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Export Basics: Getting to Know Your Customer

Written by guest author, Patty Brewer, U.S. Small Business Administration Export Finance Manager for Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming.


You are reaching for the moon. You are exporting your awesome product and getting attention from customers around the world. Who are these global customers? Answering this question is not easy when your customers are a thousand miles away or speak another language. Luckily, you have your own Mission Control to provide guidance as you move along your export journey. 

The U.S. Commercial Service (US Commercial Service ( offers three fundamental services to make you a strong exporter. First, there are videos and courses that cover topics like shipping and logistics or performing due diligence. Second, through Resource Solutions, you can research foreign markets and explore e-commerce. Finally, you can participate in international partner searches and virtual introductions with the USCS virtual export promotion services (Gold Key Service (       

After you’ve done some preliminary research and you’re ready to meet your foreign buyers, trade shows are a great way to expand your reach, talk directly to prospective buyers, and review the competition.  The International Trade Administration has a trade show calendar (Trade Events Search | International Trade Administration) where you can learn about upcoming trade shows. If you join the U.S.-themed pavilions, you will also be included in pre-show industry/country market briefings and export counseling.

Now the question shifts, how do you pay for trade show attendance?  Some costs can be reimbursed by the State Trade Expansions Program or STEP.  STEP, designed to help small businesses expand internationally, can be used to reimburse costs of trade show attendance, travel, or transporting samples. In Utah, World Trade Center Utah manages the STEP program. Additional details can be found here:  STEP Grant – World Trade Center Utah (

The SBA’s Office of International Trade has an export finance program designed to support global sales development. The Export Express can be used to attend trade shows, develop digital marketing, and adapt your product for the foreign market. To streamline the application process, the SBA has given lenders special authority to lend under the Export Express program. An approved lender decides application procedures, collateral, and makes the credit decision. The SBA’s response time is typically a couple of days, which means you move faster to develop your foreign market.

Neil Armstrong said research creates knowledge. Follow in Neil’s footsteps, research your foreign buyers, and take that giant leap into exporting. 

Patty Brewer is an Export Finance Manager with the SBA’s Office of International Trade.  Her territory includes Colorado, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming.  She can be reached at 720-556-4664 or [email protected].  

 In addition to the export resources mentioned in this article, UDAF offers resources tailored to the needs of agriculture and food exporters. For more information on these resources, visit or email Calli Forsyth at [email protected].



> Return to the July 2021 Cultivating Connections newsletter here.


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