For many business entrepreneurs in South Africa the impact of the hard lockdown was significantly greater than the impact of Covid-19. Successful businesses with good monthly cashflow were instantly faced with the challenge of no longer being able to meet their operating costs. If your business recently borrowed money for an expansion program, financed the purchase of additional capital assets, operated with an overdraft, had an increase in debtor defaults, the situation no doubt was equally devastating.
For each business entrepreneur, tough business decisions must now be made if the business continues in the hope that things change. It is worthwhile noting that prior to the Covid-19 and the lockdown, South Africa was already in a technical recession. Economic growth, a fundamental for small businesses, was at an all-time low and unemployment was at an all-time high, materially affecting the purchasing power of the majority of South African citizens. Small businesses and entrepreneurs as a general rule usually provide products and services to individuals and other small businesses.
All of the aforesaid can be extremely overwhelming for the business entrepreneur, especially those that place a high value on sustaining their employees. In these most difficult of circumstances, business entrepreneurs are often not in a position to access legal and financial advice from specialists who are able to guide the business entrepreneur through the decision making process so as to ensure the survival of the business. Here are a few thoughts to help you through the process of decision making.
- Do not blame yourself for situations over which you have absolutely no control. The guilt, especially if you have a large number of employees with significant dependants, can be inordinate and affect your ability to make tough but necessary decisions.
- Be the leader you know you are. Your employees, creditors, clients, and customers need to have confidence that you are dealing with the challenges faced by your business daily. It is not the time for cognitive dissonance. Business entrepreneurs must refocus and change their attitudes in respect of the issues they have to deal with. It may be necessary to look hard and fast to find the correct strategy to survive the crisis.
- Be open minded to new ideas. Share your concerns, communicate regularly with your stakeholders, particularly business colleagues and employees and ask them to share their ideas as to how your business can navigate the challenges that you seem to be facing alone. It may only take one new idea on which you can focus to get you back on track with some positive energy.
- Do not default to self-preservation. For many business entrepreneurs this becomes their mode for conducting business. It is a natural reaction, however in such instances, evaluate your own moral compass and the consequences your actions have on others as you are ultimately accountable for your own actions, that of your business and the future of your employees.
- Some fights may simply not be worth it for you personally as a business entrepreneur so choose your battles carefully from a risk reward perspective. In such instances choose to support and join organisations that are taking those fights forward as their primary objective. You can share in the benefits of their victories.
- Limit your focus points or business strategies. Pick two or three at the most. Any more than that and you will lose focus and not be able to muster the necessary support you need, particularly from your team.
- Deal swiftly with persons in your organisation who are not following instructions, creating dissention, or undermining your authority as the business owner. Be in favour of constructive criticism and debate. It is useful and necessary but once decisions have been made, they must be implemented expeditiously.
- Fight for what you believe in no matter the cost. Sometimes it is necessary. This decision will always be personal to your nature as a business entrepreneur. However, always seek the wise counsel of others first.
- Follow your chosen strategy passionately while controlling operating expenses as best you can and managing your cashflow carefully. Do not be afraid to ask for help.
The aforesaid are a few thoughts to help you on your way to recovery. If you are one of the fortunate businesses that have been able to survive, share your strategies and successes with others.
For further information, please do not hesitate to contact us.