Growing up, the term entrepreneurship sounded rather old-fashioned and out of place in modern-day business discourse. But entrepreneurship is still here with us, and now comes with an even stronger sense of founder passion, authenticity, and boldness like never before. Entrepreneurs are also now younger and more diverse in terms of their background, proving that age is no barrier when it comes to ambition.
In a glocal (global + local) environment where the new constant is a disruptive state of change, the world was taken unawares when the deadly COVID-19 virus, emanating from abroad, brought many small business operations to their knee. It is hard to keep track of enterprises that have survived and those that did not or are not likely to, on a continent where, according to an IMF report in 2017, the informal economy accounts for over 40% of its GDP.
With the ongoing impact of COVID-19, a number of enterprises have seen their unplanned but inevitable demise whilst many remain on survival mode. Nevertheless, the situation is not all doom and gloom, for in every adversity, arises new opportunities.
As the impact of COVID-19 continues to linger on, many small businesses may be finding that they cannot just return to normal operations, thus, there’s a discussion to be had on how they maintain resilience and continue to grow their business. The winning entrepreneurs would be those who embrace creativity and/or seek transformational change and value for their business. Indeed, in the past, a number of sustainable businesses have emerged from challenges.
Hence, these uncertain times are a good opportunity to objectively evaluate your business and create entrepreneurial change by assessing the needs that have been generated by the COVID-19 situation, and turn those needs into a solution-driven business venture. In addition to having sheer grit and energy, you have to take a look at your business to decide if you are truly up for it – especially if you are short of funds.
This is the hardest sanity-check decision for most entrepreneurs as the last resort is to fold their business. However, a very clear cut financial decision based on whether you carry on with existing business or go into something else is essential.
Entrepreneurship with a purpose is bound to add value to your business by paying attention to meeting the needs of the vulnerable in society. For example, including home delivery services to your business is likely to be appreciated by your customers and create value. Have a keen eye on your local environment to assess what is required and get to know your customers better – also, a challenge to perhaps reconsider previously overlooked sections of the society, for example, supportive healthcare services.
Alternatively, you may want to explore further afield by expanding into new markets on the continent. Not every country is facing the same severity of the conditions presented by COVID-19, and certainly, some countries will be lifting their lockdown status before others, thus, creating variable needs and subsequent business solutions in different African countries.
Additionally, the emergent high dependency on technology means that it’s worth checking out industry-specific software that makes your business more efficient; establishing an online presence for visibility and access; working remotely; and streamlining processes such as automated vendor payments to facilitate cash flow. This may be the period when we start to see a turnaround from a cash towards a cashless economy.
Ultimately, big is not always the best. This means that smaller businesses are in better standing of reconnecting with their customers by investing in communicating with them, re-setting their business operations and staying sustainable. Equally, it is not always the big ideas, but the smaller almost obvious ideas, which are likely to make all the difference in the survival and growth of your business. And a sprinkle of grit.
Dr Linda Deigh is an Associate Dean of Faculty of Social Sciences and Communication Arts, Academic City University College.
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