updated 12/4/2011 5:17:10 AM ET 2011-12-04T10:17:10

As a small-business owner looking to export products, you'll need to first research global markets to find the best fit and then figure out what it takes to actually do business in those foreign lands.

While there's no shortcut to taking your business global, there are resources that can help you through the process. From steering clear of corruption to navigating cultural differences, knowing where to turn for guidance can make the exporting experience much less overwhelming for your small business.

Here are eight resources to have handy when you finally decide to take the leap into exporting across the globe.

Doing Business Project: Using data compiled and analyzed by the World Bank, this online resource provides Provides measures of business regulations and resources around the world, including an “ease of doing business” index. 

Milken Institute's Opacity Index:  This Santa Monica, Calif. -based economic think tank publishes research including data that ranks Ranks 48 countries on the level of corruption in their business practices. For $10, you can access a copy of the full report. 

Export-Import Bank: Based in Washington D.C., the Ex-Im Bank is the official export credit agency of the U.S. federal government. It offers Export Credit Insurance, which protects small businesses from losing money if customers don't pay, and a Working Capital Guarantee program on the loans banks make to exporters. 

Gold Key Matching Service:  This program is operated through the U.S. Commercial Service of the International Trade Administration, which helps U.S. companies do business in markets around the world. For a fee of $700 per market, the service screens potential agents, distributors, sales representatives and business partners and sets up appointments with them. The program, which is operated through the U.S. Commercial Service of the International Trade Administration, charges a fee of $700 per market. 

Geert Hofstede: A Dutch social psychologist and anthropologist, Hofstede focuses his research on cross-cultural groups and organizations. His website provides research on differences between cultures and how business is conducted in various countries. The website features the work of social psychologist and anthropologist Geert Hofstede. 

Foreign Corrupt Practices Act: The result of U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigations in the 1970s, this federal law covers accounting transparency requirements and regulations dealing with bribery of foreign officials to ensure that you're doing business legally abroad. Available for free on the U.S. Department of Justice website.

Central Intelligence Agency: The main objective of this government agency is to collect information about foreign governments, companies and individuals. The CIA provides country reports and the World Fact Book, which provide valuable information about the economic, political and social outlook for different nations. 

U.S. Customs and Border Protection: This government agency regulates international trade, collects import duties, and enforces U.S. trade, customs and immigration regulations. It provides guidance on the documentation and information small businesses will need to export their products abroad. 

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