It’s no doubt the COVID-19 pandemic has had a far-reaching effect on SME’s worldwide. The South African economy saw a contraction of 7% and while we saw an improvement in the last quarter, we need to continue adopting technology and growing businesses in order for that incline to continue.

Startwise Founder and CEO, Velly Bosega personally believes “we saw a spike in entrepreneurial ventures during these times. Some hit the mark by aligning the consumer demand with COVID driven essentials like sanitizing products, PPE and being quick to market. Others had to be agile in their approach as they faced retrenchment and were seeking ways to generate a form of income. It wasn’t all doom and gloom as just recently I have seen 3-5 technical start-up companies based in South Africa receive millions in overseas funding.”

As a business owner himself, he had to make fast decisions that impacted employees, customers, networks and the bottom line. And as we head into the next quarter of 2021, continuing to weather the COVID-19 pandemic, here are some of the lessons Velly learnt:

 

  1. You are dealing with PEOPLE

From staff to clients, we are all humans at heart and under tremendous stress during these times. Everyone is experiencing low energy and patience levels as we go through the 13th month of lockdown. There is so much uncertainty and no matter if you are the CEO, employee, husband or wife or even your children, we are all trying to establish a new normal. Businesses in South Africa are starting to recover and rebuild. Some saw the sad closure of theirs and grappling for alternatives. Reach out to experts around you to gain that outside perspective and your business may just pick up tips and tricks to navigate these turbulent waters.

 

  1. Be swift to adopt technologies

COVID-19 sped up the digital revolution and forced businesses to adopt technologies and enhance their digital strategies. Companies had to either incur costs to implement tech systems to ensure they could continue to operate or re-evaluate their current systems. We had to look at our internal systems, as well as customer facing technologies like websites, e-commerce customer journeys, CRM integration tools and more. With social distancing in place, we took to a life of Zoom and online meetings. And that’s the part that excites me most, it’s time for South Africa to truly join the digital revolution! In fact, it’s why he introduced the Startwise platform to the South African market. It allows SME owners to connect with industry leading experts for guidance on their business and marketing strategies, finances, funding etc. It’s a virtual, on-demand platform designed for SME’s to get the advice they need, and experts to earn an additional stream of income.

 

  1. Shifting budgets

Needless to say, the majority of SME budgets were impacted. From technology investments to cutting back on marketing budgets and more. Companies had to ensure their office spaces adhered to COVID sanitization regulations, bringing on more costs. We saw a shift in traditional marketing budgets to a digital approach and every company wanting to get the most ROI they could from their efforts. SME’s don’t always have the biggest budgets to begin with, but being agile with their approach and digital platforms readily available, Velly believes they can make the transition successfully.

 

We believe South African SME’s have weathered the storms and shown their resilience in being quick to respond to the markets, creative in their approaches and coming together to supporting local. We have lost loved ones and in some cases our businesses have changed forever, but through the pandemic it has brought communities together.

If you would like to help grow SME’s in South Africa, join Startwise as a thought leader!