To run a successful business, you need three things: access to the market, access to capital and access to people. So says Craig Polkinghorne, Head of Commercial Banking at Standard Bank Group. In a webinar with Allan Gray on 17 July (one of a 10-part series on how your business can survive and thrive), Craig recognised that during this lockdown period, a lot of companies have looked after their people well, but they have practically lost access to the market (think alcohol, fast-food and taxi’s) and access to capital. He urged business to keep close to their bankers. “The banks are in the business of keeping people in business,” he stated, “we are in partnership with you. Engage with us to see how we can help.”
Hlengiwe Makhathini, from the National Empowerment Fund (NEF), shared that in her experience about 47% of businesses didn’t have adequate funds to tie them over this difficult period. However, she has seen many businesses re-positioning themselves to take advantage of the changing marketplace. “A small clothing manufacturer approached us with the plan of making surgical masks instead,” she told us. “Within a short time, they had branched out to other protective clothing as well, and tapping into a growing market.” It’s about looking for opportunities and coming up with a plan, she believes.
In order to weather this storm, the panel of experts agreed on the following:
- This is where a company’s track record and the quality of their management really make a difference.
- Evaluate your decisions and action only those that you really need e.g. do you really need to buy that building now?
- Look for help in other ways e.g. coaching and mentoring services from the banks and the NEF.
- Make use of the current lower interest rate.
The bottom line is how you show up as a businessperson – link into your resilience, look for opportunities and take action. That will make all the difference in weathering the storm.