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Load shedding: a survival guide for SMEs

Load shedding has become a bane of many small businesses’ existence. With many NSBC members stating that losing sales has had the worst impact on their small business. This also has knock-on effects for small businesses. Other worries were unhappy customers, interruptions to production and equipment being damaged. But what can we do to overcome load shedding? Here are two steps to surviving load shedding.

STEP 1: Be informed

With the more information you have about load shedding, the better equipped you will be to make good decisions for your business. You can keep track of the load shedding schedule by:

  • Listening to the news. Here you will learn about when the proposed power outages will be and you will learn what is happening with Eskom.
  • Download an app. There are a lot of apps available online to help you see when you are scheduled for power outages like EskomSePush.
  • Look up the schedule online: You can visit the Eskom website if you are an Eskom customer. Furthermore, you can also visit this news site for information about the main municipalities in South Africa.
  • Look on social media: You can follow @Eskom_SA and #Loadshedding on Twitter for real-time updates.

By viewing these different streams of information, you will be more informed about the state of load shedding in South Africa. Please be aware these are guidelines and the NSBC can’t be held liable for the inaccuracies in the schedules.

STEP 2: Be prepared

With the knowledge gained in Step 1, we can prepare for load shedding.

Create a load shedding action plan

It is important that you keep your staff, and clients well informed about your action plan should there be a load shedding event.

Look for alternative power sources

With the advancement in solar energy, it may be worth your time and money to invest in a solar system for your business. You can also consider getting a generator or UPS system. A UPS system is important to help keep your computers on so you can switch them off safely and you won’t risk losing information you had been working on.

Back up your information

You could consider using a cloud service provider to assist you with moving your documents securely to the cloud. Back up your files at least once a week. If you are experiencing load shedding, it is best to run back-ups daily.

Move your schedule around

With the load shedding schedule in mind, it may be a better use of your time to schedule face-to-face and strategy meetings during the time when your power is offline. This may also encourage better participation in meetings as people will be less distracted. For companies which manufacture goods, you may consider to do those activities which don’t require power during load shedding times.

Ensure your devices are full charged

While the power is on ensure that you fully charge your phone, laptop and mobile internet device. This will ensure that you can still work when the power goes out. If you need to take card payments, consider getting a mobile card machine.

Protect your equipment

Surges and spikes in power can damage electrical equipment. You would be wise to invest in surge protection plugs, back-up batteries and UPS systems. If you rely on refrigeration to keep your goods cold, you can consider keeping less stock to ensure that if it does spoil you won’t suffer a major loss. You should also consider putting bottles of iced water in your freezers to keep it cooler for longer. It is also important not to open your fridge and freezer during a power outage as it will become warmer faster.

Be honest

It is important to be honest with your customer. If you communicate your concerns early on with your customer, then they may be less inclined to be angry with. We need to remember that we are all affected by this and need to work towards a solution which suits everyone.

Create a crisis fund

When a crisis hits you will need money to help you through those times. Therefore, it is critical to save a portion of your profit for emergencies like power outages.

Hopefully by following these two steps, you will be able to improve your business during load shedding.

Proudly brought to you by the NSBC.