Talent comes in all shapes and sizes, and small can sometimes be big in impact. As many parts of Europe seek to get back on the economic growth path, business pundits are pointing to the importance of small businesses in this recovery. After all, they do make up most of the economy, with 99.8% of companies in the EU classified as small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), defined as employing fewer than 250 people. 

Small companies are now globalising from day one, particularly in the tech space. For example, Location Connections is working with an early-stage European software company that started to distribute its product in 20 languages just months after start-up. It is working with various partners around the globe, and could be the next Skype. Small businesses are very flexible, and with the tools and expertise available today, they can move fast and innovate at speed. By scaling up with various dispersed partners, they can grow their business quickly and bring economic benefit.

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Interestingly, many of the inward investment agencies tasked with attracting FDI seem to regard SMEs as unworthy targets. With their often singular focus on jobs needing to be created, they seem to be of the opinion that only large employers make good FDI targets. They think you have got to be big to be able to go global. This thinking is out of date. The economy is now being driven by agile small businesses that are niche-focused and fully networked. They are dynamic in terms of growth and if you add them all together, you get the big job numbers. 

Investment promotion agencies are missing out on a trick to ensure that they capture the dynamism of today and the leaders of tomorrow. On the plus side, at least the smaller companies are not distracted bycacophonous overtures from a thousand and one locations demanding their investment.

Douglas Clark is director of Location Connections, an FDI consultancy for smart companies and winning locations. E-mail: douglas@locationconnections.com