“One of the realities South African businesses must take into account for the next few years is the fairly recently-coined term, ‘loadshedding’,” says Andrew Maren, CEO and co-founder of Fintech market disruptor ProfitShare Partners.

“While the powers that be, struggle to sort the issues out, small businesses and entrepreneurs will be particularly hard-hit, given the costs involved in any real, long-term solutions. However, it is times like these when resilience is vital for business continuity. And business continuity is survival.”

Andrew Maren

Firstly, Maren suggests small business owners take a quick audit of what they need to continue doing business every day, and determine how they can best meet those requirements through scheduled and often unscheduled blackouts. Here, he suggests simple tips as workarounds and solutions:

Tips for managing staff

Sign up with the free app, EskomSePush – it may have a funny name, but its value to businesses and their staff is huge. Make sure you know when your power outages are scheduled and ensure your clients know that some deadlines may be missed.

Keep a list of your staff members’ regions and their power-outs. This way, you’ll know when they may be driving in heavy traffic and possibly unable to call. Set different working hours for staff members so you always have some staff at the office while others may be stuck.

Note that some members may not have been able to charge their electronic devices, and be patient with them. It’s a hard time for everyone, and the stress can be overwhelming. Talk to staff and clients so you don’t overpromise on your staff members’ behalf, and disappoint clients.

In the office

Install an inverter that kicks in as the power goes out, to enable your staff to continue working through loadshedding. Remember the time your inverter will give you when working at full capacity and have your personnel work on the most important jobs first.

Make sure you have proper lighting in your office – globes that are WiFi-enabled and rechargeable are extremely helpful and enable work to continue.

Purchase a single-plate butane stove and camping kettle so your staff can make tea or coffee. Keeping up the small comforts can make a difference when stress levels are high.

Call in a solar expert and do the math on having solar power installed. This can be done bit by bit, where costs may be prohibitive for SMEs.

Support, take charge, innovate…

“We have been informed by Government that loadshedding may well go on for a while,” Maren asserts. “It’s not a happy place to be, but taking action beats complaining. We need to draw on that resilience all SME owners and entrepreneurs have in abundance and take charge where we can.”

“Being honest with your staff and clients enables you to set up times and systems to get us through tough times. Involve your staff when implementing solutions and make sure they feel supported. South Africans have always met adversity with courage. Use this time to build up resources and team spirit. Who knows what innovations your company could come up with to solve a difficult issue?”