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How to be a resilient business in SA during times of uncertainty

Article provided by Simply

The last three years have undoubtedly been some of the most challenging years for small and medium-sized businesses in South Africa. 

Businesses of all sizes have had to learn how to adapt and become resilient – in a very short amount of time. With the challenges posed by the pandemic, the ongoing load shedding struggles thanks to Eskom, and the continued rise in the price of fuel – it seems very difficult to be resilient when faced with continued adversity. 

As Lee Naik, CEO of TransUnion says: “It’s not about bouncing back from adversity; it’s about being able to move quickly, adapt to a situation, have awareness, and take advantage of the growth opportunities that emerge from disruption.”

Look for new opportunities 

The key to resilience is to always be on the lookout for new sources of revenue. In order to do this, businesses need to analyse trends, and changing consumer behaviour to see where the opportunities lie. Businesses also need to redirect investment to target the market segments that will generate the most return on investment.

Furthermore, resilient businesses are quick to make the most sensible financial decisions at the start of a crisis in order to secure financial liquidity. At the same time, the most financially resilient companies will try their utmost to avoid making any staff layoffs by carefully reviewing operations and making small tactical decisions along the way. The re-allocation of investments, pausing of unprofitable activities, and optimisation of front-end spending, coupled with focusing on efficiency and value creation rather than short-term savings is what makes a business resilient. 

Use the data available 

The last three years have rapidly accelerated the use of technology across most industries. In order to reshape operations rapidly, most efficiently, and in the most cost-effective manner, especially in the constantly shifting market landscape. 

There is a great opportunity for businesses to leverage technology-enabled big data, artificial intelligence, and machine learning in order to monitor operations, track industry and consumer trends, and provide real-time feedback on what drives performance and value in the way the South African business environment evolves, adapts and changes. 

There is an opportunity for businesses to leverage these technologies for more than just coping during the crisis, but also for longer-term effective solutions, competitor differentiation, and innovation to be resilient in any uncertainty.

Having a future-focused team

If your business is looking to survive, and even possibly thrive during this phase of uncertainty in South Africa, you need a workforce that can readily adapt to technology and flexible working conditions while remaining increasingly productive. Be sure to include each member of your team in change management discussions, and create an environment that is future-focused. Most importantly, look to find ways to reskill your people to deal with the new future of work. 

Building resilience among your staff means ensuring the people of an organisation have the skills that are needed and the support to overcome challenges.

Invest in your staff

A major consequence of the turmoil most companies are facing in South Africa is the drastic transformation of company culture. Many businesses are witnessing a massive increase in mental health issues amongst employees, leading to a decline in motivation, productivity and the slowing down of business growth and development. It is understood that the combination of improved physical and psychological health leads to improved employee well-being and thus improved productivity.

There has never been a more critical time than now for employers to provide their employees with structured wellness programmes. Wellness programmes are more affordable and more beneficial than ever before. Through this act of care, your business will reap the rewards. It is more than just a great business decision; it proves that you are invested in those who work for you.

Planning is everything

One thing is for sure, it is impossible to predict what might happen in the future. It is, however, vital for local businesses in South Africa to include some wiggle room in their budgets for the unforeseen. Events like load shedding, a possible fuel increase, and natural or national disasters need to be planned for so if and when these events possibly occur, your business is ready and doesn’t take as major a knock that might have devastating long-term consequences. 

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