If there is a silver lining to the pandemic, it is that the shocking disruption spawned by restrictions and shutdowns has given many SMEs a fresh perspective on how digital tools and platforms can help them identify new customers and market opportunities for survival and growth and to operate their businesses more competitively.
Technology and e-commerce platforms have been a life-saver and the acceleration to all things digital has opened up important new possibilities. With this shift in both mindset and operations to digital commerce, entrepreneurs are finding that going global has never been easier, thanks to platforms like Alibaba.
In the past, the time, costs and complexity of going global have been significant barriers to selling overseas for small business owners, but this no longer is the case. Technology has changed the game and digitization is no longer a nice to have – it’s a necessity.
During Alibaba’s annual 11.11 Annual Global Shopping Festival, U.S. brands and small businesses generated $5.4 billion in sales. This event's success has not gone unnoticed by many entrepreneurs as they search to identify new markets to rebuild from the pandemic. They have quickly realized that with 95% of global customers living outside of U.S. borders and 60% of the world’s population on the internet, they will miss out on extraordinary opportunities to reinvigorate and grow their customer and sales base if they do not digitize their operations.
While the pandemic has caused immeasurable pain on Main Street – and millions of small businesses will, unfortunately, be lost – the good news is that entrepreneurship is stronger than ever. According to the Census Bureau, new business applications are surging, and high-propensity business applications (those with a higher likelihood of launching soon after filing and adding employees) total about 1.4 million. That is 15% higher than at this point in 2019.
Due to technology and e-commerce platforms, many of these new businesses can and will become global businesses from day one. Even the smallest of small businesses can now succeed in the global marketplace, accelerating job growth and economic recovery.
Looking ahead to 2021, policy leaders need to support the critical ecosystems helping SMEs better navigate economic uncertainty through connectivity to the global marketplace. In addition to our work educating small businesses about the ease of going global, the SBE Council will educate policy leaders and elected officials about how dynamic ecosystems and platforms help our economy rebound and thrive during this challenging period and beyond.