As South Africa gradually opens the economy, it may be a little too late for many business owners. According to the latest survey by the South African SME Finance Association (Sasfa), the majority of small businesses in the country will close their doors due to the strict lockdown South Africa had gone through. For this reason, business owners are hopeful that the government will ease restrictions soon, to allow all the sectors to trade in full swing again.
Apart from the difficulties that small business owners are currently experiencing, once restrictions are lifted completely, how long, however, that may take, owners, will encounter unique struggles in having to reboot their business.
“One of the biggest challenges small businesses will face when coming back from lockdown will be trying to rebuild momentum.”
This is the view of Brend Badenhorst, founder of the Entrepreneurship School. He says that people’s spending habits are changing drastically, and they are hanging on to their money, while confidence in the economy has dropped and commercial activity has slowed down.
“Cash flow is the lifeblood of any business. If there’s no cash flow, there’s no business. For this reason, business owners should focus on finding creative ways to unlock payments,” says Badenhorst. “You have to keep human behaviour in mind and fit into the spending habits of your customers as quickly as possible. How can you turn your product or service from a nice-to-have into a need-to-have or an essential service?”
One company that has done just that is Uxperio, whose founder, Michela Webster, attended the Entrepreneur School’s 12-week programme.
Webster credits a large part of her success to the entrepreneurial skills she was able to apply during lockdown to continue with business. “I was able to be creative with my business strategy. The business programme has given me extensive knowledge on advertising, marketing, branding and system strategies, which enabled me to develop new solutions in response to lockdown,” she says.
She believes that business owners need to be versatile and adaptable to change – at any stage of their business. “Your ability to adapt will determine your success. Your business strategy that worked for you pre-lockdown might not work for you during or post lockdown, and therefore you need to be creative and adapt to suit the market and your customers’ needs.”
To achieve this, there are five business areas that owners must consider according to Badenhorst:
Your business needs a unique emotional selling concept and must be competitive. Although people buy emotionally, they justify the purchase logically. Essentially, it must be a good deal in terms of price, timeframe or delivery process. And it must be accessible.
Reinvent your brand
“A good brand will be understood as soon as a customer lays eyes on it,” says Badenhorst. “You have to consider your brand name and tagline. Don’t over-create to risk confusing what your brand does. Make it understandable and sell an idea through your brand.”
Adjust your marketing
Follow how trends in your industry are changing during and after lockdown. Work out who your target market is, readjust your marketing in line with where their focus is currently, and do what you can to get your brand closer to this point.
Improve your sales
This ties into your marketing strategy and understanding that people buy emotionally but justify logically. Focus on how to change your product or service offering to persuade people to actually make the sale.
Consider how you can make your product or service easy to access for your target market. If you’ve been unable to operate as before during lockdown, use the opportunity to reinvent your product or service accessibility so that you can continue delivering, regardless of whether we’re in lockdown or not.
“The businesses that thrive during and after lockdown are those that are able to lean on the entrepreneurial skills of creativity and agility. These entrepreneurial basics will support businesses during and post lockdown if they follow the right approach,” Badenhorst concludes.
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