South Africa’s economic outlook for year 2014 remains the subject of a national discussion and economists continue to emphasise that the country is not out of the woods yet.
Early in 2014, consumers were greeted by yet another petrol price increase when the Department of Energy announced a rise of nearly 40 cents per litre for unleaded and high octane forms of petrol. This exerts even more pressure on various sectors of our economy, including small business.
Sanjeev Orie, FNB Head of Business Banking says, “It’s without a doubt that small businesses are feeling the pinch because reduced disposable income among consumers creates an even tougher operating environment for small businesses. More importantly, petrol a well as electricity are some of the basic needs for most small business. However, all is not lost because businesses that survive this challenging period could be best positioned to thrive in future.”
Orie says that there are a number of interventions that small businesses could take to survive or thrive during 2014, these include the following:
Know your core offering
Never lose sight of what your core offering is. The worst possible mistake that a small business owner could make is trying to be everything to everyone. With limited resources, it’s impossible to excel at everything, therefore, identify your core business and seek to be better than your immediate competitor.
Use your ‘small’ size to your advantage
Unlike big businesses, small businesses tend to be a lot more flexible in their dealings. If there’s an opportunity to go the ‘extra-mile’ to get new or retain existing clients, make an effort to do so because the returns could be valuable for business growth.
Always keep an eye on your cash-flow
Cash-flow management is among the key factors which determine business sustainability. It’s always advisable to enlist the services of a professional to handle your business’ financial affairs. However, any business owner should be able to read and understand the financial statements of their business, to be fully acquainted with its well-being.
Service, service, service
Your business might have a good offering but if it’s not backed by efficient service, it’s bound to struggle. Good customer service can only have positive implications for your business and when combined with a good offering, a business can enjoy a great deal of success.
As clichéd as it sounds, customer is still king
In an environment where disposable income continues to shrink, it gets even harder to convince people to part with their money. Small businesses have no option but to offer a compelling product or service in order to survive or thrive.
Orie concludes by saying, “While 2014 is likely to remain a challenging environment for businesses in general, small businesses should continue to work harder and smarter to ensure long-term sustainability. Tough economic conditions have become a global phenomenon but with the necessary plans, small businesses could thrive.”