With everything happening around us and being discussed in the media, we often pause to reflect. One of the discussion points is the huge negative impact that Covid-19 is having on lives and livelihoods. In this article, I have chosen to explore the impact on business and discuss if this is a good time to build life-changing habits. This I will do from an SMME (Small. Medium, Micro Enterprise) perspective. I will also discuss some of the approaches and how they can benefit you.
The environment we find ourselves in
As South Africans, we had a number of challenges before covid-19 with a major one being our already ailing economy. Earlier this year, most SMME’s were fighting for survival and in desperate need of some sort of positive intervention to stimulate the economy. Instead we got Covid-19, which literally pulled the rug out from under us and threw a curveball of unbelievable proportions. With the measures (lockdown) that had to be taken and the shutting down of various sectors, the business environment got even more tough. Many organisations lost revenue resulting in them shutting down, retrenching employees, reducing salaries and many other measures in the hope of surviving. Certainly not a business environment for the faint hearted.
The time to do some reflection
Whilst the pandemic has thrown us into turmoil, it has personally also given many people, including myself, time to hit the pause button and reflect. Whilst there are many aspects of our lives that we probably reflected on, I want to share my thoughts on reflecting from a business or entrepreneurial perspective. I have found that this pandemic and the upheaval it has brought is forcing us to rethink how we business. Change can be scary but if we are to survive then we as entrepreneurs and business leaders must adapt (the strong survive – Darwin) and make changes to survive in the ‘new normal’ environment we find ourselves in. So is this therefore not the perfect time to reflect and build new life changing habits.
What do I mean by building new habits?
Some of the examples of building new business habits and changing the approach we take to business are:
- Re-evaluate your business with specific focus on the People, Processes, Systems and Execution elements.
- Develop yourself and your staff to stay abreast of latest advances in your field.
- Realise that your employees are indeed your most important asset.
- Take time out to take care of your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. These are tough times and an entrepreneurs journey can be lonely. Build inner resilience.
- I have found that many people still operate in the same manner today as they did a few years ago. You have to push the boundaries and question the WHY of what you are doing.
- Examine your processes and streamline them. Try to embed a culture of continuous improvement and learning from mistakes.
- Embrace technology as a means of doing business.
- Relook at your business expenses. What do you spend your money on and is it necessary?
- Relook at your personal expenses. What do you spend your money on and is it necessary?
- We often confuse the difference between What we need? and What we want? Changing this view and approach can result in you tightening the belt and making both yourself and your business leaner and more efficient.
- Take time out to evaluate if you know who your customers are and what they want. Understand how you can reach them. This will help keep you relevant.
- Use technology and social media platforms to engage with your potential customers.
- Think about all the risks your business could face and use the time to develop mitigating actions.
- Seek advice on areas you are unsure of. You do not have to know and do everything. Empower your staff.
- Network continuously.
- Reinvent how you provide a service or product in a changing environment. Repurpose your resources (equipment, people, materials, etc).
I have certainly taken this opportunity to reflect and have a difficult conversation with myself on how I do business. This has led to many changes which has not only reinvigorated me but has also resulted in new business opportunities. In sharing this I hope that it encourages you to reflect and come up with your own set of life changing habits. We are living in a constantly changing world, surely, we should be continuously changing our habits to keep pace. South Africa needs all entrepreneurs to survive.
Dr Kenneth Moodley is an experienced supply chain and business professional with over 25 years’ experience. He has a demonstrated history of working with both big corporates (example: Unilever & The South African Breweries) and SMME’s (Productivity SA) in various industry sectors as a senior Supply Chain Specialist, Leader and Business Coach. In addition to his supply chain experience, he is a skilled business turnaround strategist and is a registered senior business rescue practitioner.