The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2019/2020 revealed that there are four times more early stage entrepreneurs in South Africa than established business owners. As such, it is vital for this disparity to be addressed and small and medium enterprise (SME) owners to be assisted to grow their operations into fully fledged businesses.
This is according to Shelley Spires-Bolle, Brand Project Manager at Retail Capital, South Africa’s leading alternative SME financier, who says that access to funding is often reported as one of the major challenges hindering local SMEs. “However, oftentimes the funding is available, but small business owners need assistance to ensure they have the necessary tools to grow their companies to a point of turnover maturity whereby they would qualify for the funding available.”
Entrepreneurs tend to be a jack-of-all-trades managing everything from business development to finance, she adds. “We find that when business owners apply for funding and unfortunately don’t qualify, they often need assistance with cash flow, HR, marketing and business strategy, for example.”
On the flip side, it is also important to note that funding alone is not always needed for businesses to survive and thrive, says Spires-Bolle.
It is for this reason that Retail Capital launched its Symmetry Hub Platform which is made up of a number of tools and services to help small business owners navigate an array of challenges they are faced with and facilitate business growth. “The Symmetry services include social media marketing, paid advertising and business advisory services, with tailored, discounted packages developed to fit the budget and needs of SMEs. As such, the Hub aims to connect business owners with the tools and service providers who specialise in supporting and accelerating small business growth,” explains Spires-Bolle.
The platform was originally developed to provide our clients with a value added service that was practical once they received funding from us, she points out. “This allows us to pair our funding with tools and services that assist the business owner in truly growing their business.”
However, the platform has since evolved to double up as a place startups, whose businesses don’t yet qualify for its funding, can shop around for tools that will grow their businesses. “This way we can assist them by providing a hub that gives them access to facilities to grow their businesses to a place where they will be funding-ready,” says Spires-Bolle.
She highlights that in order to further assist small business owners, Symmetry Hub will be hosting a series of free-to-attend webinars on the platform. “The first webinar talks to the unforeseen challenges brought on by the impact of COVID-19 that entrepreneurs have had to combat in order to keep their businesses alive,” Spires-Bolle says. “But along with these setbacks, some businesses have embraced various opportunities and innovations in order to succeed even under the toughest circumstances.”
In this quick-fire 45 minute session, valuable insights and guidance will be delivered by industry experts on how they have combated COVID, and what steps business owners can take to build adaptability and resilience no matter what the future holds. The webinar will take place on 27 August at 5pm covering: Combatting COVID and capturing new opportunities by Richard Rayne of iLearn and Adapting to the new Retail by Alex Harris of Alex Harris Consultancy. Those wishing to attend can register at symmetryhub.co.za.
When asked what advice she had for small business owners wishing to grow their businesses from now onwards, considering the current challenges they are faced with, Spires-Bollesaid that research is key. “Test what your business is lacking and then consider what you spend too much money on. This way, you can figure out the areas you need assistance with and what areas you need to spend on or cutback spending on. This will lead you to be able to get in touch with the right experts to help your business survive and thrive.”