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6 Threats to Business in 2013

Risks aren’t always immediate to your business, sometimes macro-factors can impact you in ways you hadn’t considered.

Alison Job

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The last days predicted by modern-day Mayans failed to arrive on schedule. “In fact, the risks we all face as we go into 2013 are much more complex, and thus much more difficult to counter,” says Michael Davies, CEO of ContinuitySA.

“It is almost impossible to consider individual risks without taking the overall risk into consideration,” Davies observes. “Globalisation and the profound connectedness between individuals, companies and countries promoted by technology means that risk, too, must be seen broadly.”

Davies and members of his executive team have identified six business risks for 2013.

1. Social malfunction grows. Across the world, it is increasingly clear that established certainties and beliefs about how the world is structured are becoming fluid. There is an overall loss of faith in society’s institutions and their ability to deliver a just world order.

In South Africa, persistent dissatisfaction with service delivery has exploded into widespread and violent protests against the very nature of the system. The miners’ revolt in Marikana has been a watershed event, as it bypassed both the settlements negotiated by the miners’ own representatives and the normal processes of democracy. Democratic process, it seems, is either profoundly misunderstood or mistrusted.

This impatience with society’s existing institutions and processes appears to be spreading and there are worrying signs that even the middle class, on whose shoulders society’s prosperity and stability ultimately depend, are also losing faith in basic concepts.

The extreme passions roused by the ongoing e-toll saga in Gauteng is an obvious example of this trend. For the middle classes, this type of feeling generally translates into a reluctance to pay tax, an action that can fatally undermine the state itself.

2. Global economic and financial volatility. It appears that the 2008 financial crisis is both more far-reaching and profound than first expected. Markets and economies seem unable to regain an even keel, and many commentators are seeing this volatility as “the new normal”. The flipside is an increasing regulatory burden as governments and other institutions attempt to rein in uncontrolled capitalism and protect investors.

For South African businesses, important associated risks are the volatility of commodity prices, greater competition internally and in export markets, and an unstable currency.

3. Environmental risk. If volatility is the new economic normal, then there is every indication that climatic volatility is also becoming a feature of life. For South Africa, climate fluctuations may be expected to increase the risk of water and even food shortages.

Thus far, global and national environmental initiatives are gaining traction too slowly, and seem likely to add to the cost of doing business in the short term—giving rise to a classic case of how to balance short- and long-term risk.

4. Infrastructural risk. A common African business risk is inadequate and poorly maintained infrastructure. Water and power are the two obvious risks that threaten business, but the road and rail networks also present challenges.

Government efforts to address these problems are affected by the principle of interconnectedness: opposition to e-tolling, one feels, is more influenced by wider dissatisfactions rather than the principle of “user pays”.

Many South African businesses are taking extraordinary measures to mitigate infrastructural risks by assuming responsibility for all or some of the infrastructure needed for their projects. Property developers, for example, are often providing roads and sewerage, and factories some of their own energy—and think of corporate involvement in points people to ameliorate the effects of faulty traffic lights and schemes to fill in potholes.

5. Data risk. Data is becoming more important as a way for companies to assess risk and compete more effectively—this is the phenomenon of Big Data. It’s probably true to say that most companies are still coming to terms with the concept and, more importantly, how to use data effectively.

Nonetheless, data privacy regulations have already sprung up to protect personal data, creating a set of risks relating to data security. One is the growing menace of cybercrime. Another is the whole question of data sovereignty—as companies try to safeguard their data while reducing costs, they may opt for the security of cloud solutions.

However, when those data centres are located and/or owned offshore, it becomes difficult to be sure of data security and accountability for lapses.

An associated risk is the peaking trend of IT consumerisation, so-called BYOD (bring your own device—the use of private mobile devices to access corporate data). BYOD offers both advantages and disadvantages: boards and their CIOs need to think carefully about how to protect their data against potential threats—and how to use the available technology wisely to obtain a competitive advantage.

6. Business continuity remains misunderstood. Risk management has definitely become integrated into the corporate agenda, and is maturing. This may be seen by the replacement of the existing BS25999 standard by ISO22301.

The BS25999 standard set the standard for business continuity management, but the new ISO223301 standard is much more detailed in its requirements, and requires much more documentation of the processes followed. It also requires committed board-level leadership, thus effectively putting risk management into the spotlight.

However, in practical terms, the broader concept of business continuity management is becoming absorbed into the IT budget, with a concurrent diminishing of focus on operational matters. At the same time, budgets in general are under pressure.

“Ironically, then, the biggest overall risk has become corporate myopia about the true nature of risk—and this at a time when risk has become much more integrated into corporate strategy. Boards must resist seeing risk in terms of technology alone. Business continuity is a much more useful concept, one that takes into account the interconnectedness of risk today. When considering risk, business leaders need to take a broad view of organisational resilience before honing in on their particular company’s situation,” Davies concludes. “Risk is now systemic, and so the approach to risk must also be systemic and have operational relevance to the organisation.”

Alison Job holds a BA English, Communications and has extensive experience in writing that spans news broadcasting, public relations and corporate and consumer publishing. Find her at Google+.

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Bonang Matheba Announced As 2018 AWIEF Awards MC

AWIEF has announced multi –award winning radio host, TV presenter and style icon, Bonang Matheba as the 2018 AWIEF Awards MC and host.

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Bonang Matheba, affectionately referred to by fans as Queen B, has firmly positioned herself as Africa’s most sought after entertainment personality and SA’s number one social media darling.

With just three weeks from recognising, honouring and celebrating women entrepreneurs and business-owners in Africa for their innovation, excellence and contribution towards economic growth and social development, AWIEF has also announced songstress, BUCIE as the music entertainer for the night.

40 Finalists out of more than 1350 nominations were revealed for the AWIEF Awards last month. Winners will be announced at The Westin Hotel in a five-star gala dinner on 9th November 2018.

Tickets to the awards evening are selling fast. To secure your seat, please click here.

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Things Schools Need To Stop Doing To Grow Entrepreneurs

Here are 8 things that would make a significant impact on generating enterprising behaviour.

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It is no secret that the current structure of the education system was designed in an entirely different age to achieve economic outcomes that are no longer viable due, in large, to the rapid innovation and adoption of technology.

But if we are to hope to help President Ramaphosa implement his vision for entrepreneurship as stated in the SONA 2018 address as, “The establishment through the CEOs Initiative of a small business fund – which currently stands at R1.5-billion – is an outstanding example of the role that the private sector can play. Government is finalising a small business and innovation fund targeted at start-ups,” we need to change how and what schools are teaching for this to be realised on a large scale.

Here are 8 things that would make a significant impact on generating enterprising behaviour:

1. Stop teaching kids using one or two teaching methods

Typically, teachers have defaulted to talking, reading and some visual aids to impact knowledge to learners and those children that don’t learn using these primary methods are at a disadvantaged and are often labelled as challenged. There are at least 6 different ways in which people learn, and entrepreneurs often fall into the lesser known ones. By blending methodologies that include interpersonal, kinaesthetic and intrapersonal with the more traditional ones, entrepreneurs will learn more effectively.

2. Stop Rewarding Conformity

Maybe it comes from a fear of anarchy or lawlessness, but the stringent rules that exist in schools punish children for exhibiting individualism and reward children for staying in line. Quite literally. This unwavering adherence to the rules without question, breeds thinkers of the same calibre and releases into the world children that cannot function without set structures that they must conform to when they actually need to be creatively problem solving in order to make a mark for themselves.

Related: Spark Schools: Adapting At The Speed Of Scale

3. Stop Measuring Memory

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How well a child can retain the dates, figures, theories or equations does not indicate the measure of a child’s intelligence. It only indicates how well their memory works and how adept the learner is at recalling what they have read or been taught. Remembering, according to Bloom’s Taxonomy, is a lower order thinking skill. Instead, let’s measure critical thinking, interrogation of ideas, application of thinking across contexts.

4. Stop Being a Teacher

When the world relied on a central person as the curator of knowledge, the world needed teachers. They were idolised and hailed as a custodian of growth and development due to the fact that they knew more about their subject than anyone else in society.

Today, the internet is the purveyor of information, a teacher if you will, and children no longer need to be taught the information but what to do with it. So long as children can read, the job of person at the front of the class is to educate not to teach.

5. Stop Running a Factory

From the uniforms to the desks to the bell that signals the start and end of lessons and the allotted amount of time dedicated to eating and going to the bathroom, schools are churning out citizens primed for factory work. The production line mentality has been conditioned into our children so much so that with the entry of technological automation and the removal of the human element in these mundane, routine tasks, we make them immediately redundant to the world.

6. Stop Labelling Every Disruptive Child as ADHD/ADD

As an educator myself and now an entrepreneur, I recognise the exhausting and relentless burden that our school-based teachers bare. They are weighed down with administration and parental expectations all whilst trying to navigate an education system that is increasingly deficient. Any child that does not learn in the usual manners and requires more attention or additional stimulation by non-traditional teaching methods.

If, as a country, we are dedicated to changing the current economic outlook not just for ourselves but for those that will inherit this legacy then the systems that shape our thinking must be changed too. Entrepreneurial thinking and action is discouraged and punished in our current education system and only once children leave behind the 12 years spent at school can they begin to unlearn this way of mental conditioning and become active citizens.

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Chivas Venture Calling On South African Start-ups To Win A Share Of $1 million

South African applications for the Chivas Venture 2019 Now Open!

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Today Chivas Regal announced the launch of the Chivas Venture 2019 – a global competition that gives away $1 million in no-strings funding every year to the hottest social start-ups from around the world.

The Chivas Venture provides a global platform for innovative enterprises that are using business to solve an array of social and environmental issues – and today marks the opening of the South African applications. 

Since the competition’s launch in 2014, Chivas Venture-supported enterprises have enriched the lives of more than 1 million people in over 40 countries, across six continents.

Just as Chivas blends together whiskies to create award-winning Scotch, the Chivas Venture champions entrepreneurs who blend profit and purpose. Chivas’ belief in blending ambition with generosity, and in using success to enrich the lives of others, was instilled in the 19th century by founding brothers James and John Chivas. Today that philosophy is kept alive not only through award-winning Scotch, but also through initiatives including the Chivas Venture.

Richard Black, Global Marketing Director for Chivas, said:

“At Chivas we believe that blended is better – in life, business and Scotch – and the 100 finalists we have supported to date have proved this, finding the right blend of profit and purpose in their ventures. Since taking part, finalists have reported saving 8 million trees from deforestation, providing 24 million litres of safe drinking water to those in need, and funding 75,000 days of education for women and girls – and that’s just a few examples. The Chivas Venture is continuing to have a global impact and we are proud to be investing another $1 million for 2019.”   

Related: Venture Capital 101: The Ultimate Guide To The Term Sheet

Applicants in each participating country will compete in local heats, with the South African winner flying to the United Kingdom to take part in an exclusive Accelerator Programme. Hosted by The Conduit – a new London establishment that serves as a home for a diverse community of people who are passionate about social change – the intensive training programme will give the global finalists the chance to hone their business and pitching skills.  

Following the Accelerator Programme, the allocation of the first $100,000 of the fund will be put into the hands of the public with three weeks of online voting. The Chivas Venture 2019 will then culminate in a series of high-stake pitches at the Global Final in Europe, where the finalists will battle it out for the remainder of the $1 million fund.

Radley Connor, Marketing Manager for Chivas Regal SA says, “The Chivas Venture is an amazing platform for South African social entrepreneurs to attract investment and gain global exposure. The competition rewards and celebrates individuals whose purpose is to make a positive difference to society. If you have a great idea, that meets the requirements, we encourage you to enter.”

In 2017, innovative South African water company I-Drop water placed third in the global finals, walking away with close to R1 million in funding. Since winning, founder James Steere has received interest from investors globally.

Clement Mokoenene is the 2018 South African winner and the creator of the Vehicle Harvest Energy System (VEHS). His business is able to generate electricity at a much lower, affordable cost than coal-fired power stations which South Africa currently relies on. The system works by installing an overlay on the existing road to extract the pressure and transferring it to the side of the road, similar to a wind turbine. Mokoenene says a 1km highway stretch could generate enough energy to supply the entire South Africa.

To apply for the Chivas Venture 2019 and find out more about why blending profit and purpose is better, visit the Chivas Venture website.

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