The Swiss results of the Europe-wide survey show that SMEs are confident about 2019 and experienced promising growth over the course of the past year: 46 percent of those surveyed confirmed that they had boosted their sales in the last year, while 30 percent of the companies reported that their sales had remained steady over that same period. The overall study revealed that three quarters of European family businesses felt confident or very confident about the prospects for their family business over the next year.
At the same time, however, family businesses are faced with numerous challenges. The biggest challenges for family businesses in Switzerland are the war for talent, high non-wage labor costs, increased competition and declining profitability.
Despite Brexit, greater protectionism and controversial trade negotiations taking place around the globe, Swiss SMEs did not indicate political uncertainty as being one of their biggest challenges. Nevertheless, 54 percent of the Swiss companies named the unstable market environment in Europe, the UK, Asia and North and South America as one of their biggest risks. 23 percent consider regulatory overreach and excessively high administrative expenses among their biggest business risks.
Export-oriented companies are paying special attention to the relationship between Switzerland and the EU, protectionist tendencies in the US and general geopolitical uncertainties. Many of Switzerland’s traditional trading partners have become more unpredictable: Germany was left without a government for an extended period of time, Great Britain is very possibly on the verge of a “hard” Brexit and both France and Italy are caught in a reform deadlock.