“Coming out of a global pandemic and into a cost of living crisis has been testing for businesses around the globe,” says Andrew Maren, CEO and co-founder of Fintech company ProfitShare Partners. “But the two things entrepreneurs and SME owners have on their side through the challenges are agility and resilience.”

A self-professed “serial entrepreneur” himself, Maren believes that even when things get really tough, the entrepreneurial spirit is one that keeps looking for solutions and workarounds.

“If you made it through Covid19 restrictions – among the toughest in the world,” he says, “then I have every faith in you to take the many lessons from 2022 into 2023 and not only survive but thrive.”

Here are some issues all businesses will have to deal with now and into 2023 – along with some suggested tips:

Financial restrictions

  • Many clients and prospective clients are cutting back on orders and looking for less costly options. If you can cut your prices – even a little – it will be noted by your market. Offering quality service and a small price cut engenders loyalty, which you can use to find new clients to bridge the gap.
  • With Fuel prices rising continuously, determine whether it would be cheaper to use a courier service to deliver your goods or purchase a reliable, second-hand delivery vehicle and hire a driver as and when you need one. Map out your deliveries, so you deliver to more than one client a day.
  • Take a look at your insurance costs and make sure you’re getting the best deal for your needs. Do the same with banking fees.
  • If you have a loan or overdraft, offer clients a small discount for payment before the 25th of the month, when interest is calculated.
  • Cut back – personally and business-wise – on unnecessary (but nice to have) goods.

Says Maren: “Many years ago, the head of American Airlines Robert Crandall, calculated that if the airline removed just one olive from every salad served to passengers, nobody would notice and the airline would save upwards of $40 000 a year. Look for your ‘olives’ – savings aren’t always found in the big things.”

Hybrid Work – it’s a reality, are you geared?

Having staff work from home can save them – or you, if fuel is paid for by your company – a fair amount at today’s prices. Make sure your employees have the equipment to hold meetings with clients using Zoom or Teams. This should not replace face-to-face meetings entirely but can save a lot with in-house status update meetings.

“To ensure your employees have the right equipment and access, it’s worthwhile signing up with a small tech company that can make sure everyone gets the most cost-effective technology, licensed software and assistance when needed,” Maren notes.

Importantly, many data breaches occur when staff members have access to sensitive business data but haven’t had training in how to avoid phishing and other means cybercriminals use to get employees to respond to emails.

Maren says the basic list of remote work best practices you should make sure your tech support implements are:

  • Enforce a data security policy created with you as the SME owner
  • Network security systems should be updated frequently
  • Limit or regulate the use of personal devices for business
  • Make sure all internet connections are secure

“Most importantly,” he advises, “get your tech support expert to meet with your employees and give them a lesson in how cybercriminals will try to get information from them. No matter how ‘legit’ someone sounds or an e-mail looks, your staff should check with you before sending any business data out.”

Marketing your business with little money

“Often when finances are tight, and companies try to save wherever possible, they cut their marketing budget first,” Maren says, adding that recession brings challenges but also opportunities.

“While it’s a budget that is easily cut, it isn’t always the smart thing to ditch your marketing efforts. What is smart, however, is to strategies, so you’re spending money that gives you the top return on your investment (ROI).”

Previous economic downturns have shown that companies that continue to market themselves during a recession stay top-of-mind with consumers, and when consumers are lush again, they instinctively turn towards these brands, Maren notes.

So, where should you be spending your money?


Having a solid online marketing and advertising ecosystem is vital and offers valuable ROI when done correctly. Make sure you’re covering all bases – from business-to-business (B2B) using LinkedIn and Twitter to business-to-consumer (B2C) using Instagram and TikTok.

In May 2022, the number of South African LinkedIn users reached close to 10.2 million, and Twitter hit 2.85 million. March 2022 saw local Instagram users at 6.81 million and with around six million people accessing the app daily, TikTok is the fastest-growing social platform in the social platform in South Africa, showing the value of video in a time-poor economy.

Public relations

PR is important to get messages across to specific sectors and to ensure your company or business leader has a voice that becomes more recognised the more they appear in the media.

Public Relations specialists can offer valuable guidance on what topics are trending, how to get heard above the noise of many small companies, and what events you should be attending or hosting. Many PR firms offer once-off campaigns, which can be a lifeline to SMEs.


Attending or sponsoring industry events can bring excellent recognition to your company and brand. Importantly, community events enable SMEs to give back to the regions they serve and create brand loyalty at a reasonable cost.

“Keeping your brand out there during a recession also speaks to the strength of your business,” says Maren. “Businesses and individuals alike will remember your brand long after a cost-saver leaves the stage. Where possible, be that name that is seen regularly in the news, on online hubs and at your industry events.”

As the world rides the latest wave of economic issues, companies that take the lessons learned from 2022 into 2023 and use them to add value or save money are the ones that will be here in 2024 and beyond.

“Never forget that entrepreneurs are a special breed of winners,” says Maren. “Our agility and resilience have got us this far, so there’s every reason to believe we have what it takes to find an opportunity where others see gloom. Stay in touch with clients, suppliers and your overall market. Each will remember you as a provider of goods and services that can be counted on, no matter what,” Maren concludes.