Germany has long represented a key business center as the largest economy in Europe and the fourth largest in the world. Home to 82 million inhabitants with approximately 4.5% unemployment, the country offers stability, a quality infrastructure and talent pool, and open business policies. This makes Germany a welcoming prospect for business owners looking to expand, but this same high standard adds to the competition. Those looking to do business in Germany should be prepared to offer new and innovative products and solutions to stand out in this power-house economy.
In 2017, Germany accounted for over a quarter of the euro area economy according to the IMF. The robust growth of the country has allowed for opportunity around some of the most cutting-edge industries such as biotechnology, electric vehicles and transportation, green and environmentally friendly tech, and digital transformation services, as well as lifestyle products like food and cosmetics. At a nearly full employment rate, consumers and business owners alike can be picky about where they spend their money. Reflective of consumer trends worldwide, shoppers are considering if a business’s values align with their own when making purchasing decisions. Customer service and relationships have long been values of the German culture, and this is only heightened by the competitive market.
“The Germans are very disciplined and almost rigid in their business methods, contacts are direct, if you have an appointment, you have to react very quickly,” said Murielle Taisne, Altios Germany Director. Altios helps clients navigate these local customs in addition to creating an entry strategy. Germany offers fairly business-friendly policies and laws, but there is still the inclination to local businesses as with most countries. In a tight market it is important to have these connections or be accompanied by a German who knows the business culture.
Establishing this local network and having local talent for your business is an important first step. Due to the low unemployment rate, competition for top talent is high. Businesses are offering in-office perks, family-friendly benefits, flexible and work-from-home policies, and other attractive benefits to try to set themselves apart. This employer branding is important for businesses to understand what is most important to the German people. In addition to advising companies on their employee offering, Altios services extend beyond recruiting to benefit both the employee and employer during the transition time. This can set a business apart for a candidate that values a smooth onboarding process, and a partner that has their long-term goals in mind at all times.
Though competing for top talent can be challenging, Germany is looking to continue to improve the talent pool nationwide in the STEM or MINT sector (Mathematics, Informatics, Technology, Sciences) as it is locally known. The programs, particularly aimed at students and women, will help prevent any slow-down in business momentum due to a lack of skilled employees. These government policies with an eye towards the skill and services of the future, present many exciting opportunities for growing businesses.
“In Germany you have to be persistent, patient, well prepared, perfect the quality of products and services, and react quickly,” Taisne said.
In addition to these key success factors, Germany values creativity and agility, making it a perfect fit for SME’s and start-ups. Altios helps clients to reveal their innovation, with the backing of a long-term partner. The competition of the German economy does come with some risk, but those willing to go above and beyond, and enter the market with a full understanding of what’s required, will reap the rewards throughout the region.
Population : 82 million inhabitants
GDP (2018): $3.997 tn
Currency: Euro (EU)