Entrepreneurial environment improving again

Optimism reigns amongst small and medium-sized businesses in the Netherlands. Three-quarters of the entrepreneurs questioned expect to realize growth during the next two years. How will they realize that growth? By, among other things, introducing their product or service on new markets and investing in innovation. Most small and medium-sized businesses are actively occupied with the future – more than two-thirds of them have a strategic plan and adapt this regularly in order to respond to new developments. Those are the main results from the research by Baker Tilly into the vision of directors and majority shareholders in the Netherlands with regard to small and medium-sized entrepreneurship.

Focus on growth

Small and medium-sized businesses see possibilities for growth again. Dutch family businesses in particular are prospering because 57 per cent indicate that they are in a growth phase. Innovation is a high priority for the entrepreneur. More than half of the small and medium-sized companies questioned say that they will invest in product innovation during the next few years and a third of the companies focus on process innovation. Personnel and marketing are mentioned next as important spearheads for investments. More than two-thirds have drawn up a strategic plan which is a determining factor for the business activities. The majority of the entrepreneurs amend the plan every year or every second year on the basis of the developments.

Economic recovery is an uncertain factor

At the same time, it is not ‘a bed of roses’ for everyone: 20 per cent are involved with contraction, reorganization or survival. In addition, almost 70 per cent of the entrepreneurs indicate that they are strongly dependent on the development of the Dutch economy and 43 per cent of the entrepreneurs are worried about their own financial situation or the economic recovery. Nevertheless, almost three-quarters of the entrepreneurs questioned forecast that the lowest point has been reached and the economy will grow again slightly. With regard to this, it would be good if the government would provide some extra support, because according to 60 per cent of the entrepreneurs questioned, the government does not offer small and medium-sized businesses enough encouragement. It will not be due to a lack of commitment from small and medium-sized businesses themselves, because the following applies to by far the majority of the entrepreneurs questioned: small and medium-sized businesses are the driving force of the Dutch economy.

New reality

“The present economic circumstances are the reality of entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs have learned that what used to work is no longer self-evident. Traditional earning models are under pressure in many sectors. Developments follow each other at a very fast rate. I see plenty of entrepreneurs who are very capable of dealing with this new reality. That explains the optimism about the future and the attention to innovation. The results of the research are therefore a confirmation for me of what we see in practice”, says Romke van der Veen, chairman of the board of Baker Tilly, about the results of the research.

Vision of entrepreneurship

The 100 year anniversary of Baker Tilly was the reason to ask businesses in the Netherlands about their vision of the dynamics of entrepreneurship. The above-mentioned results form the quantitative substantiation of the research in which 149 entrepreneurs took part. The qualitative substantiation, in collaboration with more than 40 entrepreneurs, can be found in an anniversary issue of the corporate magazine of Baker Tilly.