Late March 2020, South Africa braced for the unknown ‘new normal’ as Covid-19 cases increased and the country went into a “Hard Lockdown”. Little did we know that by December we would still be bracing for the great unknown. However – from my perspective, this time around the unknown brings with it some excitement. Let me explain why.
As one of the co-founders of Company Partners (Pty) Ltd, I have always experienced a deep sense of frustration when our clients (mostly start-ups) are held back by senseless government regulations. The limitations placed on small businesses to trade freely has for many years been stifling growth. The hard lockdown late March 2020 did not help, as the restrictions imposed by government where some of the worst restrictions seen in our history. The impact was devastating for start-ups, with the adverse effects being felt by approximately 95% of our clients, 50% of whom had to close their doors permanently.
March, April and May were dark months as we all know. Fortunately, since June we have seen a ‘V-Shaped Economic Recovery’ in the businesses of our clients. This V-Shape Economic Recovery in this case refers to most industries going through a chaotic and rapid short-term decrease; and then a strong swift recovery afterwards which brings the industry’s performance back to ‘pre-lockdown’. In our experience, most of our clients’ industries who were devastated by the hard lockdown are already performing at the same level they were in February 2020.
Most of these small businesses owners whose companies were ravaged by Covid and the Lockdown, now started new ventures. As the end of 2020 is fast approaching, we at Company Partners are under no illusion that the economy will take years to recover fully. However, it is not all doom and gloom, as the V-Shaped Recovery brings with it a host of new business opportunities which are ripe for picking.
Even though this year leaves us with more questions than answers about the economy in 2021, business confidence is growing. Most industries are again as vibrant as it has been a year ago; and many players have either closed down or condensed their operations. The fact that 2021 is a year of opportunity and growth is clear. The important question we as Company Partners leaders had to ask ourselves over the past few months is “How do we adjust our company’s plans NOW – so that we’re ready for 2021?” The answer came to us in 3 parts:
1. Cut anything distracting to your core business focus.
Services and functions in our company which were ‘nice to haves’, but not essential to our clients, were removed from our service offering.
2. Invest in your core value offering to clients.
We needed to provide more communication lines to our clients as there are now more ‘red tape’ when starting a business than ever before – and thus more questions. As such, our business consultant team needed increased capacity and training. We allocated funds accordingly, which have resulted in a better service experience for our customers which in turn stabilised our revenue.
3. Invest in technology which will help during and after the Lockdown.
As Company Partners we rely heavily on technology. Once again, we decided to allocate more funds into increasing our online capacity through the hiring of an additional system developer to improve our current system and the benefits it offers to clients (such as the integrated WhatsApp function). Technology is the future, and it must be embraced and strategically integrated with business operations for long term growth.
As the Directors of Company Partners, we believe that God has His hand on our beautiful country. Which includes every businesses owner and their staff – those whose hard work feeds our nation. Therefor we believe He gives all of us ample opportunity in many business industries, which the brave will take on. Even if you have had failures, we believe breakthrough is always there for the taking. For more info on my personal experiences in business – click here.
My advice to small business owners is to be extremely ‘aware of opportunities’ early January and February 2021. There will be opportunity in your industry – if you can act quickly and take those opportunities, your business (current or new) will be able to make the most of it and become much stronger than in 2019 and 2020.