TED@UPS: The Global Business Next Door

By staying on the exporting sidelines, small businesses pass on the majority of the world’s customers and leave growth opportunity on the table.


When most of us think about successful international businesses, we think of global conglomerates and the world’s largest corporations, many of whom actually have the word “international” in their names.

But a small business with fewer than 50 employees? Or a family-owned-and-operated business with a single location?

Those are not the types of businesses that come to mind when we think about businesses that successfully engage in global trade.

That’s why most people are surprised to learn that 98 percent of exporters are small and medium-sized businesses.

Even more surprisingly, here in the U.S. fewer than 1 percent of companies export. This is the lowest percentage of active exporters in the industrialized world.

By staying on the exporting sidelines they pass on the majority of the world’s customers and leave growth opportunity on the table.

The vast majority of U.S. business stops at the border.  But why is that the case?

For most businesses the barriers they face in engaging in international trade aren’t the borders on the map.  They are limited by the self-imposed borders of doubt, uncertainty and fear.

For the past 25 years I’ve been working with companies as they enter and expand in international markets.

Many of the companies I work with are unlikely participants in global trade.

So how did they overcome their fear of going global?

And what can other small businesses that are not yet exporting learn from them?

Check out my TED talk to find out! goldbrown2

Click here to learn more about Scott. 


Every morning, wake up to the blog that gives you the latest trends shaping tomorrow.

Scott Szwast is UPS Marketing Director for the South Atlantic District

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Reprinted with permission of Longitudes, the UPS blog devoted to the trends shaping the global economy.