While recent statistics regarding South Africa’s economy may be discouraging, many local business owners remain optimistic. This optimism is reflected by the 74% of South African business owners who said they are confident that their business will grow in the next 12 months, despite the challenges they face; as per the latest 2019 Business Partners Limited SME Index.
In order to boost their chances of success, Jeremy Lang, regional general manager at Business Partners Limited (BUSINESS/PARTNERS) – one of Africa’s leading business loan and equity providers and 2019 Gold winner: SME bank of the year (Africa) – believes that now is the perfect time for these businesses to re-examine their competitiveness and prepare for the year ahead.
“There is always space for innovation in a business. Even as consumers tighten their purse-strings, a steadfast business-minded individual will always see a gap in the market. In many ways a tough economy can actually offer up some valuable lessons, and businesses might even find themselves evolving into something better as they are forced to adapt to survive.”
In preparation for 2020, Lang advises that business owners reflect back on the past 12 months and take note of lessons learnt. “Analyse the numbers and make a record of any trends to pinpoint what worked and what didn’t. It’s also a good time to troubleshoot, resolving any recurring challenges within the business and looking at ways to better streamline internal systems and processes.”
When setting new goals, Lang believes it’s best to be specific and get all the stakeholders on board ahead of time. “For example, consider new ways to boost business sales – whether it’s brushing up on your digital presence, focusing on refining your database, or reassessing rates and pricing. Ask yourself whether your business model is still compelling enough to compete in a tough economy?”
The beginning of a year is also an opportunity to check-in with your staff as they return from leave to gauge their level of enthusiasm and wellbeing. It is also a good time to assess any resource gaps where new appointments should be made in the near future. Lang recommends using the excitement of the new year to touch base with present and potential clients, suppliers or partners and to implement a challenging project for your team to make use of their higher-than-usual levels of discipline and commitment.
“While it might seem tedious, don’t neglect the business admin,” Lang adds. “Make sure to give your business a clean slate for 2020 by getting all paperwork in order – whether it’s the financials, tax affairs or legal documentation. Allocate some time to get everything organised and easy to locate, even if this means having to update your internal filing systems.”
In order to remain competitive, Lang reminds business owners to keep track of any oncoming trends that may impact their industry. “Some things to watch out for in 2020 include a more personalised customer experience; the rise of the remote worker and the gig economy; voice searches through the likes of Siri and Alexa; an increasing need for better cyber security; and the further adoption of mobile money in Africa,” he concludes.