Creating resilient business in turbulent times

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Creating resilient business in turbulent times

By Linda Frolich, Head: Business Banking


A looming statistic keeps many entrepreneurs and SME owners up at night: 70% - 80% of small businesses in South Africa fail within five years. As with all statistics, this should be taken with a pinch of salt and perhaps a spoon full of sugar to help it go down.

But success is more than just statistics and South Africa is more than just a country steeped in politics and uncertain economic times. In fact some, of the most ground-breaking inventions and businesses came from South Africa.

A few things that South Africans brought to the world:

  • The Dolos – concrete blocks that protect structures that sit along the harbour
  • The Kreepy Krauly
  • The CAT scan
  • The heart transplant
  • The speed gun – a device used to measure the speed and angles of speeding objects
  • Economical solar power
  • Complex computerised ticketing system – created by Computicket 

Given that success is possible, what makes one person or business with a worthwhile idea succeed where others fail?

Unfortunately, there is no universal answer and every success story is different but there are some standards that can be seen across the board. One of these is resilience. Sasfin works with a number of successful SMEs who have succeeded far beyond their five year stumbling block. 

Personal resilience

Resilience is a term often referred to in psychology which is defined as a person’s ability to successfully adapt to life’s tasks while experiencing disadvantage or highly adverse conditions. This sounds like the bedrock of most business success stories.

There are several factors that are associated with personal resilience, including:

  1. Supportive relationships
  2. An ability to manage strong emotion
  3. Problem solving abilities
  4. Communication skills
  5. Positive view of the self and strengths
  6. An ability to make realistic plans and carry them out to fruition

Each of these factors could be used to describe a successful leader and the attributes of employees at a successful business. 

Business resilience through supportive relationships

Research suggests that the most powerful predictor of resilience through any circumstance is interpersonal relationships. But how does this translate into business? 

  1. Internal resilience

If you build a workplace of support you will build a workforce of resilience. Resilient employees understand that support is more beneficial in turbulent times than trying to work on their own. They are not afraid to ask for support, feedback and advice – this mentality leads to problem solving and a culture of us.  Resilient people are also happy to provide support to others, recognising the value of their colleagues.

Support means far more than mere niceties. All stakeholders may get along but do they share knowledge and expertise? Do they communicate before small matters become business failures?

Never before has communication been so easy but without a culture of communication and supportive relationships – knowledge may fall flat and with it the bottom line. But when business stakeholders can communicate and share group thought – they are more likely to care about and stop risks in turbulent times. 

  1. Sector resilience

Businesses cope better when they are equipped with knowledge – of their sector, their context and business in general. But knowledge can be pricey if only tapped into by hiring experts. SMEs, in particular, may not have budget for this but they can access this knowledge by gauging mentors and those experienced in their sector. Having experienced advisers can assist with access to networks that would otherwise have been closed off to them.

So how will your business become resilient?

Find a partner and create supportive relationships.

At Sasfin, we believe in sharing our business expertise with our clients. We started as a “mom-and-pop-shop” and are now listed on the JSE. This knowledge of managing turbulent times, finding ways to access capital and making strategic decisions is an exceptional resource and one we wish to share.

We make business easier with our business banking account that earns you interest, provides you with direct access to Xero accounting software and gives you access to our experts. We also offer forex, equipment finance and trade and debtor finance to support your business finance requirements. If business success is about relationships then we aim to make our expertise accessible.

Looking for a business partner? Open a Sasfin Business Account and get more than just bold claims.

Contact us on 080 23 23 23 6 or