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An Overview of US Economy for the Businessperson

Small Business in the USA

Traditionally, businesses were small. Grocers, restaurants, repair shops, barbers, painters and others were all local. Even now, despite the dominance of franchises, retail chains and ready-to-assemble DIY kits, local businesses manage to survive. Small businesses are also free from the bureaucratic tendencies that can creep into huge enterprises, and can bring out innovative products and services. Even otherwise, where a personal touch is essential, small businesses could provide it better.

Small businesses also provide a living to people. This is particularly important in an environment where jobs are disappearing owing to small businesses increasingly incorporating automation into their processes, consolidation and outsourcing to low cost countries. Recognizing this fact, the US government has a strong program to support small businesses. The government agency, Small Business Administration, provides a range of services to develop and support small business in USA. Through its advocacy, the agency has also been able to encourage farming out government contract work to small businesses.

Several Factors Has Helped Business Growth in the USA

Business has prospered in the USA owing to availability of plentiful natural resources, an entrepreneurial population and helpful government policies. As a result, USA has the highest GDP – Gross Domestic Product – and the biggest market in the world.

The United States has been the world’s largest economy since with the highest GDP at an estimated 18.5 trillion dollars in 2017, which is approximately 24.5% of the gross world product. GDP includes the total consumption of goods and services by the people plus non-consumption expenditure such as industrial goods, education & on-the-job training plus government spending plus exports net of imports. It is an estimate of the total goods and services produced in a country.

How has the USA become the top producer of the world? We look at the major factors in a little more detail.

Plentiful Natural Resources

Fertile Farmland

Vast areas of fertile farmland have allowed the development of different kinds of agricultural and agriculture-related businesses. These include grains, oilseeds, fruits and vegetables, animals and animal/poultry/diary products, cotton, wool, sugar, rubber and spices.

US agricultural products such as almonds, sunflower oil, cattle hides, walnuts, wheat and rice are exported in large quantities to overseas markets. The leading U.S. exports are grains/feeds, soybeans, livestock products, and horticultural products.


The availability of forested land has created the industry of forestry – timber, scenic tourism, wildlife parks and other recreational businesses. Timber felling can destroy forests, and need to be compensated through replanting and management in an environmentally sustainable manner. Forest nurseries and growing trees for reforestation has developed into an industry.

Forest produce help development of industries such as plywood, paper, fuel wood and ornamental plants. Produce such as seeds, berries, ferns and wildflowers can also be gathered and sold.


An extensive coastline consisting of Atlantic and Pacific coasts, large rivers flowing inland and several large lakes have helped development of shipping and fishing industries. Ships carry merchandise not only for imports and exports but also for domestic trade. Use of ships in trade has given rise to businesses like freight forwarding, shipping container building and container transport, shipyards, cargo handling at dockyards and so on.

Fishing had developed with the use of large trawlers, floating processors and other large-scale fishing facilities. These intensive practices lead to over fishing and heavy pollution and the emphasis now is on smaller fishing vessels and traditional fisheries. These smaller scale operations help sustainable fishing instead of depleting fish stocks dangerously.


Many kinds of minerals are mined in the fifty plus states of USA and its offshore oilfields, with different states producing different mixes of minerals. Oil, coal, crushed & broken stone, cement, sand & gravel, gold, silver, nickel, magnesium, clays, phosphate rock, potash and sulphur are examples of minerals mined in different states. These minerals have helped development of industries such as petroleum, electricity generation, construction and fertilizers among numerous others.

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