Micro-enterprise - How to become part of the opportunities offered by global upheavals?

Europe and the world are undergoing major changes, such as the green transition and, hopefully, the reconstruction of Ukraine soon. Companies play an important role in both, but as a small company it may be difficult to participate in value networks. This blog explores the role of customers and specialisation in opening up opportunities.
Teemu Polo
Teemu Polo. Photo: Liisa Takala

Finland's export euros come from cooperation. Although the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of technology industries is large companies, more than 90 per cent of the members are companies employing less than 250 people, and even micro-enterprises employing less than 10 people account for nearly 13 per cent – the technology industry is in practice cooperation.

For example, behind every ship delivery there are long supply chains and extensive cooperation networks in which large and small companies cooperate. The member companies of Technology Industries of Finland cover a long network of values from extraction of valuable minerals (mining industry), to their transformation into metal sheets (metal processing), their processing and productisation (machine shops), design and consulting, and ultimately information systems. All these steps are needed to manufacture a single ship and many of them should be made by specialised companies.

A good example of specialisation is the metal precision foundry Sacotec Components Oy, which has produced over 100 million parts for its customers. Production requires both special expertise and equipment, the maintenance and development of which require a significant business scope. This is only possible by sharing competence and capabilities among many customers, not by keeping them in one hand.

Similarly, in the SME field, it is worth considering what is the core of the company and what activities are otherwise necessary. The core of the company's strategy must be in each company's own hands, while other capabilities should be acquired from those whose core strategy is precisely that activity – such as precision casting at Sacotec. I wrote about this opportunity – micro-enterprises as an industrial superpower – in my previous blog.
So what does this have to do with micro-enterprises and entrepreneurs?

It is easy to estimate on the basis of the current Government Programme that the green transition, the reconstruction of Ukraine and the defence industry are great opportunities for Finnish companies as well - and it is worth participating in those value networks.

In practice, it may be difficult for a micro-enterprise to sell its products or services directly, for example, to the defence industry, but as part of the customer's value chain, it may well succeed. When a customer succeeds and expands its operations, it also creates new opportunities for good partners. Although a company cannot directly benefit from major changes in the economy, it can still be involved by participating in the related value networks.
So the customer matters, choose your customer wisely. Through customers you can participate in the value networks for major changes.

Author: Teemu Polo, Head of Entrepreneurship & SMEs, Technology Industries of Finland