The technology available today is unleashing new potential for SMBs, including the ability to expand globally. The advances embodied in technologies like the Internet, social media, mobile devices, SaaS, and office automation are enabling SMBs to pursue opportunities that were previously limited to larger enterprises.
As Clive Couldwell in The Wall Street Journal Digest reports, “More and more small-to-medium-size businesses (SMBs) are using technology to punch above their weight against much larger competitors.”
Couldwell cites research by Gartner that shows that 45% of spending on information technology worldwide now comes from SMBs, with SMB spending on IT expected to reach $836 billion this year.
A recent study by Portfolio.com found that U.S. SMB expansion overseas was growing and that SMB international business would soon reach $2 trillion. The study found that one-quarter of U.S. small businesses reported that some portion of their sales came from overseas, and that another 6% intend to expand globally, boosting the number of SMBs engaged in international business to more than one million companies.
“International business isn’t just for multinational corporations anymore,” said J. Jennings Moss, Portfolio.com’s editor. “With the power of Internet sales engines and the reach of mobile devices, smaller businesses and entrepreneurs in the United States are able to extend their reach beyond our borders.”
The study found that SMB owners who are engaged internationally do better than their counterparts that operate only in the United States, with companies that have an international sales reach reporting average sales of $13.2 million and 32% sales growth, compared to $7.7 million in average sales and 20% sales growth for all SMB owners
Seeing the opportunities to sell more products and services as SMBs expand globally, vendors like Cisco are promoting the trend. On Cisco’s web site, for example, is an article entitled “How Small Businesses Are Going Global” that offers case studies of SMBs that have prospered through global expansion.
Also helping to give the trend some momentum, the U.S. Small Business Administration and the Overseas Private Investment Corp. (OPIC) launched the OPIC Small Business Center, which provides expert assistance, streamlined approvals, and other aid to help U.S. small businesses expand into world markets.
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