When Leander Opperman, Founder of Unlok Consulting, was asked why South Africa should support Small Business now and beyond, he shared the following : “Our President, Mr. Ramaphosa, has stated unequivocally that the only way the government’s 2030 National Development Plan goals (published in 2012) will be achieved is through SMEs, which are the lifeblood of our country’s economy.”
Leander shares from the Department of Statistics – South Africa how, since COVID’s devastating impact on the global economy, 36% of all businesses in SA have laid off staff (1). He goes on to share that in many instances, laid-off workers resort to employing their skills and experience, and start their businesses (SMEs) to support their families.
The following data was obtained from the Statistics SA website (2):
- Small businesses generate just over one-fifth of total turnover in the South African formal business sector, expanding from 13% in 2013 to 22% in 2019. (See Figure 1 below)
- The contribution of large business waned over the same period, from 75% to 68%.
- The formal business sector as a whole increased at an average annual growth rate of 7,0% over the period 2013 to 2019.
- Small businesses recorded an increase of 12,3% per year over the same period.
- Medium business increased turnover by 8,4% per year, and large business by 5,4%. (See Figure 2 below, for the industries in which SMEs are making contributions – businesses services is the largest sector)
Leander says that South Africa needs to invest in and support SMEs to ensure that these small businesses grow sustainably and have an opportunity to become enduring companies, with the ability to drive the recovery of South Africa’s economy. He says that UNLOK is passionate about playing its role in supporting and helping to UNLOK greatness in SMEs.
Unlok Consulting provide business consulting services to their clients, offering them the opportunity to execute a winning business strategy. Their services include management consulting and strategy consulting services.
They help their clients along the journey from “good to great” by providing customised, affordable, consulting solutions. They also equip founders with tried and tested planning skills and share the “weapons of trade” that they need to succeed with their business.
Unlok Consulting also leverage their extensive network of independent consultants and advisory services to help clients with the implementation of their solutions and recommendations. In the future, they will also offer entrepreneurial education courses to customers via a platform, as part of their diversification strategy.
Leander started the business to be the catalyst for a “success revolution” in the SME sector of our economy – tech start-ups and early-stage tech entrepreneurs in particular.
He says that they also help good businesses that have stagnated and want to go to the next level in terms of business life cycles. He researched SMEs and entrepreneurship development in South Africa and identified a need for a more affordable, customised, consulting solution catering to the needs of these clients. He believes that this need was being under-served by the consulting industry, which generally only focus on larger companies that have significant budgets for these services.
Leander believes that whilst large companies can afford to spend the hefty fees charged by the so-called “first and second-tier” consulting firms, SMEs cannot. However, one needs to remember that large companies (think Netflix, Amazon, Google, and Facebook) were all small businesses at one stage of their business life cycle, and without the correct advice and support, they would probably have been found on a pile of “also-rans”.
What Leander loves most about running his business is that he revels the opportunity of working with founders of these categories of SMEs, listening to them share their challenges, and helping them find the solutions they need to thrive in their businesses.
He also enjoys energising and empowering them with his perspectives on their problems, equipping them with the weapons of trade they need to overcome their hurdles and make the leap to greatness.
Furthermore, he enjoys sharing his knowledge and helping them view the hurdles they face from a different perspective by revisiting the fundamentals of what makes great businesses “tick”.
One of the biggest lessons he has learnt on his business journey is the importance of a strong network, to be prepared to help others first without wanting anything in return, and how “paying it forward” pays off in the long run.
When asked why Leander does what he does, he explained that it comes down to UNLOK’s core values and beliefs, which he summarises below:
- We believe that small business owners in South Africa need inspirational, energising, and motivational guidance, and that we can be the medicine for their “pains”.
- We believe that no good business needs to fail for lack of affordable, customised, and empowering consulting advice and support.
- We believe that our I-H-A-V value system is what our customers appreciate and embrace, seeing how we truly care for them and their businesses when we provide considered advice and give them ongoing support, even after the formal consulting engagement comes to an end.
- We believe that we have unique skills, knowledge, experience, and access to a network that enables us to help our customers make the leap from “good to great”.
Unlok Consulting is a proud Member of the NSBC. When Leander was asked about his experience as a member he said that he was very pleased to provide feedback on his very positive experience to date. He has found the NSBC Team to be very welcoming, extremely professional at all times (and in all cases), quick to provide him with solutions and to share and publish his content on the NSBC website and social media channels. He was so impressed that he went on to introduce the NSBC to his international and local MBA and business network. He says that the NSBC is all round a great organisation, truly interested in its members. He hopes that his relationship with the NSBC will be a long and prosperous one.