Picture: 123RF/HASLOO
Picture: 123RF/HASLOO

As if SA’s small businesses didn’t have enough to cope with, now the Covid-19 pandemic has put added pressure on them.

“Turbulence has always been the official climate for SA small and medium enterprises (SMEs). We went into this pandemic already on our knees — in a technical recession; downgraded to junk bond status. While we don’t have the $1-trillion stimulus packages that we’re seeing in developed countries, what we do have is grit, optimism, resilience, and creativity in spades,” says Dov Girnun, founder and CEO of small-business funder Merchant Capital.

He has the following advice for SA’s entrepreneurs:

  • Find every way possible to conserve cash. “Entrepreneurs need to run various scenarios to ensure their business can survive in the ‘worst-case scenario’; be strong in the ‘middle-of-the-road scenario’; and thrive in the ‘best-case scenario’.”

  • Act quickly — whether it’s asking your bank for some relief or talking to your landlord about a rent holiday; move fast.

  • Imagine what a post-pandemic world could look like. “Conduct a pre-mortem by developing potential outcomes and running wildly different future storylines. The pre-mortem allows business owners to think of insightful reasons why a plan of action may go south and so be appropriately prepared.”

  • Being a small-business owner is now even more challenging, but this new landscape may offer many new opportunities too. “The pandemic has leveled the playing field again. Before Covid-19 struck, the small business sector was a tough place to be. Competition was rife, margins were under pressure and clients had lots of choices.

Now there’s a lot more white space emerging for audacious entrepreneurs, who are natural risk-takers, to recalibrate their businesses and cut through the clutter.”