The end of a year and the beginning of the next is when thoughts turn to New Year’s resolutions – time to lose weight, return to the gym, improve one’s health. The same applies to small business owners, according to Denzil Steyn, president of the Durban Chapter of global peer-to-peer network, Entrepreneur’s Organisation (EO).
2022 has been a tough year and the perfect storm for businesses. The difficult recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, the fallout from the Ukraine war, disruption of global supply chains, sky-rocketing energy costs, the local Eskom energy crisis, political instability, and climbing inflation are just some of the things that have impacted negatively on local businesses and their clients.
These are likely to continue, Steyn believes. However, he says business leaders need to avoid the much quoted mistake of continuing to do the same thing but expecting a different outcome.
According to Statistics South Africa, the total number of liquidations in South Africa increased by 44.8% in August 2022 compared with the same period a year ago. The total number of liquidations increased by 18.8% in the three months ended August 2022 compared with the three months ended August 2021.
Apart from formally underscoring the much quoted fact that this country has one of the highest SMME failure rates in the world, the University of the Western Cape’s entrepreneurship specialist Prof Christian Freidrich (an extraordinary professor at UWC’s School of business and professor at the University of Applied Sciences in Giessen, Germany) has dug a little deeper. He says that a massive research programme spanning the last 15 years has revealed that a smaller business can rise or fall on the decisions of the entrepreneur who owns it. This is because the owner is the source of action in a firm, makes the key decisions, and deals with important customers, suppliers, and employees.
Entrepreneurs need to think and act differently in 2023, not only through growing their business skills but by learning from successful peers who have ridden out and even grown during one of the most turbulent economic times, Steyn notes.
EO Durban members have shared 23 tips which they believe are integral to running a successful business during 2023:
Denzil Steyn – CEO of Intellisec and president of EO
- Build your team, set direction and execute systematically and passionately, in that order.
- Don’t demand loss recovery from a chosen path. If it is not working, learn, let go and reset direction.
- Love what you are doing. If there is no love, figure out what is draining you and make the changes fast.
- It’s tough and lonely at the top. Invest in membership of an organisation such as EO where you can enjoy the support of peers in the business arena.
Tarryn Tait, CEO of Basics and Beyond
- Growth is not always linear. Sometimes to go forwards, we have to go backwards.
- Focus on the things you are good at. When a teacher marks an exam and there is 1 wrong answer, they don’t score it 1/10, they score it 9/10. Focus on the right metrics.
- Feelings achieve nothing, action = change.
- Communicate early and honestly.
- It’s not the survival of the fittest, it’s the survival of the most adaptable. Learn to adapt.
Bruce Rowe – CEO of MPowered
- Having a company purpose gives you direction for any and all ideation and decision making.
- Have absolute clarity on what your 3- or 5-year vision is. Make it achievable and get buy-in.
- Establish a business operating system that your team uses to help keep the business moving forwards.
- Always be thankful for what you have and who you have around you.
- Stay focused and be disciplined.
Mark Essey – CEO of Capability BPO
- Pay attention to what your gut is telling you. Even if it is a tweak, listen.
- It is all about cashflow, so many businesses close their doors with big profits on paper and not in the bank.
- Try not to let issues go unresolved. They always come back to visit when you can least afford them to.
Cindy Norcott – CEO of Pro Talent
- Hire people better than you, treat them well, and trust them and you will see your business grow to the next level.
- Move quickly and heed the saying that “It’s not the big who eat the small, it’s the fast who eat the slow”. Be responsive to changes and react quickly.
- Always keep a close eye on costs because they creep up quickly. Go through every line item on your expenses column each month with the intention of reducing your costs by 10%.
- You will never save yourself into success. Success comes from sales. Make sure you are always in selling mode and that every staff member in your company understands that sales is part of their role.
- Never accept “That’s not my job” from any of your staff and always model a humble, can-do approach.
- In every transaction with clients, throw in extra value, whether it is a free smile, extra convenience, support, free advice, free shipping. Give people more than they have any right to expect.