With small businesses continuing to prove to be the backbone of the South African economy, business owners need every opportunity to help set them on a growth trajectory at a pivotal time in their recovery.

The Xero 2021 Remote Roadshow is one such opportunity where the focus is to help drive recovery and support SMBs as they rebuild. A critical part of this effort involves innovation and ensuring small businesses have the right digital tools.

These tools work seamlessly together to help make life easier for businesses. At Xero, we’re working to join the dots between key SMB stakeholders – like government, banks, and lenders – to create a more collaborative and connected environment for growth.

To support this growth, we invited two influential experts to share their advice for SMB owners: entrepreneur, investor and author Pavlo Phitidis and internationally renowned technology entrepreneur Rapelang Rabana. Here are some of their tips:

Rapelang: Embracing technology is key

When I started my first business in 2006, there were so few online tools that would do everything for you – from accounting and payroll to CRM and project management tools. But today, there are so many tools available that can make you a superstar in running your business. You can use off-the-shelf tools to support your go-to-market and help you manage your business more efficiently.

We really need to appreciate how much tech is available to us and ensure we’re utilising it properly.

Pavlo: Build the right mindset

Despite the challenges of the last 18 months, the starting point for building a successful business is to get your headspace and mindset right. The way you look and think about the world will impact your decisions. And if you adopt a growth mindset, you’ll be stepping out ahead of 99% of your competitors – it’s such an important part of business.

As part of this mindset, you need to work out where you can find growth and then how you can compete in your sector. The SMB space is a highly competitive environment, so finding your niche that allows you to stand out from the noise is critical.

Rapelang: Don’t do it alone

Whilst building the right mindset is critical, you need to make sure you stay true to this. Sometimes it can be hard to step back and check you’re on the right course. That’s why having an external coach or mentor who can mirror back to you what’s happening and help build up your resilience is extremely useful.

You will find it highly beneficial when making big decisions, as it’s always good to have an outside perspective.

Brighter Guide was built to provide current and useful knowledge about today’s technology.

Pavlo: Be prepared to operate in challenging times

The last few years have shown that you need to be able to build and operate a business in crisis. We haven’t seen the last of the pandemic, and there are sure to be other bumps in the future, as well as ongoing economic issues.

More than ever, small businesses need to be prepared for disruption – this means having the right tech, planning for the future and being highly adaptable. If a crisis makes you fearful, you will make regressive decisions about the growth of your business.

Pavlo: Find your areas of growth

Focus on the things you have control over when it comes to growth. What I’ve seen working more and more is intellectual property as the core source of value for a business, not just physical assets.

In the beginning, you need to focus on finding reliable, consistent growth that gives you initial traction in the market and releases your time so you can then focus on the next phase of growth. Another aspect of growth to consider is international. South Africa offers remarkable opportunities to build a global business. Last year we saw a significant investment into digitisation right across the board, which is enabling this.

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