The development and growth of SMEs is essential for the alleviation of the current unemployment crisis. This concept is accepted worldwide. However, knowing that something is the right thing to do and actually doing the right thing are two very different notions, especially in the corporate world.
Getting help from others
Although most companies are started with profit making in mind, it’s important to remember where one started and, once a success has been made of your enterprise, to assist those smaller businesses as much as possible. When Phase 2 Computers was started in 2001, my partners and I had no start-up capital and had to take a R150 000 loan on 14 days repayment terms just to purchase stock.
As a small business, Phase 2 was greatly assisted by the suppliers that it did business with; suppliers gave extended terms for payment, marketing assistance was received through the supply of signage, assistance was given with regards to Phase 2’s shop-fitting, while product training and back-up support was also received.
Finding a balance
Yet, despite the critical importance of small businesses, many companies remain ‘in it for themselves’ – whether it be suppliers not allowing small businesses terms for payment or clients not making payment for work delivered on, this is a mind-set which needs to change.
However, although there is a need for all able businesses to assist in small business development, a balance is absolutely critical. One needs to be aware of the fact that, in certain cases, giving too much leniency or assistance can put ones’ own business at risk. There needs to be a balance between giving back by helping small businesses in their growth and protecting your own business’ interests – operation at the middle of the spectrum and not at either extreme is essential.
Some businesses may in fact actually be negatively affecting the growth of small businesses – whether knowingly or without realising that they are doing so. In the IT industry, for example, Phase 2 has distributors that it purchases products from in order to resell to the end users in its target market. However, some time ago, these distributors sold directly to the target market, cutting Phase 2 out of the loop and therefore negatively affecting our business in a severe way.
Understanding the value of SMEs
When considering whether or not small business development is of value, perhaps it is worth pointing out the incredibly difficult economic environment all business owners face. Although Government is passionate about small business development, non-BEE Often, it is only really business itself that can help other SMEs in their growth.
The benefits of assisting small businesses are endless. Aside from the possible enterprise development points one can gain from such activity, being a part of assisting another person in making a success of their business, and in turn for them to be able to create employment opportunities is benefit enough.
In addition, through assisting small businesses, close relationships can be built based on mutual trust and respect, resulting in a more amicable working environment for all involved. It is also, in many cases, much easier to work with small businesses as this usually involves a more personal relationship with the business, where one is often dealing with the managing director or CEO of the company. There is also less corporate red-tape to navigate your way through.
So, focus on collaboration. There are many ways in which to empower small businesses. Perhaps the most obvious form of empowerment is in the financial realm. For example, when big corporate suppliers provide small companies with price assistance when these small companies purchase goods from them for re-sale, this allows the small companies to make a better profit margin on the resale of those goods. Although this doesn’t necessarily apply to a great extent in the IT industry, mentorship can also be an invaluable tool in small business empowerment.
As a grateful once-small-business, Phase 2 considers small business development a necessity and it has become part of its company ethos. We endeavour to assist small businesses through donations, such as supplying computer equipment to small start-up businesses free of charge and by offering add on services such as free delivery. We’re also happy to take on any and all clients without having a preferential customer policy in place.
Imagine if all businesses focused on assisting other small businesses. Together, we’d be able to create a better economy and achieve the reduction of unemployment.
The New Rules Of Customer Experience
Intelligent Experience Economy will change the rules of customer experience.
Our report identifies five rules organisations can follow to reimagine the customer experience in the ‘Intelligent Experience Economy’. These rules are the action that organisations need to take if they want to be successful in this new era:
1. Make the customer journey your new chain
Most executives understand the importance of CX and have some form of customer strategy to address it. However, the ‘Intelligent Experience Economy’ calls for significant action. Organisations will need to develop an enterprise-wide customer journey. Creating a common language and taxonomy around the customer that is universally adopted will spur CX transformation at scale and embed the customer in the core of the organisational culture.
2. Embed AI in the Customer Experience
Our research confirms that businesses understand the critical and still growing importance of ‘big data’ and analytics. However, having an analytics function. AI will be the dominant capability enabling companies to reimagine the CX in the ‘Intelligent Experience Economy’. Embedding AI in the CX is a great opportunity for organisations. It can enable easier communication with customers, speed up transaction times, personalise customer experiences and significantly reduce customer service costs. Furthermore, organisations that have embedded AI will have unique access to customer data.
3. Connect Customer Experience to real value
Customer metrics are now commonplace in businesses. Although the metric is important, too many businesses see it as the end point instead of the starting point. CCOs assessing their CX transformation efforts must take into account how mature their organisation’s CX measurement maturity is.
For many, CX measurement is still immature – actively listening to customers and collecting feedback, but not taking action with CX initiatives. Organisations should develop real-time customer metrics.
4. Let the COO drive Customer Experience Change
The role of the COO needs to evolve if organisations are to execute on their ambitious goals for their CX visions in the next few years. The role of the COO will need to shift from ‘measuring the CX’ to being directive on the priorities to drive CX change. In order to be more directive, end-to-end capabilities will be needed within the organisations, framed around journey stages.
5. Ignite the core
To create real CX transformation – the COO cannot be successful alone. The challenge is about ‘igniting the core’ around CX. To ‘ignite the core’ organisations need to spread the CX vision with all leaders, managers, frontline employees and back office employees alike. Furthermore, organisations will have to establish partnerships across the value chain – including UX/CX experts, data analysis, AI architects, app developers, as well as project delivery partners.
How can organisations execute the customer experience?
In order to be a leading customer experience organisation, companies will need to execute the customer experience at scale across the organisation. Customer strategy execution is transformational in nature and requires new capabilities, new ways of working and an entire organisation to be fully behind the new vision.
Never Mind The New Dawn – The Sun’s Shining For Brave SA Entrepreneurs
How do you manage risks and where do you find opportunities where the ‘sensible’ money fears to tread?
We’re planning to open two new apartment hotels each year, which is a pretty aggressive growth strategy in an environment where land expropriation without compensation is the hot topic of the moment, and investors are looking beyond our borders for growth opportunities.
However, I believe that smart entrepreneurs find opportunity in every financial climate, no matter how dire it may seem on the surface. For example, current investor caution means that those who are willing to take calculated risks face less competition – now and in the long term.
In our sector, international hotel groups are slowing or even halting any investment in improving existing properties or developing new ones. For us, that means our competition is thinning, and that there are more opportunities for us to build on prime sites for which we would have had stiff, if not insurmountable, competition in the past.
How do you manage risks and where do you find opportunities where the ‘sensible’ money fears to tread?
- If an issue seems to be an obstacle, do your research to understand all the implications. In the property business, we’re finding out how to structure our new builds and acquisitions so that they’re unlikely targets for any potential expropriation, including focusing on transformation, job creation, and promoting tourism – all elements of the National Development Plan.
- Find ways to make your investment opportunities appealing. For example, Section 12J of the Income Tax Act offers scope to create investment options that reduce tax liability and offer alternative sources of return.
- One of South Africa’s biggest challenges is a shortage of skills. We’re changing that by investing in our people, giving them access to training and career growth opportunities, and teaching them how to be entrepreneurs. We believe that these skills will either help our business grow, or they’ll give the individuals the courage they need to launch their own businesses – yet another great outcome for the country.
- While South Africa is developed in many ways, it still has many characteristics of an emerging market. This means that there are still many opportunities for brave entrepreneurs here, equipped with the ‘can-do’ attitude for which we are famous, that wouldn’t likely be available in more developed markets.
- Even though countries like Nigeria and Kenya are gateways to their regions, South Africa remains a gateway to SADEC countries and markets beyond. Adapting your products or services to appeal to those travelling through South Africa is a way of growing your client base too. For example, we have found that our apartment hotels in the Sandton district are particularly popular with visitors from the continent who come to the city to shop – but who don’t like local food. They choose our hotels because they can prepare their own favourites in our apartments’ fully equipped kitchens – clear example of how adapting to meet the needs of a potentially ‘lost’ opportunity can carve a niche for your business.
- Work harder than your competitors to convince bankers and shareholders that you’ve done everything possible – and then some – to manage risk. If you can tell a compelling story supported by solid facts, investors are likely to make decisions more quickly, giving you the edge over your competitors.
Ours is truly a homegrown business, with long term plans to continue our growth throughout South Africa. Current risks have certainly made us sharpen our proverbial pencils but using these risks to identify opportunities and research them into reality has seen us stand out from our competitors.
Any business that takes the time to interrogate challenges properly will find opportunities where others flee in uninformed fear. Do your homework and you’ll agree with me: South Africa really is one of the best places in the world to build a new business.
Saving Time When You Need It Most
With the right tools in place, thanks to TomTom Telematics, the company’s Emergency medical technicians can reach the scene faster — and as a result, they can concentrate on what they do best, saving lives.
No two industries are alike. Each sector faces its own unique challenges, and businesses within those sectors have specific KPIs they need to deliver on. For businesses in the emergency medical services sector, time is of the essence. Seconds can mean the difference between life and death.
For a company like Redicure EMS, how quickly an ambulance can reach the scene of a medical emergency is at the very heart of its value proposition.
“Every day we have another chance to save a life,” says Rosert Manamela, an emergency care practitioner at Redicure. “But to do that, we need to be able to get to the scene on time.”
Racing the clock
Redicure has a strict policy that all ambulance drivers stick to the rules of the road at all times. “We have lights and sirens, but we still need to be safe. You can’t assume everyone else sharing the road with you has heard or seen you.”
The company’s entire fleet utilises TomTom Telematics devices for this reason. “We’re able to receive up-to-date information on traffic within the area as well as alternative routes. When you’re racing against the clock you don’t have time to consider your different options — you need an immediate plan of action that will get you where you need to be.”
Thanks to this platform, which links each vehicle on the road with Redicure’s control centre, the EMS provider’s promise to all of its clients is that an ambulance will be on the scene within 15 minutes. Because vehicles are tracked, the trained emergency care practitioners — who are both monitoring the vehicles and in contact with the client who requires emergency services — can keep everyone informed from the control centre.
Pushing the boundaries of innovation
After two years operating in the medical emergencies sector, and based on their relationship with TomTom Telematics, the team at Redicure began to evaluate what else they could do to support the safety and wellbeing of South Africans facing a medical emergency.
“WEBFLEET is open API, which means it can integrate with any other applications you have,” explains Rosert. “We understood the value TomTom Telematics had brought to our business by enabling us to get to emergencies as quickly as possible, and so we started thinking about what else we could do with this technology.”
The answer was instant access to Redicure in the case of an emergency. “Once you solve the problem of how quickly an ambulance can reach you, the next challenge is how quickly you can get hold of an ambulance. We approached this problem with an understanding that in an emergency people don’t always have all the information they need on hand — who should they call, can they get through, and how quickly can the control centre gather all the information they need to be able to dispatch an ambulance? All of this wastes precious time.”
In response to this clear need, Redicure has piloted the Redicure app with Tshwane University of Technology across its six campuses. Each student has been encouraged to download the app. In the case of an emergency, one push of a button immediately sends a signal to Redicure’s control centre, complete with who needs medical assistance, all of their contact details, and most importantly, their location.
Through TomTom Telematics’ WEBFLEET solution, an alert is then sent out from the control room to the closest ambulance in the area, and the client is contacted with up-to-date expected arrival times.
“We’re changing the face of medical emergency response times, thanks to technology that enables us to get to the scene of a medical emergency more quickly and efficiently,” says Rosert.
“We’re also fine-tuning what we do on a daily basis, thanks to the information available through WEBFLEET. With TomTom, we’re not only working with collaborators who understand our business, but support the development and growth of our services and products, allowing us to push the limits of what’s possible in our industry.”
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