From the desk of the Chairman | August Newsletter

Dear Chamber Members

This year is honestly flying by, similar to looking forward to a roller coaster ride, the suspense mounts, and after a couple of exhilarating moments, all over ! Eish…………. I just love this word Eish……….a South African word derived from Xhosa, now used in all languages within South Africa and some neighboring countries. 

Eish….. is one of the reasons South Africa is so great, it can express anything from excitement to horror.
I will explain in the following examples:
1. Excited 
2. Horrified 
3. Angry 
4. Happy 
5. Shocked 
6. Accident

Given the state of the economy and the rapid change in the business environment, both 2018 and 2019 have been tough years for many SMEs.  Whilst browsing through the online media this week, issues such as the implementation of the new NHS system, the writing off of debts of certain income earners, some market players have suggested that a rating downgrade would be one of the main drivers for the rand to go weaker.  My only response right now is Eish!!!!

In is not all doom and gloom folks, let us examine some of the trends in the Small Business Sector in South Africa, giving us some hope in terms of our sustainability going forward……

Technology to lead the Customer Service Offering

“Companies are starting to make greater investment in delivering customer service through automated technology and chat apps.  In doing this, customers are given a more customised experience as they drive the interaction and ask the questions that bring them closer to what they want and need.”

During 2019 businesses will continue to lean increasingly on social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to bring customer service to the places where their customers gather.

The Desire for Sharing Economy Solutions Will Grow

2019 may also be the year to consider whether there are any processes in your business that you can ‘share’ via outsourcing to save money and free up time for other things.”

Artificial Intelligence Will Do More Than Just Automation

Predictions are that companies will continue to use artificial intelligence (AI) in wide-ranging applications. AI could find a home in just about any industry. “As an SME, are you positioned to start leveraging lower cost AI and machine learning in your company’s products or services?”

In a South African context, low cost AI, such as chat bots, might be the way many SMEs begin adopting AI into their businesses as opposed to broad scale AI integration.

There Will Be A Greater Focus on Wellness at Work

SMEs will need to focus more on how they promote wellbeing in the workplace. With SMEs so reliant on every employee performing at their best, entrepreneurs should look to combat the effect of their staff not coming to work due to stress, low-morale and mental illness by finding ways to better nurture their wellbeing.

Flexible working, whereby employees have a greater say over when and where they work, is an increasingly popular working arrangement in many small businesses.  

Employees want a better work-life balance, and SMEs will have to cater to these demands to retain and hire the best talent for their workforce

Implementation of Sustainable Practices Will Be Critical to Future Success

Small businesses will no longer be able to afford to neglect sustainability in 2019 and going forward.

Incorporating sustainability is good for business: studies have shown that companies that demonstrated business leadership on climate change made more profits than companies who did not. Millennials are especially more likely to buy from companies that promote green initiatives, as they see the actions of businesses as crucial to combating climate change and other global problems.

And on that note,  “EISH” it is cheers until next time.

PS:  Don’t forget to book for the Speed Networking Event next month………at Lion Roars. Click here to book

Chamber Greetings,