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Crises: How SMEs Prepare For Future Challenges

Forward-looking action is now required: SMEs should draw up company emergency plans instead of relying on short-time work or downsizing. Because, as a new study by Visible shows, every fifth company is not prepared for crises.

First the pandemic, now the Ukraine war: The current crises are putting the resilience of small and medium-sized companies to a stern test. Not all companies are equally well prepared for this, as the B2B platform operator Visible found out in a survey conducted by the opinion research institute YouGov. SMEs generally use various measures to increase their resilience to crises. The most general approach is that 20 percent of companies have an emergency plan for problems in the drawer. At the same time, however, every fifth company (21 per cent) is left blank and has not yet implemented any measures to prevent sales losses due to crises.

Resilience To Crises Is Becoming An Essential Competitive Factor

Peter F. Schmid, CEO of Visible, comments on the study’s results: “I am surprised that so many companies have not prepared for crises at all. However, the current state of the crisis shows once again how important it is as part of strategic corporate management to anticipate possible future developments and to take appropriate precautions. Resilience will become a decisive competitive factor in the coming years.”

Overall, companies still seem pretty systematic in their approach to safeguarding against crises in an international comparison. In Austria and Switzerland, the proportion of companies with a company emergency plan is slightly lower at 18 and 16 per cent. The contrast with France is particularly significant. At eleven per cent, only about half as many companies have an emergency plan.

Behind operational emergency plans, stockpiling of materials (18 per cent) and increased provisions (16 per cent), followed by more conservative methods to increase the company’s crisis resilience. The fourth and fifth places are proactively aligned: investments in IT competence (16 per cent) and diversification of purchasing (15 percent). Schmid explains: “A broad range of purchasing and not making oneself dependent on just a few suppliers is a very effective measure to prevent the crisis. This promotes resilience and flexibility. Our B2B platforms wlw and EUROPAGES offer a simple way of finding suitable new providers online quickly and in a targeted manner.”

Short-Time Work Scheme As A Success Story

In an international comparison, there is another unique feature. Short-time work and cost reductions through staff cuts or wage cuts, each with 14 per cent, do not even make the top five of the list of measures. On average, however, all countries participating in the survey occupy first and second place, sometimes with significantly higher values. For example, 23% of Swiss SMEs focus on reducing staff costs. An equally high proportion of Austrian companies rely on short-time work. Schmid analyses: “The short-time work scheme was immediately available to companies at the beginning of the pandemic and could be applied across the board without any significant hurdles. This saved many SMEs from the worst and helped the economic situation recover quickly. SMEs can now think and act toward the future earlier than in other countries.

Also Read: Five Tips For The Cyber Security Of SMEs

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