SME’s across South Africa are counting the costs of the pandemic and its devastating impact on business. The fact is, according to a McKinsey study: How South African SMEs can survive and thrive post COVID-19, SMEs represent more than 98% of businesses, employ between 50-60% of the country’s workforce across all sectors, and are responsible for a quarter of job growth in the private sector1.
In addition, the same study says that ‘business confidence has fallen too’. In a flash survey, conducted in April 2020, just over a third of businesses surveyed expressed that they are pessimistic about the economy and economic outlook and more than 30% indicated that they expected revenues to fall by between 5 and 50% over the next six to 12 months leading to negative profits in excess of -5%. The consequences of COVID-19 on the economy are undeniably severe. Business owners are therefore experiencing an unprecedented level of anxiety. Conversely, according to a recent study, 56% of directors at enterprise businesses say lockdown has been their most innovative time at the company3.
The COVID-19 pandemic has provided an unexpected opportunity for business owners to assess what does and doesn’t work, what they can do better, and what needs to be improved. For many, this is their relationship with technology. Online business productivity platforms such as BuzzApex are making the case for using the internet as a powerful tool to communicate, conduct business and even reach customers in novel ways. This echoes the research that says that 96% of enterprise businesses and 90% of SMEs say lockdown has increased the priority of digital transformation3.
“Now is the time for a change. While choosing to opt for an online platform for the day-to-day running of your business may seem like a daunting task in the short-term, it will pay dividends in the long-term by enabling you to compete in an evolving marketplace. The opportunity to offer a free-to-access online platform to SME’s is inspiring at a time when businesses need it most. BuzzApex provides an essential tool that proves compliance, tracks assets, promotes sales, and market expansion. It levels the playing field between small and large businesses, “ says Ivan Radmore, CEO of BuzzApex.
For many companies, remote working has become a reality, one that comes with additional costs. This includes the cost of data provided to staff. There is no getting away from the fact that the cost of mobile data can put business owners off the idea of having staff off-site. The high cost of data to be supplied to individual employees is often cited as problematic.2 In South Africa, unless you buy mobile data in large bundles, such as 60GB or 80GB, then cost per megabyte becomes expensive. This can of course be perceived as a barrier to entry to business owners who want to pursue an online model.
However, as Radmore indicates, in the short term this could be seen as a negative but the cost per square meter of an employee onsite vastly negates this cost. Additionally, when you can use on online platform to identify potential customers, without the direct need for a sales force, the costs are lowered even more. BuzzApex’s catalogues provide excellent marketing tools, geographically based but at a lower cost to the consumer to access because there are no images. Technology is a tool that must be harnessed. At a time when most businesses are trying to survive within the parameters of their current thinking, technology provides an opportunity that goes outside the box, and ticks it.
“Ultimately, now is not the time to sit back and wait until the problems pass. It is the time to take action, reconsider your strategy and battle for survival with an effective online strategy,” concludes Radmore.
Ivan Radmore , CEO of BuzzApex