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ISO and SMEs

ISO International Standards help businesses of all shapes and sizes to work more efficiently, increase productivity and access new markets.

For small to medium sized businesses (SMEs) these benefits can make a significant difference to annual turnover, sometimes the difference between success and failure.

As an SME, some of the benefits of using International Standards include:


Video: ISO and SMEs

Support for SMEs

ISO standards can be implemented by any organization, big or small. However, small organizations sometimes face specific challenges. In order to help SMEs get the most out of some of our very popular standards we have published a number of handbooks.

Advice on implementing multiple management system standards can be found in this article from the February issue of ISO Focus+.

This pack contains two guides that will help you implement our best selling standards ISO 14001 and ISO 9001.

ISO Pack: Food Safety Management Systems

An easy-to-use checklist for small business. Are you ready?

Getting involved in standards development

ISO International Standards are developed on a consensus basis and reflect the views of many stakeholders including technical experts from business, government representatives, academics and consumers.

Being actively involved in this process has widespread benefits for SMEs as it allows them to play a role in the rule making process that will eventually define the sector.

In other words, non-participation in standardization hands decision making over to the competition.

Find out more about why and how to get involved.

Without standards I would have had to close down… Not taking part [in standardization] would have cost me my company and my livelihood… What does it cost me if I do not get involved and others define rules that are out of line with my needs, interests and experiences, but which I have to comply with because they are laid down in a standard ? It is best to join in right at the start.

Martin Denison, Managing Director of Scuba Schools GMBH

How standards help SMEs: Hear from our users

  • Moses Maina

    Director

    Moselli Industries

    I urge small companies to embrace the use of standards in order to upgrade the quality of their products and access both local and export markets. The implementation of a quality management system and use of Kenya standards in my production has resulted in technology transfer, opening of new business opportunities and improved sales of my products.

  • Martin Denison

    Martin Denison

    Managing Director

    Scuba Schools GmbH

    Without standards I would have had to close down… Not taking part (in standardization) would have cost me my company and my livelihood… What does it cost me if I do not get involved and others define rules that are out of line with my needs, interests and experiences, but which I have to comply with because they are laid down in a standard ? Hence, it is best to join in right at the start.

  • Mike Chilman

    Managing Director

    MC Fire Protection

    I was prompted into finding out more about ISO 9001 because many of our competitors were starting to publicize the fact that they complied with it. Now that we can do the same, we are finding that we are attracting lots of business from larger companies that want the reassurance of dealing with a firm that can demonstrate it complies with appropriate standards.

Related publications

More information on the benefits standards bring to SMEs can be found in the following publication:

Cover of "10 good things for SMEs", showing a blurred image of a worker in a yellow safety vest

Managers of small businesses in 10 countries from around the world say how ISO standards contribute to their success.

Nanotron Technologies – Case Study

Nanotron is an SME based in Germany, with around 25 employees.

It designs localisation and identification products based on CHIRP (Compressed High Intensity Radar Pulse) technology.

Nanotron uses a number of product, process (such as quality management) and conformity standards. In addition, it is strongly involved in standards development so has been able to shape its own markets.

Using standards and being involved in their development helped grow Nanotron's sales revenue by 33%.

For more information read the full case study.

Discover more case studies on the Economic Benefits of Standards.

Standards specific to SMEs

ISO Store

  • ISO 14005:2010
    Environmental management systems -- Guidelines for the phased implementation of an environmental management system, including the use of environmental performance evaluation
  • ISO/IEC TR 29110-1:2011
    Software engineering -- Lifecycle profiles for Very Small Entities (VSEs) -- Part 1: Overview
  • ISO/PAS 28004-2:2012
    Security management systems for the supply chain -- Guidelines for the implementation of ISO 28000 -- Part 2: Guidelines for adopting ISO 28000 for use in medium and small seaport operations
  • ISO/PAS 28004-3:2012
    Security management systems for the supply chain -- Guidelines for the implementation of ISO 28000 -- Part 3: Additional specific guidance for adopting ISO 28000 for use by medium and small businesses (other than marine ports)

Visit the ISO Store to buy more standards