Photo cred: www.treatwell.co.uk
Things are not looking good in SA right now. The price of fuel has recently gone up, Eskom is hitting us with constant loadshedding and we’re also suffocated by COVID and its disastrous effects.
As a result, the climate has become hostile for doing business, especially for SMEs. Entrepreneurship is a difficult endeavour to pursue at this moment.
It is at a time like this that entrepreneurs must consider collaboration as a necessary tool for survival. Working together or forming strategic partnerships that foster mutually beneficial business interests is what needs to be done by Black SMEs if they want to take a giant leap forward.
Compartmentalisation of spaces
In understanding one’s target market, one must be open to the idea of sharing even operational space with brands that may align or be complementary to their business. What do we mean by this? Very simple.
In the personal care industry, there has been a fascinating trend that has emerged. A salon can now be dissected into multiple compartments that cater to a variety of hairstyles and treatments, all in one room. You can get your Chiskop or fade while your lady gets her braids done in the opposite cubicle, and your daughter’s Afro will be washed and dryed in the adjacent direction.
Compartmentalisation of spaces in salons is already happening and the interesting thing is that all of these hair specialists are self-employed and autonomous, but operating in one place.
These individuals rent out spaces in a salon and they get to operate on their own terms, as their own bosses. You get to be given a portion of the room and you operate it as you see fit, with the benefit of foot traffic of prospective customers. It’s a sweet deal by any stretch of imagination.
We must work together to fulfill our business objectives and satisfy customer needs in a convenient way. Collaboration over competition is what we need.
Shisanyamas and car washes go hand in hand. If you have a car wash, another person can occupy the space next to you and set up a shisanyama. It is a win-win since South Africans love the social ambiance of braaing meat and drinking while washing their cars. The effectiveness of these concepts needs to be maximised more.
This is just one example. There are many industries and sectors out there that offer a chance for collaboration and a creative use of spaces.
However, we must be realistic about the fact that this sort of arrangement can be challenging. Differences are quite common in business and sometimes they can escalate to a collapse of a relationship/partnership. So to prevent this, it’s important that there must be written agreements, clearly stipulating the terms and conditions for the sharing of spaces and the allocation thereof.
Innovative thinking can help us to transform our spaces into vibrant areas of commerce and collaboration can benefit us all in an amazing way.
Author: Lunga Mrhetjha