Currently SME Business Owners are looking for a glimmer of hope. Inspiration from the South African Political and Economic environment. As they chart a new business growth path to scale up their businesses.

Coming off the back of a tough 2017 and a flat first half of 2018, life at the helm is not easy.

Just as business owners believed that the Ramaphoria experienced in 2018 was going to give us a breather. Other factors have raised the uncertainty and dampened the hope for a quick turnaround.

With an economic growth forecast of around 1,1% for the South African economy in 2018, small business success becomes a mammoth task.

However, business owners know that every challenge presents an opportunity. With SME development being a key focus for government and corporate agendas. Some of this spending might just come their way.

So, what could business owners do to chart a new path of growth?

Here are my thoughts from working with clients and business owners:

1)  The digital market is growing

Digital marketing should be part of your overall marketing strategy.

If your customers are there, you should be and remember the importance of being very specific about your value proposition.

Having a clear USP (Unique Selling Proposition) and website that works, as well as a clear definiteness of purpose, will help you stand out. You need to clearly understand who your target market is.

Build your brand consistently and ensure that your marketing investment has a positive ROI. Test and measure everything and get to understand what Google+, AdWords, Facebook and LinkedIn can do for you.

Develop a marketing plan with a reputable marketing company and meet monthly to discuss results and change what’s not working.

2)  Expect the minimum help from our economy

With South Africa’s economic growth rate forecast to reach 1,1% in 2018, business owners and SME’s will have to do the hard yards to carve out and engineer a new and innovative way to grow their businesses.

The focus should thus be on differentiating your business, your products or your services through marketing and innovation where possible.

Most SME’s market share, when compared to the total South African market is relatively small. This means that there are real opportunities for growth, even though the economy might be sluggish.

In discussion with the local owner of an international real estate franchise, it was said that the difference between a successful real estate agent and an unsuccessful one is only related to mindset.

To be victorious you need to be accountable and take ownership of your business results. Being the victim and blaming everybody else is not going to cut it. Believe in yourself, believe in your team and believe in a win-win solution for your customers.

3)  Manage your cashflow

Easier said than done but avoid giving large amounts of credit just to grow turnover.

Where possible work on COD terms, but whatever you do manage your debtors. Having a 6 to 8 week rolling cashflow forecast as part of your financial reporting is a must. You cannot make the correct management decisions without it.

If possible extend your creditor terms and use your overdraft wisely. It’s important to be an astute money manager when running a business and ensure that you’ve set clear policies for your staff and customers when collecting your accounts receivable.

Don’t discount just to get the work!

Most business owners discount before they learn to count! You must understand your costs and ensure that you are still making a profit before you give away the money that you don’t have.

Avoid the race to the bottom!

Market research continues to show that consumers aren’t only focused on price despite the tough economic conditions.

Offering excellent service, builds trust and loyalty with customers and keeps them coming back. Combine this with great quality, accessible products and inspirational services, you will have an edge over your competitors who offer similar products and services.

Bringing it all together. – Brainstorm to find your catalytic question.

Yes, what is the one question that will change your business forever?

We are so used to brainstorming issues and finding solutions to challenges in business that when faced with a really tough situation, we struggle to come up with answers that will take us to a blue ocean strategy.

A catalytic question is one that, by the way, it is framed or worded, initiates and increases the rate of change in a business to address a specific business challenge and that precipitates an event.

The process simply allows one to concentrate on a problem—no matter how big or small – and examine alternative vantage points so you can arrive at a new and innovative solution.

So, what are the things you should be doing to Chart Your New Business Growth Path? Are you struggling to get a clear picture? Do you need a sounding board?

Having an experienced business coach in your corner might just be another way to help you focus and create an inspirational business growth path for your future success. As a business coach and business owner I have worked with hundreds of business owners and helped them get new insights into their specific challenges.

Should you want to talk or book a 1-hour complimentary session with me or one of our coaches, feel free to contact me at or visit our website at ‘

Yours in great business,

Coach Bert

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