New Year is a Mixed Bag

Jan. 5, 2014
While economists, together with SMEs, generally give a positive outlook for 2014 there are a bunch vital of issues that need to be tackled during 2014.

SMEs in Germany, according to a German state owned bank KfW, generally have positive expectations for year 2014. For Northern EU, without a few exceptions, the 2014 is looking gloomy (Norden report). So much for staring at official crystal balls.

While economists in various institutions are giving their best for a reliable outlook, I will not even try to compete with them. My view in this blog is very close to the SME reality.

Regardless of the economic outlooks I would put my emphasis for European SMEs during the year 2014 on following issues:

  • Leadership in SMEs
  • Hiring and retaining good employees
  • New customer acquisitions
  • Channel building in Europe and world wide
  • Strategic options like M&A
  • Cross-Atlantic opportunities
  • Eastern Europe
  • Succession planning
  • Process performance improvements across the value chain

While SMEs should be working hard on theses topics I would expect the Central Bank and banks generally to get the money rolling towards real economy.

85% of EU jobs continue to depend on the fitness of the SMEs. Putting together all kind of official lending programs are great, however in my experience they are way too slow to respond to SME needs. The banks must develop again an understanding of the needs of the real economy and take responsibility in their role in nurturing it.

Naturally the politicians must get out of their comfortable cabinets and finally stand up and fight for their voters.

During the year 2014 you will see more of my blogs touching these vital issues for European SMEs.

About the Author

R. Paul Vuolle Blog | CEO

R. Paul Vuolle's blog "The SME's Guide to European Manufacturing," has moved. You'll find his latest ideas and commentary on SME European Manufacturing on IndustryWeek's IdeaXchange. 

You'll find more articles written by Paul at

R. Paul Vuolle, CEO of Bellevue SME Advisors GmbH in Switzerland and Germany, works actively with small and medium (SME) size manufacturing companies in Europe in SCM/Outsourcing, logistics, turnaround and restructuring, market expansion, as well as succession planning and financing. He also frequently supports technology start- ups in building up their business. 

Paul has over 20 years operational industry experience in engineering, electronics, industrial automation, building automation, investment goods like electrical drives, automatic test & measurement systems, HV Transformer production systems. During his career he has worked in manufacturing industries in supply chain management, outsourcing, logistics, production, R&D and successfully selling to international large key accounts. Paul has also run a sizeable amount of M&A transactions in numerous countries around the world.

He has built up his experience working in various leadership positions and functions in large corporations, such as ABB, and having executive positions in medium-size family companies and as a technology entrepreneur.

Paul is MSc. E.E. from Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich as well as BSc.E.E. from Helsinki Institute of Technology.

Paul is a long time member of IEEE and of its Industrial Applications Society.

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