Small businesses taking on global mindset in bid to accelerate growth

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) are making major changes to their business models to adapt to global markets, according to a study.

SMEs are also competing with larger companies by investing in technology to improve operations and become more efficient, finds a survey by SAP of 2,100 executives from SMEs in 21 countries.

Some 15 per cent of respondents currently do business in six or more countries today, a figure that is expected to rise to 35 percent in three years based on survey responses.

More than a quarter of respondents cite increasing global competition among the top three trends affecting their business today, with nearly 60 per cent saying competition from companies in other countries has increased substantially in the past two years.

A half say they increasingly are forming partnerships with suppliers and other vendors located in countries outside their home markets.

A similar number are increasingly collaborating with other firms via online business networks and platforms to help drive innovation and growth.

Nearly 40 percent of SMEs cite forming strategic partnerships and alliances as a key challenge as they remake their companies for the global marketplace.

Almost two-thirds strongly believe technology helps them achieve longevity and sustainable growth.

The research also finds that nearly half (46 percent) of respondents are actively hiring employees to support their growth activities, but 39 percent find it increasingly difficult to recruit people with the right skills.

According to 31 percent of responses, encouraging employees to use mobile technology is one hurdle, while 35 percent say lack of understanding of the benefits of cloud computing is an issue. And 43 percent of SMEs indicated they have trouble encouraging employees to embrace social media.

Eric Duffaut, president of the global ecosystem division of SAP says, ‘The overarching finding of the study was that successful SMEs are going outside of their home market to accelerate growth. And by doing so, they face fierce competition from large multinational corporations and more empowered customers in new markets.

‘In their new international or even global landscape, business network and latest technology innovations are more and more required by SMEs to evolve their business models and effectively compete.’

Further reading on international trade

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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