Article provided by Agility Health
Pandemic and technology have reshuffled the deck for small business
Businesses stand to gain from opportunities created during the pandemic, if they adopt important learnings from 2020 and put them into practice this year. The high levels of stress and pressures on a small team to maintain a competitive advantage could, however, threaten to derail SMME success.
“There is no doubt that there is more opportunity for small business now than there was 10 years ago,” says Mike Anderson, founder and chief executive officer of the National Small Business Chamber (NSBC).
“There is a global shift towards supporting Small, Medium and Micro-sized Enterprises [SMMEs], that has been enthusiastically embraced in South Africa with prospective customers increasingly ordering online since the start of the national lockdown. Consumers are now more than ever attracted to supporting local small businesses.”
“The digital world has changed how we do business, and SMMEs can now compete with any big business. In addition, big companies across the board are now obliged to build their SMME supplier base. The future of job creation is coming from the SMME sector. In 2021 and beyond SMMEs will, more than ever before, be the mainstay of our economy,” he says.
The NSBC offers the following survival and growth tips for SMMEs
- Prioritise building up liquid cash savings, reducing debt and trim non-essential spending
- Remain agile and adaptable to weather storms in the future
- Out-of-the-box thinking to prepare for a worst-case scenario
- Look after the staff you rely on to keep your business at the top of its game
“Having a ‘Plan B’ can help improve every business’s odds of surviving and eventually thriving again during tough financial times,” Anderson advises.
“The team within an SMME is generally quite small and these businesses have invested enormous amount of time and money into these employees. Unlike the corporate world, for many small businesses it only takes a few key employees for an SMME to survive and prosper. This means that there is much more at stake for the overall productivity of a small business if an employee is unable to perform at their best.”
“Small businesses experienced many challenges last year, and too few were able to seize relief funding. The enormous stress of these factors unfortunately contributed towards poor performance at the most crucial time for many, which only compounded their difficulties.”
Dr Jacques Snyman, clinical development expert for Agility Corporate, says that an integrated approach is needed to best manage human capital risks. “Key members of an SMME team often have specialised skills and understanding of the business, and small businesses can ill afford for such individuals to be incapacitated due to preventable causes. In a small team, this can be devastating for all concerned and may be catastrophic for business survival,” he says.
Pre-empting risk and optimising productivity
“Our approach is to proactively identify and assist at-risk individuals to better manage health conditions to avoid absenteeism, as well as to meaningfully reduce the likelihood of the person suffering a serious health event, such as a stroke or heart attack.”
“As Mike rightly points out, the pandemic has been stressful for employees and employers alike, and we know that mental wellbeing and physical wellness are deeply interlinked and significantly influence productivity. When staff members can access the wellness tools and healthcare they need, businesses feel the benefits of improved productivity and a more engaged workforce,” Dr Snyman notes.
With one point of contact, Agility Corporateoffers businesses of all sizes a health and employee benefits solution to cover the needs of employees at every level within the business. This seamless and hassle-free service is tailormade to suit the business’ individual needs and circumstances encompassing a full range of HEALTH SQUARED medical scheme options, primary healthcare products for lower income staff, group risk benefits and retirement fund solutions.
The Agility Corporate solution is underpinned with an industry-leading rewards programme and employee wellbeing programme, which provides access to a psychosocial helpline offering invaluable telephonic counselling support to staff members including trauma counselling, legal or financial advice to support their holistic wellbeing and optimal productivity.
According to Anderson, the National Small Business Chamber’s research shows that an attractive employee benefit programme, no matter how small to start with, is imperative for attracting and retaining top talent.
“Cost cutting should never be at the expense of employee benefits, because these give businesses the edge in establishing and maintaining a highly productive team. Retaining talent is crucial to SMMEs’ survival and prosperity,” he says.
“My advice to small businesses this year, is learn from 2020 and prepare well for the next crisis, whatever it may be. Think big and go big, but adopt the magic of tiny steps. Eliminate what doesn’t work in your business and do more on what has proven to work,” Anderson advises.
“Your talent, like cash-flow, is the life-blood of your business. Do whatever you can to take care of them now if you want to your business to prosper and grow.”