Flying solo as a small business? Here’s how to avoid being overwhelmed – The Citizen
If you thought you fly solo as a small business, think again. You are not alone and the challenges of launching a small business are often best faced with the help of others.
Opening a small business in stable economic times is daunting. In uncertain times, even more so , yet South Africa is home to start-ups and entrepreneurs who are pursuing their dreams, participating in the country’s growing small business economy.
Contrary to predictions of a post-Covid economy without space for successful small businesses, many start-ups achieved success, with a number of them identifying new and innovative ways to deliver products and services that cater to the needs of a more fluid and dynamic approach to everyday life.
One of these start-ups is Clean Paws, a mobile pet grooming service based in Johannesburg, which has enjoyed significant success since its inception in August 2021, thanks to a savvy and agile growth approach, which allowed co-owners Trevlin plus Lauren Govindasamy to roll with the punches and overcome the challenges posed by soaring overheads and ever-changing consumer habits.
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This is how a small business often starts
“Clean Feet started as a passion project in the wake of Covid, as we encountered an increasing demand for home-based services due to more people working from home, coupled with a general reluctance to be in crowded spaces, ” says Lauren, who managed to take the business from strength to strength despite a myriad of problems that might have derailed a less determined entrepreneur.
“It has been one of my life’s greatest learning experiences. We had to adapt to survive. For example , we equipped our mobile grooming units with generators and water tanks to avoid service disruptions and calibrate our pricing in line with increased overheads linked to fuel and electricity. We are learning and growing as we go. ”
Risk management was not necessarily factored in for Govindasamy, and she and her husband had to learn the hard way when it came to finding an insurance solution that met their needs.
“Coming from a corporate background, we could make adequate provisions from a financial perspective, but we did not really understand the potential risk factors until we had to face them head on. ”
For instance, they did not foresee the possibility of suppliers being scratched or bitten by pets and, therefore , had to pay out of their own pockets as they did not have adequate business insurance in place.
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Assessing the risks
“This is one of the aspects that often undermines potentially successful enterprises, ” says Jason Mellow, MiWay’s head of business insurance.
“While South Africa is full of entrepreneurially minded individuals with great ideas and insight, these business owners are often simply not equipped to assess the risks their operations might face in the short and long-term. ”
Businesses can run into trouble if they do not have an insurance policy tailored to their individual needs, which is why it is crucial that they consult with a broker or even insurer to better understand their needs and reduce the possibility of unexpected financial losses that could prove crippling, he says.
Stories like Lauren and Trevlin’s serve to highlight the importance of support and mentorship in the small company community. While many entrepreneurs tend to focus primarily on the financial feasibility of their start-ups, they are not necessarily able to see the big picture in a way that others with years of experience in the industry might be able to.
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A strong support network is critical
“To truly succeed in business, it is absolutely critical to develop a strong support network, ” explains Mellow.
“Entrepreneurs can use various avenues, such as social media groups and company networking events to foster connections in the industry, which could show critical to their success. Collaboration is incredibly important for start-ups and SMEs, and the most successful ones are typically those who are not afraid to ask for help and advice. ”
Mellow says the journey of an entrepreneur will be by no means an easy one, but business owners like Lauren plus Trevlin are living proof that where there is a will, there is a way.
“It is encouraging to see a new generation associated with entrepreneurs emerging, undeterred by the challenges of the current economic environment. Stories like these serve to further highlight the agility and ingenuity of South Africans, who always managed to find a way to overcome obstacles simply by working together and supporting one another. ”