Small and Mid-size Enterprise (SME): Definition, Importance, US, And Canadian SMEs


What are Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs)?

SMEs or small and medium-sized enterprises are defined differently around the world. The country in which a company operates contains information on the defined size of an SME. The size or categorization of a company as an SME can be based on a number of characteristics depending on the country.

Functions include annual sales, number of employees, number of assets in the company, market capitalization, or any combination of these functions. The United States also defines SMEs differently from one industry to another.

SMEs make up the majority of companies operating around the world. These are usually independent companies with less than 50 employees. However, the maximum number of employees varies from country to country. For most companies, the upper range is 250. In some countries, the total number of employees is 200. The United States defines an SME as one with no more than 500 employees.

What is a Mid-size Enterprise?

According to Gartner, Mid-Size enterprises are those organizations that have between $50 million and $1 billion in annual revenues and/or 100 to 1000 employees.

Importance of Small and Mid-size Enterprise

Promotes flexibility and innovation

Many processes and technological innovations are attributed to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Since large companies tend to focus on improving legacy products to produce more volumes and realize overall dimensional economic benefits, these companies are not as flexible as SMEs.

To be successful, SMEs focus on creating new products or services. Therefore, they can adapt more quickly to changing market demands.

Small and Mid-size Enterprise play an important role in shaping a country’s economy. They can be seen as an attractive and huge innovative system. Due to the socially and economically beneficial effects of SMEs, the sector is considered an area of ​​strategic interest in an economy.

Create a more competitive and healthy economy

Small and medium-sized businesses encourage competition in product design, pricing, and efficiency. Without SMEs, large companies would have a monopoly in almost all areas of activity.

Support large companies

Small and Mid-size Enterprise help large companies in some areas of the business where they can best serve. Therefore, SMEs will dissolve immediately. Large companies will be forced to engage in more activities that may not be efficient for these companies. Activities such as the supply of raw materials and the distribution of finished products manufactured by large companies are carried out more efficiently by SMEs.

Governments also recognize the importance of small and medium-sized enterprises. Therefore, they offer regular incentives to SMEs, such as easier access to credit and better tax treatment.

Difference between small, medium, and large businesses


Due to the myriad levels of management, politics tends to play less of a role in larger organizations than in smaller ones. In small organizations, the owner of the organization may have long-lasting personal relationships with other employees or owners. Husband and wife teams are also common. For a person joining such an organization, it can be difficult to maintain the right relationships without alienating others who also directly influence the leaders.


Without a doubt, one of the clear differences between small and large organizations is the more bureaucratic and hierarchical structure. Due to the workforce in a large company, they are inherently more hierarchical.

The result is teams that work in silos or don’t understand the nature of the business. However, it also allows employees to specialize in their job description. Whereas in a smaller company, it is easier to interact with the decision-makers as they will probably be located a few feet apart.

In addition, it is also easier to make quick and reactive decisions, such as: B. to answer customer inquiries, giving small businesses an advantage over their larger cousins. Due to its often cautious nature, the larger company often delegates decisions to committees or subcommittees.

While you will have more time and resources to consider an answer, it will also take much longer. Where large companies have an advantage is in their resource capabilities. More employees, sources of income, and available amenities. Therefore, it is much easier for them to direct you to a specific problem.

Finally, the environment can be very different within the two different types. The structure of large companies is often littered with policy manuals, staff introductions, job descriptions, and meetings. In smaller companies, this is usually much more ad hoc. Employees have more freedom to do what they see fit.


The melting pot that makes up an organization’s roster is always interesting. Different views between large and small companies. Smaller companies tend to have a more diverse workforce, with young and old, different aspirations, etc. While in many large organizations the workforce can begin to take the form of the company itself.

This is the case with many who adopt the culture of the company. Those who think differently can be expelled, leaving an almost standardized and regulated employee. There is also a strong argument that large companies tend to attract those seeking job security. On the contrary, smaller companies attract those who want to work in different areas, and are looking for growth, change our willingness to take risks.


One aspect that few people disagree with is that larger companies tend to have higher salaries. However, this aspect is recognized by smaller employers, and many combats it by adding advantages, eg. Eg B. private healthcare to make your service packages more substantial.


One aspect that few people disagree with is that larger companies tend to have higher salaries. However, this aspect is recognized by smaller employers, and many combats it by adding advantages, eg. Eg B. private healthcare to make your service packages more substantial.

Perhaps one of the most obvious differences between the two types of organization is that of culture. For startups, any decision that is made can be dangerous, so they tend to be less risk-averse than larger established companies.

For large companies, a small percentage increase on an existing widget when it is already generating £ 500 million in revenue can make a difference. Therefore, large companies avoid risky decisions. Instead, they prefer to be more conservative and enhance what already exists with their existing customers.

Many large companies are now trying to find a way to maintain a small business mindset regardless of size. They recognize that elements such as long-term planning with an element of risk-taking will benefit them in the medium and long term.

Check out 50 Best Startup Ideas for 2022 including business plan

Small and Mid-size Enterprise SMEs in the U.S.

The United States adheres to different definitions of SMEs and policies, which vary from industry to industry. The practice corresponds to the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). The system was developed jointly by the United States, Canada, and Mexico to establish a set of guidelines and standards that allow the collection and analysis of operational statistics in North America.

The United States Small Business Administration (SBA) is responsible for establishing a list of standards and characteristics that companies must meet to qualify as SMEs. The list is not specifically directed at SMEs, as it mainly refers to smaller companies.

Most SMEs, however, must comply with all the laws and guidelines on the list, including the requirements and operating rules established by NAICS. This is important, as many small businesses can apply for government contracts and financing, as long as they comply with all required regulations.

The United States also has a specific definition of SMEs based on the industry in which they operate. For example, if a company is part of the manufacturing industry, it can be classified as an SME if it has a maximum of 500 employees, but a company engaged in the wholesale trade can only have 100. There are also differences between branches of industry.

For example, in the mining industry, companies that extract nickel or copper ore can employ up to 1,500 people, while a silver mining company can only employ a maximum of 250 people to qualify as SMEs.

Small and Mid-size Enterprise SMEs in Canada

In Canada, Small and Mid-size enterprises are companies that employ less than 500 people. Companies with 500 or more employees are only considered large companies. Industry Canada, an organization that promotes economic and industry growth in Canada, assumes that small businesses have fewer than 100 employees if the business produces goods. The limit for small businesses that provide services is 49 employees or less. Companies that fall somewhere between these thresholds for the number of employees are considered SMEs.

Another organization, Statistics Canada, which is researching and collecting data on businesses and trade in the country, meets the requirement that SMEs have no more than 499 employees. However, based on the research and data collected, SMEs are also found to have gross sales of less than $50 million.

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