Massimo D'Angelillo (Genesis). Bologna/Europe 2000
Genesis Report – A strategic Guide to Job Creation. The creation of new companies in Europe: sectors and opportunities
In 1994 the European Union (EU) with the so-called "The White Paper of Jacques Delors"[i] produced an original effort in the interpretation of the European economic trends, in order to characterize the possible sectors with a high employment potential.
The White Paper identified 17 employment sectors[ii]. They were generically defined macrosectors, and they were used as reference for some important public policies, such as vocational training ones. Very often, national governments have also gone by the employment sectors to implement their policies.
The White Paper did not clearly deal with the perspectives of job creation in form of self-employment.
Nevertheless, many expanding sectors were fit for growth through the start of new companies, such as in child care services, in tourism and in other small commercial services.
The White Paper was a useful guide for those who wished to plan initiatives for enterprise creation.
The White Paper however, was still too vague. The employment sectors were introduced, but not yet analysed; EU information was not accurate.
Perhaps it is inevitable that an official organisation, as important as the EU, does not feel at ease in expressing outlooks seemingly too specific, perhaps for fear of being politically criticised.
Those who like Genesis carry out a scientific activity are more free to put forward, through the work of experts, data and thesis deriving from a job exclusively cognitive and non- institutional.
The Genesis Report was written with two specific aims:
1. to improve the knowledge of the new European employment sectors, analysing the Job Creation that it is possible to achieve through the setting up of new companies.
2. to spread the Business Opportunities Map (BOM), a new methodology which can contribute to gather information about local economy and to set up effective policies of Job Creation.
An Opportunities Map is a research, a document with cognitive purposes; it spans from the analysis of the situation and the trends of the local economy, up to the detection of the macrosectors which present the greatest development potential.
We can say that the Map has two interlocutors: public bodies and young entrepreneurs.
Thanks to the Map, public bodies are in condition of:
1. improving their knowledge of the local economy;
2. planning interventions for local development. For instance, they will be better able to steer the interventions in the field of vocational training as well as the incentive of business development.
On the other hand, thanks to the Map, the young entrepreneurs can:
1. characterize the micro-sectors in which they can invest their professional and financial resources;
2. receive useful information in order to decide on the feasibility, or not, of a given business plan.
Small business, and above all would-be entrepreneurs (they are often young and with no experience in company management) do not have at their disposal the necessary resources to explore new markets.
Often, they allow themselves to be influenced by sensations, friends' evaluations and the media which sometimes underline the potentialities of emerging businesses, not taking into adequate consideration their effective feasibility in a specific area.
This defect in information can lead to wrong decisions about the feasibility of an entrepreneurial idea, and/or to an inadequate comprehension of the existing difficulties.
The Opportunities Map, with its methodology, tries to respond to the crucial need to study the micro-economics of the area.
The methodology of the Business Opportunities Map was studied from a working team made up of territorial economists and experts in company advice, co-ordinated by Dr. Massimo D'Angelillo.
The methodology, being applicable to different territorial contexts, has been adjusted to the social and economic characteristics of the geographical area that was analysed from time to time.
The following description is unusual, in so far as it does not follow the traditional distinction of the economy in sectors: agriculture, industry and tertiary.
In fact, we consider it necessary to overturn this point of view that concentrates on economic activity and looks at today's opportunities from the companies perspective and not from that of the market.
Looking at this reality it is possible to underline two important factors in economic change, and therefore in the creation of new entrepreneurial opportunities:
1. the changes in the consumers' behaviour;
2. the organisational changes in private firms and public bodies.
The first factor (changes in the behaviour of consumers) is connected with the general economic situation and the changes in the lifestyle of single persons and their families.
The second factor (organisational changes) depends on technological innovations, strategic choices and the general economic situation of the country.
The following description is divided in two parts: the first is connected with people's requests, the second with companies' requests.
The effects of the various initiatives linked to the protection of the environment, the improvement of cultural assets and the diffusion of the Internet will be analysed afterwards.
The current changes are numerous. In 1995-1996, for the first time in the post-war period, many Europeans reduced their consumption. This is the demonstration of the economic recession, which was in turn followed by the recovery stage, a phenomenon particularly intense in countries such as Ireland.
There are numerous elements of dynamism in consumption because of the transformation in the organisation of the family, the wealth accumulated in the past years and the arrival of a new young generation in the Seventies and Eighties. They have created new lifestyles, completely different from the previous generations.
The old social structure based on an agricultural economy, a rigid organization of the family, frugal consumption and poor people's mobility was disrupted.
The European landscape, with many little towns and a strict integration with the rural environment, shows many independent houses, with the possibility of widening and building improvements.
For these families the house represents the most remarkable part of their overall patrimony; furthermore savers are attracted by real estate investments, despite today's low profitability in some countries.
In recent years, there was a growth in the numbers of the building contractors, above all smaller ones specialised in specific working areas.
Over recent years, expanding activities have been the installation of tiles, frames (wooden, aluminium and PVC), Jacuzzi baths, boilers, air conditioners. The production of fountains, gazebos, open air games, bowers and automatic gates has boomed.
The bio-building materials trade could find a favourable market in the towns.
The different solutions related to the house market will continue over the next years, and they will represent an interesting market for those wishing to set up their own businesses. Producers, sellers, installers and designers will be successful because of the high costs of these products and services.
Home qualification means more investments in furniture.
Some furnishings can be realised by recovering and re-discovering old traditions, such as ceramic work, glasswork, wrought iron work and stone work,or by recreating ethnic atmospheres.
Thanks to its glorious past, Europe is one of the areas where the antique trade witnesses great development.
The abandoned farms will be adapted for tourist use (farm holidays, small accommodation facilities), or converted to houses. This process will be initiated by people who live in towns and inherit agricultural land or else by farmers who want to supplement their income. For the same purpose, many people who are not residents of the area, including foreigners, will buy these properties.
At the same time an inverse phenomenon occurs: the start up of new estate agencies specialised in the sale of real properties abroad, especially in holiday places like Tuscany, Cote d'Azur, Sardinia, etc.
The restoration of houses is creating a new market for small companies specialised in:
- air-conditioner installation
- window and door frame installation.
The maintenance market is also increasing, with its boiler shops, electric, water and cooker hood installation companies.
There is a greater request for garden articles, furniture (gazebos, benches, etc.) and for building complements, such as doorways, brick fireplaces and gates which sometimes represent a status-symbol. Furthermore the development of the home gym could turn to a rising market in the future.
There is more attention given to public parks and gardens. Accordingly, there are opportunities for design and maintenance companies.
Tourist activities, such as hotels, campsites and residences represent a stimulus for the local market. These activities have always notable maintenance problems.
There is also a growing number of pets and therefore of related products and services.
In the western society, cats and dogs are treated almost like human beings: this means more opportunities for breeders and firms specialised in pet toilette facilities, pet-food, veterinarians, and also for care services (for example, dog sitters and kennels), mediation agencies (for the sale of animals or for breeding), animal psychology experts, trainers, organizers of "defileés", pet cemeteries and for companies specialised in products such as beds, clothes, medicines, etc.
The diet is one of the aspects that many Europeans consider of extreme importance; foodstuffs make up 20,7% of European consumption, with maximum levels of 38,1% in Greece and 31,1% in Portugal (the minimum amount is recorded in Germany at just 19,0%).
Gastronomy is also one of the factors that the tourism of many European regions is based on.
Whereas initially, a "quantitative" vision was predominant, one which nowadays is still valid for a certain niche of consumers, quality, gastronomy and health are creating a new trend.
These dynamics are above all relative to city life, but are becoming popular also in smaller towns, even if, these towns have been protected from the invasion of the large shopping areas, thanks to the distance separating them from the cities.
If, on an organisational level supermarkets tend to outclass the small shopkeepers, the niche retail shops could focus on quality.
Biological and natural products (fruit, vegetables, cereals, wine, etc.), are currently in the minority (2-5% of the total) but steadily growing, and discovering an interesting market with large following.
This in turn creates a market for agricultural business producing biological foods, who are able to market their products outside their immediate area, either individually or in partnerships.
On a practical level, this could lead to the development of shops specialising in natural foods, run alongside herbalist shops.
Tourism is prepared for a growing market for typical gastronomic products; each European country offers a rich tradition of characteristic food which could be made into a proper tourist attraction. Significantly, 545 food products are recognised as typical to the EU in Europe (141 cheeses, 63 types of oil, etc.).
The recent development of fast food outlets such as pizzerias, take-aways, ice-cream kiosks, snack bars and American fast food bars is highly significant.
The need for speed, in both consumption and preparation, favours the spreading of semi-finished food products (pre-cooked, frozen, etc.) which are quicker and easier to prepare.
Ethnic restaurants, offering a variety of local gastronomic traditions, are becoming increasingly popular. Last but not least, among the opportunities available in the marketing of food products, is the sale of typical products via catalogue (for example selected wines and oils) by qualified agricultural companies.
The growing level of school attendance, the work and career needs of the people, not to mention the development of personal interests, tends to create the necessity to develop a greater awareness of culture and information. A part of this response, regarding above all the weaker groups (for example, young unemployed people), could come directly from the ever-expanding system of vocational training financed by the European Union and by the single Member States.
Then there is the private market. Training centres offer both language and computer courses to satisfy the growing demand.
Therefore, we can see many opportunities in the following years for training centres with public financing, but also for language centres and for specialised computer centres.
To supplement the lack of public education for some students, there is a range of courses designed to make up for lost time:
A second aspect to consider, connected to culture and education, is the diffusion and transformation of reading activities.
The phenomenon of bookshop/coffee shop is extremely popular, where the pleasure of relaxing over a good book and cup of tea or coffee intertwine.
In some cases, such as specialised niches, the books can be sold directly to the client (via the Internet for example), without buying them in a bookshop. This means being able to break into the international market of specialised readers.
Another very promising sector is everything concerned with the multimedia approach. The actual book read for pleasure will never disappear, but the reference books used for filing information (encyclopaedias, dictionaries, handbooks, catalogues, etc.) are slowly being replaced by CD-Roms and by DVD (Digital Video Disc).
This multimedia sector is located somewhere between culture and free time, where the number of multimedia shops with entertainment products is expanding (video games, Playstation). Multimedia shops also sell informative and educational products (CD-Rom and DVD). These shops could go beyond the various other articles sold by existing activities, such as video cassettes. A large part of these products are imported from the USA and in the future could be replaced by European productions.
Therefore, in Europe, in the near future, there will be significant growth opportunities for computer shops.
Many activities linked to the multimedia will develop: from Internet cafés, to translations on-line, from electronic magazines (the so-called E-zine) to on line music.
Another cultural aspect to consider is the one linked to the great musical and theatrical tradition in Europe.
There is a market, especially in big cities for exhibitions of local artists and young talents.
Information also means intensifying contacts with other people.
Europe is the area in the world with the highest number of mobile phones, with a maximum in Finland (881 phones for every 1000 inhabitants) and in Norway (718).
The boom of the mobile phone industry has therefore created an extremely dynamic market for small companies specialised in the sale and maintenance of telephones.
Western economies, in particular those with high standards of living, are experiencing a transformation that is shifting importance from work to free time. They were also defined as "Free time societis"[iii].
The increase of gyms and fitness centres marks the significant interest in body and health care. In recent years there has been a multiplication of sports, from new games (such as beach volley or rafting), to the explosion of sporting events (such as cycling or running) that can involve thousands of amateur participants.
So, in various countries, we witness a diversification of sports. New ones are on the rise such as mountain-biking, foot volley, beach-basket, bungee-jumping, gliding, skate-boarding and canyoning.
Some of these sports fall into the category of "extreme" sports, whose danger is an integral part of their appeal.
The bicycle represents a common sport for some European countries (Holland, Denmark and Germany). It is an antique tradition that has recently begun to experience a revival in racing bikes and mountain bikes. The quality of the bike lanes and paths make this sport particularly suggestive for tourists.
Jogging is another sport which has grown over the years, as well as running and non competitive walks. Horse riding has seen the setting up of many stables; these are activities that will develop in the future.
The development of farms for holidays is another expanding sector
Forms of "light" tourism, such as camping, alpine huts and hostels are becoming attractive. Campsites, in particular, are a form of "light" hospitality in the open air, linked to the desire to immerse oneself in nature.
Bed & Breakfasts, set up in countries such as Ireland are rapidly spreading throughout the EU.
In European cities and tourist areas, there are opportunities to satisfy the demands of the young generation, to start up creative activities in a recreative metropolitan space.
In Italy, for example, the pro capita consumption of beer, that was 25 litres per year in 1996, rose to 30 litres in just 5 years. Yet it still remains largely lower than that of Germany (138 litres per year) or Denmark (124 litres.)
Still on the subject of free time, the number of "New age" shops is increasing and they are capable of offering products to the followers of this new philosophy of life.
The expansion and new economic importance of free time creates market segments for new professions and for small specialised companies: examples of the new professions are animators, sound and light technicians, videomakers, cartoon producers and experts in recording studios, etc.
The interrelationship between these activities and sport, is quite significant, especially from a tourist point of view. Today, for example, animators, professionals specialised in creating events and shows, designed for children, the elderly and adults, are more and more involved in the organisation of sporting activities.
Then there is the varied world of evening entertainment, where jobs open up for dances, musicians, DJs, safety experts and organisers of games and special parties.
As consequence of a growing cultural awareness, European citizens are travelling more and more and tourism expenses weigh on the family budget.
In particular, the tourism sector has seen a great increase in outgoing over recent years.
The development of tourism, besides travel agencies, also benefits the activity of tour operators, excursion organisers, guides, escorts and the production of specialised publications and equipment, for activities such as trekking.
Nowadays, in many european countries, the travel agency network is quite developed but this does not limit the emergence of new operators for niche markets.
Tourism, which traditionally aimed at the middle-aged, has now expanded its markets for very young people and for the elderly.
The first group, for example are orientated towards study holidays and language learning breaks.
As far as the elderly are concerned, it is not a coincidence that there is an increase in the number of cruises taken. This is a relaxing trip well suited to the young at heart.
Bodycare is a ever-growing market (entailing both beauty care and physical fitness). This is due to a change in attitudes of European consumers. It is the change in the family structure and the organisation of the working day that has led to this phenomenon.
The market for cosmetic products sold in beauty centres and perfume shops is growing and growing. New market areas are opening for retailers and producers of natural cosmetic products.
Gyms are experiencing a boom in these years.
However, we are not dealing with linear growth, in so far as each segment is subject to a curve in its life cycle. For example, in some segments (body building above all), the market is almost saturated, whereas for other sports (dance, aerobics, gymnastics, etc.) there is still room for development.
Physical activity is slowly moving away form the traditional gym and taking up in the home, with the introduction of personal trainers and home gyms with second hand equipment.
The strong demand for services regarding bodycare overlaps with medical care; today, there are more and more specialisations inherent to aesthetics: from plastic surgery to dental work, from eye specialists to rehabilitation to orthopaedic artificial limbs.
The sanitary and parasanitary market therefore expands and creates new opportunities for the professionals of that sector.
Bodycare must blend with medical surgery services which have increased over the years, especially in the dental and optical sectors. It is a market which, after a strong 20 year expansion, is becoming saturated, whereas medical activities such as physical therapy, diets, orthopaedics, etc. are connected to a better management of the human organism (starting from the diet), above all in the elderly, and are faced with a growing clientele.
Alongside traditional medicine, there is the range of natural and alternative medicines, also on the increase. In some cases, available in the same chemists, which have long been the backbone of traditional cures but are now opening their doors to the field of homeopathy and natural medicines.
This is the sector that has been suffering, more so than others, over the past years, due to consumer limitations.
These limitations are reflected both on the trade and production and results in a difficult existence for smaller shops and for the packaging laboratories linked to this market. However, the overall picture is not completely negative.
Among the positive trends, is casual wear, in continuous growth. This positive trend is connected to a change in our lifestyles and not only for the young market. For some market segments, the choice of lifestyle tends towards a reduction in clothing costs.
One of the accessories that is becoming more and more popular is the glasses sector. In fact, glasses (and also contact lenses) are closely linked to the look, regardless of visual defects. This concept is known as "Eyewear".
Europe is an area where bureaucracy is a reality in some countries extremely heavy.
The growing need for qualified information (for example in administration, tax, pension, insurance and occupational sectors) the European citizen must defend himself by seeking specialised advice. This market is destined to grow in the near future.
Here are some examples of the existing opportunities
* Legal assistance.
* Financial advice.
The instability of the savings market favours the establishment of financial advice services, often connected to banks.
Today, while in the USA 70,5% of private savings is managed with the help of expert consultants, in Europe this occurs with a much lower percentage; 49,8% in France, 46,2% in Germany and 37,0% in Italy.
a) Administrative documents.
b) Pension advice.
The family nucleus has greatly changed in the last twenty years and it will continue to witness important changes in the near future. The percentage of working women has greatly increased; this percentage, which is still relatively low in Spain (26,9%), Italy (28,9%) and Greece (30,8%), reaches 40,5% in France, 42,2% in Germany, 50,8% in Great Britain and 64,6% in Norway [iv].
All these changes create opportunities in the market for many activities, that have one thing in common - to replace, in a professional manner, the activities that traditionally characterised family life.
The development of business and professional activities that offer serious solutions to our needs can contribute to creating employment and improve the quality of life for the users.
Community care is the shorthand term for the mix of support, help and care needed by people who cannot manage essential everyday tasks by themselves. Community care can come from a variety of sources including family and friends, public bodies (social services), voluntary organisations and private firms.
Therefore it becomes more and more important to find forms of collaboration between public bodies and private initiatives, which partly or totally involve the users of the services. In fact, very often, the public bodies tend to have agreements with private structures capable of offering qualified services at cheaper rates.
Companies, especially co-operatives, have witnessed the growth over the years of the opportunity to supply social assistance services. The increasing number of users (elderly, disabled and drug addicts in particular) and the weakening of the family on one hand and the public structures on the other, have led to the development of volunteer associations.
So, various forms tend to replace the traditional public interventions, that lead to collaboration between public bodies and private companies.
In recent years, volunteer work has taken on a significant relevance; this sector can cover some of the needs, especially if it can prove to be adapt for the role.
There is a growing market for products for the elderly, from hearing aids, sanitary and orthopaedic articles to electronic life-saving devices for lonely elderly people (a growing phenomenon especially among women).
In this field there are many possibilities for the development both of manufacturing companies and specialised shops.
Quantitatively limited segments for weak people in our society offer services for those suffering from handicaps (especially phisical ones), drug addiction and immigration.
The management of non-European immigration influx and in general, the growing cultural melting pot in Europe, favour the growth of new professions, mainly in two directions:
* linguistic and cultural services, for local bodies;
* legal services for immigrants, specialised in dealing with work problems, family rights (for example, reuniting families), and matters related to the right to stay in the country.
Also the childhood sector, despite the drop in the birth rate, is generating a demand for services that the public bodies are often incapable of satisfying. In fact, the European Commission's document entitled "Local development and employment initiatives" resulting from the above mentioned White Paper, identifies the areas which the most potential for employment: child care and elderly care, environmental care, the protection of cultural assets, training, physical well-being. Child care alone, according to this document, could generate, despite the drop in birth rates, 415,000 new jobs in the European Union. In fact, even if the numbers of children does not increase, the number of families that require external child care does.
In many European countries public services are well structured; however they are often incapable of meeting the needs of the family in terms of office times and flexibility of the service. There are economic restraints that prevent the public bodies from offering a complete service to the families.
In this way, private integrative services are born, such as games rooms, baby parking and nurseries.
Also baby sitting agencies could take off. Some activities for children could be run by the interested public bodies.
For work, holiday and daily lives, forms of transport are more and more frequent. The majority of transfers, especially those not serviced by railway lines, are made by car. Despite the damage to the environment, accidents, and the cost of this means of transport, it is difficult to go against this process that involves all walks of life with the exception of the very old.
The car market (sales and maintenance) continue to be bloom
A well-run transport sector is also indispensable in guaranteeing efficiency and flexibility of the production system. Today, industries tend to eliminate extra stock; in fact, rather than filling their warehouses with raw materials or spare parts, they require pieces "just in time" from the supplier. This demands an efficient delivery system that can be guaranteed by specialised couriers. A similar problem, of fast delivery of packages and documents is necessary for short distances, for example in a city, where there is a large number of pony express services.
European companies are experiencing an organisational change, necessary to adapt themselves to the evolution of the market.
Apart form the differential sectors, it is possible to identify four trends that can create market opportunities for new initiatives.
These are the trends:
a) Organisational flexibility.
b) Orientation towards client and marketing.
c) Increasing attention to the qualification of resources.
d) Growing investments in the design stage.
These tendencies are often parallel to many public bodies, for example, the ones which traditionally dealt with health care, social services and education.
Companies often make the choice of outsourcing production phases deemed non-strategical and not belonging to the "core business". On a macro-economics level, this choice provokes the reduction on a medium dimension of the productive units (Downsizing)[v].
The so-called process of Outsourcing is, in all sectors, quite advanced.
In the new sectors, the trends also mark the growing use of professionals and external services. In the show business world, for example, there are small companies specialised in the production and rental of theatrical costumes, others that rent out stage scenery and amplification systems, and others who lease recording studios to musicians.
The Outsourcing process, even though advanced, continues to grow.
Other than the tendency to de-localise various production processes, through direct investment and discovery of foreign specialised suppliers, the new demands for flexibility in companies opens new prospects for various independent activities.
For example, the rental sector, hiring out capital goods for a short duration is in expansion on various levels.
In the hotel and catering sector the rental of bed linen and towels is often committed to from specialised companies who also collect, launder and replace it periodically. There are also companies specialised in plant rental, for hotel and restaurants. Even in one of the oldest professions, butchery, renting and the sharpening of knives by specialised companies has become popular.
Maintenance, cleaning and security services have expanded in recent times, due to the need for organisational flexibility. Interesting opportunities do exist in the field of industrial expansion, subdivided into many specialised niches..
Interesting opportunities do exist also for technically advanced suppliers. Laser working, with Computerised Numerical Control (CNC), with automatic painting systems are often entrusted to specialised companies, equipped with high-tech instruments and qualified personnel.
A field which sees nearly all sectors in the position of client is computer maintenance; this is a field that is already developed, but still holds further entrepreneurial possibilities.
The automation of industrial processes has great potential, with the application of sensors, machines with numerical controls and robots for moving objects, all of which increase productivity and limit errors.
New computer technologies advance even in non-industrial sectors; for example over recent years many software programmes have been developed for the management of gyms, microchips to help athletes in their training sessions; sound synthesisers in computers for voice dubbing, mixing in the radio studios, music and advertisements are increasingly controlled by the computer.
Opportunities in this category are therefore for professionals and companies specialised in management control computer systems.
Logistics and procurements are also linked to the presence of specialised wholesalers.
The organisational flexibility of companies, especially for management or sales personnel, is growing due to the use of the mobile phone, a sector in rapid expansion, where opportunities arise for retail outlets and service points for mobile phones.
In view of greater organisational flexibility, more development is to be expected, for shipment and specialised transport services. The need for speedy deliveries has made it indispensable to rely on private specialised services.
Also the tourism sector requires highly flexible services.
The search for organisational flexibility involves companies of all sizes and recently also public bodies.
The research for simplified administrative procedures, necessary for reducing public discomfort and for saving money, can come about by employing external experts in management and computer systems.
The filing of documents (which will be discussed further in the next paragraph) will favour a dramatic revolution in administration, through the linking up of data banks from various bodies, with a reduction in the time spent by citizens and by companies in order to produce administrative documentation.
Public and private interventions are in expansion, such as vocational training, that favour the growth of new professional competences. A sector involved is the one of experts in new didactic methodologies (for example, web based learning, distance learning, simulations, remote conferences);
The European economy is strongly internationalized. The companies have so far given good proof of market orientation and the capacity to penetrate far-off markets. The percentage of exports (and imports) of the GDP is therefore higher in Europe than in America and Japan.
The European business system is engaged in a more active effort of orientation to guarantee stability and future development of the resulted purchases.
This makes it necessary to accelerate the delivery of products, an improvement of the market information, more commercial aggressiveness, the strengthening of relations with clients, the personalisation of products and services.
A faster delivery of products can be guaranteed by an improvement (and automation) of the supply of raw materials, the management of orders, internal logistics, transport to clients. An efficient organisation can satisfy the needs of clients who place small orders and need fast deliveries. These "day before" deliveries, as they are called in Italy, are very common in Europe.
When the public bodies do not reach the minimum critical dimension, a potential market is created for specialised companies that supply the services required in a flexible manner.
There is therefore a new interesting market for tourist information and reception services.
Computer science applied to marketing is giving rise to telecommunication and multimedia services, such as:
* the use of electronic shop windows or catalogues;
* the use of the Internet.
In companies, the use of Internet is more and more popular. It is possible to find new clients over the net. Products that can be described visually without having to try them on or test them and products of limited unitary value are marketed, where there are limited risks of making a wrong first purchase.
Internet can also be precious for finding information and saving on the management of internal information of companies, especially when there is more than one office (Intranet)..
It is possible in this case also to assume the setting up of specialised companies.
More traditional, yet effective forms of direct marketing are "door to door" and "multilevel" systems. These forms seem particularly effective for those goods where the clients are housewives and the elderly: articles for the home, detergents, electrical appliances, etc..
The tendency towards internationalisation, which involves tourism, production, agriculture and manufacturing to a great extent is decisive.
As regards specialised translations, which is a sector experiencing an increase, it is to be noted that now there is a need not only for knowledge of the language, but also of the foreign background, commercial jargon, contractual aspects etc.
Free-lancing, or setting up small companies, is possible to earn well, especially if the language is that of a country experiencing strong business growth, such as China, India, Brazil and Japan. The languages of these countries are as yet, not very well known and where competition is still quite weak.
"Do more with less": less employment more qualified; investments aimed at saving resources and improving productive quality and efficiency. This trend is taking place in the majority of private firms and in many public bodies.
Resource qualification in the production process becomes indispensable for meeting the challenge between international competition and to guarantee in the long-medium run, elevated standards of well-being.
Resource qualification also concerns human resources, the workplace and production processes.
What negatively characterises many companies, despite the efforts of the EU to spread a modern training approach, is the prevailing conviction based on "learning by doing". According to this vision working is more important than training, because it’s less expansive to learn things through the direct experience of working than through the theoretical training. This approach has, of course, discouraged real investments in training.
These needs are partly offered by professional public centres; in many cases, the companies turn to consultants and private trainers, even from other provinces and regions.
Therefore there are opportunities, other than the present institutional ones, for private training and advice centres.
Besides having the function of adapting the supply to the demand, vocational training can have an important role in the innovation and modernisation of company organisation.
The need for further resource qualification through vocational training, is connected to the need, in many cases, to find people with suitable training and necessary experience.
In this respect, many cities and regions are still insufficiently equipped with services for the research and selection of personnel.
A consultant is seen as an external qualified person, bearer of experience and innovation, flexible in use and capable of saving resources and avoiding errors.
Also the area of advice for safety in the workplace, in accordance with European regulation, offers possibilities of development to professionals and specialised agencies. These possibilities exist both for companies that offer complete safety services and for companies specialised in single interventions, for example, phonometric reports, for noise gauging in factories and advice for soundproofing workplaces.
Also the production of safety materials and products, such as extinguishers, fire-escapes and hoods (for smokes and dust aspiration) is expanding.
The qualification of the production process, other than the receipt of European and international certificates, means constant attention to introducing advanced production technology.
Companies are trying to reach higher and higher levels of automation; this process, which also concerns agriculture (for example, irrigation systems or completely automatic greenhouses) will experience greater development in industry.
The same rapid diffusion of the mobile phone industry in companies is due, despite the elevated costs, to savings in terms of less secretarial work that this form of communication makes possible.
For many commercial agents, professionals and very small companies, the mobile phone has replaced the secretary. Thanks to the mobile phone, it is possible to manage a greater number of contacts while out of the office.
It is important to underline that, for each of the numerous market niches in the computer world, there are often already even small-sized companies, which are specialised; others may be started up in the future.
Optimization techniques can also be applied to the problem of disposable spaces, more and more costly than in the past, in order to ensure that the best business solution is found.
The "Just in time" philosophy has always influenced European companies. A more careful overall management leads to a reduction in the size of warehouses, by accelerating internal warehouse operations and deliveries. Among the emerging activities are computer advice for warehouse and logistics management.
Among the small and very small companies, the reduction of space agrees exactly with the possibility to use temporary office centres, this is the case of start-up companies who are part of "business incubators" equipped with informative and consultancy services.
In order to reduce space and travels, some companies are trying to experiment with telework.
Thanks to space reduction also the video-conferencing is slowly expanding.
In office work the use of electronic document filing systems can improve the speed and the precision of information.
Last, but not least, some of the functions of secretaries and office workers in companies and bodies, which are normally entrusted to external specialised agencies, include credit and debt collection and other bankruptcy and insolvency related services.
The quality of design has become vital to anticipate the market trends, to satisfy clients and to manage resources correctly. A big mistake in this stage could provoke a multiplication of costs in subsequent stages.
European businesses have been engaged for some years in the improvement of this stage, considered strategical. This process is still under way and in the future can offer significant opportunities to CAD (Computer Aided Design) centres in the sectors of mechanics, electronics, building and clothing.
CAD is fast replacing the pencil, and will take over both in public and private bodies.
Improvement in the design stage could progress further by availing of service centres specialised in:
a) rapid prototyping, above all for mechanical firms, in order to produce prototypes in real time and with lower costs.
b) Market forecasts and trends and in the simulation of possible strategies to be adopted.
c) The setting up of simulations for new industrial processes, to calculate costs and possible results.
d) The creation of data banks to support designers. For example, data banks of models for clothes, for designers. These trends open up possibilities for highly specialised small companies, capable of offering advanced technological solutions to industrial clients.
The protection and preservation of the environment are not matters to be dealt with only by the State, they can also be faced by small and medium-sized companies whose actions can contribute to improve the way in which resources are used.
This can occur in many ways: by producing with environmentally correct processes (low impact agriculture, bio-architecture, etc.), by intervening in environmental issues ( using alternative methods of waste disposal, recycling and reduction ), creating new products that are less damaging for the environment (paints with biocompatible solvents, low-pollution detergents, etc.).
There are three levels on which a new company can make an important contribution: prevention, cleaning and fruition.
There are four basic ways to prevent damages to the environment:
- to use resource-saving technologies;
- to respect the anti-pollution measures;
- to protect natural resources;
- to implement biological production.
The above mentioned are very important examples in a vast range of initiatives where there is often a market for the purchasing of eco-friendly goods and services, but where there is often scare supply. In some cases, such as in the diffusion of electrical vehicles and district heating, the private initiative needs collaboration from the local public bodies.
Cleaning up the environment is the second level on which we can act. It becomes necessary if there has been no prevention.
There are two basic ways to clean up the environment: de-pollution and waste recycling.
In the de-pollution category, there are a number of companies specialised in the management of public and industrial purifiers, but also companies specialised in reclaiming contaminated sites and in eliminating harmful substances such as asbestos and in the de-pollution with natural methods, for exemple phytorenzontion of wastewater.
Many European laws argue that it is necessary to slowly reduce and eventually eliminate dumping and to adopt the recycling of waste. For the different types of waste it will become obligatory, for those producing it, to collect and bring it (contributing also to the disposal cost) to specialised centres, who will take care of the next phase.
Therefore there are new opportunities for companies specialised in the collection and recycling of material, such as glass, paper, plastic, wood, organic waste, oil, computers, electrical appliances, electrical batteries, tyres, aluminium and building material.
Better use of nature is possible thanks to environmental education and the development of tourism respectful of nature within regional and national parks for example.
As well as environment, the development of cultural assets can create a lot of employment in the future.
Europe owns the 80% of the world's historical-cultural assets; this is an immense treasure that could be protected and transformed into an economic resource. Such as in the case of the environment, this is a sector where the public institutions must play a determining role, but also where the existence of a valid private sector is important, made up of small companies specialised in specific tasks.
The following seven are the levels on which a company could make an important contribution.
The simple registration and appropriate preservation of cultural assets (monuments, paintings, statues, documents, etc.) requires the work of specialists who in many cases are employed by the institutions (museums, galleries, libraries, etc.), in other cases, they belong to specialised companies who supply services, on request, to these institutions.
Valid preservation includes the constant monitoring of the cultural assets, to prevent degeneration. When an asset cannot be moved, it is exposed to geological factors of deterioration (subsidence, structural settlements, seismic waves, etc.), this monitoring can be effected by satellite (such as GPS, Global Positioning System), that detect with extreme precision the movement of the monument as regards the geographical co-ordinates.
This sector has great potential, even though in some countries it is limited by the lack of funding available from public institutions. It covers many areas, such as: buildings, paintings, mosaics, ceramics, antique books, fabrics, furniture, photographs, musical instruments, etc.
Part of this market has private clients, above for furnishings.
The world of cultural assets is not yet "over": archaeological research permits the discovery of new finds. Especially in some parts of Europe, where there are traces of the most important civilisations, it is possible to create new companies specialised in archaeological soundings (to discover the existence of new archaeological sites and finds), in the subsequent digs and underwater retrievals, in analysis, dating and cataloguing of the finds. In all of these phases, it is possible to use modern technologies., for exemple thermal infrared scanner, sonar, ground penetrating radars, etc.
The great European cultural tradition offers possibilities to promote the work of young artists in many sectors, from painting to sculpture, from mosaics to ceramic art.
The presence of valid art critics could contribute to the discovery of new talents.
There is great interest in cultural assets and it goes beyond the circle of experts. The success of an institution also depends on its ability to encourage the public, for example young students, to appreciate the works of art. Many walks of life, even the elderly, wish to know about art and they can be approached through divulgation, teaching and publishing.
A specialised company could, for example, manage museums school tours, and guided groups, the organisation of seminars, video production, catalogues and other publications to be found in their bookshops.
Cultural assets must be promoted, in order to make them known, appreciated and visited. Only in this way can they be transformed into an important resource for employment and the economy.
Promotion can be in many forms. Publicity campaigns can increase the fame of the institution and its initiatives. Web pages can for example create an interactive relationship with potential visitors by offering information and receiving reservations.
The effective working order of structures such as museums, libraries, castles, theatres - especially in smaller cities - can be favoured by the existence of companies that manage the whole structure, or part of it. A new company, for example, can take over the management of the ticket office (even via the Internet), the sale of products in bookshops (this can also be on-line), bars, restaurants, guided tours, cleaning and security.
The creation of the great web called the Internet, has sparked off the "New Economy". In fact, there are many opportunities created on the Internet in various sectors and the consequences of these opportunities will affect the entire economy.
One of the first areas in which this behaviour is changing is the information sector. The Internet can raise the interchange of information and facilitate the business consultancy relationship with experts of the various sectors. To communicate with a selected target of people interested for example in the same sector, a new company could create
It is possible to create a personal site and offer your services as consultant. This could apply to doctors, business consultants, lawyers, psychologists, food experts, tarot cards specialists, etc.
The use of web-cameras makes relationships between client and expert even more personal.
The increase of possibilities to provide information and consultancy also leads to the development of long-distance learning with courses on the Internet which can be followed simultaneously by participants in various locations.
Another wide sector that is changing is that of free time. Surfing the Internet, it is now possible to make friends on line, as well as virtual visits to museums or other amusing places (imaginary and real) through simulations on the Internet.
These new experiences can be had in new places, such as Internet cafés, that offer the possibility to surf on the web.
To the dismay of the traditional recording studios, it is now possible to download your favourite music with the MP3 format (or similars).
The third area that is changing is that of marketing. E-commerce not only encourages the sale of products "Business to Business"(the so-called B2B), but also to consumer services and goods ("Business to Consumers": the so-called B2C).
Books, wines, artistic objects, computers, sports articles: these are the products that have already found their marketplace in virtual shops.
Internet changes methods of communication between companies and people. It is this fourth sector which is rapidly changing thanks to the web.
A portal, which is a site in which information is provided, with or without a commercial purpose, for that group of people. In recent years various specialised portals have been created above all in sports sector.
Internet also favours personalised communications with single clients (the so-called "one to one" communication). Today 12% of all Europeans use e-mail with maximum percentages of 26% in Holland and 44% in Sweden.
The transformation of communication methods also means the setting up of new editorial products. Magazines on paper are being increasingly substituted by E-zines (electronic magazines): it is in this sector that a new company could create and offer new initiatives. The running of an E-zine could be based on the subscriptions or on the sale of advertising spaces.
Even the good old book is being replaced by books which can be printed "on demand".
The fifth sector that the Internet is changing is the organisation in the workplace.
The flexibility of companies can be increased through telework. This is when a person, by means of a simple computer can carry out a professional activity without fixed working hours: translations, design and consultancy. With telework it is also possible to work on the phone from home, to carry out market research, to offer informative services (such as "call centres") or the management of commercial orders.
In Europe, according to the EU, 1.484.000 teleworkers already exist. It is still a very low percentage, equal to 1% of the work force. In the U.K. however, the percentage reaches 2,2%, in Finland 2,7% and in Sweden 3,8%.
Thanks to the Internet, the movement of people and documents will be reduced, and consequently pollution and traffic.
The sixth and final sector that the Internet is expanding, as a result of the above mentioned trends, is Information Technology.
The increasing number of computers, peripheral equipment (printers, scanners, web-cams, etc.) and software sold, opens new opportunities for both real and virtual computer shops.
Finally, the maintenance of computers and software is vital to fight the various viruses such as the recent "I love you".
Among the maintenance services which are particularly popular and well-paid, especially by large companies, are those of prevention and systems protection to fight the actions of viruses and hackers.
[i] Source: EU Commission, Growth, Competitiveness, Employment, Luxembourg, 1994.
[ii]The sectors are the following ones: Services for daily life: Home services, Child-minding, New information and communication technologies, Assistance for young people with difficulties in finding employment. Services for improvement the quality of life: Improved accommodation, Safety, Local collective transport, Re-evaluation of local public spaces, Nearby business services. Services for culture and free time: Tourism, Audio-visual, Appreciation of cultural wealth, Development of the local culture. Environmental services: Waste disposal, Water management, Protection and maintenance of natural areas, Regulation and control of pollution.
[iii] Source:H.W.Opaschow, Herausfoerderung Freizeit, Hamburg, 1990.
[iv] Source: ILO, 199.
[v] Source: Hammer Michael, Champy James, Re-engineering the corporation: a manifesto for business revolution, New York,1993