Having a global footprint may be a goal for many U.S. small businesses, but for most it's not a reality. In fact, surprisingly few small U.S. companies export.
Now e-commerce platforms are easing some of that burden.
A report commissioned by eBay finds that more than 190,000—or 90 percent—of its small and medium-sized businesses used its platform to export in 2014. (Tweet This) To compare, in 2009, fewer than 30,000 were exporting. The findings come from eBay's Public Policy Lab in its 2015 U.S. Small Business Growth Report.
Despite that growth, less than 5 percent of U.S. small businesses overall are exporting, according to estimates from the International Trade Administration. Barriers include language difficulties, hurdles with customers and the cost of shipping.
"The path to exporting is very challenging—especially for small businesses," Jody Milanese, vice president of government affairs for the Small Businesses Exporters Association, said in an email message. "The main barrier is a lack of information and an unclear understanding of where to start. The U.S. system and assistance can be overly complex."