Last month we finished a two year European project for small family businesses with up to 9 employees maximum.
Together with partners from Lithuania, Latvia, Turkey and Wales, we wanted to point out the strengths and development potential of such small businesses and thus help to preserve this unique business culture which deeply impacts our local economies. By interviewing businesses representatives and recording their stories we learned about their specialities, problems and needs and also how aware they are of their local markets and clients. We organized case study presentations were business representatives had the possibility to discuss their situation on a European level.
Our business representatives profited most from the informal atmosphere which enabled them to share knowledge and learn from each other. The biggest surprise for them was to realize how much they could profit from each other even though their businesses and business environments are very different.
We also realized that governmental and institutional training offers are very often just adapted from programs for larger companies and do not really target the needs of small businesses nor do they meet their availabilities. In personal interviews we assessed business representatives’ needs and wishes and based on these results we developed targeted workshops which were delivered during our transnational meetings.
44 European family businesses participated in the project activities and 34 representatives took the possibility to attend our international project meetings.
This activities finally inspired project partners to improve existing training programs resp. set up new programs for that specific target groups, to further develop the recently established local networks and common activities, to rethink training approaches by inviting family business representatives to lectures about management and marketing.
Even though small projects could not tackle all business topics to a full and deep extend, it made some unforgettable impact to our businesses and partners.
Our participants stated a deep satisfaction having had the possibility to meet family businesses from their local area as well as from European countries and to discuss with them their specific business situation. It inspired them to rethink own business strategies and to improve their business approaches.
It might sound disenchanting, but another great result of the project is that business participants learned not to wait for governmental institutions or public bodies to get help from. But to start developing their own capacities by networking and collaboration in their local environments, even though that is something very challenging as it is often far away from their usual behavior and culture.
Finally, four businesses still meet once a month in our office in Fitou to discuss ideas and needs, to share and learn from each other and thus developing a cooperation.
Maybe the group will grow??
If you are interested in participating, please contact me.