Six success factors to help SMEs stand out from the crowd

The study, which covers the period from 2008 through 2013, provides analysis, insights, lessons learnt and guidance to SMEs across the globe, as well as the similarities and differences of SME performance in Germany, Sweden, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, France, Ireland and the UK.

The findings highlight six success factors that can help SMEs reach the bar of superior performance and differentiate themselves from competitors.

1. Maintain a sharp focus on the market

Where and how an SME positions the company in the wider market should never be regarded as fixed, as it is always changing.

2. Bring more to the party

The traditional model of the shop, wholesaler, service, trade or profession with very little value-added in terms of brand difference, technology and know-how is simply not sufficient for today’s SMEs.

3. Build resilience and operate with financial discipline

‘Safety buffers’ created through higher profitability and retained earnings combined with a prudent attitude to borrowing are key features of stand out SMEs.

4. Right size your organisation

Having the right critical mass for the specific competitive and performance challenges of each SME business is absolutely crucial.

5. Increase your international outlook and extend your geographic footprint

SMEs that do not extend their businesses beyond local or regional markets are at the mercy of domestic demand.

6. Manage for today and lead for tomorrow

The quality of the management team is ultimately the most important determinant of the success or failure of SMEs.

Dave Smithson, UK head of SMEs at Mazars says: “There is no doubt that SMEs are and will always be the backbone of every economy in Europe, as they consistently generate substantial income, employment, outputs, innovation and new technologies. However, since a European SME is one of almost 21m, it can be hard to be seen and to really stand out. 

“Today’s SMEs will therefore need to review these six success factors very carefully, identify the key priorities for their business, and then put a strategic action plan in place to ensure that they are able to stand out from the crowd.”

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