Fast Company (SA) Editor-In-Chief, Wesley Diphoko, spoke to newly-elected president of the Durban chapter
of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO), Clinton Holcroft, about dealing with challenges in business and how his
organisation can provide support
FC: What kind of challenges did you experience?
CH: It was hard before due to COVID-19. Recent unrest in Durban has just made things worse. We’ve seen certain businesses being badly impacted. Businesses in the hospitality and events sectors have shut down. Landlords have been impacted. And then we had to deal with unrest. Businesses that were resilient and those that adapted and pivoted have survived. The reality is that these crises will come at us when we least expect them. South African businesses are resilient, but we operate in an environment that is not very supportive of business.
FC: How does EO support member businesses to deal with challenges?
CH: Personally, I have found great value as a member in being able to seek guidance and learn from the experiences of EO colleagues. To hear how fellow entrepreneurs have dealt with challenges similar to ones I faced and to be much wiser because of the interactions has been enormously valuable. It’s not a network for us to sell to each other. EO is an organisation of business people who work together. People share how they are dealing with challenging experiences. This enables members to learn from each other. The organisation is a non-profit entity. It’s a peer-to-peer network of more than 14 000 influential business owners, with 193 chapters in 60 countries, open for membership to entrepreneurs with businesses which turn over more than one million dollars (US) a year. At EO Durban we have 55 members who have a turnover of about R2.7 billion, and we employ about 6000 people. We also have an accelerator programme for smaller businesses with about R450 000 turnover.
FC: What is the vision for EO Durban?
CH: The theme for the year is “Stronger Together”. In other words, by being part of the network you can be exposed to ideas and learn from other business owners who can assist with improving growth. FC: What is your advice for dealing with challenges and how does EO assist? CH: We are putting together learning events to help members make their businesses become an asset of value. In these events we invite speakers to share their experiences on how they dealt with challenges. I think another approach that I encourage is to apply the theory of not letting a crisis go to waste. We can find opportunities in adversity. Businesses that build such an approach into their business will thrive. These crisis points can be opportunities for growth. The more we as leaders focus on forward-looking initiatives through customer interactions, the more sustainable our businesses will be and the more we will be able to find growth opportunities.
FC: What are your thoughts about dealing with the changing future of work?
CH: The reality as entrepreneurs and staff is we need to be constantly learning and upskilling. The reality now is that access to information has never been easier and as cost effective. In my business we offer Udemy courses for our staff and encourage them to be constantly learning. Basically, a growth mind-set is important. About remote work, I think there are positives and negatives: We spend less time travelling, but it’s harder to connect with staff and customers. As we get more vaccinated, we are hoping for a bit of both.
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