation for the top 10 list and you could list them out so clearly. So I want to go back to a couple of them knowing your market.
[00:15:07] I hear all sorts of crazy reasons as to why people would enter a market. Like what? Or like I've heard people say I have family. So I'm going to open up in Greece because, you know, I want to go over there and visit, and I already understand the market. What are some of the reasons when people are either doing the research or that you're talking to them about [00:15:30] why they pick a new market?
[00:15:32] Andy: Yeah, that's a great question. I think it's a lot of that. Like you mentioned, they might have a personal tie, they might have a cultural connection. They might have a language familiarity, so they understand that. A lot of it depends on you know, where that market potential is. So if you have your product and service and you see the growing demand, The next countries that's where an opportunity is.
[00:15:55] Of course you have to vet it with looking at the geopolitics, [00:16:00] you know, in that country might, you know, there's, there's corruption in many countries. There might be some geopolitical issues that you have to navigate. See, you take all this through kind of the, UBET it through a web and say, you know, my top markets are these five countries for the demand of our.
[00:16:16] Maybe the country has invested in a new initiative. Maybe it's like an example, a renewable energy index. That's procured from a country that says we're going to invest X amount of billions in renewable energy. It's a pretty good [00:16:30] market opportunity. That's where between our state trade offices and the federal trade agencies, they're constantly monitoring these opportunities from abroad.
[00:16:41] So they have connections with the local businesses, the governments abroad they're collecting this information. Here are some new opportunities and trends that are available. So that's where you take all of that together. And that's when you work with your team and you work with the state and say, what makes the most sense for [00:17:00] us?
[00:17:00] You know, maybe you're a new to Xsporter. So going to China is probably not your best, first time to export. Maybe you should target, you know, Canada, Mexico. Let's look at the European union. Let's look at countries that we have a free trade agreement. That would be an easier opportunity than navigating China.
[00:17:21] So you kind of put that all together and it really, you never know, as well in the international business world, it's a small world. There might be a small connection that says, you know what? [00:17:30] I know that family over in Greece, they have this type of restaurant and service, and that might be your first draw to take it.
[00:17:37] So. I love those success stories. I think finding those success stories that are like, you know, what are the best things, if we could catalog them all together and put them in a book about international trade, that would be a fun, fun
[00:17:49] Wendy: project. Oh my gosh. I would so work on that. That's kind of what I'm doing with the podcast is I get to hear all these fabulous stories of what's going on.
[00:17:57] Give me some success stories that [00:18:00] you've heard about.
[00:18:01] Andy: Oh, so many of them, I mean, I I'm one step removed. So my role, I work directly with the states. So I get to hear all their success stories. I would say one of my favorite ones, I was taking a trade mission to the UAE, with the state. And we were meeting with, we had to meet suppliers that were with us beef suppliers, and they were meeting with local restaurants.
[00:18:23] When we were sitting there, one of them made the connection that they're both from like the meat suppliers from Missouri. [00:18:30] He made the connection that at the restaurant that they actually grew up in Missouri, they grew up about a mile away from each other on the farm. They knew each other, but this was like 20 years removed.
[00:18:43] So like they knew the same small town family. And here they are, 20 years later, one guy is selling their beef to the restaurant where they were neighbors. And we all just like, we're fascinated. And we're like, oh my gosh, this is the story of small business trade. [00:19:00] Like, this is why it makes it fantastic.
[00:19:05] I can't think of one that's better than that one. I'm sure some states have much more interesting or a lot of other success stories.
[00:19:14] Wendy: Yeah. I have heard jokes about things like that happening, but here's a real life story where they're sitting at her side of the world and realizing that they grew up near each other.
[00:19:24] I love that one. Yeah. And, and, and, you know, so that leads us into know your product or service. [00:19:30] You're talking about beef suppliers from the U S going to UAE. What are the kind of categories do you see that make good exports?
[00:19:38] Andy: I mean, that's, what's fascinating. It's every, basically every industry, you know, when you look down the pipeline, it might be a supplier of an aerospace industry.
[00:19:48] It'll be a supplier of a defense industry, you know, understanding what an export. You know, it, it can be a service, it can be a consultant. It can be an architect. [00:20:00] So when you start looking at it in detail, you know, even an example, a visiting international student that is considered an export because they are coming from abroad and buying.
[00:20:10] Us dollars. So universities that have international students is one of the largest exports for a lot of regions as well. So when you start looking at it, there's industries, all of the above, it's not just your general, you know, we think of it a lot as the manufacturers, you know, it's like, okay, you're unless you manufacturer a widget, [00:20:30] you're not an exporter.
[00:20:31] That's not. So, I mean, you, as you mentioned, it's, there's a lot of fields. So I think it's, you know, the growing technology of, of ICT and computer technology, that is a huge field. You look at the biotechnology as well. These are emerging technology trends that, you know, the us is a leading, leading developer.
[00:20:52] They're ready to go showcase it. So, I mean, I, I look at all industries across the board and whether it's the final product or a [00:21:00] supplier, there's a lot of opportunities. Each industry.
[00:21:03] Wendy: So I sit on the multicultural committee on the greater Boston convention and visitor bureau. And I've often wondered about this are people who provide services for tourism.
[00:21:18] Are they export or so could they apply to get a step grant to translate their website, to bring in international visitors to visit.
[00:21:27] Andy: Yeah. I mean, it's, you know, tourism is a huge [00:21:30] export as you just noted unfortunately not with the step grant it's not eligible. There's there's a list of in your state trade office can guide you through the list of eligible activities.
[00:21:41] Each respective state has a different. A different program, how they architect the step grant. But SBA, yeah, we, they don't allow the tourism side as an export service for the step grant, although it is a big one, I would point them to it as an industry called or an association called brand USA.
[00:21:59] [00:22:00] This is an independent agency of the federal government that is focused on basically boosting tourism. It's part of the department of commerce. They get a robust allowable of trying to get the exact dollar amount, but they have a robust amount of money focused on promoting tourism. So they'll work with states that work with large companies, you know, think of a Disney world.
[00:22:22] You know, you'll see Disney world, you know, flyers throughout airports. They'll work in conjunction with brand USA data to really help [00:22:30] that state and region focus on.
[00:22:32] Wendy: Okay. So that's brand USA, B R a N D U S a part of the department of commerce. So that's good to know. I've never heard of that. All right.
[00:22:41] And so back when you mentioned the item, number two you would, you also mentioned translation. I got a biased interest in that love to hear you talk about that and what you recommend for export.
[00:22:56] Andy: Yeah. I mean, I'll defer to you on this one. If you want to go [00:23:00] ahead and answer this for me. I mean, it's, it's invaluable, you know what I mean?
[00:23:03] You know, this it'd be between your having your business cards, you know, having your, your, if your marketing material, your website as well, making sure it's localized. I'm not a computer whiz. So knowing that if I have my website and somebody searches for me in a foreign country, They're not going to, it's not going to show up, you know, I have to register it in that foreign country of, of market market interest.
[00:23:29] So really this [00:23:30] is, you know, as you're going through kind of trade 1 0 1 this is, this is the beginning. It's making sure you understand your cultural awareness and you're doing your time and making the good. To communicate effectively and in each market is going to be different. You know, there might be an opportunity where they speak English and you're familiar with that.
[00:23:49] A lot of times, you know, like when you go to Asian markets where you're going to need translators, that might be for the trade missions or the trade shows, but just the effective marketing and communication [00:24:00] is as essential because how else can you, can you secure the deal? If you can't speak the common link?
[00:24:05] Wendy: Google translate.
[00:24:06] Andy: I am, I have skeptical on I I'm skeptical on, on, let's say application. I won't call out Google specifically, but patient based, I, I have a small story that I'll mention one of my missions. We had somebody that somebody, we were at a market area in China, and somebody was trying to sell this gentleman in our group, a Chinese translation book.
[00:24:28] Then he said, [00:24:30] No worries. I have Google translate. I don't need it. Well, he's like, let me show you. Well, when he said something, he said some sentence in English and he like showed her and then the lady in it, the Chinese lady just like had the look of shock on her face. Like, oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. She looked at her husband and they both ran away.
[00:24:52] So we look at the gentlemen in our group. I'm like, what did you say? And then he looks at the phone and it had a few profanity words in it and [00:25:00] he's like, oh my gosh, he he's never said a swear word in his life. He was like, I can't believe I said this. And then he was shocked and we're all like, oh, so that experience, you know, it was just an example.
[00:25:14] I was like, okay, let's make sure you're double-checking and you're getting incredible translator in that. The phonetics from your phone, but
[00:25:25] Wendy: how dare saying? Cause you've just, I mean, so much [00:25:30] a damage to the relationship.
[00:25:31] Well, yes, a very good advice. And I'm happy to hear that. Cause that's about, that's what I'd say is make sure you're trying to communicate and connect and be careful with any application that you're using for translation. And then you talked about trade shows or mission. Walk me through like, I'm a new Xsporter what would happen on a trade show or a trade mission?
[00:25:56] Andy: Yeah. So as you know, there's, there's thousands of trade [00:26:00] shows that have happened throughout the. There are some very select shows. You know, there is an example, a health show in Dubai called Arab health. That's a very popular trade show for, for the healthcare industry. There's the Paris air show.
[00:26:15] That's one of the major air shows as it relates to aerospace industries. So each industry has a robust amount of trade shows that are there. That's where. Vendors, a lot of states will have a booth there. [00:26:30] So they'll have a booth where they'll bring a handful of companies. Some companies will have their own kind of trade show booth.
[00:26:37] Think of your normal five by five table with marketing display. That's where basically the platform and the environment at a trade shows where you meet your buyers. That's where everybody starts through relationships. You know, they get to see your product or sample your product or service. Have the discussion.
[00:26:55] You go to, you know, a different market. It might be in Europe. That might be an Asia, might be [00:27:00] north America. But that's the platform we're exchanging buyers and sellers there. I grew up going to trade shows. I love them. They're fascinating. I started, you know, in the restaurant world, we went to restaurant trade shows, which as a kid, you get a sample every time, which is fantastic.
[00:27:17] But in this world, it's nice because you get to really see all the commerce and the interactions in the exchanges. That's really where it starts and that's a really good return on investment [00:27:30] for an exporter to go. So it's really about figuring out what's the ideal trade show to go to. And that's where the states can really help guide you and say, here's the best opportunity to go.
[00:27:41] And similarly on trade missions. This is a little bit different. It's not a massive trade show where there's a lot of pavilions and spectators trade missions are more targeted towards a country. So an example of governor will lead a trade mission to a certain country. They'll bring a handful or [00:28:00] maybe eight to 10 businesses.
[00:28:02] They'll have very directly. Meetings and beat like business to business meetings and opportunities there. So it's a little bit more specific, you know, where you can have one-off kind of meetings. Maybe you have 10 to 15 prospective companies that you're meeting with. Whereas at a trade show you might meet a hundred companies.
[00:28:23] So we like to recommend a combination and your state trade office can point you to the best trade show and trade mission. [00:28:30]
[00:28:32] Wendy: Now you mentioned step grants before and step grants in most states can be used for translation or they could, and, or they could be used for trade shows and missions. Right. Can you talk more about where stem grants came from and why the government would give out free money to help exporters'?
[00:28:53] Andy: Yeah, so, I mean, right now we have, when you look at the amount of small businesses that are out there, Only only [00:29:00] one and a half percent of small businesses export. So what we try to do is to make sure we create the opportunities and the resources to help guide those companies to export. A lot of times it's just too daunting for them.
[00:29:15] You think of a company with. Less than 10, 10 people. You know, they got to do everything from hire to work about their worry about their cybersecurity, their it system, their payroll, their they're largely focused on the domestic. [00:29:30] Economy. So what we have to do is to create the resources and the process to help initiate and incentivize that small business, to take the steps, to become an Explorer and to do that.
[00:29:43] It's not cheap. It says it's a time and capacity, and that's really where the step grant fills, fills a big gap. It helps provide that small business with the incentive and the resource. To work in conjunction with the state in the [00:30:00] federal trade agencies to start the export process. A lot of times as, as you know, You know, you're not going to get an export success on your first trip.
[00:30:08] You know, say you go to a trade show, you might not secure a sale for six months or a year. It might have to take multiple trips before you finally succeed. So that's really where that step grant provides that incentive in that financial support, just to really give them the confidence to say, okay, As a small business, I'm [00:30:30] invested.
[00:30:30] I'm ready to go. Let's work on this together. You mentioned, you know, you could use it for translation. You can use it for trade shows. There's a list of about nine general frameworks that SBA allows. States to use. And I know you're going to quiz me and ask for all nine of them, but
[00:30:49] Wendy: I also know the amount and what they allow vary by state.
[00:30:54] But yeah, if you could give us a generality or what they can be
[00:30:57] Andy: used, that would be great. Yeah. So generally [00:31:00] think of, think of, you know, if you're doing a marketing report or study, if they need trainings as well businesses can utilize that. You mentioned translation services, e-commerce services. So getting their website localized and understanding how to get on e-commerce platforms, going to the trade shows.
[00:31:20] So that can include every grant. As you mentioned, every state does a different that could include airfare, transportation, trade show, registration fees, [00:31:30] same with trademarks. There's also marketing buyer reports. So think of the U S department of commerce gold keyeds. Those are reports that the commerce department lines up, that it buyers for your product or service.
[00:31:43] Those costs a little bit of money, and that's where the step ramp can also be used towards that compliance. If there needs to be a IPR or a compliance Record, there are certain money that's allowed towards that as well. So a lot of [00:32:00] opportunities, a lot of variation, but you know, mainly just go out there and ask your state trade office, how they use their step grant and what's applicable.
[00:32:07] Wendy: Yes. It for somebody to apply
[00:32:09] Andy: how easy.
[00:32:16] yeah. Every state develops their, their unique process. So some states have an application, some states require a certain timeline. But if they try to make it as easy as possible, I mean, that's what we have right now is. [00:32:30] We need to encourage more small businesses, especially those new to exporters to get out there and do it.
[00:32:35] So they try to make it as seamless and easy as possible. Some, you know, they have reporting requirements that they have to provide to SBA. So they'll ask the company for results from their trade mission or their trade show. Like how did that step grant help you? So that's one of the requests that they'll get.
[00:32:53] And then a lot of it depends on the timing. So if a company wants to, you know, sometimes receive step grant, they have to use it [00:33:00] in a certain amount of time, say six months or sooner, but those are usually easy for their company and the state to, to work towards,
[00:33:08] Wendy: you know, it's always helpful to hear about mistakes that companies have made.
[00:33:13] So, you know, Potholes to avoid what are some of the mistakes you've heard companies
[00:33:21] Andy: to? Yeah. I think not enough preparation and planning, you know, sometimes there's, there's a lot of, a lot of rushing. So that's kind [00:33:30] of one, one thing is just making sure, sorry, I'll be in the background. Making sure, you know, you, you do your homework, you know, understand the buyers, be prepared.
[00:33:39] On that side, you know, that starts with, you know, your marketing and translation and communication. It's understanding that as well. You know, I think sometimes kind of other mistakes, sometimes businesses are overeager. You know, I think we have to understand the culture that you're going to. So some Asian cultures, as you know, it takes [00:34:00] time and a relationship, it takes multiple conversations.
[00:34:03] They want to get to know you before they talk about your service or your product. So just being mindful of the cultural differences and being paid. I think that's one of the biggest issues with a lot of small businesses they're focused. They know the American way, you know, we're saying I have 30 minutes, let's talk about it and let's get it done.
[00:34:22] And let's move on that 30 minutes might be a two hour tea just to get to know you. And then that might be the first conversation and we'll [00:34:30] revisit it in three months and do it again. So I think just keeping those cultural norms and understanding of your counterparts.
[00:34:39] Wendy: Talk about Americans wanting to do it within 30 minutes and go into Asia. And it's two hours to get to know somebody. I think you said Asia. What do you think is the most different culture from the United States? Where do people struggle? The most?
[00:34:58] Andy: Yeah. I mean, that's a, that's a good one. [00:35:00] I think, you know, I think naturally I'd point to our Asian countries.
[00:35:03] I think doing business in China is probably the most dynamic and challenging. If I'm a small business where they have, you know, they might have some capitalism or some, some mechanisms in place to expedite it. Just the culture and then just the government process overall can be more cumbersome. You know, you look at you, look at Japan, you look at an Indian.
[00:35:27] As well, India is a fascinating [00:35:30] market. Somebody told me it's easier to trade from a foreign country, into a state of India versus from a state to a state because they have a complex myriad of states and the international similar to us where the states have different provincial. Rules regulations that make it difficult for interstate trade.
[00:35:49] So I'm just trying to navigate those rules and regulations that might not be as open and transparent, but each one of those, those Asian regions, it's not, not [00:36:00] as, not as easy as to relate to as like the European union, we're the UK or Canada, where we have democracies. We're used to, you know, X amount of.
[00:36:10] Our structure and process. It's different, especially if you're talking about it, Chinese communist system and just different cultural norms as well. So each one is different, but I would say those are probably the most challenging to help understand.
[00:36:25] Wendy: And what advice would you give for somebody trying to understand doing business in a [00:36:30] culture?
[00:36:31] That's very different.
[00:36:32] Andy: Yeah. I would say there's, there's a lot of resources for. So the state department has country guides. The commerce department also has country guides. Well, they'll walk through both the geopolitics, the, the protocols. We'll talk about kind of the cultural history, the background.
[00:36:50] Those are good primers just to read up and understand the history, the process, all of the above, and then having those further conversations with [00:37:00] experts like yourself or the states. Where they can really talk through the communication style and the cultural background and how it really relates to your export opportunity.
[00:37:11] We're in a different world now. You know, there's a lot of zoom conversations that are happening internationally. So that's another question of how does zoom protocol work when we're saying between two foreign countries, a lot of different layers that we're working on, but there's a lot of resources out there.
[00:37:29] Wendy: [00:37:30] That's good to know. Why do so few companies export from the United States?
[00:37:36] Andy: Yeah. I mean, that's a question we're all working on right now.
[00:37:39] But I think the short answer would be you know, with a robust economy right here, you know, we're not a historically an economic export economy, so. Whereas smaller countries, exports is a bigger part of their, their gross domestic product. The U S we're right around 11% of our gross domestic product.
[00:37:59] I [00:38:00] think Germany is closer to 38 to 40%. They've just been, you know, between, you know, their international position of certain countries and their economies. Less or more dependent on exports where we haven't been, we have a large consumer economy. So I think that's probably their natural they're, they're very saturated with the domestic economy.
[00:38:20] Maybe it could be a capacity issue. As I mentioned, exporting does take committed. And capacity and supplies as well. So [00:38:30] do they have the manufacturing capacity to export then? So a lot of them and I think some of them just get and this is what we're trying to demystify is. Overwhelmed and they say, you know what?
[00:38:41] It's too much to handle. I don't want to, I don't want to worry about my intellectual property being stolen from hex. I don't want to worry about this trade finance. I don't want to worry about this logistic. I'm just not going to deal with it. I'm fine. As I am, what we have to work together to educate them is to really understand the benefits.
[00:38:59] [00:39:00] Exporting firms, they grow at a much higher rate. They grow around five to 7% faster than non-experts. They pay on average 18 to 20% higher than not exporting firms. And then one of my stats that I always use is you know, regarding recessions, you know, whenever we can go into a recession or decline in economy, Companies that export, they actually grow at a much faster rate.
[00:39:29] I believe the [00:39:30] last U S international trade commission report had during the last recession companies that did not export declined by 7% companies that did export grew by 18% in revenue. So we always like to use that as a diversification resource to help incentivize small businesses to export.
[00:39:49] Wendy: Wow. Wow.
[00:39:52] I mean, I hadn't heard that statistic before that the non-expert has dropped by 7%, but the exporters' increased by close to [00:40:00] 20%. I mean, right there is. Okay. That's that's the number one reason to start S exporting. Yeah. do, can you talk some about. Whether you can run a business from the United States, that's exporting, or do you need employees in the ground or bilingual employees or distributors like all that.
[00:40:27] I see different things. So I'm [00:40:30] curious as to what you're running into.
[00:40:33] Andy: Yeah. He don't, you know, that's, that's the beauty of when you work with our states and the federal trade agencies and everybody there, your team. So I advise any, any business, whether you're one person we're 499, which is the lowest amount based on small business definition of SBA there's the resources that are there to help you.
[00:40:54] Nobody has to be an expert on everything. It's very rare that you find one person that's an [00:41:00] expert on the whole export process. Think about, you know, the legal, the compliance, the, the finance term. There's a lot of people that are there to help you. So I would encourage any and all, depending on your size from one, one employee, all the way up to the 4 99 to, to reach out to your state and to your partners and to start the process, I think it should be, I always thought of when you're developing a business plan, you know, international needs [00:41:30] to be a component in a chapter of your business.
[00:41:32] A lot of times their business plan is just focused on the domestic economy. They're not looking internationally at the beginning, so that can be a robust part of part of the business plan and really help launch that new entrepreneur or small business into further growth
[00:41:49] Wendy: who leads the international expansion? Like you mentioned that international needs to be a chapter in your business plan, which I love that. I always tell companies think global from the start, [00:42:00] because it'll give you a certain way of thinking.
[00:42:03] And I see business owners leading it and I see various employees. The organization leading international. So, but I don't know who typically would do that. So I was curious if you had any thoughts about that?
[00:42:21] Andy: Yeah, I think similar to like what you noted, you know, it can range from the owner to their sales or sales director.
[00:42:28] It's usually within their sales [00:42:30] office. Who leads that depending on the size of the company, if it's a larger small company, you know, say they have 300 plus employees, they might have a designated international trade manager and office. It could be a part of their logistics team. If it's a larger firm as well that maybe they work on government projects, That could be part of their government affairs team.
[00:42:52] So all it really depends. I would say from the company perspective, you know, there's not like a stat. I haven't seen a stat that says, you [00:43:00] know, X amount of trade leads are from the owner slash sales director, but I think it would fall somewhere between just the sales office scan ownership,
[00:43:09] Wendy: where do exporters or people who are international trade hangout.
[00:43:15] Andy: Well, that's a good, good question. So there's a lot of different, you know, groups and associations. I would say like the district export councils, if you haven't been involved with them, [00:43:30] you know, our states keep a robust, you know, Rolodex of all their partners. Exporters'. The district export councils, as I mentioned, there's about 108 of them that are around the U S your state will work with the district export council, but this is a group of pro bono volunteers of kind of industry export professionals that are there to help guide and mentor small businesses and exporters.
[00:43:55] So that's a good group that they hang out. They have monthly meetings. Most of them. [00:44:00] No, you have a lot of associations. So think of even our association, we have a step coalition that we have. That's comprised of businesses, where we can talk about opportunities and success stories around the state trade expansion program.
[00:44:15] And we can also share advocacy and advice for, for new federal programs and policy, the small business development centers they have. Their annual conferences as well, different industry [00:44:30] associations, national association of manufacturers, you know, all the way down to aerospace industries, to others, they all have kind of their international focus in group as well.
[00:44:40] But. You know, there's not, there's not a real central, central spot. Maybe it's a club that I'm not cool enough to get invited to, but I'll keep my eyes and ears open.
[00:44:50] Wendy: Yeah. Those are, those are some good ones that I hadn't thought about. That's why it's always good to ask the two that I'm a fan of right now, or I E R G [00:45:00] international executive resource group.
[00:45:02] And the other one is bill Kenny's soft land partners. Yeah. So you've heard of both of those. Yeah. And just the people involved in that are the same, like with all the state representatives, just passionate about global business and so willing to help people who want to get started.
[00:45:22] Andy: Yeah, that's what I really love about this field and our, our members and others is they're all in it together.
[00:45:27] You know, they're ready to share best practices and [00:45:30] talk about how, how they help and what they can do. And they understand the challenge is we're in a global market. It's competitive and stronger. We work together and help each other. The stronger the us is on a global perspective.
[00:45:42] Wendy: Do people in other countries want American.
[00:45:46] Andy: They, they, they do. I mean, it's, you know, you see that everywhere. You hear the stories, you hear the, the made in America brand and the reputation that it has. Of course, I'm biased. I only hear that all the [00:46:00] time. So we like to communicate that back and from our conversations, they'll pay a premium for it as well.
[00:46:07] So that's just something we have to keep from.
[00:46:09] Wendy: What's interesting. People will pay a premium for you as goods and services. And they'll also pay a premium, like over 50% will pay more. If you provide information on your goods or services in their language, so provide your American goods. And do your in-language marketing and you can get [00:46:30] the premiums that are going to cover all the extra expenses or hassles that you might see.
[00:46:36] Yeah. Yeah. Do you have any other recommendations that I might not have asked about?
[00:46:42] Andy: You know, I, you really asked a lot of the good questions. I think it really just starts with. Knowing your resources, you know, just really knowing your resources, having those conversations, and then starting your export strategy and just being prepared and walking through [00:47:00] with your, your trade specialists at the state and the federal agencies.
[00:47:05] Don't be afraid to ask any and all questions asked all like there's no wrong or no dumb question. This is, it can be very complex at times, but it can be very simple. And there's a lot of exports that are there experts, excuse me, better there to, to help you throughout the process. So I would just encourage them to really just reach out to the resources and [00:47:30] have those conversations and to start the process.
[00:47:32] Wendy: Thank you. That's really, really good advice on, you know, it just, it reminds me of the Nike slogan. Just, just do it because people are there to support you and give you that cushion. Okay. So as part of cyto, it's the state international development organizations. It's all the state representatives that come together to share resources and ideas, and I've been to one of your conferences and you're the person that heads up and coordinates with [00:48:00] all the states.
[00:48:00] And so you're hearing all kinds of stories and pulling things in. What are your biggest challenges?
[00:48:06] Andy: Our biggest challenges. Oh, that's a good question. You know, what we do is really, I think we're one of our biggest challenges right now is just making sure that we have the megaphone. For why exporting and international trade is important.
[00:48:22] This has been a collective issue between states, federal agencies and all of the above is making sure we're we're cheerleaders. And [00:48:30] this is something where, you know, you and all of our partners can work together on is making sure that we are cheerleaders to, you know, find those new businesses that want to export find the companies that want to keep exporting.
[00:48:42] You know, right now, as we're looking at a COVID recovery, Travel, you know what the army Cron, everything else, everybody is ready to ready to go. And then with COVID you just never know. So it's very easy for people to fall back and say, I'm just going to have a zoom meeting, but we need to make sure that international trade [00:49:00] and exporting is front and center.
[00:49:02] It's still a key component of their group. And I think that's what we have to do from a collective organization has worked with all of our agencies, partners to make sure that we continue to move the needle around international trade and export it and make sure it's a priority. As well, and that's what we also have to do that with, with Congress and the policymakers right now, the congressional agenda is being, you know, it's largely talked on, you know, the course COVID recovery [00:49:30] infrastructure.
[00:49:30] We have a lot of the budget issues going on between the debt ceiling and the budget. That's being passed right now, but there's just not a lot of activity around international trade export promotion, all the. So that's what we, that's. One of our biggest challenges is really making sure that it gets the right attention.
[00:49:50] And then we have the right focus and we have the adequate resources to really make sure we can move the needle, moving that.
[00:49:57] Wendy: Yeah, that was really interesting when I was at the cyto [00:50:00] conference and talking to the states and asking them what their challenge was. It was it aligned with what you're saying is we've got the money and the human power to support exporters', but we don't want to spend the money marketing the programs because we want to give the money to.
[00:50:16] The companies. So it's kind of a chicken or the egg. You've got this, you know, this, these fabulous programs and knowledgeable people that are there to help, but how do you get the word out?
[00:50:29] Andy: Yeah, [00:50:30] exactly. That's what we've been, we've been using. You know, this is an opportunity where, you know, when SBA has a large footprint now with the PPP and all the different programs that they've been administering, making sure that we also use that to communicate the step grant program and all the other international trade programs that are out there.
[00:50:48] And that could be a really big component of their economic recovery.
[00:50:53] Wendy: Right, right. But this is, this is so great that you're sharing all this information. Cause I'm talking to business [00:51:00] owners all the time. You know, with I'm part of EO entrepreneurs, organization, where there are a lot of small businesses in there that have been highly successful.
[00:51:08] And so giving them this information would be good, putting it out on the podcast. So, you know, listeners, if you're, you know, a business owner, you know, somebody in a. And sales management share this with them. So they understand, you know, the opportunities that are out there. So we are getting to the end of our, our time, unfortunately, because this has just been [00:51:30] fascinating to me, but I want to know a little bit more about you, Andy.
[00:51:34] So I think, you know, what's coming, I'd love to know your favorite foreign
[00:51:39] Andy: word. Well, I'm a little biased with this one. My favorite word is Copa. That's our Greek word for that's how we celebrate, you know, whether we're dancing, cheersing or just catching up with friends. I think it's always brings a smile to everybody's face and brings everybody together.
[00:51:58] So that's why [00:52:00] I love that word.
[00:52:01] Wendy: Papa, Papa grandfather and German.
[00:52:10] I love it. I'm going to be saying that all night. And how about your favorite vacation?
[00:52:16] Andy: Favorite vacation. Well, now I am biased. I'm going to give you two. So I'm going to say my favorite annual or semi-tropical library of the year is to the Greek islands. There is no place like it. [00:52:30] It's really great to see family and really unplug and to get connected with the culture.
[00:52:35] But if you're an adventure my favorite vacation has been to Patagonia down in. I did a seven day backpack down there and it is just a beautiful gem of an area. So anybody that's an outdoor enthusiast. It's definitely on your bucket list. Oh my
[00:52:54] Wendy: gosh. We were, we looked at going to Patagonia when my sons were younger, just with you [00:53:00] know, brakes.
[00:53:01] It was too limited with time to get down there. So you did a backpacking trip
[00:53:05] Andy: through there? Yeah, it was fascinating. Just going through, there'll be. One day. I remember it was 75 degrees around 11 o'clock and then we walked down, but on a couple miles later, it was 35 degrees. And I was like, okay, this is why they tell you to bring everything.
[00:53:25] When you go to Patagonia,
[00:53:26] Wendy: talk about dressing in layers. [00:53:30] Wow. And what's your favorite Greek island? I got to jump back to that.
[00:53:34] Andy: Favorite Greek island. I go with Rodo it's down in the Southeast quadrant of Greece and it's a, the village where my father grew up. It's called Carpathians it's right next to it.
[00:53:45] So we spent a lot of time in roads. It's a great mix. Used to be the capital of Greece way back in the day. That's we have the Colossus of Rhodes. They had a necropolis down there and the town called Lindos. But there's just a lot of great culture down there. There's an [00:54:00] old town area in the main center of roads.
[00:54:03] It's just a castle surrounded by this castle wall and all the markets are all inside. So anybody that goes there just you know, I can send you my, my uncle's hotel and line you up.
[00:54:18] Wendy: What's your uncle's hotel back.
[00:54:19] Andy: It's called the minnows polyols minnows. So you can it's M I N O S do aminos hotel. Rodo screes[00:54:30]
[00:54:30] Wendy: R H O D E S and
[00:54:32] Andy: English. Yeah. And then dos.
[00:54:36] Wendy: Oh, D E S and GRI. Okay. So Mina's hotel and rotis, Greece. Okay. We'll give him a little PR to I and how can people find you?
[00:54:49] Andy: Yeah, you can find us at our site website. So that's, cyto america.org also have a state of LinkedIn page. That's pretty robust as well.
[00:54:59] [00:55:00] Anybody who wants to, to join. And I mentioned, we, we just launched, what's called the step grant coalition. So this is going to be a coalition of small businesses that we can all work together on promoting the step grant and making sure that it gets robust funding with government. So. Any way you can, you can reach me on our website.
[00:55:18] You'll have my email address as well. It is windy. You can send this out, but it's a Corellas K a R E L L a firstname.lastname@example.org. And you can [00:55:30] reach me anytime. Anytime there were that our website or link.
[00:55:34] Wendy: Okay. And sido is S as in state I D O america.org for anybody that was wondering how you spell that. Well thank you so much for being on today.
[00:55:47] This has been so much valuable information, just summarized into one place. So thank you.
[00:55:53] Andy: Well, thank you. Really appreciate the opportunity and just a great discussion. So I really look forward to. [00:56:00] Is there anything else we can do to help and, and keep working on our joint mission?
[00:56:04] Wendy: Oh, fantastic. And listeners, I hope you learn just as much as I did from this conversation with Andy.
[00:56:11] I really appreciate you tuning in. And like I said earlier, if you know somebody that is interested in. My higher growth and paying higher salaries and more stability forward this on to them. And you can go to either sido america.org, or you can go to our website [00:56:30] at Rapport, translations.com. That's you know, I, I rarely mentioned it, but Rapport translation.
[00:56:37] The sponsor of the podcast. And you can just search on the search bar, S T E P and it'll pull up the link to all the connections at the states. And of course, reach out to me. If you have any questions, I know many of them and can connect you directly. So thanks so much and I'll, I hope you tune in next time.