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The Small Business Survival Guide: Electricity Crisis Edition

We all know that 2023 has really come in swinging with see-sawing loadshedding stages - trying to keep track of all these fluctuating schedules is frankly pretty exhausting.

Aside from trying to figure out the best times to do laundry, grocery shopping, and navigate all of the worst intersections to cross with no working lights, these power cuts are really effecting our workflows.

Loadshedding is really hammering small businesses in particular. The huge gaps in usable working hours are decreasing productivity, delaying turnaround times, and just generally causing way more stress than we need. Running a business is hard enough as it is without Eskom laughing maniacally in the background.

We really need to stick together as much as we can to weather this storm. Sharing tips and tricks to keep ourselves floating is one of the best ways to lend a helping hand - because if we don’t look out for each other, who else will?

1. Create more revenue streams

If you work in the digital space, come up with some ideas for passive income - things like editing presets, online courses, downloadable templates, and stock imagery.

These are all things that current and prospective customers can buy and download in their own time, essentially earning you money while you (or your electricity) sleep.

If you have a brick-and-mortar store or offer physical goods and services, you could consider offering different add-ons that tie in with what you already provide. Things like packaging, gifting ideas, and decor items can create an opportunity to diversify your revenue streams and attract new customers - helping you cover that lost income during power outages.

For example, as Robyn Davie Photography we offer a variety of photo shoots (family, head shots, events, personal branding), at a variety of price points. We offer custom photo books and prints, designed in house by our team.

Under our subsidiary biz, Fynn Studio, we offer studio rental, do-it-yourself photo book design, e-commerce offerings, and in-studio purchases such as drinks, snacks and props.

Each of these revenue channels has been carefully considered, with market research conducted before launching, and expenses kept as low as possible.

2. Cut down unnecessary expenses

One of the easiest ways to make more is to spend less.

Consider cutting out things that may be unnecessary for your business, or removing products and discontinuing services that aren’t generating much income - things that may be taking up valuable time and resources that could be better spent in other areas.

Go through each and every expense on your monthly report and work out if it's really necessary. Are you printing marketing materials that you never really use? Paying for premium subscriptions to services that you aren’t getting full functionality out of? Spending too much on advertising that isn’t really paying off?

Take some time to streamline your business costs and really think about what’s worth the money and what isn’t.

3. Plan your day

This is probably about the easiest way to structure your day around those pesky loadshedding slots. Make a to-do list of your most important tasks - this could be answering emails, sending out invoices, putting together orders, or organising courier pick-ups.

Rank all the items on your list in terms of time-sensitivity - what are your most urgent deadlines? Which items/images/designs need to be sent out first? Plan out these tasks around your area’s loadshedding schedule to make sure you’re never caught unawares.

Break your day into chunks - one hour for emails, one hour for all the other little to-dos, one hour for social media posting etc etc. Maximise your productive hours. Turn off all notifications and other distractions, and focus dedicate even one hour at a time to whatever task you have in mind.

4. Go digital

Whatever product or service you may offer, now is the time to consider creating a digital version of it.

Can you teach what you do? Set up online lessons.

Can you sell your service digitally, or ship your products via courier? Set up an online store.

The perk of going digital is that, even if your power is down, each customer at some point in their day will still be able to access your products and services online. Moving at least a part of your business online gives you some peace of mind that the wheel can keep on turning, even if the hamster is down for a two hour nap.

Robyn Davie is the CEO of the Robyn Davie Creative Studio brand, based in Johannesburg. Her all-female team offers lifestyle photography, photo book design, and studio rental through Fynn Studio. In 2023 the brand will start offering guides and workbooks to empower other photographers and creatives.

She has Psychology and Corporate Communication degrees, and is constantly pushing herself to learn more on a daily basis. She has more than 15 years combined experience, managing her company; working as an art director and wardrobe stylist; running her own jewellery line in Los Angeles; and working in events in New York and Johannesburg.

The brand has proudly partnered with the iStore from 2020-2023, and won multiple awards through Admired in Africa. Innovation is at the forefront of what they do - always adapting their product offerings, and aiming to stand out from the crowd with fresh, bold and bright photography.




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