A new SME South Africa survey showed that 47 percent of South African small and medium enterprises are led by women. Photo: Lookstudio/Freepik
A new SME South Africa survey showed that 47 percent of South African small and medium enterprises are led by women. Photo: Lookstudio/Freepik

Business 101: What we can learn from female business owners

By Opinion Time of article published Mar 7, 2021

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THE number of women-owned businesses in South Africa is on the rise.

A new SME South Africa survey showed that 47 percent of South African small and medium enterprises are led by women.

This is encouraging for the economy, considering that women possess a set of skills and attributes that are invaluable to business.

While Covid-19 has presented a multitude of challenges, women have been found to be reliable in maintaining good credit with lenders, making them a lower statistical risk for business financiers.

In light of International Women’s Day celebrated tomorrow it is appropriate to highlight the lessons that can be learnt from female business owners, many of whom have overcome multiple challenges to change their story and become successful.

Practicality

A study by the World Bank, called “Female Entrepreneurs, why and how are they different?”, has found that women are pushed into businesses by necessity rather than creative impulsion. The added pressure provides the drive required to achieve success, resulting in satisfied clients and a business run on the basic principle of doing what is needed to get the job done.

Adaptation

Planning is at the heart of any successful business, but Covid-19 has taught us that plans can (and sometimes, must) change. It is therefore essential to keep an eye on the fluctuating environment and adapt. Make sure your product or service is in line with market trends and responds to consumer needs. Keeping abreast of the changes and be flexible. E-Commerce, for example, has grown in leaps and bounds in recent months. Taking your business online will help you stay ahead.

Credit

While it is important for businesses to have an emergency fund for shortterm liquidity needs, Covid-19 has shown that this is not always possible. It is, therefore, important to maintain a good line of credit for your business. Financiers are becoming increasingly risk-averse as many small businesses struggle to meet their payment obligations. However, women-owned businesses have proven to be reliable when it comes to maintaining good credit with lenders.

Relationships

Relationships are key to any successful business – be it with your customers, staff, financiers or suppliers. A large part of relationship-building is good communication, which is a positive attribute women are generally known to possess. Keep your stakeholders informed of developments within your business in order to negotiate favourable rates, manage possible crisis (such as a late order due to supply chain disruptions), and continue to highlight why your offering is better than the competition.

Communication

Another positive attribute of women is being better at asking for help. Businesses can thrive from bringing in expert advise on specialist matters and mentorship. Entrepreneurs are known to wear many hats, but there is no shame in getting advice around issues that do not form part of your skill set – like tax and financing.

This will enable you to focus on running the rest of the business.

Ben Bierman is a managing director at Business Partners Limited.

*The views expressed here are not necessarily those of IOL or of title sites

BUSINESS REPORT

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