Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) or small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are businesses whose personnel numbers fall below certain limits. The abbreviation “SME” is used by international organizations such as the World Bank, the United Nations and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The European definition of SME follows: “The category of micro, small and mediumsized enterprises (SMEs) is made up of enterprises which employ fewer than 250 persons and which have an annual turnover not exceeding 50 million euro, and/or an annual balance sheet total not exceeding 43 million euro.”

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) represent 99% of all businesses in the EU. The definition of an SME is important for access to finance and EU support programmes targeted specifically at these enterprises.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are defined in the EU recommendation 2003/361.

The main factors determining whether an enterprise is an SME are:

  1. staff headcount 
  2. either turnover or balance sheet total
Company
category
Staff
headcount
Turnover
Balance sheet
total

Medium-sized< 250≤ € 50 m≤ € 43 m
Small< 50≤ € 10 m≤ € 10 m
Micro< 10≤ € 2 m≤ € 2 m

These ceilings apply to the figures for individual firms only. A firm that is part of a larger group may need to include staff headcount/turnover/balance sheet data from that group too.

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