Here’s to a better, stronger new year

Here we are in the penultimate month of 2020. Do you also feel as if the year has somewhat escaped you?

We are in the eighth month of lockdown, and it appears as if we will move into 2021 with some form of lockdown and precaution in place.

The impact of the global epidemic hardly needs clarifying.

From loss of life, to loss of livelihood and loss of “human connectedness”, there is hardly a soul that has not been affected by the epidemic and consequent lockdown.

Lockdown has been acknowledged as the global word for 2020.

Yet there have been a few interesting upsides of a overwhelmingly “down” epidemic.

The oft-quoted line about not letting a crisis go to waste has rarely been more relevant.

Our economy is highly dependent on the activity and growth of small businesses.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across South Africa represent more than 98% of businesses, employ between 50 and 60% of the country’s workforce across all sectors, and are responsible for a quarter of job growth in the private sector.

Broadly speaking, SMEs are pursuing several common strategies to support their success at this time in the following domains: financial stability; access to new markets and customers; a stable supply chain; strong customer engagement; a healthy workforce; and a robust post-crisis strategy (McKinsey report).

We have some six weeks left to prepare ourselves for 2021.

Here are some suggested actions for small businesses in approaching the new year:

● Conduct a review and ask questions such as what did we learn from 2020? What can we address and change, within our ability and ambit? What partnerships can we strengthen and which new partnerships can we pursue?

For those not yet employed or those seeking to start their own enterprise, you could ask yourself what three things could you do differently in 2021 that will add momentum to your journey next year.

What healthy habit can you cultivate? Some successful entrepreneurs have created the healthy habit of journaling or recording their actions every day or week.

This has also been accompanied with getting up early every day to “claw back” time to think, prepare and plan to be more effective every day.

● Conduct appropriate research on the factors impacting your industry and small businesses. Where could you locate great and relevant information on your business or industry? (I refer as an example, to the McKinsey report).

What networks could you enter or enlarge? One of the realisations that individuals, companies and even countries have concluded is that we will get much further in addressing the Covid-19 challenge if we collaborate. Whom do you need to collaborate with?

“You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want” – author, Zig Ziglar.

● Most importantly, how can you implement the best research findings that apply within your context?

For individuals, see the next few weeks of 2020 as a time to “sharpen your saw”.

Stephen Covey writes about this in his best-seller, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

Sharpen the saw means preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have, which is you.

It means having a balanced programme for self-renewal in the four areas of your life: physical, social/emotional, mental, and spiritual.

How can you press the refresh button for your business and life?

One way is to revisit your vision.

“Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world” – author, Joel A Barker.

In moving towards 2021, you may be somewhat strengthened by this simple strategy:

● Write your vision down (If it’s not on paper… it’s vapour.) Research has indicated great value derived from the discipline of writing down your thoughts and ideas. This is amplified if you revisit these often.

● Say it simply (so that those outside your industry may easily understand). Keep it simple, say it often… make it burn.

● Make your vision compelling. (So that those who must implement it are engaged, excited and enthused).

The most important person that your vision should pick up… is you!

Let your vision remind you that there are still books to be written, businesses to be built, art work to be created and lives to be impacted.

● Steve Reid is the manager of the Centre for Entrepreneurship at False Bay College.

For more information, email Steve.Reid@falsebay.org.za

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