THE biggest challenge facing entrepreneurs was how to build a business that would thrive in a future that looked very different to anything that could have been previously imagined, according to Mike Stopforth, a director of business and leadership transformation consultancy Beyond Binary.
He said running a business in the current challenging economic environment required a profound level of skill and was difficult under normal circumstances. This was compounded by the rapid acceleration of digitisation and the complex working environment created by the onset of the pandemic, and the number of variables that business leaders needed to consider having increased.
Stopforth was a guest speaker in PSG’s most recent Think Big Series webinar held this week relaying his insights on the skills and strategies that business leaders required to navigate the age of digital disruption. The serial entrepreneur said other entrepreneurs should get back to the basic principle of good customer service.
“Covid-19 has accelerated the adoption of digital transformation in both local and global businesses, because, as we’ve seen, there’s nothing like necessity to fuel innovation. Technology is, however, not a solution. Neither is it a magic wand or a panacea. It is an enabler. What this means for small businesses is that investing in digital technology is not an end in itself, but a means to an end.
“There are opportunities for businesses to scale dramatically using technological tools, but there are foundational, underlying processes and operations – the basics – that need to be nurtured before we add the digital layers,” said Stopforth.
“Entrepreneurs need to remember that their customers are the lifeblood of their business, so why would they not put all their resources into finding out how to provide a service that meets their needs? In an age of complexity, we need to get back to basics.”
He said small business owners also need to manage their energy as diligently as they manage their time.
“Try pretending that new legislation restricts the working day to no more than two hours. Business leaders should ask themselves how they would spend those two hours, focusing their energy on only what is most productive, most valuable and most constructive. Then, they should try and extrapolate that division of time over eight hours. The result, very simply, would be an illustration of what the best use of their time looks like.”
Stopforth said spending time on things out of one’s control was perpetually energy-sapping.
“You have to spend it on doing things that are valuable – to reconnect with your intent and your purpose as a business owner.”
PSG Wealth head of sales, Nirdev Desai, said by reflecting on how disruption affected change, today’s entrepreneurs had a unique challenge in terms of choosing to see opportunity within a competitive and often volatile business environment.
“South Africans are blessed with innovation and opportunity. We can compete with the best in the world, and our banking environment is a prime example. In the investment world, we’re seeing investors in the South African stock market reaping positive results, so the evidence is there – ours is a land of many challenges, but also many opportunities,” said Desai.