For entrepreneurs and those who have dreamed of starting their own business one day, right now is the best time to launch a small business, or a change of trajectory for existing small, micro or medium enterprises (SMMEs). The big businesses of the future are likely to be those that launched and carved their niche in these tumultuous times, supporting productivity through taking care of the health and wellness of the people driving their success.
“Entrepreneurship is a viable career option, and there is every indication that a boomtime is coming – especially for small start-ups and growing businesses with the right mindset to ride this wave of opportunity. Those who get in early will have the best prospects,” says Mike Anderson, founder and chief executive officer of the National Small Business Chamber (NSBC).
He points out that historically times of conflict and economic downturn are often followed by a period of flourishing business growth and prosperity. “As more and more people are vaccinated, there is a real sense that at last we are on the up again and confidence is returning globally. Small businesses have an advantage, as SMME’s fortunes are not dependant on economic indicators in the same way as larger corporates often are.
An environment ripe for opportunities
“With all the changes that have come about since the start of the pandemic, consumer needs and preferences have been shaken up considerably, creating an environment that is ripe with new opportunities for start-ups,” Anderson says.
“Smaller businesses and SMMEs are better placed to make a change in direction to align their services with these emerging needs, as they tend to be more agile. In many cases, the owners of the small business that did not survive the earlier stages of the pandemic are now coming back with a vengeance, sometimes with a completely different service offering.”
Particularly in the early stages of launching a new business, it is important to manage risks wherever possible, particularly those related to human capital. “The entrepreneur needs to take care of their health, and the wellness of their growing team at every stage of the business growth journey, because you need to make the most productive use of time possible,” Anderson says.
“The productive time of each member in a small team, from business owner to every employee, is your most profitable asset, and it grows in value with every bit of experience gained. The pandemic gives us the opportunity to rise to the occasion, and we need to do everything we can to build on this by protecting the health and wellbeing of the workforce.”
Build your core team
Bianca Viljoen, distribution director of Agility Corporate, adds that an integrated approach is needed to best manage human capital risks. “Entrepreneurs who want to make sure their businesses are viable for the long term need to build their core team with care, and ensure their productivity is supported throughout the business’s growth journey.
“If the business owner or their key people become incapacitated due to preventable causes, even for a few days, this can make a significant difference not only to the monthly balance sheet, but also many wellness problems only get worse the longer they remain untreated,” she says.
To address this problem, Agility Corporate proactively identifies and assists those who are at risk to better manage health conditions. This not only measurably reduces absenteeism and improves work performance by removing obstacles to productivity, but also meaningfully reduces the likelihood of the person suffering a serious health event, such as a stroke or heart attack.
With one point of contact, businesses of all sizes have access to a health and employee benefits solution that can be tailored to cover the needs of employees at every level within the business. This seamless and hassle-free service is tailormade to suit the needs and budget of the company as it grows, encompassing the integrated medical scheme, primary care, gap cover, group benefits and retirement fund Agility Corporate solution, which is complemented with cash back rewards for individuals.
“Efficiency is the lifeblood of SMMEs and this is best served when underpinned by an employee wellbeing programme that provides innovative technology and delivery integration across all employee benefits, as opposed to overlapping and piece-meal standalone services. This crucially differentiates our approach from traditional programmes to offer more value for businesses of all sizes, and the people who empower them,” Viljoen says.
“The future of any economy relies on entrepreneurs creating jobs, and in South Africa this is a crucial moment for ordinary people who have the drive to succeed to launch a business, and to register it correctly. Entrepreneurship is a viable career option, and even those who fail at first come back stronger,” Anderson says.
“Even if you do not have an idea for starting a business yet, take small steps and start thinking about what needs to be in place before you take flight. Now is the time to give it your best shot, don’t let fear hold you back or you may regret losing the opportunity.”