Lesson 12: Going Global

What You’ll Learn: Exporting creativity is a great way to expand your business. Nearly three-quarters of all the buying power in the world lies beyond U.S. borders and these customers are hungry for new ideas, products and services.

Going Global

“Creativity is not the finding of a thing, but the making something out of it after it is found.”

~ James Russell Lowell         


Perhaps never in history has the world been ripe for the pickings by creative business people. Even if you’ve mastered every corner of the U.S. market, 95% of consumers and 75% of global purchasing power lies beyond our borders.

While you may think exporting is something big businesses like Boeing and Microsoft do, the truth is that more than 10,000 businesses in Washington – some lining the state’s main streets – are engaging in international trade and sharing their ideas with a world ready to pay for them.

As you build your business as a creative, remind yourself constantly that your largest audience and most fervent fan base may live in other countries. If picking up sales here and there in the relatively small U.S. market works well for you, just think of the possibilities of tapping into the other 95% of consumers looking to spend their hard-earned dough on the latest and greatest coming out of America.

Here are just a few of the reasons you should think about exporting creativity as your business grows and matures:

  • Increasing your bottom line. Exporters report being 17% more profitable than those companies that don’t.
  • Smoothing sales cycles, so they aren’t as seasonal or dependent on a single economy.
  • Using production capabilities to their full capacity.
  • Protecting your domestic market by discouraging foreign competitors from entering your markets.
  • Increasing the value of your intellectual property should you choose to license it.
  • Increasing the value of your business should you choose to sell it.


You may be thinking, who would want to buy what I’m selling? One just never knows until one tries, do they?

The folks who make Scrabble would have never guessed that their word game was hugely popular in Senegal, with a 50% literacy rate. It turns out that the game is used in schools to build language and vocabulary skills and is a nationally valued activity on a par with soccer.

In Argentina, The Simpsons are so big that a local channel runs five-hour marathons of episodes during the weekend and at one time, the Ferro de General Pico soccer team added Homer Simpson to the goalie’s uniform. Krispy Kreme doughnuts are huge in Thailand, Lionel Ritchie has a sizeable fan base in the Middle East, and Irish Spring soap is a big seller in the Philippines. Lesson learned, you never know what’s going to catch on in another country or culture.

You may have the next big thing in a country that doesn’t even know you have it already. If you don’t consider selling it there, you may kick yourself forever when someone else does, and it becomes the next Pet Rock or Chia Pet sensation.

The best part is that you can even find an overseas partner and cut out all the international shipping issues. You can sell wholesale to them, and they can handle the selling and shipping. The possibilities are really endless once a product or service finds its rightful audience.

Connecting with prospective customers and clients will not only boost sales but may spur additional creativity as you learn about other cultures and what they are buying or collecting these days. Customers overseas may also make suggestions for modifying your product or service, so it draws even more customers in that particular market. Exporting not only opens your eyes; it opens doors.

Perhaps more important, exporting creativity doesn’t require a substantial investment in additional materials, equipment or human capital. You can grow at your own chosen speed, selecting new markets strategically and finding additional suppliers as the market responds and your sales overseas increase.