Why Should SMEs and Startups be Provided with a Definitive Platform
A majority of small businesses face insurmountable challenges like lack of business connections, limited awareness of tools and best practices
The power of the internet is immense with the 21st century witnessing a paradigm shift in how communication works in the global economy. The use of social media is widespread and it is estimated that in three years, 2.7 billion people would be connected via social media. This digital world is an integral part of people’s lives, solving problems, providing entertainment and redefining how human society organizes and conducts itself.
Social media has had a tremendous impact on the lives of people – helping them stay in touch with their loved ones, rally behind important causes, stay in touch with other professionals, find a new job, and even helping them find their partners.
While social media has risen and grown sharply, the world has simultaneously witnessed the incredible rise of small & medium enterprises (SMEs) and startups. According to a World Bank Study* there are over 400 million SMEs & startups in the world and this number continues to grow.
In India alone, there are over 50 million SMEs & startups that employ over 110 million people. The government, recognizing the potential of this segment, has launched a number of initiatives aimed at furthering the cause of SMEs such as ‘Startup India’, ‘Stand up India‘, ‘Make in India’ as well as a number of schemes such as credit guarantee for collateral free loans, loan subsidies on technology upgradation, and so on.
While their growth and potential are enormous, a vast majority of these businesses face complex and often insurmountable challenges: a lack of business connections, limited awareness of tools & best practices, limited staff, lack of timely information, and poor economies of scale.
What is needed then is a definitive platform that brings together SMEs & Startups from across the world to address common business challenges & unlock opportunities that would have been hard to imagine prior to the digital era. This platform would enable SMEs & Startups to ‘go global’, leverage their collective power and achieve economies of scale, provide them with a voice to express their challenges and allow them to engage more seamlessly with corporations looking to work with them. Here’s a look at these points in depth:
- Going Global –A platform for SMEs & startups would enable such businesses to participate in a global discourse with other businesses having similar interests and challenges. SMEs & Startups, earlier satisfied with success in their local markets are increasingly looking to expand into international markets. Owing to the ease of replicating digital-centric models in different countries and converging consumer behaviour across the world, launching in a new geography has never been easier. However, even in today’s digital world, with limited connections outside of their own country, many SMEs & Startups take months, or sometimes years to expand to other geographies. This platform would allow linkages between SMEs around the world that would not otherwise have been possible.
- Leveraging Collective Power - SMEs & Startups would be able to leverage their collective power as a single community to achieve unparalleled economies of scale – negotiating better rates with service providers and suppliers. On such a platform, SMEs & Startups would be able to achieve the big business advantage, enjoyed today only by a few prominent organizations.
- Providing a Voice - A platform for SMEs & startups could become the much-needed voice of this segment, helping these businesses share their most pressing priorities and concerns while helping policy makers and the government better understand and address the needs of this segment.
- Engaging Seamlessly with Corporations - For SME-focused corporations, this platform could drastically reduce their marketing costs by providing a single channel to communicate with and offer products and services to SMEs & Startups, which have been largely ignored in the past due to high costs of acquisition.
The platform would provide a way for leading entrepreneurs to share their stories and provide inspiration to a captive audience of millions of aspiring SMEs & Startups, working hard to achieve their business dreams. While the last decade witnessed the rise of the social platform, the next decade will witness the rise of a global business platform that brings the world’s over 400 million SMEs & Startups together.
* Source: http://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/financialsector/brief/smes-finance