The South African economy, and small businesses in particular have been dealt some hefty blows. With the COVID-19 pandemic still an ongoing stress, and even more recently the looting and destruction of property in two of our biggest provinces, thousands of brick and mortar based businesses have closed, lost vital stock and some even lost their buildings.

From jobs, to supply chains and production processes, the ecosystem of small businesses in South Africa has been severely disrupted. Small businesses are the lifeline of the country’s economy and are vital to creating and securing jobs. The SME sector alone accounts for around 98% of all business and employs between 50 and 60% of the country’s active workforce.

It’s clear SMEs need to grow and rebuild, but with so many factors at play it can be tough to know where to start. Whether your business had to close its doors for physical damage to be assessed, or because revenue has slowed down and you need to reconsider your business plan, here are a few tips to help you rebuild when the time comes.


Assess the damage

While it may still be fresh in your mind, it is important to assess how deeply your business has been affected. This is where good bookkeeping and stock taking practises come in handy. The data will allow you to assess your profits and losses over the last year, your current stock levels, and what vital resources are or are not available to you.

This goes all the way from goods in your store, to staff resources and physical sales. Take it all in to understand where your business is at, and you’ll have a much clearer idea of what needs to be done in order to rebuild.


Relook at your business plan

Once you’ve had a good look at where your strengths and weaknesses lie, the next step is to relook at your current business plan. You may be comfortable and confident in how it was working, but the world of commerce and consumer behaviour has changed so dramatically in the last two years that it might be time to adapt to those changes if you haven’t already.

If you previously only had a brick and mortar store, it is worthwhile considering an online only, or a mix of an online and offline business plan. Consumers today are far more comfortable navigating the online space, and it’s important for businesses to meet them where they search, browse and buy products and services. 

It’s also a more stable, reliable and safe way to operate in this climate and doesn’t cost the earth to set up. With the likes of DIY e-commerce website builders available, you can create a website that matches your offline brand in less than 24 hours. 


Consider funding options

Finances are most likely top of your mind, and rightly so. If you know your business will need to spend money, to make money but you’re lacking the capital, then consider your financing options. There are a number of small business funding options available to SMEs, from government funding to business loans. 

Remember to register your company to have these formal financing options available to you. If you aren’t registered, then it’s a worthwhile endeavour. 

Create a relaunch roadmap

Once you’ve assessed your situation and know where  you want to be, it’s time to create your relaunch roadmap. This plan will help you lay out your priorities, and how your rebuild will develop over the time period you’ve set out. 

Start off with your immediate goals, and then plot out what would naturally or need to come next. If your immediate goal is finance, for example, then your next goals could be hiring or re-hiring staff, starting up production and then launching your business website. No relaunch roadmap looks the same, and must be tailored to suit your specific business interests. 

Despite these uncertain times, by planning now, you are taking actionable steps towards rebuilding your business successfully and contributing towards SME growth in South Africa.