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SMEs: Budget hacks to boost your business despite the pandemic

30 April 2021 Old Mutual Insure

The lockdowns during the pandemic have devastated SA’s small businesses, and many business owners find themselves looking for a few clever, cost-effective and sure-fire hacks to ensure business growth during the Covid-19 digital economy.

According to Soul Abraham, Old Mutual Insure’s Chief Executive for Retail, businesses that managed to get back up following the devastation caused by the height of Covid-19 now need to focus on building and protecting their businesses to last.

“Many owners mistakenly believe that their businesses can only achieve growth if they invest more resources. This couldn’t be further from the truth. While it may seem like a challenging thing to do if you have limited resources, especially in light of having emerged from the initial lockdowns of the pandemic, the reality is that great businesses are started by people who do a lot with what they have,” says Abraham.

He adds that the issue of a lack of resources, whether it be people, capital or time, are constraints that plague most small to medium business owners, but It needn’t be a reason to hold them back from success.

Below, Abraham shares his top hacks for small, medium and micro-sized enterprises (SMMEs) that need support but don’t know where to start.

Hack #1: Take advantage of the opportunity in digital

One of the biggest challenges that SMMEs continue to face post the height of Covid-19 is effectively adapting to a new way of working in a digital age. From Zoom meetings and doing business over the phone to closing deals on email and managing employees remotely, the pandemic accelerated the digital move.

“We view digital as the lifeline needed to re-ignite the small business sector, so small businesses must upskill themselves and take advantage of this opportunity.”

Abraham says that if you do not offer your customers an opportunity to interact online, you could be missing out on sales. This could include building a website, which can help you create space for inventory, attract new online customers, explain your offering in detail, and allow you to increase your business hours to 24/7.

“Consider the free tools at your disposal, like a business profile on Google, or free digital educational resources from Grow with Google.”

Hack #2: Create a solid social media presence

According to research, 60% of people say they discover new products on Instagram, so there is a perfect chance that you are missing out if you are not on social media.

“Having a social media presence that aligns to your brand is very powerful if you want to grow your business. Although it is a big responsibility, as it comes with risk if you do not manage it properly, you stand to gain if you make sure that you have an active business profile,” says Abraham, adding that whether it is LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram, all of these social media offerings have their purpose in the business world. You need to consider which channel works best for your industry and business aligned to your business strategy.

Hack #3: Collaborate (yes, for free) with others

One of the essential tools a business owner has is collaboration, says Abraham.

“Employees of businesses that collaborate with their customers, community and industry enjoy benefits like the opportunity of new learnings, the chance to expand their networks, a sense of belonging, improved innovation, shared expenses and increased sales,” says Abraham.

The first trick in getting this right, says Abraham, is to know what you can offer and know what you need in return.

“For example, you could offer your talents and ask for expertise in exchange. Two parties with different skills can solve a problem better together or can offer your customers something extra that they need,” says Abraham.

Hack #4: Be business-savvy with free resources

As simple as it sounds, if you are cash-strapped, you will need all of the support you can get for free.

“Although there are lots of free resources online, it gets tricky knowing which ones are going to offer you value in return for your time,” says Abraham. “In light of this, look for local resources that may be better adapted for the South African business climate or culture.”

He says it may be better to spend the time to find the right resources that will truly move the needle on your business’s risk and growth from reputable sources and partners.

“At the end of the day, to protect your business and ensure it withstands the challenging times we are in, using easily accessible and practical tools, resources, and support, can mean the difference between surviving or thriving during this economic downturn and digital age,” concludes Abraham.

Old Mutual Insure offers a free online business toolkit called the Business Growth Box - designed to effortlessly guide and empower small businesses to operate effectively and prosper in a digital age. SMMEs can access the Business Growth Box by visiting https://businessgrowthbox.co.za.

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