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Business unusual for small enterprises on the road to recovery. Picture: SUPPLIED/STANDARD BANK
Business unusual for small enterprises on the road to recovery. Picture: SUPPLIED/STANDARD BANK

If you’re a small-business owner setting out on the road to recovery, the last thing you want is more details of the toll the pandemic has taken on small enterprises. Far more useful would be good, solid tips on how to build back better after any business setbacks.

Many small businesses in SA have to revisit their business models and ask:

  • Are my products or services still relevant in the post-Covid-19 environment?
  • Do I just need to tweak my offerings a little here and there, or do they need a complete overhaul?
  • How have my customers’ needs changed and what do I need to do to satisfy them?
  • Do I have skills that could take my business into new directions and what new skills do I need in this new normal?
  • Are there inefficiencies standing in the way of business profitability?
  • Am I using technology optimally?

Sharpen skills and technology acumen

It is important to understand the basics of business management, including accounting, finance, management, marketing, planning, sales and production. There are many good business-management short courses on the market that are worth the time and money.

Keeping up with technology should also be a priority. Physical stores are unlikely to disappear altogether, but online shopping, trading and marketing are growing exponentially. Small businesses that lack a digital strategy and tools may lose their competitive advantage.

Many small businesses would like to invest in new ways of working, producing and selling, but the cost of creating a digital presence may be holding them back. While a business struggling to make ends meet might be reluctant to invest in new technology or other innovations for business growth, postponing such changes might not be best for the survival of the business. 

Pay as you trade or earn

In any event, funding should not be an obstacle for any sound small business, given the range of good financial products on the market tailored to their needs.

Standard Bank's Shari'ah-compliant Merchant Capital Cash Advance offering is a working capital product specifically for retail businesses and the first of its kind in the SA region.

With this offering, a retailer can qualify for up to 100% of its monthly card turnover, with funding available within 48 hours and no interest payable or hidden costs. This is a pay-as-you-trade product, and the funding is paid back as a percentage of every card swipe through the retailer’s card terminal.

As the funding needs are taken care of, business owners can then turn their attention to the many other important aspects of running a business, such as satisfying their customers, attracting and retaining the right employees, connecting with suppliers and distributors, keeping a close eye on their competitors, and assessing where and how markets are changing. 

All of this takes time – and plenty of it – which means business owners must focus on tasks that add the most value. Learn to manage your time efficiently and accept that you cannot do everything yourself. Delegating may not come easy, but come it must.

With a clear plan of action, access to resources and confidence in your business’s ability to adapt and adjust, the road ahead should look a lot less bumpy. 

About the author: Ameen Hassen is head of Shari’ah banking at Standard Bank.

This article was paid for by Standard Bank.

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