Experts Discuss Differing Global Small Business Owner Outlooks

European small and medium business owners are concerned about weathering COVID-19’s storm, but the American perspective is that the entrepreneurial spirit will pave the way to a brighter future, according to online polling from GZERO Media.

Forty-four percent of European respondents believed that their economy is worse now than it was before the pandemic, the data showed. The skepticism originated from the gap between wage hikes and price hikes, according to GZERO President and Eurasia Group President and Founder Ian Bremmer. Speaking at a recent livestream event, he added that the most significant change SMBs are facing is debt inequality in developing countries, compounded by rising interest costs. This could cause higher rates of middle-class poverty if trends continue.

that the European SMB outlook is substantially grimmer than last year, said Secretary-General of SMEunited Veronique Williems. She explained that a recent SMEunited survey showed that COVID variants and protocols tanked business confidence. Inflation issues are also troubling entrepreneurs, as is Russian aggression and subsequent effects of the Ukrainian war on the economy.

While European SMB owners might have a negative outlook, experts on the panel said American SMB owners have a different perspective. Visa’s Global Senior Vice President of Merchant Sales and Acquiring Jeni Mundy told the panel that the global economy is ushering in a new business boom in America. A poll from Visa indicates that 58% of new entrepreneurs created their business because they lacked other options, and the remaining 42% saw a gap in the market. Mundy added that many of these new entrepreneurs are women and that female leadership is rising.

“Small businesses are problem-solvers,” said Vice President of Small Business Policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Tom Sullivan. “There’s a tremendous amount of optimism in the U.S.”