Small businesses may want to start thinking big. According to the UPS Perceptions of Global Trade Survey, 24 percent of small businesses are currently engaged in global commerce, and many of those businesses are experiencing a large return from global trade. Of businesses who are doing business overseas, 66 percent report that exporting contributes up to a quarter of their annual revenue.
According to the survey, 64 percent of small businesses doing business overseas experienced a positive return within two years. Additionally, 34 percent did not have to wait that long, as they reported a positive return within six months of initiating business overseas. Despite the current world economic climate, almost half of small businesses, 49 percent, want to double their exports in the next three years.
"With 95 percent of the world's consumers located beyond U.S. borders, it's clear that the path to economic growth is through opening new markets for United States businesses," said Dan Brutto, president of UPS International. "This survey tells me that all of us in a leadership position need to step up our efforts to support and educate small-business owners, in particular, on the potential of markets outside the United States."
Figuring largely behind the success for small businesses going global is that, in accordance with the United States National Export Initiative, exports are projected to go from $1.57 trillion in 2009 to $3.14 trillion in 2015. This projected increase reflects the elimination of trade barriers and increased access to export financing.
Not all countries, however, are welcoming to small businesses. Over the past 10 years, businesses have been most successful exporting to Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom and Australia, all of whom have trade agreements with the United States. However, in countries where there are no trade agreements in place, such as Brazil, Russia, India and China, businesses have not had as much success. In fact, 62 percent of small business exporters said they had little success in these countries.
According to the survey, the main reasons companies avoid going overseas for business are the current economic climate and an unfamiliarity with how to go global. For those businesses in the dark about how to go global, the solution is simple, according to Laurel Delany, owner of small-business-consulting firm Global Tradesouce Ltd.
"While it might seem counterintuitive for small businesses to expand internationally, with the economic challenges in the United States, now is the time for calculated risk. By connecting with companies that have already been successful exporting, companies new to the process can realize the benefits of engaging in global trade a lot faster," said Delaney. "The simplest way for small businesses to find a successful exporting lead is good old-fashioned word-of-mouth, coupled with a great company website."
The information in this survey was taken from over-1,000 small-business owners.