SMEs can find it difficult to answer the question of sustainability while still dealing with the day-to-day running of a business. But if your business is to survive, it’s a question that cannot be ignored says Mohale Ralebitso, founder and chairman of Itataise Investments and CEO of the Black Business Council.
Mohale says sustainability comes down to two factors: reducing the risks that threaten your business’ survival and ensuring that you continue to grow.
To achieve this, it’s important that SMEs realise that sustainability is not only an issue for large companies, but that they should also integrate it into their own core business strategies.
In this way SMEs can stand to benefit in the following ways: free cash flow, the business being able to invest in its expansion strategies and also giving your employees a sense of security which allows them to therefore commit to excellence, Mohale says.
Thriving during tough times
South Africa’s difficult economic climate has resulted in many SMEs having to close down. Despite this, Mohale says small businesses still stand a great chance to grow.
This, he says, can be done by paying more attention to their customers.
“Sustainable growth starts with existing customers. Customer focus is an essential element for growth as it activates word-of-mouth, which is only possible when customers are delighted. They become advocates and actively promote a business’ total experience”, he says.
Even in difficult times there are still opportunities for entrepreneurs to take advantage of the unstable economy.
“There are pockets of growth and it’s those entrepreneurs who operate in these niches who enjoy growth, and who are able to expand – including, but not limited to, take demand away from areas where customers are less satisfied with existing providers and propositions.”
Mohale, who is one of the featured speakers at the SME South Africa Growth Champion Seminar, shares his strategies that have allowed him to achieve sustainable growth.
1. Having a detailed plan in place.
2. Being focused on my people and their happiness and their experience of serving customers.
3. Managing and protecting my cash-flow (no money or capital equals no survival or growth).
4. Knowing my customers and what makes them happy.
5. Incorporating innovation and using comprehensive and structured approach to organisational management as a way of life rather than mechanical endeavors to be done in departments or on a calendar driven basis.