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This month as the year draws to a close we focus on seasonality in business and we feature Penelope Rodenhurst and Leon du Toit in our success stories.
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December 2013   |   Volume 5.12

Planning is the only antidote to painful reality of seasonal swings

Seasonality in business is never as pronounced as it is over the festive season, when large swathes of the economy shut down and others light up.

Holiday establishments along the coast run on all cylinders while their Gauteng bed-and-breakfast cousins twiddle their thumbs waiting for business travellers to return in the new year. The entire building industry has an official holiday. Many factories shut down, while industrial maintenance companies start up their engines to service the machines that run during the rest of the year.

For many retailers it is truly a silly season, with the biggest boom just before Christmas, only to fall immediately after that to the lowest slump of the year.

Success story:
Madness? No, just ambition, grit and entrepreneurship

It takes a level of bravery to start any business, but for most entrepreneurs the idea of starting out in the dying local clothing manufacturing industry borders on madness.

There were times in the last two years when Penelope Rodenhurst, the founder of the kids and tweens clothing brand Precioux, thought so too. She remembers particularly one occasion when she was sobbing into a heap of expensive material ruined by a printing contractor, asking herself: “How on earth did I get here?” Naivety, impulsiveness and foolhardiness, she thought at that stage.

But the real answer to her question is a story of ambition, courage, entrepreneurial acumen and a steely determination. And although the business is still young, it is already a story of overcoming great odds.

Penelope's entrepreneurial bent – at least the chutzpah aspect of it – emerged early. As a young British school-leaver, she had an opportunity to study at Cambridge Teacher training college, but she talked herself onto an exclusive...

Success story:
Whatever the season, stay open for business

In his colourful business career, Leon du Toit has experienced seasonality in business more intensely than most entrepreneurs. As a retailer he has ridden the extreme peaks and troughs of the holiday-resort economy of the Durban South Coast, and as a property developer he has been through the longer-term boom-and-bust cycles of real estate.
 
His response to both levels of seasonality is roughly the same – just stay in the market; cut profit if necessary, but keep on trading. It is an approach that has served him well on his remarkable self-driven journey from an artisan on the mining town where he grew up to a successful property owner and developer in Shelley Beach on the South Coast.
 
As the son of a mine-worker in Randfontein he was destined to train as an artisan, but for Leon it turned out to be “totally the wrong career choice”. He loved retail, and while still at school and even as a young conscript, he worked at the local supermarket. He also loved construction, and built himself a house at the first opportunity he got.

The importance of ‘personal stock taking’ for SA’s SME owners

It is nearing the time of year that many individuals start winding down and preparing for the festive period, after a long and possibly strenuous year. For many small and medium enterprise (SME) owners however, business comes first, which often results in no period being set aside for relaxation and rest, which is necessary to prepare themselves for 2014 and the new challenges that comes with it.

Nazeem Martin, MD of Business Partners Limited, says that although separating work life from personal life can be a challenge for many business owners, especially during their first five years, this balance is vital in order to ensure a healthy and stimulated business.
 
He says that a business owner’s hours often do not fall during traditional work hours, due to the demands and responsibilities that running a business entails. “While business operations may require long hours, and as a result time with family and friends is sacrificed, this should not be the norm for any business owner.”

Business premises for rent

Gauteng

Industrial Space to Let

Complex:  Rosslyn 5, 6, 7 & 11
Address: 113 Johan Uys Street, Rosslyn, Gauteng Area
Space available:
516m² each
Availability: Immediately

Contact Person: Johan Lubbe
Contact number: 0828354895 or
011 713 6688
Poll results 10 uses of a dead period

An annual dead period in which the customers dry up and staff stand around doing nothing can be dreadful. But it can be surprisingly useful to your business, provided you stalk it from a long way off. With careful planning, you can take a dead period by surprise in any number of ways:
  1. Take a break, and tell your staff to take it too, so that there is minimum disruption in the rest of the year. Our labour law says it is the prerogative for the employer to set the leave period.
  2. Implement a training project for your staff.
  3. Re-engineer your workflow.
  4. Do your most intense machine and equipment maintenance.
  5. Start a sideline business.
  6. Do your annual planning
  7. Work on a marketing plan for your regular customers. Just because they are not there, it does not mean they have disappeared altogether. A carefully planned outreach – and even subtle contact with them during the quiet period, can make sure they come back to you when the season turns.
  8. Do market research.
  9. Spring-clean your shop or workshop.
  10. Beautify your business.
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