From the desk of the Chairperson | 11 June

Greetings to all  our Chamber Members

It is with concern and trepidation for the small business owner in South Africa, that I put ink to paper (excuse me I am still a little old-school), it should probably read, typing words onto screen……….following the latest figures issued by Statistics South Africa.  An excerpt from their findings follow:

“South Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP) declined by 3.2% in the first quarter of 2019, the largest quarterly drop in GDP in 10 years, with economists blaming Eskom’s load-shedding for the contraction.

Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) released the country’s economic output on Tuesday with the main contributors to the collapse being manufacturing (-8.8%), mining (-10.8%) and agriculture (-13.2%).”

Quite scary stuff in my opinion, and I was thinking about what personal skills we need to develop as small business owners, in order to weather the constant economic storms that face us?

The business environment in South Africa is highly unstable and challenging, and many SMMEs operate in a hostile rather than a benign environment. The pursuit of entrepreneurship often comes with high stress, multiple obstacles, and high levels of uncertainty regarding outcomes.  Entrepreneurs have to continually keep up with changing contingencies by adjusting their goals and strategies. Entrepreneurial resilience, which can be described as the ability to withstand and quickly overcome adversity, is an important personal characteristic in the pursuit of entrepreneurship. Resilience may be one of the drivers of entrepreneurial success.


Firstly what is Resilience?

Resilience (or resiliency) is our ability to adapt and bounce back when things don’t go as planned. Resilient people don’t wallow or dwell on failures; they acknowledge the situation, learn from their mistakes, and then move forward.

According to the research by leading psychologist, Susan Kobasa, there are three elements that are essential to resilience:

  1. Challenge – Resilient people view a difficulty as a challenge, not as a paralyzing event. They look at their failures and mistakes as lessons to be learned from, and as opportunities for growth. They don’t view them as a negative reflection on their abilities or self-worth.
  2. Commitment – Resilient people are committed to their lives and their goals, and they have a compelling reason to get out of bed in the morning. Commitment isn’t just restricted to their work – they commit to their relationships, their friendships, the causes they care about, and their religious or spiritual beliefs.
  3. Personal Control – Resilient people spend their time and energy focusing on situations and events that they have control over. Because they put their efforts where they can have the most impact, they feel empowered and confident. Those who spend time worrying about uncontrollable events can often feel lost, helpless, and powerless to take action.

The good news is that even if you’re not a naturally resilient person, you can learn to develop a resilient mindset and attitude. To do so, incorporate the following into your daily life:

  • Get enough sleep  and exercise, and learn to manage stress. When you take care of your mind and body, you’re better able to cope effectively with challenges in your life.
  • Practice thought awareness . Resilient people don’t let negative thoughts derail their efforts. Instead, they consistently practice positive thinking. Also, “listen” to how you talk to yourself when something goes wrong – if you find yourself making statements that are permanent, pervasive or personalized, correct these thoughts in your mind.
  • Practice Cognitive Restructuring  to change the way that you think about negative situations and bad events.
  • Learn from your mistakes and failures. Every mistake has the power to teach you something important; so don’t stop searching until you’ve found the lesson in every situation. Also, make sure that you understand the idea of “post-traumatic growth” – there can be real truth in the saying that “if it doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger.”
  • Choose your response. Remember, we all experience bad days and we all go through our share of crises. But we have a choice in how we respond; we can choose to react negatively or in a panic, or we can choose to remain calm and logical to find a solution. Your reaction is always up to you.
  • Maintain perspective. Resilient people understand that, although a situation or crisis may seem overwhelming in the moment, it may not make that much of an impact over the long-term. Try to avoid blowing events out of proportion.
  • If you don’t already, learn to set SMART, effective personal goals  – it’s incredibly important to set and achieve goals that match your values , and to learn from your experiences.
  • Build your self confidence . Remember, resilient people are confident that they’re going to succeed eventually, despite the setbacks or stresses that they might be facing. This belief in themselves also enables them to take risks: when you develop confidence and a strong sense of self, you have the strength to keep moving forward, and to take the risks you need to get ahead.
  • Develop strong relationships  with your colleagues. People who have strong connections at work are more resistant to stress, and they’re happier in their role. This also goes for your personal life: the more real friendships you develop, the more resilient you’re going to be, because you have a strong support network to fall back on. (Remember that treating people with compassion and empathy  is very important here.)
  • Focus on being flexible. Resilient people understand that things change, and that carefully-made plans may, occasionally, need to be amended or scrapped.

Some food for thought folks……………………I would like to conclude with one of my favorite quotations.  “Blessed are the flexible, for they will never be bent out of shape.”……………………..until next time…………….

iBhayi Small Business Chamber