Shauneen Procter, managing director of advertising, brand, social media and reputation agency, Idea Engineers, is a finalist in the 2013 Business Woman of the Year Awards (Entrepreneur Category). Her experience in the local economy informs her commitment to delivery focused business as a development tool.
The importance of entrepreneurship
According to 2010 estimates from the Department of Trade and Industry:
- SA’s entrepreneurial sector accounts for between 52% – 57% of South Africa’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
- 91% of the formal business entities in SA are SMEs, accounting for around 61% of national employment.
“Entrepreneurial business is clearly the crux of our economy,” says Procter. “I believe commercial and government role players need to do a lot more, however, to ensure our entrepreneurial activity acts as a powerful engine for sustainable future growth – economic and social.”
The 2010 Finscope Small Business Survey shows that of South Africa’s estimated 5.6 million small businesses, a full 82% are effectively subsistence SMMEs, or so-called ‘lifestyle businesses’ that do not employ staff.
In fact, only 300 000 of all South African businesses employ five or more people, while 94% of South African businesses have never utilised any form of business development service. Procter believes the country needs to strive to improve these numbers.
A shift in focus is required
“Our society typically lauds conspicuous consumptions and the flashy elements of life, the seeming markers of success. Things like awards or big cars or fancy offices,” Procter says. “But growth and the flashy elements should only ever rise from a strong, stable base – otherwise they’re precarious, at best.
“A renewed focus on meticulous delivery – be that in private, commercial or government spheres – is the key to stable, functional, long term commercial and governmental relationships. When we look around the country currently we see a great many fragmented relationships. I view these as symptoms of the victory of flash over substance.
“Conversely, a renewed focus on the bottom line elements of our society – on delivery, and on the hard details of running a business or an organisation, in other words – can take us very far.”
Service delivery is key
Procter believes a philosophy of quality delivery is relevant to South Africa in general as the country seeks to drive an ambitious social development agenda.
“Our country requires strong, nimble, long term skills to move past a paradigm of entrepreneurial subsistence,” she says. “This can only be achieved if role players at all levels start to focus on delivery, and on the often painful, nitty gritty elements of business.
“This applies to our small entrepreneurial ventures, where basic business skills urgently require development, and in the larger corporate sphere, where enterprise development programmes, skills development programmes and other empowerment drives will only have lasting impact if there is an ongoing focus on the small details… on ensuring relentless quality.”
“Genuine sustainability and success is not about how good you look, but about the quality of the job you’re doing, and your ability to deliver consistent returns to your clients, constituents and stakeholders,” she adds.
“If you’re doing that, day after day, it’s obvious. You’ll be a person or department or company that works positively with partners over the long term, and everyone will see that. The proof is in your work, and your relationships.”