2018 Nedbank Business Accelerator, 2018 Nedbank Business Accelerator

Tips to build a resilient business in a depressed economy

In this latest series of Nedbank Business Accelerator podcasts, Pavlo Phitidis dives into the archive to discover the secret to the resilience of three future-proof businesses who are thriving in a negative business environment.

Building resilience through determination & technical knowledge

What does it take to stay in business for 34 years? The answer is simple – resilience, curiosity and determination.

A business of many firsts, Art Lab pioneered the specialist function of digital textile printing but, creating and accelerate demand for the service meant educating the market and, soldiering through tough times to keep their reputation intact.

Even though I’ve been in game for three decades, we never stopped the voyage of discovery – always looking out for what’s going on in the industry, keeping up with trends, keeping up with magazines, watching what’s happening on the web.

Craig Whyte, Art Lab

How do we stay ahead – basically, it’s it customer service, its understanding what the market requires.

Craig Whyte, Art Lab

KEY INSIGHT FROM PAVLO - Being a business of firsts meant leveraging the internet, researching the latest technology and investing in machinery to stay ahead of competitors. As with most businesses, reputation and trust is of utmost importance – “do what you say you’re going to do, do it on time, do it right and when things go wrong, let people know. Be honest, upfront and straight in terms of what went wrong and, how you intend to fix it.”

Building resilience through data

The mining sector – an industry plagued with social and political pressure, Sean Cooley found resilience in data and, converted it into quantifiable savings that enabled Atomic Oil to thrive in a depleted investment environment.

Breaking into the old, traditional mining sector is tough – Atomic Oil’s attempt to convince major players to change their mindsets around on-site oil analysis seemed to be an insurmountable task.

So, when word got out – Atomic Oil was afforded access to the historical data of receptive mines’ offsite oil analysis, allowing the team to create case studies to further drive and, cement the importance of installing on-site labs as a cost-effective alternative.

There was a very big resistance… but now those big, major players are actually becoming my clients.

Sean Cooley, Atomic Oil

They’ve adopted a strategy where they should rather put on-site labs at some of their clients to prevent them moving away or losing that business forever.

Sean Cooley, Atomic Oil

KEY INSIGHT FROM PAVLO - Clients are only convinced to attempt a different approach when a relationship of trust has already been established – trust which originates from a proven track record of reliable, transparent and honest service delivery. When a relationship of trust is built, leverage the relationship with the client and build an offering that quantifies the savings in rands and cents.

Building resilience through service standards

A cleaning business fighting in a commoditised environment – Sizwe Tshabalala started out cleaning offices in a factory and, now operates his own business with extended services that include cleaning and, mining the air.

Precious Ties interpreted a problem and, developed a solution – to suppress the dust and, extract the lead from the air – put it forward to his client and, positioned his business as an authority in the field.

It had become an opportunity to bring all that I have gone through in the past, couple that with a little bit of innovation, and give it a go on a trial basis.

Sizwe Tshabalala, Precious Ties

If you are not resilient, if you’re not determined to ensure that you know what you’re doing and you can do it… any client can tolerate glitches for a certain period of time but, what allows them to give you an opportunity further is you, proving that you have stealth, you have staying power... your resilience.

Sizwe Tshabalala, Precious Ties

KEY INSIGHT FROM PAVLO - In this case, resilience is about the consistency of service and standards that earned Precious Ties a relationship of trust and, afforded them the platform to engage the client around solutions for other problems beyond the services they were offering at the time. The next step is being willing to go the extra mile to solve the problem, keeping the client updated when glitches occur and, reassuring them that it is being addressed.


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