Standards: big benefits for small business
Small business could claim to be the world’s biggest business. It is estimated that more than 95 per cent of the world’s businesses are small to medium sized. Thus, international standards need to provide as many benefits for small businesses as they do for global enterprises, governments and society at large.
Small business owners and managers are hard-working people, sharply focused on the survival of their enterprises, and international standardization might seem far removed from their practical concerns. However the fact is that international standards developed by ISO, the IEC and ITU have facilitated economic developments and the dissemination of technologies that empower small business, as much as their larger counterparts.
International standards have been instrumental in the development of the electrical power grids and telecommunication/ICT networks and global supply chains, opening up more opportunities for small business. Standards from the IEC, ITU and ISO have been and remain major contributors to such developments.
The global supply chains, offshore production and business process outsourcing that are providing new openings for small businesses, including those in developing countries, are built on a solid foundation of international standards.
ICT standardization in particular allows small businesses to reach far beyond their physical location in search of new markets. For example, with the spectacular growth of the internet, any company, regardless of size, can now easily have a shop window to the world. In addition, standardization supports digitized manufacturing and quality control processes, product information and financial transactions – forming a basis for partnerships and commerce unconstrained by location. These standards are complemented by ones for good managerial practice.
Additionally there are standards for products that add value to a growing number of the services provided by small businesses. Small businesses have at their disposal management systems and conformity assessment standards which can help to establish them as reliable suppliers and business partners, to satisfy regulations, or to qualify for procurement tendering.
For pro-active small business owners and managers who wish to identify potential opportunities that international standards may hold for their businesses, keeping abreast of developments in ITU, the IEC and ISO is key to seizing market trends and opportunities. Governments and trade associations in a number of countries have also launched standards-related initiatives for small businesses.
Clearly, international standards can provide big benefits for small business. International standards developed by ISO, ITU and the IEC provide practical solutions to many of the challenges faced by small business in today’s globalizing markets. In so doing, they allow small business owners and managers to enhance further their traditional virtues of hard work, enterprising spirit and close attention to the requirements and satisfaction of their customers.
- Mr. Renzo TANI, President of the IEC
- Prof. Masami TANAKA, President of ISO
- Mr. Yoshio UTSUMI, Secretary-General of ITU