Entrepreneurs and small businesses lead new wave of globalisation

Photo by lilartsy

Payoneer has released its second annual SMB Ambitions Barometer, which surveyed nearly 3,800 SMBs across 15 countries in early 2024 to gauge the factors critical to their growth.  

“We are seeing unprecedented global growth opportunities for the world’s entrepreneurs and small businesses, who are leading a new wave of globalization,” said John Caplan, CEO of Payoneer. “Forty-six percent of SMBs we surveyed are reporting that their customer base is international, up four points from last year.

“At the same time, SMBs are facing an ever-growing number of macro challenges and are preparing to drive efficiencies by adopting AI technologies, partnering with more vendors, and breaking into new trade corridors.” 

Key themes emerging from this year’s SMB Ambitions Barometer indicate: 

  • SMBs are turning to AI-powered tools and working with more vendors to support growth ambitionsA majority of surveyed SMBs are planning to use or are currently piloting AI to help with customer service (62%), merchandising (64%), inventory management (62%), content creation (62%), competition analysis (64%), and supply chains (63%). 
    On the supply chain side, SMBs are diversifying their supply chain, working with 29 vendors (including law firms and marketing agencies) on average, up from 21 two years ago, in a proactive response to macro events. Nearly two-thirds believe having a diverse and global vendor network helps protect their business against global disruptions. 
  • SMBs are expanding their customer base by growing into new trade corridorsTwo in five SMBs (40%) are prioritizing Europe and Central Asia to grow their customer base over the next five years, up from 33% in 2023.
    The top reasons respondents are planning to expand into these areas are business/revenue opportunities (45%), meeting customer demand (38%), and regional proximity (37%).This is part of a larger trade diversification trend, where ongoing trade tensions between China and North America have made doing business more complicated.  
  • Going global means overcoming obstacles – and SMBs are readying for the challengeMore than 40% of respondents say they are unprepared for global events such as geopolitical conflicts, product boycotts, and trade wars, up from 36% in 2023. Cybersecurity threats are also top of mind: since 2023, reducing cybersecurity risk is 63% more likely to be a key business goal for SMBs (8% in 2023 vs. 13% in 2024). 

“The opportunity for SMBs to unlock growth from accessing global demand is enormous,” said Bea Ordonez, CFO of Payoneer. “Our research shows that SMBs continue to expand their businesses across borders, extending their reach into new markets and trade corridors. To do this, SMBs are embracing digitization and innovation and working with a range of technology enabled vendors and partners who can empower and facilitate their global ambitions.”