Helping SMEs take their business to the next level

While Brexit and other international developments pose challenges they also create opportunities, according to Lorcan Colclough, partner at Mazars.

“We believe we are very well positioned to help growing, enterprising businesses and we anticipate that we’ll be expanding our footprint in this market in the coming year,” said Colclough.

Mazars produced the first comprehensive research report benchmarking the performance of Irish SMEs relative to their counterparts across eight European countries. ‘How to be a Standout SME’ was published in May 2014, highlighting the critical economic importance of the SME sector.

“We have seen demand for all our services expand considerably in the last two years and have invested significantly in our Corporate Finance division. Our CF team is highly experienced in managing company sales, frequently using our global network when identifying international buyers,” he said.

“The team has also been very active in helping companies to fund growth whether through debt, alternative debt or equity providers.”

Colclough said Irish SMEs and corporates needed to equip themselves with the knowledge and expertise required to foster growth, whether through expansion in new markets or through developing new products and services.

Mazars established its Mittelstand Business School (Mittelstand being the German term for its small and medium enterprise sector) to develop and support leaders of owner-managed businesses across Europe.

“Research has consistently shown that companies with strong leadership and an international footprint are more sustainable businesses that employ more people and have greater value,” said Colclough.

“The Mazars Mittelstand Business School is a bespoke programme for business consultants working with pioneering owner-managers wishing to take their development to the next level,” he said.

“We have created a unique business assessment and diagnostic tool, the Mazars Corporate Appraisal Model (MCAM) and this is a key tool of the Mittlestand Business School. Using this online tool, we guide the business owner through the MCAM process to assess their company’s current performance.” 

The MCAM process is designed to draw out the contrasting views, objectives and ambitions of the people responsible for setting a company’s strategy and delivering performance. 

“We look at potential challenges and opportunities for the business and how they impact on the overall strategy, helping the owners to develop, adapt or strengthen their business plan accordingly,” said Colclough.

He believes that maximising the potential of the SME sector requires greater linkages between smaller and larger companies to foster greater knowledge sharing between them.

“SMEs can learn a great deal from other businesses that are operating in their sector,” said Colclough.

“The Government has done some excellent work to support and develop the SME sector through the Action Plan for Jobs and other initiatives over the past number of years,” he said.

“The Mazars report shows that one way forward for the Irish economy is to develop a deeper pool of larger, high performing firms that support greater levels of employment and a more resilient economy.”

Colclough said the introduction of tax incentives for those retaining shareholdings in family SMEs could be a viable policy option to encourage investment in the SME sector.

“We need to create a base of strong SMEs with good balance sheets and reasonable scale. This may require the encouragement of joint ventures and the facilitation of mergers and acquisitions in the sector. Banking support and government assistance will be critical for this to happen,” he said.

As an international, integrated partnership specialising in audit, tax, consulting and outsourcing services, Mazars has a presence in over 77 countries.

“We offer the experience and expertise of over 17,000 professionals to assist companies, major international groups, SMEs and entrepreneurs, as well as public bodies at every stage of their development,” said Colclough.

“In Ireland we have a considerable pool of expertise with 22 partners and over 300 professionals. Our own rapid international growth means our partners have first-hand experience of overcoming the challenges faced throughout the entrepreneurial life cycle.”

This first appeared in the Sunday Business Post October 9th 2016.

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