Should More Small Business Owners Look Into Exporting?

Many small business owners across the country are now starting to feel far better about their companies’ chances for success than they did just a few years ago. Now, the vast majority of companies with relatively few employees seem to be considering the ways in which they are able to ship their products and services to markets out of the country.

Today, 85 percent of small and medium businesses across the U.S. say that they have the resources on hand to increase the size of their exporting operations, according to a new survey from the import and export financing company Bibby Financial Services. The latest data from the U.S. Department of Commerce noted that the export of American goods and services to foreign country grew to some $191.2 billion, setting an all-time record, thanks in large part to federal plans designed to promote this kind of business. Exports also make up a larger percentage of overall business revenues in the U.S. than they do in Europe; in Germany and the United Kingdom, for instance, they amount to just 2 percent overall.

“It has taken some time for President Obama’s National Export Initiative, launched in 2010, to affect the confidence levels of U.S. small business owners,” said Leigh Lones, chief executive officer for Bibby Financial Services Americas, which offers import and export financing. “But they now say they have the right tools and level of support to fulfill the export potential of their business. Continued U.S. economic growth, along with increased demand from overseas firms, will continue to fuel confidence and momentum amongst small- and medium-sized businesses.”

What are owners’ attitudes toward this type of trade?
Today about half of all companies that export goods or services say that they expect to see their businesses grow over the next 12 months, the report said. Interestingly, while feelings about chances for exporting successfully seem to be on the rise, the biggest concerns companies had about their abilities to do so is a general lack of funding from the federal government as well as a potential lack of credit from traditional sources like banks of all sizes. However, it seems there was also a need for owners to obtain more of an understanding of credit terms related to exporting in general, as well as how trade cycles work overall.

Now, companies in the U.S. involved in exporting say that they are comfortable doing so mostly to well-developed markets, and the same is largely true of where they import products or services from, the report said. This is the case despite the fact that exporting to growing markets, rather than those that have been secure for a long time, provides tremendous potential for growth that could help small businesses to enjoy even greater success.

Of course, the ability to sell goods or services to a larger number of customers, both within the U.S. and all over the world, is vital to the success of any small business, but with credit tightness in general having the funds in place to afford such a move, it may be important to have a little bit of extra cash on hand to make sure these efforts fit within a company’s budget. As such, owners may want to look into the possibility of reducing their small business insurance costs by finding more affordable workers’ compensation and general liability insurance policies. Doing so may free up that extra money they need to increase their chances for success in whatever efforts they may wish to undertake going forward.