Audit, tax and advisory services specialists Mazars have published a report assessing the performance of SMEs across the EU in the past five years, and looking at the ways to stand out from the crowd.
There are six of these, according to the study, and they include:
- Market Focus – Adapting to information gleaned from the market, rather than adopting a firmly fixed position.
- Bring More to the Party – Add value through expertise, technology or brand difference.
- Build Resilience – Be disciplined with regard to finance, and prepare for the leaner times by spending cautiously when incomes are strong.
- Be the Right Size – Bigger is often stronger, so SMEs should seek to reach the necessary critical mass, and should be open to mergers.
- International Outlook – Domestic demand variability is a risk, so SMEs who can trade internationally can mitigate this risk through export orders.
- Manage Today, Lead Tomorrow – Good managers focus on short-term and long-term performance, and this is the “most important determinant of success” according to Mazars.
The timing of the report is significant in itself, as it spans the full cycle of the recession which began in 2008 – and Mazars say this has also helped to highlight the value of best practices.
“The SME sector has, over the last number of years, experienced the most severe economic crisis in living memory,” the organisation said.
“Some SMEs have emerged from this downturn more resilient and stronger than ever before. Others however were forced to downsize or close down as a result of the downturn.”
In addition to the six ways to stand out, Mazars identify four drivers of performance, which can feed into each of the six points listed above.
- Market position, customer offering and selling.
- Operations and customer service.
- Finance, risk management and business performance.
- Leading and managing teams and people.
In all of these there is clear awareness of the human element – whether that means dealing with customers in the best way possible, managing the workforce effectively, or simply mitigating risks that might arise from interactions with other businesses and individuals.