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PR pulse: Do next-gen business leaders embrace ‘America First’?

by | Jan 5, 2018 | Public Relations

There’s a vocal “America first” business perspective emanating from Washington today, even though new research from global payments platform Veem reveals that the future generation of business leaders are intent on running their businesses beyond the U.S.’s borders. With 48 percent of small business owners ages 18 to 34 currently selling their products outside of the U.S., compared to just 7 percent of business leaders age 55 and up, a more definitive credo for next-gen leaders is, “The future is global.”

“Millennials are leading the way when it comes to technology and globalization,” said Marwan Forzley, founder and CEO at Veem, in a news release. “Business leaders of all ages are open to using new technology, like blockchain, with an overwhelming majority of Millennials being open to trying new technology even when it comes global payments, one of their most critical business functions.”

Results from the survey, which was conducted by Ipsos among 500 small business leaders who are the owners of companies with up to 30 employees illustrate that although business leaders are generally confident about doing business and taking advantage of global opportunities, there are some major differences that emerge across demographics.

Millennials vs. baby boomers

  • Only 25 percent of Millennial business leaders do business solely with U.S. partners, compared to 63 percent of baby boomers who say the same. However, the proportion of those who say they don’t do business internationally but are planning on going global soon is consistent across these age groups (8 percent of adults age 18-34 and 10 percent of adults age 55+).
  • 80 percent of Millennial small business owners are confident in their business’ ability to take advantage of global opportunities despite the trade policies and potential tariffs proposed by the Trump administration, compared to just 32 percent of those 55 and up.
  • However, confidence drops when thinking about their company’s ability to take advantage of trade opportunities with NAFTA under renegotiation with 66 percent of Millennial small business owners and 17 percent of older business leaders (ages 55+) remaining confident.

Future business leaders are just starting out at this point, and they are bringing a global perspective to their business. They are the first generation to have internet access from childhood and social media has been a way to connect as long as they can remember. Technology has had a profound impact on how this age group does business compared to generation in the past. “The way the future generation does business is different than older business owners. They have always been and will always be global thanks to the removal of barriers by technology.” continued Forzley.

“We’re a company of five and we’ve been able to grow our business in a way that wouldn’t be possible if we were limited to just doing business in the U.S.,” said Ronald Renshaw, president at Jupiter Lighting Group, in the release. “Many of our customers are in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong and it’s been such a positive experience for us to work internationally. We’re proud to be an American business that works across borders.”

Men vs. women

  • Women are especially likely to lack confidence in the future of their business under the current administration. Only 35 percent think they can take advantage of global opportunities given the current administration trade policies/current events/potential tariffs, compared to 64 percent of men.
  • There is less of a divide when it comes to working with only U.S.-based partners, with 40 percent of men and 54 percent of women stating their company only works with domestic partners. 14 percent of women and 8 percent of men plan to work with businesses outside the U.S. soon.

The survey comes at a time when many important issues are up in the air. Will the new tax laws be good or bad for small and medium businesses? Will the U.S. remain a part of NAFTA? Only time will tell, but it’s positive to know that the future generation of business leaders are confident in what they are doing.

These findings are from an Ipsos poll conducted September 28–October 10, 2017, on behalf of Veem. For the survey, a sample of 508 adults over the age of 18 from the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii was interviewed online, in English. In order to qualify for the survey, respondents had to be employed full-time or self-employed for a company that employs 5 to 30 employees, and identify as being the owners of the business. The poll has a credibility interval of ± 5.0 percentage points for all respondents surveyed.

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Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 12 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richardc@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter

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