Excuses, excuses.


We always seemed to be armed with plenty of them when faced with a challenge. Yet they’re often unnecessary obstacles. That’s true for small business owners when they consider expanding into international markets. There’s no shortage of potential excuses to not expand globally, but they may end up being just that: excuses.


Let’s look at five of them:


1. “I’m too small.”


This one’s simply antiquated in the online era, which has enabled so-called small businesses to do big things. Moreover, international business consultant Bill Cairns tells SCORE that small companies have a knack for two other global success factors: flexibility and personal relationships. “A small business is better able to cultivate that kind of relationship than a large company,” he says.


2. “I have no idea where to start.”


Fair enough, but get over it. Uncle Sam, for one, would like to help — the U.S. government has a rooting interest in small businesses succeeding in international markets. The Export.gov site offers one starting point. Check out our list of other resources for going global as well.


3. “It’s too expensive.”


Your costs of doing business will obviously depend upon a wide range of variables, but many of the fundamentals of serving an international audience — website, email, international phone numbers, social media —  have become easily accessible, low-cost commodities. Those likely aren’t your only budget items, but they form the foundation of global reach.


4. “I don’t speak the language.”


There’s a lot of validity to this one. You can quickly rub international customers the wrong way if you don’t respect local languages and cultures. But there are multiple ways to solve language barriers. You can hire or outsource; you can also look to partner with another business locally to leverage each other’s strengths, languages included. You should also take stock of your company’s current skills. If you have English and Spanish fluency on staff, focus on markets — Canada and Mexico, for example — where those languages apply.


5. “I don’t know which market(s) would be best.”


Take this excuse and turn it into a project. Market research is essential domestically and abroad. This is another area where the web can be a magnificent resource, at least to do an initial assessment of potential markets. The U.S. Commercial Service, for instance, offers a global market research library across many industries.


What other excuses can stop small businesses from going global? Please share in the comments section below.