Welcome to the Global Connection, our monthly wrap-up of must-read headlines for organizations that do business around the world. You’re busy; let us do the grunt work. We’ll track the events and information from around the Web that global businesses need to know. This month, small-business exporting, global business travel, and improving overseas markets  are among the hot topics.

 

Exports Equal Sales for These Small Businesses

A CNNMoney story examines the largely untapped potential for U.S. small businesses to export to international markets, noting that just 5% of the 6 million small firms with employees do so today. Yet for those that do, exporting often leads to significant revenue growth. Several of the companies profiled in the piece say overseas markets now account for half their total sales.

 

International Business Travel Takes Off In 2014

The Global Business Travel Association projects that international business travel originating in the U.S. will spike 12.5 percent in 2014, after just a 1.8 percent increase in 2013. That would put international business travel spending at $36.7 billion for the year, according to the group — a sign of healthier business activity overseas. The GBTA points to improving conditions in the Euro-zone, the largest U.S. trading partner, as a major reason for the optimism.

 

U.S. Trade Deficit Hits Four-Year Low

The U.S. trade deficit — or the dollar difference between imports and exports — recently reached its lowest level in four years. The narrowing gap is driven largely by decreasing demand for foreign oil, but Bloomberg reports that exports hit a record high, too, thanks (again) to strengthening economies in Europe as well as Asia.

 

Bitcoin Inching Toward Mainstream?

Internet retailer Overstock.com made headlines recently when it announced it would begin accepting the burgeoning digital currency Bitcoin as a form of payment. It will increasingly be joined by others, Entrepreneur notes, such as electronics seller TigerDirect.  Overstock has done more than $600,000 in Bitcoin sales, a sign of its potential in mainstream transactions. One detail, though, reminds us that it’s still early days for currency: While it should conceivably smoothen international transactions, Overstock currently only accepts Bitcoin U.S. orders.

 

Managing People in The Digital Age

Just as the Internet era has made it easier for companies to do business around the globe, it has also forced those companies to rethink how they manage their employees. Rachel Happe of The Community Roundtable discusses the adoption of “community management” standards over at the Global Business Hub blog. The management approach has long been used in nonprofits and the public sector, Happe says, but is now finding favor among for-profit businesses looking for a fresh perspective on employee productivity in the digital age.

 

Were there other international business stories that caught your attention this past month? Please share them in the comments section below.