More Small Businesses Trying to Expand With Overseas Efforts

Usually, when one hears the term "small business," they also think "local business," but it seems that many entrepreneurs are trying to change that perception. Today, there is a large and growing number of independent companies that are trying to simultaneously make an impact not only in their immediate geographical areas, but across oceans as well.

The recent economic recession and the plodding recovery that has come in its wake seems to have prompted many small business owners to start thinking about new ways in which they may be able to not only stay afloat in the future, but also flourish, according to a report from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. In some cases, that apparently means trying to expand their enterprises without adding physical locations, as many smaller companies have in the past; by getting into the business of sending their products or services outside the country, a larger number of companies may be finding success in new ways.

"I never imagined us working with exports," Erica Barrett, a 31-year old entrepreneur whose Estates, Ga., company makes gourmet pancake mix for sale in the U.S., Canada and even the United Arab Emirates, told the newspaper. "Now we look at ourselves on a global basis," she said. "We want to compete with the big boys."

The reason this has become so much easier, even within the last few years, is the explosion in e-commerce overall, the report said. Consumers not only in the U.S., but worldwide, are becoming far more apt to make purchases online, and it could be that small businesses stand to benefit from this more so than their larger competitors. Because these independent enterprises tend to operate on very thin margins, anything that increases revenues without a sizable uptick in spending is likely to be a boon going forward.

In addition, both federal and state governments have tried to do more to encourage smaller companies to get involved in exports over the past several years or more, and at this point, those and their medium-sized competitors make up nearly all shipping to other countries nationwide at 98 percent, the report said. Other programs can provide small businesses with loans, insurance, tax breaks and more as a means of helping them to increase their production both at home and abroad.

Why aren't more getting involved?
Of course, there is still some sort of barrier to entry for this kind of effort, the report said. For many owners, though, it's not financial, but rather because they simply have little experience in dealing with this sort of issue and do not know where to begin, though others are certainly concerned about the risk involved with trying to export anything. The lack of familiarity may be a perceived risk, however, and therefore, getting over that initial obstacle may go a long way toward owners being able to better understand the process and see just how much benefit these types of initiatives can provide for their companies.

Owners worried about potentially increasing financial burdens may want to look inward, as well, to see if they're doing all they can to make sure their small business insurance costs are as affordable as they possibly can be. By shopping around for the lowest costs on workers' compensation coverage or general liability insurance, for instance, companies can go a long way toward making sure their finances are secure, and that they're able to engage in the kind of exporting business that can help them to increase their margins and grow more quickly than they might have otherwise.