Today, specialization in consulting for small and medium-sized enterprises only works to a limited extent
COVID has basically accelerated, sometimes dramatically, all the issues that were clear before COVID that they were coming at us or the companies. The most obvious example is “teams” or “early video telephony”. As a result, travel times were cut, costs were eliminated, mobile working — home office etc. etc. was established with a “snap of the fingers”. This at least in the minds of employees and customers — far from in the company, processes, quality assurance, product development, management team, HR, sales and Co.
This basically means that the speed of change has once again increased significantly, which also applies to industry developments, technologies, skills for employees, etc. in general.
In sum, this means that all areas of the company are affected and must be adapted. It is no longer enough to “only” treat special areas, it is necessary to establish a holistic view of the interaction of the segments. It takes a lot of experience, foresight and planning, combined with a clear idea of how the company should function in the future, so that all the wheels mesh smoothly again. These are real challenges, especially when there are still technology breakthroughs like e.g. to be added in the automotive sector.
Also, the entrepreneur himself thinks “about himself” earlier. Gone are the days when the captain stood on the bridge until the middle of his seventh decade. Today’s generation is (rightly) already thinking about succession in their mid-fifties and also very openly about whether this should/could be solved within the family. From our point of view, therefore, a consulting service for small and medium-sized businesses must have a generalist approach. It must be a very experienced consulting team, equipped with industry — but also financial background, which is able to play the above topics together with the entrepreneur.
In the aftermath of the 2007 financial crisis, Europe “let” itself be over-regulated. Banks today are stuck in a corset that is basically supposed to completely avoid entrepreneurial risk. The resulting standardization is unfortunately not really suitable for the German market and in many places has little to do with German (entrepreneurial) reality. The repositioning of banks (through regulation) brings with it structural problems that were previously shared by banks as part of (credit) risk management. Unfortunately, with the “new world of standardization”, there is a certain loss of competence at the banks, which significantly slows down decisions, especially in difficult corporate situations or economic situations. In summary, it can be said that the German entrepreneur has lost his risk partner “bank”; today he is “only” assisted by a lender with high formal hurdles. Consequently, the market has sought — and will continue to seek — new ways forward.
Today, corporate equity, debt funds; PE’s, alternative forms of financing account for a significant share of the balance sheets of the broad German SME sector, and the trend is still growing. This will make it possible to close large parts of the funding gap that has arisen. However, it will not be without consequences. In our opinion, this will further accelerate the structural change in our country — away from medium-sized family businesses — towards larger corporate groups, and thus significantly change the SME sector as the “largest employer” in Germany.
We must not overregulate the market at every point We should not completely “disenfranchise” the entrepreneurs in our country who provide jobs, take considerable risks, even personally. An entrepreneur undertakes, let him do so.
We should stop trying to regulate any problem and then “finance it away” through subsidies. — Is it really right to assume that it is better for politics, the market, the company, to take technology decisions away? Keywords: electric — hydrogen — nuclear — wind — solar? Do decisions get better if, in order to make them “market-ready,” we then subsidize them into the market with tax dollars?
I think not!
In this respect, we need to allow more competition and take more risks in order to produce innovations that we can then develop, produce and establish in our country, in Europe, ready for the market. This will lead to growth and stability.
About Ralf Jourdan, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ralf Jourdan, business economist, has been responsible in relevant management functions for large companies and medium-sized businesses for more than 25 years. The result: a high level of experience and a distinct understanding of strategic and business contexts.
He uses his technical and leadership skills analytically and strategically to control and guide management processes. Over the years, he has become a valuable sparring partner for entrepreneurs and managers.
10 years ago he founded PEBCO AG precise.consulting for medium-sized companies. Before that he was CEO of a family-owned company in the consumer goods industry for 5 years, and before that he was a member of the executive board and divisional board for corporates of a large European banking group for 10 years. He has 15 years of experience in change management and restructuring as well as in leading growth scenarios.