So you agree you need to find someone who has done it before – now the caveat: select your partners carefully! You might be ‘living’ with them a long time, and they will be critical to your success. So how to choose when you know little about the international market? Do look for referrals – international trade organizations in your state, or industry groups are a good place to start.

Don’t stop there though: create a list of criteria and a profile that is most important to your company. Then interview, check references, and do a local visit for those on your short list. Assessing the strengths and weaknesses of potential partners against your company’s needs and wants can help you make an informed decision while still allowing you to make a timely decision.