“Entrepreneurs need to roll with the punches and pursue new opportunities presented by COVID-19,” says Aisha Pandor, Co-Founder and CEO of SweepSouth.

A trend derived from observations of past recessions and epidemics shows that these events have typically presented technology-enabled businesses, online players, and businesses that are innovative, with a real opportunity to grow. And while a definitive end to the current COVID-19 pandemic remains unknown, preliminary observations reveal evidence of the same trend now remerging.

We see evidence of this pattern when considering how the virus’ outbreak and subsequent lockdown forced several businesses to pivot and explore new areas of operation. In good form, most entrepreneurs are doing so within their capabilities and as their infrastructure and resourcing allows. These entrepreneurs are not doing something that is completely out of their reach and which does not make sense from a brand alignment and capability point of view. For example, the floral and gifting site, NetFlorist, expanded on its existing logistical capabilities to include the delivery of fresh produce. Similarly, the online food delivery app, OrderIn, partnered with the alcohol delivery app, Bottles, to cater for grocery deliveries in the wake of the initial alcohol ban. 

More evidence can be found amongst companies like Ozow, which moved forward with strategic plans that were initially scheduled for further down the line, but which make arguably more sense nowadays: The fintech hastened the launch of its SMS payment option as well as the use of QR codes at point-of-sale. This has enabled businesses such as retailers to swiftly and safely receive payments from customers and continue their operations. Similar developments were made at SweepSouth, which implemented its SweepSouth Connect offering under lockdown level 4. SweepSouth Connect links customers to locksmiths, plumbers, electricians and handymen – a move the company was looking to develop in the future, but moved these plans forward when it was prudent with the core business being unable to operate.

Whether companies are pivoting within their capabilities or are pulling forward strategic plans, these are not simply short-term solutions to maintain cash flow; they also hold the potential to become core business pillars post-lockdown (although they would probably need to be developed with time to ensure good performance in line with each company’s overall strategic plan). Entrepreneurs should not be focusing solely on short-term, quick win opportunities. As recent announcements by government have shown, the current situation is always changing, and at some point, these things have to tie in with their longer-term business plans. Ideally, opportunities that present themselves now should not take entrepreneurs too far away from their core capabilities and mission. However, if there is good alignment with the brand, then it makes sense to utilise these opportunities, especially in situations where the entrepreneur’s current business is jeopardised.

That is not to say that businesses must navigate this uncertain period alone. Organisations like Endeavor are providing support to entrepreneurs in the form of global best practice, crisis management and South African-specific information regarding funding. They have also set up knowledge-sharing webinars and peer learning circles where companies can gain insight from each other’s experiences, share ideas, and provide support to one another. My own participation in these events has given me a wealth of information, which has helped to soothe the great deal of uncertainty that exists around current and future restrictions. It has also been comforting to be able to discuss with entrepreneurs from around the world, and to find solace in our familiar yet very distinct experiences. 

With businesses now having to transition and scale differently, there may also be a need to consolidate and realign their brands to the wider audience and product range they now serve. To assist in this process at our own company, Endeavor organised a marketing workshop for our team featuring a national marketing expert to explore the ways in which we should look to refresh our brand messaging. 

Fundamentally, entrepreneurs need to be realistic. This entails a good mix of pessimism in their planning and a healthy dose of optimism in their outlook. They need to act early, be prudent with their business and remember that there are people impacted by all of this, whether they are staff, customers, or other stakeholders. Entrepreneurs and business owners must try to be open and transparent but also as empathetic as possible. This time demands that we act with compassion and good morals.

With the crisis already prompting major budgetary and economic reorganisations, we can anticipate that new opportunities will emerge; however, their benefits will only be bared to those who are ready to grab them. And the end of the day, it will be those entrepreneurs who rolled with the punches that will thrive and not simply survive.


About Aisha Pandor

Aisha Pandor is the Co-Founder and CEO of SweepSouth, Africa’s first online end-to-end platform for the booking, management and payment for home cleaning services. Aisha is a leading black female tech-startup CEO  both in South Africa and internationally, and has led SweepSouth to become one of the fastest-growing startups in the country, having won the SiMODiSA Startup SA pitching prize

Brandstories Disclaimer:

Brandstories is not liable for the contents of the information published on this platform. The information which subscribers publish on this website is for general information purposes only and Brandstories facilitates the ability for viewers and subscribers to access this platform. Subscribers who publish their content on Brandstories are held responsible for their own content. This includes ensuring that it is factually accurate, grammatically correct, free of spelling errors, and does not contain unsavoury content that could result in legal action. In the case of linguistic translations, the onus is on the client to ensure that the translation is accurate. In no event does Brandstories make representations or warranties of any kind, expressed or implied about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the information supplied and published. This website includes links to other websites, including third party websites. Brandstories does not recommend, endorse or support any views that are held by subscribers publishing information, and within these links provided. Furthermore, Brandstories does not have control over the nature, contents and availability of information contained on these sites. Any form of reliance readers and consumers may place on information published on Brandstories is strictly at their own risk. Brandstories makes every effort to ensure that the website is up and running smoothly at all times, however Brandstories does not take responsibility for, and will not be held liable for times when the website is temporarily unavailable due to technical glitches that are beyond our control.

We create Brandstories for brands that have registered a Press Office on our platform. You can register your free Press Office and choose a flexible press release package that suits your needs. Your self published press releases will be automatically distributed to display spaces across our publisher networks. Boost your Press Releases by clicking onto our Branded Content Services menu for a array of specialized production services and 360 marketing solutions.