By Kim Furman, Synthesis Marketing Manager
The South African economy was already struggling before the arrival of COVID-19. Many well-established companies were at risk and were unsure of their future. For Start-ups, even prior to COVID, it was not simple.
The statistics have always been dramatically against them with reports that 90% of companies do not survive the first five years. Many SMEs were already struggling to obtain their much-needed funding. With cities across the globe on lockdown, travel restrictions and industries crippled, a global recession seems inevitable.
The obvious question is where this leaves business: both those born today and those already in established? It is indeed one of the times of the greatest adversity.
A time to reset
In a pre-pandemic time, Atlantic senior editor, Richard Florida wrote as if he was addressing our world today. He advised that instead of thinking of economic hardships as recessions, they should be thought of as catalysts for innovation or as a “reset”.
He believed that the innovations that arise from difficulties create innovation that guide the landscape post-hardship. Perhaps this sounds too optimistic, but history confirms his point.
During and after the Great Depression in 1873 numerous innovations erupted from urban transit to the light bulb. This was said to be the most technologically astute periods of the 20th century. After the 2008 crisis, there was a birth of some of the most innovative technologies and chances are you have used one of them in the past hour.
These include Instagram, Uber and WhatsApp just to name a few. Reinvention and innovation blossom during recessions. Recessions are hardships and the world has arguably never experienced a hardship like that of COVID-19. So, if Florida is correct, this is a time for a reset for not only innovation but reinvention.
This will be a time of what economist Joseph Schumpeter called creative disruption where the long-standing order is dismantled to make way for innovation. As our behaviour rapidly changes and we experience difficulty, a breeding ground for innovation will form and so will technologies to address our new needs.
Can your business reset in times of adversity?
To reset is a mind shift. To survive such chaos requires numerous elements. But one of which is hope. This is not about adopting a naïve view that everything will be alright. “Having hope,” writes Daniel Goleman in his study of emotional intelligence, “means that one will not give in to overwhelming anxiety, a defeatist attitude, or depression in the face of difficult challenges or setbacks.”
With this in mind, both a reset and adopting the drive to accomplish goals through the hardest of challenges, Synthesis has asked entrepreneurs to share how to succeed and persevere through adversity.
This session includes radio show host and author, Howard Feldman, venture capitalist Vusi Thembekwayo, GovChat CEO and Founder, Eldrid Jordaan, Aerobotics CTO and Co-founder Benji Meltzer, 20fifty Cofounder and CEO Catherine Luckhoff, Synthesis Software Engineer Drikus van Wyk and Synthesis Cloud Project Practise Lead Dean Maier.
We understand the challenges that we face. What entrepreneurs and business owners need to hear more than ever, is how to face adversity and what they need to do to reset. It is now the time for us to share our stories and to draw on a collective responsibility so as to assist those around us.