This month our focus is on the tourism industry and meet Nocwaka Mazaleni and Allison and Lawrie Irvine our latest square pegs.
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Tourism sparkles in the SA economic gloom

Through the storm clouds of a distressed economy, the South African tourism industry stands out as a ray of sunshine, says Anton Roelofse, regional general manager of Business Partners Limited, who points to a 12% year-on-year growth of overseas visitors in the second quarter of this year compared to the same period the year before.

The latest figures from Stats SA, which do not include road travellers from other African countries, show an especially significant increase in travellers from the US. Visitor numbers from most other countries are also up or steady, apart from a slight decline in tourists from India and China.

Roelofse believes that the continued increase in overseas tourism arrivals is driven by two factors. First, the exchange rates keep the South African tourism experience very affordable, and second, South Africa is a desirable destination for Millennials who are now starting to strap on their backpacks to see the world.


Nine tips for handling the seasonality of your business cycle

Very few industries are immune to the ups and downs of annual fluctuations, and most entrepreneurs have experienced the dread of a silent telephone or empty inbox as the lean season kicks in.

As a natural part of business, it is not so much seasonality itself that is the problem, says Arnold February, area manager at Business Partners Limited, but the uncertainty that goes with it.

He offers nine tips for entrepreneurs to come to grips with the seasonality of their business:

1. Keep a positive mindset

The doldrums of the lean season can have a profound impact on the mood of the entrepreneur. It is very important to guard against negativity, because in an owner-managed business the entrepreneur sets the tone for the rest of the business. If the business owner becomes despondent, the whole staff will lose motivation. Don’t panic, remain calm, and actively cultivate a positive mindset.

September 2017 / Vol.8.9


Thinking expansively is entrepreneur’s answer to the off season

Nocwaka Mazaleni thought she had solved the problem of the seasonality of the tourism trade by aiming her Kwantu guest house in Milnerton, Cape Town, at the corporate market. While she still experienced the boom of the tourism trade in the summer months and the lull of the winter, South African corporates provided a steady stream of bookings for travelling managers and corporate workshops.

But for the last two months Mazaleni has been experiencing a different kind of “seasonality” - the ups and downs of the corporate sector in sync with the economic cycle. The most recent recessionary slump has had a direct and immediate impact on her business.

Bookings from the corporate sector, especially from the struggling parastatals, have virtually dried up as these businesses put projects on ice or brought outsourced services inhouse.


Start-up experience ‘terrifying, frantic, fun and rewarding’

Starting a business for the first time is always difficult, not least because of the change in lifestyle that moving from employment to business ownership requires, but few entrepreneurs have had to live through a shift as dramatic as that which Allison and Lawrie Irvine made.

When Alison, 56, was retrenched as marketing director at a high-end financial corporate in London, she and her husband Lawrie, 60, who also spent his whole career as a corporate consultant in London, decided to make a change. They exchanged corporate employment for small-business ownership, the global financial sector for the hospitality industry, and cosmopolitan London for an idyllic farm on the other side of the world. 

For the past year, Alison and Lawrie have been running their start-up Essere Lodge, an eighteen hectare plot with eight guest cottages on the bank of the Boontjies River near Tulbagh, an hour’s drive from Cape Town.

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