Export Knowhow

Volatile times – an opportunity for Swiss SMEs?

Internationally active Swiss SMEs currently face a range of challenges: increasing competitive pressure, the strength of the franc and global trade disputes. However, uncertain times can also present an opportunity. Alberto Silini, Head of Consulting at Switzerland Global Enterprise (S-GE) shows how you can turn volatile times into an opportunity.

Alberto Silini, Head of Consulting at S-GE

Global uncertainty, geopolitical tensions and trade disputes

Small and medium-sized enterprises make up 90% of all export companies in Switzerland. This means that SMEs, which are strongly integrated into international value chains, are particularly feeling current challenges. In times of increasing protectionism, it can be assumed that this volatility is not going to lessen. How can Swiss SMEs navigate the uncertain economic environment and achieve sustainable success in internationalization? 

Six tips from Alberto Silini, Head of Consulting at S-GE:

1. Look ahead strategically and check to what extent your business is affected by possible crisis scenarios.
What uncertainties exist in your export markets? Do they affect your products and services? Explore the various scenarios and consider the consequences for your company. 

2. Diversify risks early on.
Diversifying export markets and currency areas is an ideal solution for minimizing cluster risk. It is worth investing in opening up new markets or segments to give your business a broader base. Examining financial hedging instruments to mitigate the risk of currency fluctuations and payment defaults is also advisable.

3. Question your business model and adapt it specifically to your markets and customers. 
Review your business model. Does the target country or segment require adjustments? Exchange ideas with other industries and get inspired as to whether there are business models that are suitable and innovative for your business.

4. Keep investing.
In less rosy economic times, it is even more worthwhile to invest in improved processes, innovative digital solutions and automation. Many companies stop investing when the economic situation becomes critical. Do it differently: Invest and secure market share by positioning your products and services in the right niche.

“Those who can assert themselves as innovative quality leaders in their niche have a competitive advantage over international competitors, especially in volatile times.”

5. Take advantage of the possibilities offered by digitization.
The digital transformation is affecting almost every area of business. With the right use of digitization, such as Industry 4.0, Internet of Things (IoT) or Blockchain, SMEs can make better use of resources, stand out from the competition and operate more efficiently. For example, using e-commerce as a distribution channel can also open up a previously unknown world. 

6. Drive innovation along the entire value chain. Innovation should not be limited to your products or services. Innovation should happen along the entire value chain: in marketing, in the customer relationship with your customers, in procurement, production, customer service or even on your own website. Set yourself apart from your competitors with innovations across the board.

Learn more at the Aussenwirtschaftsforum 2020

Attend the Aussenwirtschaftsforum 2020 on April 28, 2020 at Messe Zurich and meet our specialists from all over the world. You can discuss this year’s forum topic with us: “Go international as an SME – Pioneering spirit for sustainable success”.

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