SBA administrator Isabel Casillas Guzman at SXSW.
SBA Administrator Isabel Guzman recently announced the results of an investigation into the Total Addressable Market (TAM) of U.S. small export firms. Photo: Twitter- @SBAIsabel.

New SBA study finds five times as many U.S. small export firms than previously reported

There are around 1.3 million small export firms in the U.S.


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A recent investigation into the Total Addressable Market (TAM) of small export firms in the U.S. found that there were nearly five times as many small export firms in the country as previously estimated by the federal government.

Isabel Casillas Guzmán, head of the Small Business Administration (SBA), said:

SBA's new research gives insight into the broader impact and opportunity for America's small business exporters, with findings showing significantly more small businesses exporting than previously reported.

The investigation

The study, based on recent business surveys, puts the size of the potential market, or total addressable market (TAM), at more than 2.6 million small businesses, representing 42% of all small employer businesses.

Before the study, the most recent official data from 2020 found about 264,000 exporters of small business goods in the U.S. The new study reveals that the SBA did not take into account shipments abroad for lower costs than $2,500, nor exports of services, including software as a service.

The federal government has traditionally derived small business export numbers primarily from U.S. Census Bureau surveys and merchandise export data.

“We know that small businesses are the engine that drives the U.S. economy and we can now tell a better and more comprehensive story of the importance of exporting for small businesses. We will use this research to support and advance the global market success of U.S. small businesses and evolve our products and services to better meet the needs of those current and future small business exporters,” noted Gabriel J. Esparza, Associate Administrator for International Trade.


The study revealed that the highest concentrations of exporters and small business exports exist within a variety of manufacturing companies, including:

  • Wholesale
  • Plastics and Chemicals
  • Medical Equipments
  • Design of Computer Systems
  • Management Consulting Services
  • Architecture
  • Engineering
  • Legal Advice
  • Software Provider Services

Emerging industries are also currently a focus for exporters of goods and services, with green technology industries being prominent amid the growing global demand for technologies and services that benefit the environment.

The SBA also stressed that small businesses run by minority women are more likely than others to export.

“The data provides a better guide for the SBA to help ensure America's small businesses can grow and diversify their revenue through trade. We will continue to strengthen our capacity to provide resources that small exporters need to compete in the global marketplace and power our nation's economy,” added Casillas Guzmán.

The full study commissioned to define the "Total Addressable Market" (TAM) of U.S. Small Business Exporters is now available here.


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