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Recession proof your business

Article written by Jannie Rossouw, Head: Sanlam Business Market

Economic realities impact businesses directly. In South Africa we are in dire need of economic growth to stimulate the business sector to flourish, expand and create much needed employment opportunities.

Some businesses manage to grow and flourish even in these challenging times.

A dipstick analysis was recently done by ourselves with a group of business owners by asking them the following question: “What are you doing to steer your business through the current maze of economic and political uncertainty?”

Their responses are enlightening and worth consideration.

Business Area: Operations

  • Rethink how you are doing business. This might even require that you need to reconsider your business model, target market, business lines and pricing model.
  • Optimise your business. Determine what is required to ‘sweat your resources’ to their maximum capacity and productivity levels.
  • Consider offshore expansion as a way to hedge your business against an inconsistent Rand.
  • Provide products and services to customers which are safe, cost effective and delivered timeously.

Business Area: Marketing and Sales

  • The crux of the matter is to maintain your current customer base. One way is to develop value adds which can lead to higher levels of customer loyalty and secure consistent sales from them.
  • Develop well-targeted and ‘fresh’ marketing initiatives and campaigns which are driven by innovation, creativity and adaptability.
  • Endeavour to keep your marketing budget intact – most businesses decrease their marketing spend during challenging times. If most businesses are following this route, then your business will stand out from the crowd, as your visibility will increase.

Business Area: Information Technology

  • How can you apply technological advances to develop digital products and services? This will lower the cost of ownership for your customers, enable you to deliver in real time and make it more convenient for your customers to transact with your business.

Business Area: Human Resources

  • One of the most challenging decisions to make is to determine how many staff members to employ during difficult economic times. Once you have ‘right-sized’ your staff component, you can consider appointing skilled contract workers to fill the resource gap as business flows fluctuate. In this way you will be more flexible to respond to market movements.

Business Area: Management

  • Align all your actions with the business purpose, values and vision. Experience has taught business owners that there is a direct correlation between performance and the alignment of employees to a higher business purpose.
  • Focus on what you can manage.

The winner of the 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year Competition, Willem van der Merwe, stated that our decisions can either lead to excuses or to results. Will difficult economic circumstances be our excuse not to grow our businesses or the reason why we manage our businesses to further growth and success?

To support business owners with the important task of business planning, Sanlam gives you free access to the book Your Annual Business Game Plan for Success, which provides an easy and straight forward framework needed to draft a well-crafted game plan that will create the positive change and growth necessary for business success.

Go to www.sanlamgameplan.co.za to download your free copy.

Sanlam is a proud Partner of the NSBC.