SME Study 2022: How many SMEs are there in Switzerland?

The Swiss Institute for SMEs and Entrepreneurship at the University of St.Gallen and OBT have been dealing with the concerns and challenges of SMEs for decades. Now the latest Swiss SME study has been published, which is already the 9th edition of this study series. In it, the current figures of the Swiss Federal Statistical Office (BfS) from 2019 were evaluated and compared with previous years.

With the SME Study 2022, the Swiss Institute for SMEs and Entrepreneurship at the University of St.Gallen and the auditing firm OBT provide readers with in-depth information about the SME landscape in Switzerland. The authors also point out the differences between SMEs, because not all SMEs are the same. A hairdresser, a bakery, a painter or an advertising agency are just as much SMEs as high-tech global market leaders in medical technology or mechanical engineering. Moreover, in the view of the authors, SMEs are not simply small large companies, but are distinguished by specific characteristics. Every two years, the most recent SME figures are evaluated, with reference being made to past studies in each case. The focus of this study is on the evaluation of the 2019 figures and a comparison with previous years.

How many SMEs are there in Switzerland in total?

99.7 % of companies in Switzerland are considered SMEs according to the latest provisional figures from the Federal Statistical Office. Micro-enterprises with fewer than ten employees are the most common type of SME, accounting for almost 90 % of all companies. The two other forms of SME, namely small and medium-sized enterprises, together account for just around one in ten companies in Switzerland: 8.4 % of companies are small enterprises with 10 to 49 employees, and just 1.6 % of companies are medium-sized enterprises with 50 to 249 employees.

How many people work in Swiss SMEs?

A look at the employment figures shows that around two-thirds of employees in Switzerland – measured in full-time equivalents (FTEs) – work in SMEs. The employees are distributed roughly equally among the various company sizes in SMEs: 22.7 % of employees work in microenterprises (< 10 MA), 21.6 % in small enterprises (10 – 49 MA) and 21.0 % in medium-sized enterprises (50 – 249 MA).

How many SMEs are there in each of the different sectors? 

If the various sectors are compared with one another, the following picture emerges: In the first sector – the agricultural sector – there are almost only microenterprises. They account for 98.2 % of the enterprises. In the third sector – the services sector – microenterprises are also very dominant, accounting for 90.6 % of enterprises. And even in the second – in the industrial sector – their number is 80.4 % of the enterprises. The following sectors, among others, have a high number of microenterprises:

  • Real Estate
  • Legal and tax consulting, auditing, management consulting
  • Healthcare
  • Other freelance activities
  • Artistic activities
  • Provision of other services
  • Agriculture

In terms of the number of employees, the sectors differ greatly: in the first sector, almost all people work in SMEs (99.7 %), and 86.4 % are employed in microenterprises. In the second sector, on the other hand, 67.4 % of employees work in SMEs. At 15.5 %, less than one-fifth of employees work in microenterprises. In the third sector, 63.2 % of employees are employed in SMEs, the least in percentage terms compared to the other sectors. However, their share is again larger among microenterprises than among employees from the industrial sector: 23.0 % of employees in the service sector are attributable to microenterprises.

What legal forms do Swiss SMEs have?

In terms of legal forms, it is striking that most SMEs are organized as sole proprietorships. In agriculture in particular, almost 90 % of SMEs are sole proprietorships. SMEs in industry and services are often organized as AGs or GmbHs. As the size of the company increases, the number of sole proprietorships dwindles, as does the number of limited liability companies.

How long do SMEs exist?

Also this year, the survival rate of new companies was highlighted in the mentioned study series. The study shows that about 49 % of the companies are still active five years after their establishment, with large differences depending on the industry. The survival rate is lowest in the hospitality industry with 38 %, while it is highest in the health and social care industry with 64 %.

How many SMEs are involved in exports?

The influence of SMEs on export volume discussed above shows that although only around one in 13 SMEs in Switzerland exports, they are nevertheless responsible for 42 % of Switzerland’s export volume. The majority of SME export volume comes from medium-sized enterprises. In addition, micro-enterprises with fewer than 10 employees account for two-thirds of all export-oriented firms and 7 % of the total export volume. In Germany, France or Ireland, the influence of large companies is much more pronounced. Compared to other European countries, Swiss SMEs – according to the study – have some of the highest average export volumes.

SME Study 2022 also shows comparison with other countries

According to the SME Study 2022, the SME share is also similar in other countries. However, there are differences in the number of employees – for example, large companies in the United Kingdom (UK) and Germany employ proportionately more people than large companies in Switzerland. Based on these differences, comparisons of company size with the economic performance (GDP per capita) of the countries can be drawn. The trend line shows a slightly negative correlation between the share of SMEs in a country and economic performance.

The complete Swiss SME study can be here or under kmu.unisg.ch/kmu-numbers can be downloaded.

Source : organisator.ch

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