As an SME owner, you are well aware that South Africa’s economic future is precarious, and you have the knots in your stomach to prove it.

In truth, if only recently acknowledged as such by the powers that be, SME’s are a critical contributor to GDP growth; the new Small Business ministry has yet to make any impact other than stress the importance of this fact.

SME’s are globally acknowledged as a major driver for employment and growth, but with SA’s GDP growth sitting at 1,4% and year on year revenues growing just above inflation at 13% its clear SME’s are simply not making the impact they could be.

SME’s shed 1 million jobs in the 5 years up to 2013; Stats SA estimates that 16 million people are going to be relying on social grants, which is fast becoming the biggest consumer of government budget.

The challenges contributing to SME contraction are substantial… lack of education & basic work skills, criminality, labour law & unionization, the effects of BEE policy, government interference, corruption, red tape (average time spent on this = 75 hours/month) and inefficiency, an increasing tax burden and the lack of access to finance.
Global economic conditions and the advance of technology, which is disrupting industries on a shorter and shorter cycle, are exacerbating this.
For a small economy, with a limited tax base, these challenges are tough to face up to.

However, for for a small business owner in SA, not facing up to them, and not growing is fatal, leaving SME’s virtually no option; small businesses have to change the way they operate.

Part of this is that SME’s have to become more “entrepreneurial”.

An entrepreneur is defined as “a person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so”.

Risk is a matter of perspective, one person’s acceptable risk could well be another’s folly, so risk is a subjective element, which can and should be managed, but not avoided.
Global entrepreneurial superstars such as Branson, Gates, Musk, Bezos and company have shown that risk lies at the heart of businesses success, not just financial risk but reputational, familial, loss of comfort & of material possessions, and even dignity.

Whilst these entrepreneurs are admired for their success, charisma & wealth, what they have in common is their courage in taking on these risks.

What drives them forward is their passion and purpose for their business.
And what focuses them is the size of their goals and objectives.

Being more entrepreneurial does not mean throwing the proverbial baby out with the bath water; it is not changing your entire business in one fell swoop and disrupting and collapsing that which is working.

It does mean planning to change, planning to innovate…its means planning to take measured risks…

By starting an SME, you wanted the freedom of being your own boss, doing your own thing, making an impact. In doing so you took a risk.

In this challenging environment, to flourish and prosper you will need to up your game, make your goals audacious, rekindle the passion & purpose in what you do…you will need to be an entrepreneur!

Jain McGuigan

Jain McGuigan

Founder and Owner at Refract Marketing, Small Business Forum, PearZoo, 8th Avenue
Jain Mc Guigan is the founder and owner of Refract Marketing outsourced marketing solutions, as well as the founder of the Small Business Forum.

As the owner of a small business herself, Jain is passionate about small business and helping other SME’s succeed. She started the Small Business Forum to network and join forces with other SME’s and entrepreneurs in order to share knowledge, support and grow businesses together.
Jain McGuigan

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