A recently released UPS Business Monitor United States survey (download the full report) finds that small business owners continue to be optimistic about their company’s financial future despite the lousy condition of the economy. According to the poll, 86 percent of small business owners expect their firms “to be in the same or better financial shape in one year.” That’s a slight decline from the overall sentiment (91 percent) in a fall 2008 UPS survey.
Are these entrepreneurs being overly optimistic in regard to their outlook for the economy? Do they think conditions will turn around more quickly than what is generally expected? That doesn’t seem to be the case — 67 percent of small business owners believe that the economy will begin to improve in 2010 or later.
Small business owners who engage in international trade were even more optimistic about the financial condition of their firms in one year — 62 percent said their businesses would be in better condition in a year’s time (versus 39 percent of non traders).
According to the UPS survey, 73 percent of small business respondents are not exporting, nor do they plan to engage in trade: “Unfamiliarity with global markets, language barriers and apprehension about preparing customs and other documents were among the main reasons why small business owners say they are not trading across borders.”
That’s regrettable because there are abundant resources available for entrepreneurs who wish to explore going global. The U.S. Department of Commerce, for example, has top-notch educational material, an enthusiastic staff, regular webinars and other resources to help small firms research international markets and walk them through key details. In fact, the International Trade Administration just updated its Basic Guide to Exporting. If you visit Export.gov, you will find a wealth of information about doing business overseas.
And, it looks like U.S. policy may continue to move forward in a direction that opens up additional markets for entrepreneurs. Despite some of the protectionist rhetoric heard out on the presidential campaign trail, the Journal of Commerce reported a strong likelihood that President Barack Obama would advance trade pacts currently in the works (Colombia, Panama, and South Korea). There may be small adjustments to the deals, but it appears that trade is not a dead issue with the new Administration.
Alan Gershenhorn, UPS senior vice president of worldwide sales and marketing, said that trade is a sound strategy for business growth and survival. He observed: “By expanding opportunities in new markets, cross-border trade can help small businesses diversify, buffering them against risk, and helping them stay strong in tough times.”
Right now may be the perfect time to explore going global.
President & CEO, SBE Council
Founder, Women Entrepreneurs Inc. (WE Inc.)