The Covid-19 pandemic has inexorably changed how businesses are run. In the second of a four-part Standard Bank SME Summit, in partnership with Business Day, author, business growth expert and CEO of Aurik, Pavlo Phitidis focused on how to reset businesses to be relevant and sustainable in the context of an ever-changing business and social landscape. Phitidis offered fresh concepts that could be readily applied to recalibrate businesses for survival and growth.

According to Phitidis, resetting a business is all about reimagining some or all of the business. While this is hard to do in a crisis amidst falling revenues, slower client responses and poor business confidence, Phitidis emphasised that mindset was critical, to stay course in this process.

“Recognising the many problems you face as puzzles –– rather than problems, will help you begin the process of simplifying your business and your understanding of it,” he said.

“A simple business is easier to lead, manage and run than a complicated business”, he pointed out. It’s scalable and helps you see what matters and what doesn’t so that you can focus your limited resources, time and money on what counts.

Mapaseka Mokwele, a relationship, life and executive coach at Bashumi Fixers discussed techniques on how to communicate directly with customers. She said it is important to understand your business’s competitive advantage, what differentiates the business and the potential of your target market.

“Don’t try to be everything to everybody”, said Phitidis. He agreed that it’s important that the business understand who it serves as its customers and clients – and what matters to them. Winning companies go further than finding the right product and price and have found their growth in the circumstances of the segment they’ve opted to serve. “This means they see their businesses as expert in understanding the customer problem they solve and how to create a great experience in getting it solved,” he said, adding that this requires switching from a transaction-based conversation to a relationship-based conversation.

A crisis is like a storm for any business. Covid-19 has proven to be the most severe storm, affecting all businesses. A former naval officer and currently the executive director of Anchora Enterprises, Keith Govender explained that prior to the Covid-19 pandemic his company which services the maritime industry, was doing a great deal of work outside of SA. Lockdowns around the world changed all that. Critical to getting through this period was to remain relevant. As such as the company started to apply for tenders locally and to engage more with local companies. The company has recently secured international funding to construct a ship building facility in Saldana Bay which will ultimately result in more than 1000 jobs. No business exists in isolation and there are benefits to mobilising the community.

Trinity Mohlamme, director of The Media Connection, a community radio platform, pointed out that that key to surviving a crisis is adaptation and determination and the ability to see change as an opportunity and a challenge rather than a threat. He said listening to team members and using their insights regarding how the business could diversify and navigate through the Covid crisis was critical.

Bruce Turner, founder and CEO of The Bespoke Amenities Company discussed how he pivoted his business during the Covid pandemic to provide hand sanitisers – but stuck to his core competency and capability – as a short-term fix to falling business revenue. Honest and frank communications with employees was critical during this period. The company has started developing a climate friendly solid shampoo bar which is rapidly gaining traction both locally and internationally.

Concluding the discussion, Phitidis told business owners that they are the captions of their own ships. As such, they need to adopt the sailing mantra of ‘hold fast’ and ‘stay true’ to get through the storm. “Resetting your business will put you well ahead of your competitors,” he assured.

To re-watch this discussion, click here

The next Standard Bank SME Summit in partnership with Business Day online discussion will take place on the 21st of July and will focus on rebuilding your business.