Get big, get niche or get out

August 3, 2013 by Juha Merinen

I am not really sure whether I know anyone who does not talk about the importance of getting our Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) to save our economy. The Finnish SMEs should be able to rescue the unemployment, trade balance and the lot. All this  they should be able to do by themselves in “the spirit of  the winter war” mentality. The formal ceremonial talks are constantly about supporting our SMEs. The truth  is that  they  are stuck in the middle. The focus still remains on large corporations and startups.

We have had several dreams

One of my friends shared me the following thought a year ago;

  • Once upon a time there was a DREAM,
  • out of which became an OBJECTIVE,
  • on what the PLAN was created,
  • that led me into ACTIONS,
  • towards the RESULTS,
  • I had earlier only DREAMT of

How many of us have experienced the above in real life? Most of us have had a dream, maybe even objectives,
plans and actions. But how many of us have achieved the results we were dreaming of? If we did not achieve
our dream it is worthwhile to think thru why.

The startup bubble

We have several governmental stakeholders, authorities, offices and programs focusing on startups. Most of these are still focusing almost solely on research & development, funding and market information services.  Even though it is quite understandable (up to certain extent) most of these programs are focusing mainly on startups and large corporations. Again, understandable as the objective is to create new jobs enabling the increase in state tax income.

However, this creates a few reasonable questions. Where do SMEs fit into this picture? Will we face a startup bubble at some point? Most of the startups I have been talking with during this year have stated that their big dream is to succeed in making an exit within coming few years. So where is the sustainability within the whole on-going startup scene?

We have plenty of very good SMEs who seem to be falling in between the large corporations and startup scene. SMEs are not really in focus at the moment, even though the whole country stands on the barricades waving the
flag on SMEs behalf. In the end of the day it is only true actions that count. I am not stating that we should underestimate the potential of the innovative startups, but saying that an equal focus should be put onto SMEs.

Get big, get niche or get out

As in every business it is about scalability. Therefore the old cliché ´get big, get niche or get out´ makes a perfect sense in this context. Large corporations are aiming to get even bigger and have all means to make it happen. Startups (at least in their early stages) are doing their utmost to succeed in their niche offering, business model, innovative technology and so on.  Again, where does this leave SMEs? How do SMEs scale their business in the current economy?

As we know ´money is too tight to mention´ so access to funding is naturally one of the key factors. But it is not the only one. Lots of SMEs have well established businesses, offering, customers and in-house competencies. Question is what can we do more in order to support them to get big or niche? It is all about the survival of the fittest and therefore much more focus has to be put to avoid SMEs to get out.



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