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The lockdown levels to help deal with the Covid-19 pandemic have mostly had negative impacts on the South African small and medium sized businesses. Business owners state that the lockdown has set their companies back for more than five years to recover. In some cases, lockdown has permanently shut down businesses. These times are precarious and guidance is needed.

On 8 June 2021, Michael Avery interviewed four business owners that share advice on how to keep the doors open during these unstable economic times. Julia Finnis-Bedford, Kate Shepherd, Simone Musgrave and Lesley Waterkeyn share their experience and expert advice for fellow entrepreneurs in the following interview:

In this blog, we are going to outline the traits needed to survive in a restrained economic landscape, as picked-up in the interview above. These traits are the ability to adjust to markets, making a start and having a healthy mindset.

Be able to think on your feet and to adjust the plan

Entrepreneurs need to understand how consumer focus shifts and be able to adapt to them. Before the pandemic, the face mask industry was not as vast as it is today. As demands change, entrepreneurs should adapt to new needs of the consumer. Those that do not understand consumer needs have a low chance for survival.

The ability to adapt is crucial for the success of the business as well as the safety of its employees. Many companies have adopted virtual meetings and telecommuting (remote working) as a means to keep employees safe at home, while other businesses have implemented measures to ensure social distancing and regular sanitation. These measures are in place to ensure the business keep progressing. Have the ability to change business models to cope with the economic landscape and be sure to ask the right questions, such as:

  • What do customers want during this time?
  • How do we ensure sustainable business?
  • Where can we cut losses?

Check out a previous article for further thoughts.

Do not hesitate – try it and see what happens

Do not seek to develop the perfect product – it does not exist. The best business plan will not guarantee a successful business. The best practice for starting an entrepreneurial endeavor is to simply “start”. Make a start, put it into the market and then iterate to make it better. Find a niche that can be exploited, or find something to do that excites and inspires you. No first attempt is going to be perfect, and failure is common – however, these are the components needed to be successful.

Entrepreneurs that believe that they have found the one strategy that is going to work forever are mistaken. Markets are highly competitive and mostly efficient, so it makes sense that if a business does not innovate and improve, it will be forgotten.

Keep your mind healthy

A positive mindset is a great asset to an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs that have been in the game for a long time understand that it is important to keep mental health in check. Mental health month was in May and it shed light on the emotional struggles entrepreneurs face. Depression, anxiety and self-doubt are issues entrepreneurs face in trying to make their dreams come true. Many have had to deal with the stress of retrenching staff and incurring more debt to keep doors open.

It is critically important to have a healthy mindset. There are certain strategies like meditation and exercise that help to alleviate pressure, so spend some time doing things that help to ease the emotional burden of being an entrepreneur. Aim to do work that inspires you, has a purpose and simultaneously helps others. There is a community of entrepreneurs that are willing to help each other out – reach out and find your support.

Closing thoughts

Entrepreneurship is a difficult endeavor and has been worsened with the pandemic. The ability to adapt to new market conditions is critical for survival. It helps to innovate and try new things instead of aiming for perfection and getting nowhere. Lastly, it is important to have a positive mindset to deal with the stresses of being an entrepreneur. South Africa has faced struggles over the years, and it can overcome its latest challenges with the help of successful entrepreneurs. Getting the correct support in the way of coaches, business advisors, etc is crucial. Remember even the most talented and successful athletes have coaches to improve their performance.

About the author

Trishen Naidoo is the director of Pneuma Capital and co-director of Fulcrum Venture Capital (FVC). FVC have enlisted the services of Nikshen Consulting for business coaching and guidance.

Dr Kenneth Moodley

Author Dr Kenneth Moodley

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