By BRENDON WILLIAMSON, CSO at DPO PayGate
Talk of a looming global recession continues to impact emerging markets. And, as South Africa continues its longest downward cycle in many decades, local business owners are actively looking for ways to shore up ahead of future uncertainty.
Small businesses are particularly vulnerable to recession as they often don’t have the same type of reserves as their larger counterparts. Managing cash flow becomes the biggest focus of management, often at the expense of business development and future planning.
Manage your stock
One of the hidden and often unthought-of challenges for businesses is managing inventory. Holding too much stock has an associated cost. Even for a small, home business, understanding and ordering enough stock to ensure you can fulfil purchases quickly is incredibly important. Look into a drop-shipping alternative and use this time to thoroughly assess which products are in demand and which can be dropped from your catalogues. Opting for simple inventory management technology can also greatly assist in building a just-in-time delivery strategy.
Re-assess your transport or delivery options
Getting your product to the end-user is one of the most important parts in your sales chain. This is the lasting impression your customer will have of your business. Shop around for better delivery and transport options and find companies who are prepared to partner with you in a flexible fashion. Remember, these companies are also working hard to stay competitive in a tightening economy and they should be coming up with new and innovative offerings.
Don’t be tempted into diversifying for the sake of it
When our businesses are under pressure, we are often tempted to diversify to widen our access to revenue. However, simply adding new products to your offering for the sake of it is not good practice. Unless there is a compelling strategic reason to diversify, keep your management focus on your core offering and ensure it is the best it can be.
Two brands are better than one
Looking for non-competitive offerings which compliment your own is always a smart thing to do. In tough times this could make a significant difference to your bottom line. If you are selling high-end fashion glasses, for example, why not team up with another brand selling other luxury goods. Joint marketing, delivery and promotional campaigns could halve costs and help you reach new customers too.
Customer retention has never been so important
Acquiring new customers can be an expensive exercise. Every organisation chases new business, but many make the mistake of doing this at the expense of their loyal, existing customers. When money is tight, your customers will think twice before making a purchase. Finding ways to delight them and actively encouraging repeat business and word of mouth referrals will not only see you through the bad times, but position your business for strong growth when the economy turns.
The knee-jerk reaction to slash costs is not uncommon when budgets are reviewed. Allowing your marketing budget to be the first causality of a recession could do you lasting harm. Working with a digital marketing expert can help your business access existing and new customers in a much more effective and cost-efficient manner. Find a reputable agency or individual to help you understand how technology can help you.
Make sure your customers can pay you quickly and safely
After all the work you have put into creating the perfect offering, ensuring people know about your service or product, and ensuring you have operations running optimally, it seems silly to lose a sale at the checkout page. Too many small businesses assume adding new payment options to their existing bouquet is expensive and difficult. Find a payment service provider that will work with you to offer as many as possible with the least amount of implementation pain.
Finally, while the prospect of a global recession should be giving everyone pause for thought, the well-prepared small business could be using this time to outmanoeuvre their slow-moving, big businesses competitors. It all comes down to agility, innovation and choosing the right partners to share the journey with you.
GoDaddy mixes marketing with web builder
GoDaddy has introduced powerful marketing tools that help entrepreneurs expand beyond selling on social media, writes BRYAN TURNER
GoDaddy has launched Websites + Marketing to the South African market, pairing a drag-and-drop website builder with a suite of marketing tools designed to help small businesses with little to no marketing know-how reach new customers.
“Website builders are enabling or allowing entrepreneurs to get online in an easier way by themselves,” says Selina Bieber, regional director for Turkey and the MENA at GoDaddy, during a recent visit to Johannesburg. “Getting an online space has a stigma of having to get professionals for help or having to overcome technical struggles to get a website working. After this, what’s next on their evolutionary journey for them? Before Websites + Marketing, that bridge didn’t exist.”
These features help entrepreneurs move from a platform where many South Africans start: social media. A website is the next logical step for entrepreneurs once they reach scale, where they ask the question: “What should I do next to achieve my goals?”
“There’s a step before a website, that is people starting off on social media,” says Bieber. “For example, one of our customers, confetti.events, has a very successful business. It’s an event planning business that she ran on Instagram, and then built a website with GoDaddy with the website builder platform. She was at the point where she needed to take this step. We’re here to show these entrepreneurs that it’s possible to take the next step, and we understand it’s still difficult, which is why we offer a little bit of guidance by integrating what they already have. This creates something that’s more meaningful that they own, and can track and control.
“When you look at it from a small business perspective, the platform is intuitive. So entrepreneurs can go to your website and it tells you ‘90% of your profile is complete’, like on LinkedIn. The thought process that accompanies the users is what makes Websites + Marketing so strong. So it works on the entire spectrum of website owners, whether they’re established or just starting. As GoDaddy, we can help you with the next step in your journey online, and we shouldn’t think of it just as a website. This is actually talking about an online presence. Looking at our entry into the local market, we’ve obviously been around for years in terms of having customers from all over the world, but when we look serving this market specifically, we’ve really tried to connect with the local market and the local customers.”
The roots of the solution are based open source software, to encourage rapid growth of the platform through various developers who can contribute freely.
“We believe in an open environment, not a closed environment,” says Arnold Blinn, Chief Product Architect at GoDaddy. “That’s why we encourage platforms like WordPress, because they are diverse and open source. As we leverage open source, we contribute back to open source. We think Websites + Marketing can also play in that play in that game, so we’re figuring out how to do that, and are committed to doing it.
“The platform makes sure that an entrepreneur’s online presence is available everywhere. We know online presence is more than your website. It’s your Facebook page and your Instagram. It’s also the reviews on review websites, and even your own website. That’s bridging this gap to social. It works hand-in-hand with a growth strategy, and our goal is to keep businesses online as they grow.”
Read more about the added offerings of Websites + Marketing.
Real threats of robots: changing the WAY we work
With the rise of robots, machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI), the employees of today are in panic mode about the state of their future career prospects. Will they have a job in 20 years’ time… 10 years’ time… or even next year?
New technology continues to burst out daily to change the way we work, and on the surface, this automation of processes previously done by human hands would seem to present companies with the opportunity to downsize. The spectre of an apocalyptic, dwindling future workforce is naturally terrifying for most people, especially in Africa, which is traditionally manpower-centric. But, the reality is that these super-intelligent machines and robots might well be doing humankind a massive favour.
“Machine learning will enable technology to replace the work of hands and the workplace of the future will probably include much more head-work, so it doesn’t necessarily mean that machines will reduce the number of jobs available, they will change the way we work and the definition of what ‘work’ is,” says Deseré Orrill, Chairman, OLE!CONNECT, a company that is a pioneer in the field of personalised, data-led marketing.
Orrill is a successful global entrepreneur who is currently completing her MBA in Design Thinking, and it’s fitting that she will deliver the welcome address and Chair, the Future of Work session at AfricaCom 2019 at the CTICC on Wednesday 13 November 2019.
Orrill will also moderate the discussion on Creating a Culture of Lifelong Learning, a topic, which big hitters Simon Rey (Ecobank), Yumna Tayob (FNB Bank) and Hendrik Malan (Frost & Sullivan) will all weigh in on. It’s an issue that is crucial to Africa’s harnessing of its human potential, and the panel will share their insights into how education and reskilling are key to Africa making the most of its human capital, as well as the importance of ensuring effective lifelong learning in the modern economy.
Future of Work @ AfricaCom 2019 will seek to unpack a wide range of issues at the top of the agenda for business owners and industry leaders. In the African context this includes coming to grips with digital literacy for the modern workforce, building a solid talent pipeline and succession planning through reskilling, as well as strategic workforce planning to harness AI in order to improve organisations, as well as their employees.
However, it’s not just employees who face challenges in the new workplace frontier, as employers have to get a handle on issues such as, understanding what the future of work means for employees AND themselves, how to achieve executive support for new workplace initiatives, and how technology can play a game-defining role in human resources.
The battle between old school and new school has plenty of spark points in the modern work environment. Business leaders will benefit from the discussion about harnessing workplace technologies, as well as using design thinking to create an integrated digital workplace. Discussions and presentations will include Leveraging New Ways of Working to Create Sustained Results in Africa, as well as a discussion on Closing the Skills Gap: Preparing for an Uncertain Future, moderated by Mooketsi Bennedict Tekere, CEO, Ngwana Enterprises with Devaan Parbhoo, Manager, Learning Design & Learning Development at Santam.
Humans in the workplace complete tasks with hands and heads but, also with heart. Orrill highlights the fact that AI and ML cannot replicate human creativity, sensitivity and sensibility, which are essential ingredients in all creative and caring professions, along with those where human intuition and the fabled ‘6th sense’ play a role.
“These functions and skills just can’t be replaced by machines, although machines and AI can certainly offer incredible support to the humans involved in these professions. We also believe robots and automation will contribute to the creation of positive, dynamic and fluid workplaces of the future,” says Orrill. “In fact, in advanced economies where greater use of robotics, automation and AI is prevalent, unemployment today is at the lowest it has been in decades. So, the future of work is not a gloomy wasteland… on the contrary, it’s a bright and promising place.”
To share in this vision for a optimistic new working world, and to keep on trend with workplace best practice, and cutting edge insights, take your place at Future of Work @ AfricaCom 2019 at the CTICC on Wednesday 13 November 2019.