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6 things to do right now to help your business survive COVID-19
Michael Jordaan and other local entrepreneurs share their advice on navigating the crisis
Four celebrated entrepreneurs, including former FNB CEO Michael Jordaan and the founder of SweepSouth, are navigating the uncertain because of Covid-19 - like many business owners in the Western Cape.
But they have something else in common too - they are adaptable and have a knack for spotting silver linings. Because “in every crisis there’s an opportunity”, says Jordaan, now founder of Bank Zero. He and three top entrepreneurs share lessons every business owner can use right now to survive this pandemic. Plus, they tell you where to find the right financial support programme.
STRONG LEADERSHIP HAS NEVER BEEN MORE KEY
“Don’t pretend you have all the answers,” says Aisha Pandor, CEO of SweepSouth, the on-demand online platform for booking domestic services like cleaning, gardening, and heavy lifting that has helped over 20 000 women find work.
SweepSouth, like most businesses in the Western Cape, has been hit hard by the lockdown, and what is helping Pandor navigate her business through this crisis is clear, open communication.
She calls it authentic and empathetic leadership. “Allow for leadership that brings in emotion; that understands that people may be feeling confused, nervous, and scared.” And continue communicating as things unfold, she adds.
KEEP YOUR OVERHEADS LOW – OUTSOURCE
There is no sale of alcohol during lockdown. That means for two months already Simone Musgrave, founder of Musgrave Spirits, has not been allowed to sell her company’s product. It’s an enormous challenge; one which nobody could have seen coming, and there’s no clear picture of when alcohol sales will be allowed.
This problem has made Musgrave grateful for a business decision made early in the company’s history – outsourcing.
The company outsources many functions, so overheads are comparatively low and this is what has helped the business the most. “One’s overheads in a small business are absolutely critical for survival,” says Musgrave.
“Outsourcing, even in terms of marketing capacity, is a good way to go. It takes away the overhead burden as well as the risk of potentially retrenching people.” This is a lesson for every business owner, and one that Musgrave is looking into further to help take her company on an even leaner road going forward.
WATCH: SIMONE MUSGRAVE’S ADVICE TO BUSINESS OWNERS
USE THIS TIME TO THINK, AND ACCEPT CHANGE
Luvuyo Rani and his brother started Silulo Ulutho Technology in 2004 as a single internet cafe in Khayelitsha. Now they have 42 branches in 19 towns throughout South Africa offering a range of digital solutions.
And they got there by being adaptable: a trait that is more important now than ever. His advice to entrepreneurs is to accept the changes brought on by the impact of Covid-19, and start thinking about what their future might look like.
“I don’t believe things will be the same after Covid-19,” says Rani, “and it is a good time for businesses to introspect on the services they offer, and the customers they deal with.”
Look long-term too, adds Pandor: position your team and your strategy for what a post-Covid-19 world looks like, she says; you’ll put yourself in a really good position for the future.
IT IS THE PERFECT TIME TO EMBRACE TECHNOLOGY
That future, says Luvuyo Rani, is technology. “So pivot and embrace technology,” he advises. “Education will be much more affordable and accessible, and I also see e-commerce becoming something that can be done in Khayelitsha or Philippi – or from anywhere.”
Michael Jordaan agrees, noting that tech has already had far-reaching benefits for remote working specifically. Businesses have been thrown in the deep end, having to work out how to run teams remotely.
This is a blessing in disguise, he says. “It is a very productive way to work and is an immense saver of both time and money – from reducing time and money spent on traffic, to allowing you to potentially save on expensive office space and become more cost efficient,” he explains.
HERE’S FUNDING RELIEF IN LESS THAN A MINUTE
Still, Jordaan reminds us, this is a very tough time for businesses in the Western Cape, and tourism has been hit particularly hard. Businesses need relief. To access funding relief, he recommends using the Covid-19 Support Finder, built by Wesgro, the official tourism, trade and investment promotion agency for Cape Town and the Western Cape.
In less than a minute, you’ll find the business support and disaster relief best suited to your business. You’ll need to fill out a simple questionnaire. Once you hit submit, you’ll instantly receive a list of relief funding options and business support available, including tax interventions, SMME support, banking relief, general business support measures, and City of Cape Town support. This simple and efficient tool is on the COVID-19 Content Centre.
LOOKING FOR MASKS AND SANITISERS FOR YOUR TEAM?
Wesgro’s Covid-19 Content Centre also connects corporates looking for personal protective equipment (PPEs) to manufacturers in the Western Cape. That means you can get cloth masks and face shields, sanitisers and hands-free sanitiser stands, overalls and aprons from one platform, the Marketplace for PPEs.
GET INSPIRED BY INNOVATORS
Wesgro’s Covid-19 Content Centre also houses stories about how businesses have adapted, pivoted, and MacGyvered their way into surviving the pandemic.
These lessons in resilience and more are available for free and cover the many industries affected by the crisis.
You can learn how Arno Carstens turned a public gathering ban into an opportunity with YouTube, how UberEats supported small businesses by waiving their commission fees, and how local swimwear brand Granadilla adapted their offering and became a food delivery service in under 48 hours.
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