Global Smarts

Its A Small World

If you sometimes feel you are the only small business in the world of exporting, take heart: A recent Coopers & Lybrand study reveals today's new exporters are more likely to be small businesses than the bigwigs you might expect.

"Traditionally, readiness for expansion to international markets increases with company size," says Mark Levine, director of customs and international trade practices at Coopers & Lybrand. "But [recently], more smaller firms have been accelerating into the export market. Only 34 percent of firms with fewer than 100 employees were exporting in 1992, as opposed to 42 percent now."

The survey of CEOs at the 434 fastest-growing U.S. product and service companies found that, in addition to being small, new U.S. exporters are also more likely to sell services than products. Surprised? Levine says it has a lot to do with the U.S. lead in the high-tech market. "As America shifts toward an information- and entertainment-based economy, opportunities dramatically increase for [high-tech U.S.] service companies to perform consulting work abroad," he explains.

What's not surprising is that small businesses that export expect to grow faster than those that don't. Companies involved in exporting said they expect to increase sales by 31.2 percent in 1996, while those that don't sell abroad expect a 24.9 percent growth rate. The bottom line? Exporting builds businesses--so what are you waiting for?

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This article was originally published in the February 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Global Smarts.

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