‘Stories along the internationalisation path’: Lessons for SMEs on how to conquer world markets

International markets are more open than before and easier for Finnish companies to reach. Instead of applying a step-by-step approach to internationalisation, more and more companies have set their sights on world markets from their very first day of operation. Some companies can proceed along their path of internationalisation according to detailed plans, whereas for others quick trials and reversals may be the most effective way of moving forward. International markets can open up in a variety of ways – there is no one and only path above others, but each path is as unique as the company taking it, with its own individual goals and resources.

The publication ’Tarinoita kansainvälistymisen poluilta – Pk-yrityksen kansainvälistyminen – onnistumisia ja haasteita’ – ‘Stories along the internationalisation path – Internationalisation of an SME – successes and challenges’ describes the steps taken in the internationalisation process by five companies, the choices they have made, and their successes and failures. Among Finnish SMEs, there are plenty of great examples of successful entries to international markets. In fact, we can consider the strength of SMEs to lie in their flexibility and ability to react to changes in the operating environment, as well as in their speed at learning anew. Similar flexibility is also required from the “sparring network” around the companies – such as authorities, funding bodies and research entities – that must be capable of responding rapidly to the SMEs’ needs. This way they can really support companies in their internationalisation efforts by, for example, providing financial support and help in the development of the necessary competences. VTT supports SMEs in such endeavours as renewal of offering and strengthening of factors that distinguish the company from others, drawing up of partnership strategies, the development of an efficient and customer-oriented distribution model, and international organisation and management of service operations.

The ‘Stories along the internationalisation path’ publication was written as a collaboration between VTT, Tampere University of Technology and the University of Vaasa as part of the DIMECC REBUS (Towards relational business practices, 2014-2017) and VALIT projects. The publication can be downloaded for free at: http://www.vtt.fi/inf/julkaisut/muut/2017/OA-Tarinoita-kansainvalistymisen-poluilta.pdf

Katariina Palomäki, VTT; Taru Hakanen, VTT; Katri Valkokari, VTT; Nina Helander,TUT and Vilma Vuori, TUT

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