Virus-Proof Your Small Business

Men's Health South Africa|July 2020

Virus-Proof Your Small Business
Whether you’re a fine-dining restaurant or a hipster t-shirt company, lockdown has put the squeeze on every small business across South Africa. We’ve turned to Douglas Kruger, the author of virus-proof your small business, for expert advice to help you stay afloat when everything else is in the sink.
Kelleigh Korevaar

1 See the Swamp

No, this isn’t going to be a Shrek metaphor (although, we’re not saying he wasn’t a savvy business… um… ogre). Douglas Kruger explains that while setbacks are inevitable and making the odd mistake might not be fatal, getting stuck and doing nothing will be. Elite fighting forces teach their teams that movement is life. Pre-program yourself with rescue mechanisms for when you stall, and you’ll be able to wade through the swamp and come out the other side.

Your Task: Tell yourself in advance that if you feel stuck, you will immediately get up and go for a walk around your garden, call a team meeting or do any other pre-planned swamp-busting activity designed to shake things up and keep people moving.

2 Be a Man with a Plan… B

“Outside of your business, who do you rely on to do what you do?” asks Kruger. And while cracking open a cold one at the end of a rough day might seem like the answer, that’s not what we’re talking about. In layman’s terms: who are your suppliers? With a May report by Heavy Chef finding that 3 out of 4 South African SMMEs won’t survive beyond this month, you need to have a plan B.

Your Task: Grab pen and paper – or shout across the room for ‘Siri’ to start taking notes – whatever works for you. “Imagine your primary suppliers go under. How will you source what you need or deliver what you create?

Is an alternative available to you? Or could you make or do it yourself? What might you need to plan or prepare today in order to make a seamless switch, should you be forced to do so?” asks Kruger.

3 Remove Yourself

Research has shown that third-person thinking can temporarily sharpen your decision-making skills. And now, University of Waterloo researchers have found that it brings long-term benefits to thinking, coping, and emotional regulation, too. Speaking in such hypotheticals helps, explains Kruger. It allows contributors to speculate more freely, and distancing yourself emotionally promotes bolder suggestions. Hey, there’s clearly a reason we throw around the Latin proverb “fortune favours the bold” so often.

Your Task: Transformational breakthrough coach Mickey Roothman advises you apply this to brainstorming by asking questions such as “What would be the best and worst things a team in our position might do?”; or “If I was advising a friend or family member on what to do in my situation, what would I tell them?”; or “If survival or money wasn’t the goal or objective but serving others through my business was, what would I do?”

4 Keep It Simple, Stupid

“I’ve seen some businesses jump into apps quickly and expect employees to follow suit. Some have a hard time adjusting, and some apps may suddenly fail with multiple users,” says Australian analyst Emma Jane Santa. Let’s be honest, no one wants to learn how to use three new apps because you saw a 10-second ad on YouTube. The key is to select a minimum viable tool; use what you have and not be tempted by fancy features on platforms like WebEx or Zoom. “I have a whiteboard in my office. It is 10 000 times quicker for me to sketch a process diagram on that than it is to painstakingly draw boxes with a wonky tool,” adds Santa.

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July 2020