Has the hour for the turning point come? The improved expectations for the 2014 turnover, the recovery of internal demand and the first prudent investment programs seem to provide an affirmative response. The survey recently conducted by Unioncamere Toscana among approximately 2,000 entrepreneurs throughout the region signals reasons for optimism for local economy that derive not only from a more favorable outlook but also from new and comforting elements, such as in national demand and employment.
First of all, the improvement comes from the expectations for this year’s turnover: the pulling force comes from the sectors that require a high content of knowledge and a significant technological intensity. Advanced services for businesses, information technologies, electronics and mechanical engineering are the sectors in which Tuscan businesses are breathing confidence. Tourism is still above the mean for 2014 estimates. One of the novelties pertains to what the driver for expansion will be. If in recent years international markets have represented the only life preserver for business, 2014 also expects increased liveliness on the internal front: 7% of businesses contacted for the survey ascribes to this scenario for 2014, whereas in 2013 only 3% of the businesses aimed to develop their activities on the national field. This signal – Unioncamere highlights – is to be considered more than relevant, because it pertains to small and medium businesses that often have the national territory as their primary market.
The principal thermometer of the rediscovered confidence, however, pertains to the commercial commitment of businesses and entrepreneurs. The Unioncamere report highlights that the quota of businesses that are ready to proceed with a new investment program increased to 7% (from 5%). Secondly, the slice of entrepreneurs who are willing to recapitalize their business using their own means, and not only by recurring to the debt from banks, has also increased. Surely, for both of these survey results, we are far from the 2010-2011 levels but – the document reads – “the slight increase in the percentage of entrepreneurs who are deciding to recapitalize their businesses and are staring new investment programs indicates, if not exactly a trend inversion, at least an attitude with less lack of confidence in the near future.”
What are the strategies with which Tuscan SME’s are working to improve their economic situation and their future prospects? In addition to defensive measures (rationalization of production and supply costs, and margin compression), the conviction of entrepreneurs in enacting actions to improve product quality, to broaden distribution channels, and to open to new markets is growing. Generally speaking, with more focus on the core business and more attention to distribution: this will be the focus of the programmed investments.
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