While market shake-ups often lead to innovation and the birth of new industries, very few expected the past year to be as much of a game changer for business. Sure, the national lockdown has hit everyone – businesses big and small. But, SMMEs have really felt the brunt of the restrictions, with most of them going into survival mode to stay afloat. This has required them to adapt, refocus or reinvent themselves in order to keep the money coming in.
As we start 2021, several major small business trends have emerged from almost a year in lockdown. With remote working setups likely to continue, streamlining to become more digitally optimised remains the biggest priority. From prioritising e-commerce, improved automation, virtual efficiency and productivity, as well as restructuring and streamlining systems to reduce overheads, business owners will need to be agile and put in processes to help them weather this storm and be geared to thrive once the pandemic is over.
Apart from consolidating and streamlining business processes, instrumental to long term sustainability is to get inside the heads of customers.
“The lives of nearly all individuals are completely different to what they were a year ago, and they will most likely be different again in six months’ time,” points out Trevor Gosling, Co-founder and CEO of Lulalend – an online SMME lender.
“Even if your short-term cash flow is about providing them with goods and services during the pandemic, your long-term viability will be dependent on meeting their evolving needs once this is all over.”
During market instability it’s also essential for SMMEs to ensure they have sufficient cash reserves and fast access to working capital when required. In this regard, business owners don’t have to feel like they are alone. Gosling says that this is the time when companies need to lean on, or develop, partnerships with reliable credit providers who will be able to provide funding for day-to-day expenses or to take advantage of new opportunities as they arise.
This is something that Andrew Dalrymple, Director at Risk X Data Assurance, understood.
“During the national lockdown over the last year, we saw a variety of growth opportunities for our business. But as a young SME business, we did not have the capital reserves to fund this growth internally and we were turned down by the traditional banking sector. The credit that we have been able to access from Lulalend has helped us grow, with the certainty that we will be able to meet our short-term cash flow commitments without having to compromise the quality of our long-term strategic decision making and client relationships.”
There will eventually be an end in sight that will give our economy the respite that it desperately needs. Until this happens, what will keep businesses going is the support and access to vital funding that they are given.
Over the month of February, Lulalend will we be showing South African small business owners some love through weekly prizes, designed to help them improve their businesses, valued at R10 000. For more information, visit www.lulalend.co.za