Rebecca Wiersma often vacationed in laid-back Treasure Beach, Jamaica. The contrast between her chosen vacation spot and her high-stress U.S. job grew stronger every day. Finally, she decided to chuck that job and chill out for good - by starting a business there.
"Owning and operating a car was very expensive here, so I decided to make money providing tours and transportation," Wiersma says. She started Treasure Tours by promoting her services to people on the beach, and ended up with two Web sites, one with information on her tours and the other with highlights of Treasure Beach, that keep her and a staffer busy full time.
No one keeps statistics on small businesses jumping their national borders, but the Department of Commerce's Bureau of Economic Analysis says U.S. companies started or acquired 702 businesses in foreign countries in 1999, a 47 percent increase from 1998. And whatever numbers you look at, says Ned Howenstine, chief of the research branch of BEA's International Investment Division, there has been substantial growth in investment abroad in recent years.
"There is a general rise in entrepreneurship," says Tarun Khanna, professor of business administration at the Harvard Business School, "and in global business as well." Naturally, the two trends sometimes combine.