5 Ways to Rebuild Your SME During COVID-19

5 Ways to Rebuild Your SME During COVID-19

Reading Time: 4 minutes

How do you even begin to rebuild your SME during COVID-19?

Some business owners have had weeks without turnover. Others are not sure when they can start trading again.

And even if you’re operating right now, you don’t know whether or not level 5 will force you to shut your doors in a few weeks.

Your fears are shared by thousands of SMEs.

Statistics South Africa asked business owner about the impact of COVID-19:

  • 85,4% reported turnover below normal
  • 46,4% reported temporary closure or paused trading
  • 30,6% said they can survive less than a month without any turnover
  • 54,0% can survive between one and three months

Covid-19 has changed everything about how we do business, and it’s not going away anytime soon.

So, we’ve gathered  advice from experts to help you forge a path in a new world.

1. Assess your situation

No business is untouched by the impact of COVID-19.

On an episode of CNBC Africa’s Business Tomorrow, Xolisa Nqodi, managing director of Shesha Tuks, said:

“It’s been really difficult for a small business like myself. We started seeing a negative impact on our operations since the last week of February. The last five weeks have not been easy for us…now that we are  starting our operations again it’s forced us to look at our business with a slightly different outlook.”

How has your business changed? Have a look at your SME right now, from profits to marketing budgets to staff.

2. Develop a two-year COVID-19 SME plan

Once you’ve completed an honest assessment of your SME, it’s time to get to the next step: preparing to run a business during the age of COVID-19.

On an episode of Business Day TV,  Pavlo Phitides, CEO of Aurik Business Accelerator, said SMEs needed to have a longer term view.

“The only thing we can be sure of is that Covid-19 is here to stay forever, and forever in a business life is two years. We’re going to be governed on the access of the economy based on the capacity of our health services to deal with the crisis as it unfolds and emerges…We will open the economy and close parts of it.”

Phitides said this was the only certainty.

“Hold onto that, it’s all that counts and forget everything else.”

To respond to these constant changes, business owners should come up with red, amber, and green strategies.

A red stage is a full lockdown.

“In the red stage, make sure you have staff who are able and capable to work remotely. If you can’t, the anxiety then rises. As the business owner, you are carrying the cost of that personnel, you are carrying the cost of the business.”

Another fact was that successful business practices before COVID-19 might no longer be effective.

“What led to your success coming  into COVID-19…will have to be very different from the way you will find success coming out of COVID-19.”

Phitides said this included practices, business leadership, and customer behaviour.

“The environment has changed, customers have experienced fundamentally different changes ..If you don’t adopt what you did and you do well in that new reality,  you could find yourself isolated from the opportunities that are going to emerge as we move out of lockdown into the new economy.”

3. Think about your next pivot carefully

When you’re coming up with ideas, it’s tempting to move into high-demand sectors.

But Nic Haralambous, serial entrepreneur, advises against this.

“If you weren’t already making masks, you’re probably not going to own the market for masks for the next 18 months. Stick to what you’re good at but try and evolve it.”

Haralambous was speaking with Business Day’s Michael Avery.

Study your industry. What are your competitors offering? What are the trends? What gaps can your business fill?

Maybe this means bringing a project forward, said Haralambous.

“What is the next thing you were going to do? What was on your development roadmap that you can bring forward to help accelerate the progress of your business because it is going on and off for the next two years.”

Haralambous suggested examining your existing skills.

“What tools do you have in your business that you can retool in different kinds of opportunities  that can generate revenue for you in the medium term?

“You need to be brutal with yourself. Be honest about your business survival opportunity…start retooling as quickly as you can.”

4. Determine your funding need

SMEs need billions of rands to keep their doors open.

More than 30% of businesses told Stats SA they had applied for government funding.

This week, the Minister of Small Business Development Khumbudzo Ntshavheni , told Parliament the department’s relief scheme was running out of the money, reports Fin24.

A good place to start is to determine your funding needs.

  • What does your cash flow look like over the next three to six months?
  • Do you need working capital to meet a backlog of orders?
  • Perhaps you need funding to fulfil a surge in demand?

5. Look after yourself

There’s a lot of uncertainty right now.

If you’re feeling worried and stressed, you’re not alone.

Personal development and business coach Charmaine Soobramoney has been helping SME owners navigate COVID-19.

“We all need to acknowledge that this is real, and it’s normal to go through the phase of anxiety. Lives have been impacted, the economy has been impacted, people are losing their jobs…People have reasons to feel anxious,” said Soobramoney in this video interview with Lulalend.

Soobramoney called on business owners to move towards accepting the new reality.

“This is the situation. Being anxious is not going to help me move forward in the way that I need to.”

She shared the mindset used by business owners who were finding traction:

“I’m in this situation. I have no control over it but I have control over how I choose to view my business , view the future, and grab opportunities that present itself.

“When you’re in this fearful state, you feel like the world is closing in. Yes, it is but you have control over how you open it.”

If you’re looking for fast access to funding, learn more about how Lulalend can help you grow. Click here for more information on how we work with business owners like you.

Reimagining a post COVID-19 access to market strategy

Reimagining a post COVID-19 access to market strategy

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Business owners have gone through quite a journey with COVID-19 restrictions.

Customers’ needs have changed and South African regulations are evolving as we move from lockdown into lower levels of restriction. 

We chatted to Marc Ashton about reimagining an access to market strategy in a post COVID-19 world.

Previously a South African financial journalist and entrepreneur, Marc heads up Decusatio, an online financial problem-solving platform.

In this interview you’ll hear some inspiring stories about how companies like Uber are innovating and partnering during this time.

You’ll also hear some tips on how to adapt your business strategy as we move into and beyond level four restrictions. 

 

 

Join a community of business owners

Share your thoughts on this topic and stay updated on the latest COVID-19 information in our Facebook community, SA Small Businesses Unlocked.

COVID-19 Level 4 Lockdown: 7 Things SMEs Need to Know

COVID-19 Level 4 Lockdown: 7 Things SMEs Need to Know

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Are you starting to trade during level 4 COVID-19?

If your SME is getting ready to operate, there are a few things you should know to protect your staff and keep your business open.

For a detailed overview of Level 4, please see our guide.

What does COVID-19 level 4 mean for your business?

On 23 April, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a phased return to work.

During the COVID-19 outbreak, South Africa would operate on a risk level strategy, said Ramaphosa.

Here’s a list covering all the industries that may return to work if you’re still unsure about your SME.

The National Government has also published the following snapshot of “permitted” industries.

Agriculture, manufacturing, and construction:

Financial and business services, transport, and repair:

Retail and food services:

Other key level 4 lockdown points:

  • Alcohol sales remain prohibited, but you can export wine.
  • Exports allowed for all agriculture, agro-processes, fishing, and forestry products
  • Accommodation establishments remain closed to the public

So, how many businesses are going back?

Between 18% and 25% of SMEs will go back during level 4, said Mike Anderson of the NSBC on Hot 91.9 FM. And it’s estimated 1.5 million people will return to work this week.

7 things South African business owners need to know about level 4 lockdown

If you’re getting ready to open shop this week, there are strict health and safety rules. Companies that fail to follow these measures have been shut down.

You need to apply for permit

You need to apply for an essential services certificate on the Bizportal.

To apply, complete the application form on Bizportal.

Communicate with staff

Communication with staff is critical, said Robyn Stone, Head of Talent at Lulalend.

Stone suggested the following points to consider when communicating with staff:

  • Honesty
  • Transparency
  • Optimism

Kindness was the most important, added Stone:

“The state of current affairs is heavy on the heart, so it’s important to be kind at all times. Not only as the Business Owner or HR delivering the comms, but by encouraging kindness between colleagues and teams. When you’re communicating remotely, things like empathy can get lost in translation so it’s important to express warmth in your tone,” said Stone.

Develop a back to work plan

All companies will need a return to work plan.

As you prepare to return to the office, you must also designate a COVID-19 compliance officer.

This person will need to:

  • Make sure your company is following health and safety measures
  • Develop a plan for phased return of staff

Stone suggested creating a shared document so all employees can check updates to the return to work plan.

The number of employees you have will influence your back to work plan.

Companies with fewer than 10 employees, for instance, need to comply with less requirements. These are discussed in clause 40 of this Gazette from the Department of Employment and Labour.

Work from home first

Staff who can work from home should do so, states the regulations.

Pregnant and vulnerable employees should be allowed to work from or work from an isolated space in the office, reports the National Employer Association of South Africa’s COVID-19 toolkit.

All your workers need a permit to come to work

You will need to complete a permit for each staff member considered essential. They will need to carry the permit and a form of identification when they travel to work.

Maintain social distancing

Some industries may only allow a percentage of workers to return to the office.

All workplaces must cater to social distancing requirements, said Nxesi.

“With regard to social distancing, workplaces must be arranged to ensure a minimum of 1½ meters between workers. If this is not practicable, physical barriers must be erected and workers must be supplied free of charge with appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).”

Stone encouraged companies to consider creating a shared calendar for when staff would be in the office.

Getting to work

Regulations have been relaxed for people travelling to work by public transport or car.

Updated regulations include:

  • Public transport can operate between 5am and 7pm
  • All passengers must wear a face mask
  • Minibus taxis can take 70% load
  • For metered taxis and Ubers, a 5-seater can take 2 passengers and a driver
  • Buses can take 70% of the number of passengers they are licensed to carry

Everyone can now access emergency repair services.

You can find additional COVID-19 resources for SMEs here:

Coping with COVID-19: Tips and Advice from a Business Coach

Coping with COVID-19: Tips and Advice from a Business Coach

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This is a time of major uncertainty for business owners. We invited Charmaine Soobramoney, a personal development and business coach, to share her thoughts on some of the issues raised by our community. 

Charmaine has a diverse set of skills and experience. Her focus is on shaping, positioning and supporting individuals and organizations for excellence and growth.

Some of the topics we touched on in this interview are:

  • How to deal with anxiety about your business
  • What are ways to keep your staff motivated
  • How to have hard conversations with your staff
  • Could now be an opportunity for growth in any way?

Watch the full video here, and join our SA Small Businesses Unlocked community where you can engage with Charmaine directly if there’s any other questions you might have:

 

SA online retailer Granadilla Swim on adapting business during COVID-19

SA online retailer Granadilla Swim on adapting business during COVID-19

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Joshua Meltz and Adam Duxbury have been running Granadilla Swim for the last five years, along with other businesses Rooftop on Bree and Sunn Kombucha. When news stories of the coronavirus and its impact on European countries like Italy and the UK started appearing, they knew they had to quickly find a way to adjust their strategy and keep afloat.

We chatted to the Cape Town based duo on how they adapted and used the power of community to transform their business during this time. Leveraging off their existing infrastructure, they’ve been able to pivot their offering to include delivery of groceries, coffee pods, olive oil and sourdough bread – with more to come. 

Here’s their story, with some pieces of advice for other South African retailers on how to adapt in the time of COVID-19.

 

Join our community

If you’d like to be a part of our next live chat or receive real time COVID-19 updates, join our SA Small Businesses Unlocked Facebook Group here.

Business High Five: Online hangouts for South African business owners

Business High Five: Online hangouts for South African business owners

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The coronavirus lockdown is in full swing in South Africa. Some of us are still working remotely, whilst others are unable to work at all. It’s uncharted territory, and we’re all still working out how we make this time meaningful. 

Maybe you’re trying to set boundaries between your ‘home’ life and your ‘work’ life, which both play out in the same space at the moment. Maybe you’re trying to replace endless scrolling on social media with some meaningful content or channels for self-improvement. 

Here are five online platforms which may give you the value and experience you are looking for, while you’ve got the time.

Connect with community

The guys at Ideas Cartel are an innovative bunch. While COVID-19 might have halted their shared office space and hotel business, it hasn’t stopped them from offering support and resources to entrepreneurs. As a member of their Cartel Connect community you can access workshops, talks and classes which range from fitness to practical business skills. Membership costs R99 per month.

Stay up to date

The National Small Business Chamber (NSBC), a non profit organisation which offers support and networking opportunities to SMEs, has set up a dedicated COVID-19 online centre. Here you’ll be able to find content from the media relating to small businesses at this time as well as a notice board of upcoming webinars and events. 

Learn something new

Whether you are looking to sharpen your skills in a particular area or learn something new, there are loads of courses available online. Udemy has a range of educational courses for you to choose from – whether you want to learn how to play piano or build a website. There are even some discounts on some of their courses to make learning even more accessible over this period. Get Smarter also offers online short courses from credible universities and institutions. This is your chance to up your knowledge in areas like leadership and management or master specific skills ranging from topics like global health delivery to digital marketing analytics.  

Mentorship

Never trust a skinny chef… well there’s never been a better time to take some notes from the pros. Heavy Chef has been hosting workshops geared at entrepreneurial mentorship and knowledge sharing for years. They’ve now taken the magic online – you can live stream talks by industry leaders in South Africa from wherever you are. Innovation is the order of the day on their line up, and business owners get hefty discounts. 

Hang up your work hat

How do you decompress once you’ve sent that last email? Maintaining some kind of home/ life balance is important. If you’re missing the outdoors or even want an activity that you can include the whole family in, check out Wild Earth. This site gives you the opportunity to go on an online safari and interact with an actual game ranger. Who knew you’d be able to experience the African wilderness from behind your laptop?

Join our SA Small Businesses Unlocked community to get the latest COVID-19 updates, insights from other business owners and content to keep you sane over lockdown.