Quantcast

Start a business today?

ARA Content | 6/23/2010, 5 p.m.

Is it easier to climb Mount Everest than to start a small business in America today? More than 65 percent of Americans think so, according to a recent survey. Yet 70 percent also believe small businesses are more likely to turn around the economy than the federal government, reveals a survey by Wakefield Research conducted on behalf of e-commerce platform Alibaba.com.

"Historically, recessions have proven very fruitful times to start a small business," says David Wei, chief executive officer of Alibaba.com. "As the data show, Americans strongly believe in the power of small businesses to positively impact the economy. However, misconceptions and lack of understanding about the global marketplace may be holding some would-be entrepreneurs back from starting their own small businesses."

Experts say that anyone, including recent college graduates, can still start a small business in the U.S. All it takes is some knowledge and support. Wei offers some advice for starting a small business or helping an existing small business achieve success in global trade:

* While more than 60 percent of survey respondents said they would advise their recent college graduate children to take a job they dislike and wait for the economy to improve, Wei says creating your own opportunities will be more rewarding. "Yes, the economy appears to be improving, but unemployment is still high," he says. "Don't rely on big corporations for employment. Create your own opportunities." A recession is actually a good time to start a business, history shows; corporate giants like Microsoft, Disney and Proctor & Gamble all started in poor economic times, and more than half of all Dow Jones 30 companies launched during a recession.

* Identify a consumer need. While people generally spend less during an economic downturn, businesses that offer necessary products and services can do well. Before starting your own business, identify must-have markets and products.

* Take advantage of technology to research, develop and market your ideas. You can engage in product development, social networking, targeted search advertising and compete in the global marketplace with just a few clicks of a mouse.

* Get smart about production costs and broadening your opportunities. You can enter the global marketplace online with sites like Alibaba.com, which allows you to engage in global trade and market your product or service internationally, or buy supplies or services securely and cost-effectively from overseas vendors.

* Take advantage of free resources such as non-profits and government agencies like the Small Business Administration (www.sba.gov), the Minority Business Development Agency (www.mbda.gov) or the (SBA) Women's Business Development centers (www.pacelabdc.org/Womens_Business_Center.php) that offer free business counseling services.

Also, look up your local SCORE office or Small Business Development Center.

* Never stop learning and taking advantage of opportunities.

Still not convinced you can start a successful small business in this economic environment?

Jonathan Shriftman, a 2010 graduate from the University of Southern California, did exactly that.

Shriftman found biking around campus an affordable way to get around. He also recognized a potentially profitable niche producing bicycles for the student market. Working from his dorm room, he researched his idea online, contacted manufacturers through, and had his enterprise--Sole Bicycles--up and running in no time. The bikes are built overseas and shipped to Shriftman, who is able to sell them for a quarter of the price of his competitors' products.

"With 66 percent of our survey respondents saying the federal government's efforts to create jobs have not been effective, now is definitely the time for would-be entrepreneurs to take the plunge," Wei says. "Every new business begun in the recession means new jobs will be created--and that's something that benefits us all."

To learn more about starting your own business and participating in global trade, visit success.alibaba.com.