Tips and advice from Santam to support your business

Santam understands that you’ve worked hard to build a business that your clients rely on. We also know that running a business comes with inherent risks and that as a business owner, you assume responsibility for the well-being and safe-keeping of your business and its people. That’s why it’s important to protect your assets, both business and personal. One of the best ways to do that is to make sure you and your business are adequately insured.  Whether you’re running an animation business or an accounting company, Santam has more than 100 years of experience and in-depth expertise to insure South African businesses good and proper.

Time to spring clean your business’ finances

How to tighten up money matters in five easy steps

In money, as in life, a failure to plan is a plan to fail. This spring, get your financial house in order by preparing a financial road map for the year ahead. Covid-19, recent lootings and unrest, and a sluggish economy have had a devastating impact on many SMEs. Now’s the time to take the reigns and relook one’s financial priorities, possibly in partnership with a trusted financial adviser. You’ve survived a terrible chapter in humanity’s history. Now, it’s time to set your business up to thrive.

Here are five tips to tighten up your business’ finances:

  1. It all starts with a plan: A holistic financial plan should include a budget, accounting, tax planning, risk management (including insurance and an emergency fund), and some forecasting for the future. Analyse your accounts for insights into performance and keep abreast with your bookkeeping so you can track progress to reaching your goals. Consult an intermediary if you feel like you need help coming up with a practical, step-by-step plan for the next 6-12 months. The last 12 months have shown that circumstances can change fast. Insurance should be a pivotal part of a financial plan as proactive risk management is essential.

  2. Wax your tax: Tax season is usually stressful. But it doesn’t have to be! Keep your records and bookkeeping tight to avoid unnecessary hassle later. Consider ways to maximise your tax deductions to lower your tax burden. Again, consult an intermediary for the best ways to do this.

  3. Win with cash flow: Cash flow is an ongoing issue for most small business owners. Keeping it tight takes time to get right. It’s an ongoing exercise of getting a handle on business direct and indirect expenses and overhead costs. Chart your cash inflows and outflows so you can understand what’s happening.  What adjustments can you make to increase the inflows and limit the outflows? For example, could you negotiate better rates with your suppliers? Could you invoice earlier? Where can you cut costs? How can you improve your payroll processes to keep cash flow continuity – and happy employees?

  4. Ditch the debt: Many businesses rely on some kind of debt. Try to manage this by ensuring that the cost of the capital you borrow is lower than the expected returns. Consider paying off the smallest debts first to free up funds to pay off the next smallest debt and so on, to create a virtuous cycle of ditching the debt.

  5. Keep it separate: It’s supposed to be rule number one, but in practice, few people manage to get it right. Try to keep your personal and professional finances apart, with separate cards and accounts for each. This enables you to track your business’ goal progression and performance far better.

These are suggestions and should not serve as advice. Every business is unique and requires a custom plan. Consult a professional for a holistic roadmap to spring clean your finances this September.

To find out about our insurance solutions best suited for your business, speak to your intermediary or visit

Santam is an authorised financial services provider (licence number 3416)

Safeguarding your small business during these turbulent times

It took South Africa six years to add 1.4 million jobs to its pre-pandemic economy; and it took just one year to lose these in the aftermath of COVID-19, according to the World Bank. The country saw its biggest economic contraction in a century in 2020. This has had serious implications for the small business sector, with businesses buckling under successive lockdowns, limited tourism and the economic fallout of the virus.

This unprecedented period is a good time to work on strategies to safeguard your business. This should focus on every aspect of operations, including adequate, up-to-date insurance cover to protect what you’ve built.

Here are some top tips for safeguarding your business during this tumultuous time:

  1. Cut what you can: It may be time to shed any costs you can. Examine the routines and overheads within the business to see if anything is superfluous to critical operations.
  2. Safeguard your people: They’re your greatest asset. Play open cards so everyone is reassured and on the same page. It helps to give regular business and financial updates. Do individual check-ins with every team member as well. A human-centric culture is key to bolstering a business’ resilience.
  3. Chat to your customers: Get to grips with their needs. Have these changed post the pandemic? Do you need to pivot or adapt your offering to provide what they’re asking for? How can you ensure you stay top-of-mind? Can you reach people via newsletter or social media? Can you offer specials or slightly change your service to comply with COVID-19 protocols while still doing what you do best? For example, innovative South African restaurants have taken to providing the eat-in your -car dining experiences. How can you become indispensable to the community you serve?
  4. Concentrate on cash flow: This is imperative. Consider where to get financing to retain cash flow and consistent working capital. See if you can find ways to save and rebuild your emergency fund. It’s critical to have a financial safety net to act as a cushion for life’s curveballs.
  5. Protect what you’ve built: Consider what kinds of cover you need to be able to protect the business you’ve built. Business interruption, building and office contents insurance can make a massive difference. Ensure your cover is adequate and up-to-date.

Santam understands that running a successful business takes years of hard work and the right partnerships. And when you work hard to succeed, you need good and proper insurance that helps you thrive. No matter the type and size of your business, or your vision for it, you can rely on our in-depth expertise of over 103 years to protect it. Santam. Insurance good and proper.

To find out more about our insurance solutions best suited for your business, speak to your intermediary or visit

Santam is an authorised financial services provider (licence number 3416)

Award-winning entrepreneur Lindiwe Matlali’s secrets to her success

In 2020, Africa Teen Geeks reached 500 000 children, with over 600 000 views on its YouTube channel and more than 50 000 kids using its learning materials. The platform is the brainchild of Lindiwe Matlali, the 2018 winner of the Santam-sponsored Women of the Future (WOTF) competition. It’s a first-of-its-kind block-based coding platform to teach school children to code, from foundational phase up, in their mother tongues.

It’s social entrepreneurship at its most outstanding. A solution that helps to create future-fit young people, to give them the best chance of landing long-term employment. Winning WOTF gave Matlali the confidence and capital to take her dream to the next level. It opened up a network and market she previously didn’t have access to. Today, she’s a shining example of the African entrepreneurial spirit and a mentor to many young women seeking to achieve similar success.

Here, she shares some insights from her journey to date:

1. What inspired you to start your own business?
I love my independence and am passionate about the work I do. I became an entrepreneur, initially, to be able to control my time and income and raise my children while working. I wanted to be at every school game and concert, without worrying if my boss would give me time off.

2. What have some of the biggest challenges been and how did you overcome these?
Just because you have a company doesn’t mean that people will flock to buy from you. Building my credibility took time and was a challenge, especially as I was trying to access funding to keep my business afloat at the same time. I was extremely focused, and I intentionally built up my credibility by writing blogs. I was also lucky that I found a supportive mentor – Dr Ivan May – who made some calls on my behalf to get me a foot in the door.

3. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned?
Entrepreneurship is hard and lonely; you need to be laser-focused and surround yourself with people who inspire you when you feel like quitting. Working on your mental strength – and self-belief – is just as important as working on your business.  

4. You’ve built a business around solving a shared problem. Is this advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs? To build businesses based on real needs?
Identify the problem and build the solution. People support someone they trust. While building your brand, you are the brand. So, work on you and actively build your credibility.

5. What’s been the most rewarding thing so far?
Seeing the impact of our work on the children and parents.

6. And something that caught you unawares/ surprised you?
What surprised me was how relationships play a huge role, especially in business-to-business sales. There’s a lot of gatekeeping which can be hard for a young person with no social capital to break through. That’s why I always advise the young women I mentor to put a lot of effort into building their credibility alongside their product.

7. How did winning WOTF in 2018 impact your business?
It gave me more social capital and opened me to a network and market I had no access to. I am forever grateful.

8. And what’s the role of insurance in protecting what you’ve built?
I have insured everything personally and with commercial cover. Life is full of uncertainties and having the peace of mind that should the unfortunate happen I don’t have to start from scratch gives me comfort. I would encourage entrepreneurs to never ever ignore insurance. It is as important as having a healthy cash flow.

Santam understands that running a successful business takes years of hard work and the right partnerships. And when you work hard to succeed, you need good and proper insurance that helps you thrive. No matter the type and size of your business, or your vision for it, you can rely on our in-depth expertise of over 102 years to protect it. Santam. Insurance good and proper.

To find out more about our insurance solutions best suited for your business, speak to your intermediary or visit

Santam is an authorised financial services provider (licence number 3416)

The common pitfalls many entrepreneurs face and how to avoid them

South African SMEs represent over 98% of business, employ up to 60% of the country’s workforce and catalyse about a quarter of the private sector’s job growth, according to McKinsey. They’re the lifeblood of the economy, so it’s critical they succeed. Once the first 1 001 days in operation are over, entrepreneurs might start getting a little complacent. But, that’s the time to tighten the reins, reassess a roadmap and streamline efficiencies.

In the current Covid-19 climate, having a clear plan and reassessing priorities are especially important. Now’s the time to be hyperaware of the pitfalls entrepreneurs run into. Here are some of the ways entrepreneurs can address the most common challenges they can face after the first 1 001 days in operation:

  1. Seeking sources of funding: McKinsey found 36% of surveyed SMEs were not receiving government loans or support, and 25% weren’t accessing UIF or PAYE. This was often because individuals didn’t know they could apply. If you’re a struggling small business owner, reach out and seek advice on how to secure financial assistance. The South African government has listed some ways to apply for additional funding here.

  2. Prioritising financial planning: Small businesses frequently face cash-flow and liquidity problems. They’re often extremely dependent on clients paying invoices on time. McKinsey suggests it’s crucial to establish the right financial, operational and strategic structures to bolster resilience. Amid the pandemic, it might be time to reprioritise finances and meet with an adviser who can deliver a financial roadmap for sustained ‘health’. It might also be necessary to scale back ambitious plans and focus on the company’s core offering.

  3.  Seeking alternatives: With Covid-19, many businesses have had to take drastic measures and switch to alternative suppliers, distribution channels and even entirely new products and services. Not harnessing the power of e-commerce, for example, could be detrimental in a time when consumers are online more than ever before. Adaptability is the name of the game.

  4.  Scaling at the right time: A common mistake many entrepreneurs make is trying to scale at a fast pace before the foundations are really in place. Another issue is hiring too soon. While it’s admirable to want to create job opportunities for others, it could also be detrimental if the business isn’t ready to support this. Growth is, of course, often dependent on hiring. But hiring too soon could dampen growth. It’s about getting the balance right.

  5. Avoiding owner trap: When your business is your baby, you might find it very difficult to trust anyone else to lead it. And that’s a big problem. McKinsey found that many SMEs struggle to move beyond a restrictive owner mindset, often because strong performance management and operational systems aren’t in place. Avoid the owner trap by hiring the right people for well-defined roles with clear KPIs. Then have the confidence to delegate decision making. It’s wise to invest in capacity building at the leadership level when you can.

Santam understands that running a successful business takes years of hard work and the right partnerships. And when you work hard to succeed, you need good and proper insurance that helps you thrive. No matter the type and size of your business, or your vision for it, you can rely on our in-depth expertise of over 103 years to protect it. Santam. Insurance good and proper.

To find out more about our insurance solutions best suited for your business, speak to your intermediary or visit

Santam is an authorised financial services provider (licence number 3416)

6 Trends for entrepreneurs to embrace right now

With the world slowly starting to recover, 2021 has become a year for rebuilding. While most small businesses have suffered, there are stirrings of optimism, with some even going so far as naming 2021 the year of the entrepreneur. Changed consumer habits, a 40% global rise in ecommerce, expanded available workforce and less competition may create the optimal climate for entrepreneurial-minded individuals to start something new – or hone an existing enterprise.

Here are some of the main trends that entrepreneurs should consider, as outlined by McKinsey in its ‘Next Normal’ insights:

  1. A consumer rebound: McKinsey believes that as people’s confidence is restored, spending will resume, with pent-up demand prompting unprecedented ‘revenge shopping’. It predicts the hospitality and entertainment sectors, especially, will see dramatic recovery. Entrepreneurs should consider ways to satisfy demand, while still helping people stay safe by following best-practice Covid-19 protocols.

  2. A leisure travel rebound: South Africa has already seen a rise in domestic travel. McKinsey anticipates a big rebound in the tourism space, especially as global vaccination efforts pay off. This is excellent news for local business ventures – particularly those in the hospitality sector.

  3. Disruption creates space: The same insights report cited the fact that disruption – from world wars to global economic crashes – always catalyses space for new waves of innovation. Chaos creates demand for new types of solutions to satisfy consumers’ shifting habits and behaviours. Right now, entrepreneurs have a real opportunity to devise businesses built around answering the collective challenges South Africans are experiencing.

  4. The embracing of ecommerce: Forbes suggests ecommerce has increased by almost 40% since the start of the pandemic. It floats the idea that consumers have never been as accessible to entrepreneurs as they are right now. This is because online consumption is at an all time high and adoption of online shopping has skyrocketed. Entrepreneurs who take their businesses online should be in prime position to reach their target audiences.

  5. More access to funds and people: It’s a sad truth that the pandemic has caused myriad small businesses to close. This means less competition for entrepreneurs. It also means an increase in the available workforce, and, potentially, more access to funding from investors.

  6. Going green: Finally, it’s become increasingly clear that consumers care about the ethics of what they consume. So, entrepreneurs that can find ways to ‘green’ their operations and embrace authentic sustainability as part of their business strategies may well win loyal fans.

Santam understands that running a successful business takes years of hard work and the right partnerships. And when you work hard to succeed, you need good and proper insurance that helps you thrive. No matter the type and size of your business, or your vision for it, you can rely on our in-depth expertise of over 102 years to protect it. Santam. Insurance good and proper.

To find out more about our insurance solutions best suited for your business, speak to your intermediary or visit

Santam is an authorised financial services provider (licence number 3416)

Could the pandemic be the catalyst for collaboration between industries?

Entrepreneur Kim Whitaker is a coronavirus survivor who was spurred on to take action after a conversation with a doctor and fellow entrepreneur. Whitaker’s hospitality business, and her industry as a whole, was impacted enormously by the pandemic. But, while she was quarantined at home, a Zoom-call discussion encouraged her to join in the fight against the disease.

“On the call, someone asked the doctor what he would have done two weeks previously had he known how crazy the situation would get. He replied that he would have arranged accommodation in closed hotels for his staff and colleagues. That really sparked the idea for me since I own two hotels in South Africa,” says Whitaker.

Having returned from Europe, where Italy was already battling the coronavirus, just before the nationwide lockdown was declared, she foresaw her hotels in Johannesburg and Cape Town having to shut down for an extended period of time. “I realised this was likely a problem the entire country would face, so why not find a national solution?”

That solution was Ubuntu Beds, an idea that came together in a matter of days. By the Monday morning after the Saturday’s Zoom call, Ubuntu Beds had a logo and a website, and Kim was on radio explaining how the idea would not only help the country’s healthcare workers but also the hospitality industry.

The concept is simple enough: Provide nearby accommodation to healthcare workers at B&Bs, lodges, guest houses or hotels that are unable to take in guests. This would not only allow these workers, who are at a higher risk of contracting the disease protect their families, but would also help ease the long commutes they had to and from the hospitals where they work. Kim says that since its launch on 31 March, Ubuntu Beds has accommodated more than 700 healthcare workers and is close to having provided 15 000 bed nights.

Refocusing her efforts to help others has shown her that even in the most desperate of times, there is hope. “I like to think of it as when my son has built an amazing structure with Lego, only to have it smashed to bits by my daughter,” she smiles.

“It’s upsetting to think of all the hard work you’ve done but, if you calm your mind and look at it from a different angle, you may be able to build something even more incredible.”

And that’s exactly what she plans on doing with Ubuntu Beds once the global pandemic is over, even if that appears to be only in two years’ time or once a vaccine is available. “The business-sharing economy has really picked up over the past few years with the likes of Uber and Airbnb. These were all solutions to simple problems people had at the time. For example, the idea of Uber was based on the fact that a student wanted to reduce the cost of direct transportation and realised that ride-sharing could make it affordable. So, you could offer someone a lift to either where you are going or a stop along the way. The same goes for Ubuntu Beds.

“How this could work in the future could be by providing accommodation to a family who have travelled from another part of the country for their child to have a life-saving operation at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital or to people left destitute by a natural disaster such as a fire or flood. I’d really like us to start collaborating more with community-based NGOs that can use the service for humanitarian or natural disasters.”

Already, the Ubuntu Beds team has been in discussions to expand its services to hospitals in Namibia and other countries, backed by Booking Cares, the CSI arm of Dutch-based

“Booking Cares has been amazing,” says Kim. “They were the first ones to identify our programme as being able to work in other countries and even donated €45 000 to Ubuntu Beds, which is not an insignificant amount. Another incredible corporate partner who has been one of our most ardent supporter during this time, is the First Rand Spire Fund, which has listed us as a beneficiary of eBucks and donated close to R4 million.”

Individuals and hospitality owners have also come to the party with donations and free accommodation for healthcare workers, showing that South Africa truly is a place of “ubuntu”.

Santam. Insurance good and proper. To find out about our insurance solutions best suited for your business, speak to your broker or visit:

Business in a post-pandemic world

What will the world of business look like post COVID-19? The pandemic has catalysed a period of business unusual, possibly entrenching some behaviours for the long term. Many of these behaviours can be seen in local tech start-up Khula, which has seen sustained growth during the lockdown. They demonstrate what tomorrow’s business landscape may look like. A world where more companies become connectors.

Ayanda Vana, COO of Khula, says the B2B ecommerce marketplace was founded with the intention of connecting farmers directly with buyers. “We provide a centralised platform for buyers to support emerging farmers. During COVID-19, we’ve had more traction as people increasingly turn to ecommerce as an alternative to physical shops. Additionally, we’ve found farmers are seeking new ways to access the market. There’s more openness on all sides.”

Mike Anderson, CEO at the National Small Business Chamber (NSBC), says Khula epitomises a drive many small businesses share to build on core competencies during this time. “We’ll see more businesses focusing on being increasingly digital, data driven and in the cloud. Ecommerce is an important avenue to explore. It will inevitably play a much stronger role that will drive the bottom line for retailers.”

Vana says Khula was founded three years ago and already has over 3 000 farmers on its system. She adds that one of the biggest struggles for emerging farmers is access to the market. Khula was created to help remove these barriers. “When selling at a traditional fresh-produce market, farmers typically lose about 16% of what they’re making to an agent. Then, a further 30% goes to logistics costs. To put it in perspective, a consumer could buy lettuce off the shelf for R36. But just R3 of that goes to the farmer. We wanted to solve the very real challenge of cutting out the middleman to put more money in farmers’ pockets to encourage farmer-buyer collaboration at fair prices.”

There are a few lessons to be learnt from this business model for other organisations hoping to revive their relevancy in a post-pandemic world.

  1. Solve a shared challenge: Vana says this is likely to be at the core of more businesses going forward. During COVID-19, thriving organisations are often those that spotted a shared challenge and implemented an intelligent solution.

  2. Look for ways to iteratively micro-innovate: Khula identified that logistics issues are another major concern for emerging farmers. Buying ‘input’ resources like fertiliser takes up valuable time. So Khula now offers input materials on its platform as well. The start-up kept asking ‘how can we improve the farming experience, to help more farmers grow and move out of the emerging space?’ By constantly seeking small step-changes, organisations can foster faster growth.

  3. Be a connector: It’s likely many more businesses will take on this role, now and in the future. With the growth of ecommerce and online platforms, there are myriad opportunities to connect service providers and suppliers to consumers, buyers or other businesses. This has been a long-standing tech company trend (Alibaba B2B marketplace, for example) and is driven by consumer expectations. Vana says, “Consumers now expect a centralised hub to act and transact from – think of Google. There’s a trend around tech being used to centralise connections. This will definitely grow.”

  4. Adopt tech the smart way: Vana says it is very expensive to build a tech solution from scratch. And it’s often unnecessary. Rather see what’s available and how you can integrate it to fit your needs.

  5. Consider ecommerce, but have the logistics to back up it up:  According to World Wide Worx, South Africa’s online retail industry accounts for only 1.4% of total retail right now. That’s already beginning to change. Buying patterns are shifting as South Africans trust ecommerce more. However, any company considering selling online needs to have a robust logistics plan in place. Customers don’t want to wait for their items. Delivery needs to be as quick as possible. Vana adds, “Hopefully, more businesses will also consider how to coordinate their logistics to better service remote rural areas as well.”

  6. Focus on shared value: Vana says, “The success of your business is based on the success of the community. If people don’t have jobs and steady sources of income, they can’t support you. Everything we do speaks to the heart of a problem or need that the community has. We want to effect actual social change through our offering.” This will be crucial in the post COVID-19 landscape. More than ever, businesses will be expected to be bastions of social change.  

Anderson concludes, “Our advice for businesses looking to adopt a tech-led approach is to investigate cost-effective, proven solutions that can be easily adopted – specifically, flexible pay-as-you-go solutions. Now’s the time to embrace change as inevitable and to focus on implementing a meaningful approach to creating shared value. Right now, sustainability-minded businesses that benefit communities will be the success stories of the future.”

Santam. Insurance good and proper. To find out about our insurance solutions best suited for your business, speak to your broker or visit:

How to change your business game plan in tense economic times

Adapting to unprecedented circumstances is not easy. Pivoting takes planning, agility, courage, and a collaborative approach. Now is the time for entrepreneurs to spot market gaps and come up with the micro-innovations required to fill them. Philippa Wild from Santam and Doris Viljoen from Stellenbosch University weigh in on how businesses can change their game plan to emerge stronger from these times of business unusual.

Philippa Wild, Head of Commercial Underwriting at Santam, says an entrepreneurial mindset is essential in the current climate. “To change your game plan and adapt to the pandemic – it’s pivotal to really hone in on what’s important right now. An entrepreneurial mindset begins with curiosity and a sustained hunger to learn. Harness this and use the pandemic to force focus and drive innovation.”

Here are some of Wild’s suggestions for nimbly taking a new route to strengthen a business:

  1. People first, always: The decision to pivot needs to be a shared one. Ensure you ask for input from your team and make it a collaborative effort from the start. Open the floor to hear your stakeholder’s suggestions and solutions; ramp up continuous communications – it’s better to over-communicate than under-communicate. Make sure everyone feels comfortable, with clearly defined roles, emotional support and training throughout the transition.

  2. Look ahead: It’s easy to be paralysed by fear and indecision when surrounded by so much uncertainty. Now is the time to review your business operations and services; and seek stronger, cost-effective alternatives when possible. Identify any business gaps or opportunities for iterative innovation and pursue them. Be cautious with your expenditure and how you use your time. Keep thinking beyond the pandemic – how are you setting your business up for the long-term?

  3. Be purpose-led and client-centric: Right now, many South Africans are struggling. Businesses that can offer real value and make a tangible impact on people’s lives in some way earn loyalty. Now is the time to take client-centricity to new heights. Refine the customer journey at every touchpoint, eliminate pain points and streamline efficiencies. Look at ways to bring in consistent micro-innovations, and ask your customers for their ideas and feedback.

  4. Protect what you’ve built: Make sure your business and assets are properly insured. If you’re planning to change how you do things, consider how this will impact your personal and business cover needs. For instance, with remote working, are all your assets like PCs covered for home use? Have you considered your sums insured and whether your cover needs to be increased, for example, due to changes in the exchange rate? And have you adjusted your premiums to account for the fact you may not be driving as much?

While Wild gives some insight into what to consider for pivoting, Doris Viljoen, Senior Futurist at Stellenbosch University’s Institute for Futures Research, shares emerging trends that could inspire how to pivot. “Numerous global trends were already emerging before the COVID-19 pandemic, and now they provide opportunities for businesses that are considering a move to something new.” 

Viljoen highlights four trends that hold exciting possibilities:

  1. Platform organisations: People are increasingly willing to share assets, and platform technologies enable them to acquire and pay for or share access to an asset. This allows businesses to innovate and interact with one another in ways not previously possible.

  2. Order from the source/shorten the supply chain:  Growing numbers of customers are looking for products from their own community, items that are proudly home grown.  It is an eco-conscious trend where consumers are looking for products that did not have to be imported over long distances; they want a smaller carbon footprint.

  3. (Re)Emergence of the makers, artisans and fixers: Artisan-everything is increasing (think bread, alcoholic beverages, jams, clothing, cheese, cured meat, oils, vinegar, etc.). The fixers (plumbers, electricians, people that fix or repurpose existing products and make new ones through woodwork, metalwork, etc.) are also enjoying increasing market opportunities because people are becoming more responsible in terms of re-using assets to reduce potential waste.

  4. Increased connectivity and digital fluency fuelling digital disruption: Digital communication systems span the globe, bringing the possibility of increased connectivity and the potential to communicate with anyone or anything at any time and from anywhere. People’s levels of digital fluency are growing as well. Together, these two trends open opportunities for the digital disruption of existing systems. 

Wild concludes, “Changing your game plan takes gumption, courage and forward-thinking. It’s critical to scenario-plan to mitigate prospective risks and give yourself every chance of success. Make sure your business is properly covered, so you protect what you have built and are in the process of building. Speak to your financial adviser to come up with a plan to navigate your insurance needs as your business model changes.”

Santam. Insurance good and proper. To find out about our insurance solutions best suited for your business, speak to your broker or visit:

Could COVID-19 help curb the gender leak?

This time of business unusual could present an incredible opportunity for women, says Phillipa Geard, founder and CEO of RecruitMyMom. The award-winning South African entrepreneur believes the global move to remote working could play a pivotal role in combating the ‘gender leak’ – the loss of women from the workplace during child-rearing years.

“The ability to work more flexibly and remotely is a powerful combination. It could help to curb the gender leak, allowing for more equal progression into senior roles. Right now, many women leave the workforce just as their careers are taking off, while men continue to advance to leadership roles. This creates gender disparity at the top. The impact of COVID-19 could see businesses get better at retaining female talent, leading to more diversity at the leadership level. Research also shows this change benefits businesses’ bottom-lines.”

Geard is well-qualified to comment on this topic. This mom of two founded recruiting agency RecruitMyMom in 2012 to provide opportunities for skilled mothers driven out the workplace by inflexible work practices. She aimed to find a way to stop the gender and skills leak. She identified remote working as a solution early on, and now the pandemic has finally accelerated the adoption of an agenda she has been pushing for eight years.

The 2019 winner of the Santam Women of the Future competition has had a tough time during the lockdown. The year 2019 was RecruitMyMom’s best fiscal year to date, but the economic impact of the pandemic has inevitably seen a significant drop in businesses hiring new recruits. Geard went from a full job book to next to no job book in a week. Initially, she froze; and then she realised her clients would be in a similar position.

So, she refocused her business to educate and inspire clients to make the move towards remote working. “As a result of lockdown, this way of working had leapfrogged to the fore. We’ve focused on being an information facilitator, helping our clients to seamlessly adjust to having a team out of the office. We’ve always said it’s about productivity, not presence. It’s amazing how quickly the world is now adapting to this idea.”

She says business picked up in May 2020 with some global interest, as organisations around the world recognise the benefits of remote skills and an advantageous exchange rate. This is excellent news for the almost 100 000 skilled mothers (and other career-flex workers) on Geard’s books. Going forward, these talented individuals and other women around the world may find it easier than ever before to land permanent or contractual work on remote teams. “It would be incredible if this crisis ultimately translates into more jobs for women. Another thing we’ve seen is the need for empathetic leadership over this period. Women often excel in softer skills like communication, creativity, collaboration, high conscientiousness and organisational capabilities – many of the traits remote teams need.”

She adds that many global businesses are positively progressive when it comes to supporting female talent. “Organisations like Procter & Gamble, for example, give women the option of a two-year career break, with the guarantee they can come back at the same level at which they left. Hopefully, we’ll begin to see more of this as employers realise the benefits of empowering their employees with choices that inspire loyalty and hard work.”

Alongside remote work and flexibility, Geard also supports looking at benefits – like medical aid, for example – along with fair maternity policies and clear KPIs. Much of her perspective comes down to “fixing” the antiquated notion that a person needs to sit at a desk for eight hours to receive traditional employee benefits. “Employers should ensure their requirements are based on outputs against deliverables rather than time spent at a desk. Again, productivity, not presence, counts.”

To find out about our insurance solutions best suited for your business, speak to your broker or visit:

4 Tips on how businesses can navigate today’s complex risks

1 May, South Africa: An entrepreneurial spirit is a mindset of constantly wanting to learn, share and disrupt the norm. This is even more vital when trying to keep your business afloat in the current economic environment the world finds itself in. Why? Because tough times often force focus and drive innovation, leading businesses to come out of the storm stronger and more accomplished than before.

Philippa Wild, Head of Commercial Lines at Santam, says, “This is unchartered territory for all individuals and businesses alike, with many facing loss of revenue, retrenchments or bankruptcy. According to the 2019 Santam Insurance Barometer, small to mid-sized companies had business confidence levels of 45% to 46% respectively, due to their ability to absorb the consequences of a subdued economy.  In the current climate, these have decreased.  However, now more than ever, South African businesses need to bolster their confidence, find opportunity in adversity and evolve in order to weather the storm.”

Below, Wild shares four key insights for businesses to keep continuity during this tough economic environment:

  1. Prioritise your people: Your employees are by far your most valuable asset, so put measures in place to protect them as far as possible. Ensure all your employees understand the hazards to their health and safety within the workplace should you be able to operate during the pandemic and implement all precautionary measures that you can to reduce exposure. In addition to this, offer as much financial and emotional support as your company can afford, if and when necessary, to encourage your employees to keep on producing at your normal standard.
  1. Prepare for post-lockdown: Now may be the time to review your business operations and services and upgrade to stronger, more efficient alternatives. If possible, consider updating outdated equipment or implementing key training for staff. Do a review of your business to see where there may be gaps that might have cost you revenue or gaps in the market that you can cater to. Use your time wisely and spend time reflecting.
  1. Refine your client journey: Client-centricity is key to long-term business success, especially in an age of unprecedented transparency. Map out your clients’ current journey at every touch-point – from awareness to post-purchase stage – then identify how you can streamline this to automate more of the admin and optimise the user experience (UX). Ask your clients and staff for input, conduct surveys, and test different solutions.  Right now, encourage iterative micro-innovations that’ll enable you to learn but won’t cost you too much if they don’t work.
  1. Get up close and personal with your insurance: Now is the time toensure that you’re adequately insured and prevent any further losses. Interrogate your policies and make a checklist of what is covered and what is not. This way, you can pick up on where you are left most vulnerable and take the steps to mitigate risk. Speak to a broker to fully understand your insurance policies without making assumptions.

Wild concludes, “It is important to note that having good risk management practices, updated safety training for employees and clients alike, as well as a solid plan for the new normal can influence whether or not a business makes it past this next hurdle. To further bolster our clients’ businesses during this time, Santam has made R400-million available as COVID-19 relief to help clients, suppliers, and contribute to the Government’s Solidarity Fund.”

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Smart cash flow habits to keep your business growing

According to research, poor cash flow management is one of the biggest reasons small businesses fail after they’ve launched. As an entrepreneur, good cash flow management is important to keep your company growing financially. Here are some tips to successfully manage money generated by your growing company:

Set up a cash flow forecast: Do trajectories for the next year or quarter, and update the forecast weekly. Identify when you expect to break even and establish the economic benchmarks necessary to meet along the way.

Balance customer and supplier payments: Money coming in must match or surpass money going out to save you from extended overdraft. To collect receivables (payments owed to you) timelessly, ensure you have an effective debt collection system in place and incentivise early or upfront payments with manageable discounts. Invoice immediately – don’t wait until month-end – and don’t shy away from asking for partial payments upfront. In terms of payables (payments you owe), negotiate with suppliers and vendors to get good deals and extend payables when possible.

Be frugal: Only spend on essentials that will help achieve cash flow forecast milestones. Save in the good months – you need a cash reserve to carry you through the hard times. Keep fixed costs low – such as your rent. Lower fixed costs mean more potential profit.

Invest in local marketing: Get your business name out there to attract more clients. Then retain customers with quality goods, exceptional service and a focus on real relationship-building.

Partner with the right people: Spend a bit more if you can to hire the right staff. Be open with your team and make cash flow management a priority for everyone. Don’t handle the financial side of the business – utilise the services of professionals such as tax experts and accountants to promote positive financial health. Build a relationship with the financial institution you partner with and ensure they understand your business mission and financial goals.

Look out for more business tips and advice on this page.

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