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Small business = great opportunities, also abroad

Piotr NOWATKOWSKI
International Department Supervisor at RSM Poland

Whilst browsing the Internet recently, I came across an interesting report dedicated to economic and trade cooperation between Poland and Italy. Among a lot of interesting data referred to in this publication, I paid attention particularly to these relating to the size of Italian companies which invest in Poland.

Not only corporations

This report indicates that 67% of companies with Italian capital present in our country are so-called microenterprises employing up to 9 employees (figures for 2013). Surprise? After all, in times of globalization a lot of is being said about international corporations, which dominated the world economy and whose  logo can be seen everywhere, in whichever country we stay. But, as it turns out, also the “little ones” decide to take the risk of investing in a foreign country, and what is more – they are in the vast majority. The above mentioned statistics aren’t completely surprising to advisors who deal with foreign investor service on a daily basis. Services dedicated to small and medium companies – and this doesn’t concern only Italian enterprises – are exactly the“daily bread” for a lot of advising companies, including RSM.

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Smaller doesn’t mean worse

For sure, there are significant differences between  advising a big, international corporation and a small or medium-sized enterprise. The latter often find our country,  first and foremost, their first experience in running business abroad. Cooperation with such investor requires from an advisor more patience in explaining specificity of the system, complexity of bureaucracy and law regulations. What is more, microenterprises not always have means to delegate a specially appointed person to manage their  investment in our county. It is usually that the so called “project Poland” constitutes additional responsibility to employees who, on an everyday basis, deal with matters connected with “their own courtyard” and not always can devote enough time to other “overstandard” tasks. Does this signify that small and medium companies shouldn’t develop and invest abroad? Absolutely not! It requires some more commitment and patience both from an advisor and the enterprise itself, but return on the investment can be really surprising. During more than eight years of work in RSM I witnessed a lot of projects realized by foreign entrepreneurs, including the Italian ones, who succeeded in our country and for whom an investment in Poland became a kind of a gate to further development in the whole CEE region.

Italian companies’ recipe for success

It has been well known for a long time that small and medium enterprises in Italy owe their strong position to the high quality of Made in Italy, which year after year is more and more appreciated – also in Poland.

European program Small Business Act originated nowhere else but in Italy. Apart from new legal and tax regulations, Italians decided to create friendly environment for entrepreneurs, also at a regional level, by implementing programs promoting development of small and medium-sized enterprises in regions: Latium, Liguria, Lombardy, Marches, Tuscany and Sicily.

It turns out that small and medium companies’ share in Italian export is as much as 89.9%. Just for comparison, in Germany this share is “only” 67%. According to Eurostat, Italian small and medium enterprises account for  more than 25% of commodities exported in the whole Europe (Germans remain on the second position (14,5%), the French occupy the third position (7,8%)).

What more, apart from openness and willingness to invest on foreign markets, distinguishes Italian entrepreneurs and decides about their business successes? Innovation. Environment friendly solutions. Creativity. During the last 3 years as many as 65,481 Italian companies attempted innovative solutions  in the process of production and sales (this is the second position after German enterprises). Italians occupy the 3rd position in Europe in respect of eco-friendly enterprise efficiency. And why creativity? It suffices to look at Italian design.

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