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by Mark Robertson

Global financial crisis, global financial crisis, global financial crisis. No matter what you call it, it seems to be all people have been talking about for months. The GFC, as it is now more affectionately known, has had varied and wide-ranging implications. It has seen the international markets bouncing around like a rugby ball, with local and national businesses in strife, numerous economic failures and Australia's soon to be excessive budget deficit. The next thing you know, someone will even find a hidden link to blame the GFC for the swine flu.

When it comes to dealing with the challenges we face in this climate though, I'd rather like to think South African business people have a certain edge. Another rather popular topic of conversation, the Springboks, have always been the true icon of South African sport. No matter what sphere of life you come from, nor where in the world you may be, you'll find South Africans cheering loudly for them at every opportunity.

They have always had the reputation of being big, strong, physical and mentally tough both on and off the field, and these personality traits are not limited to the South African sportsmen and women. Strength and resilience are also very common traits amongst the broader South African business community.

In addition to mental and physical strength though, there has long beenanother trademark of South African rugby, the big strong forward pack. The focus is on being willing to do battle up front, keeping the ball in close, showing mental toughness and gaining metres, one by one. Of course, all while fighting off the challenges of the opposition. This bears many similarities to the current business environment. Gone are the recent, lucrative markets where the 'high risk, high reward, skip pass to the wing or the speculative cross kick for the corner ‘are the methods required to succeed in the business environment. When the game feels like it is getting away from you, it is important to get back to what South Africans do best, keeping it in the forwards. All business owners and employees should be focusing on taking small, progressive steps towards the goal line. This is at least an area over which you can have some control, and it is far more productive than focusing on the external market conditions.

Once you have started to move in the right direction, don't forget that even during the tough times, there are opportunities to better your business. These can be in the form of acquisitions of struggling competitors or potential suppliers, the chance to restructure and focus on a new product line, potential mergers or joint ventures. Once your forward pack is in place and is working effectively, you can let the back line break away and make a move on those more risky opportunities, breaking the oppositions defense and scoring the winning try.

Every good team needs a great deal of support, during both the good times and the tough times. If you would like to review your game plan, make an appointment with our WHK business consultants who can guide you and your business through the tough battles of business and help you score the winning try.

Posted in business |
Posted by Mark Robertson
20 Aug 2009

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Hi Mark What a great article and love the analogy of the forward pack, you gave me a few usefull tools to use in my role as a sales rep, thank you. Thank you for reiterating the strength and resilience in South Africans.
Rating: 5 / 5
by Janet Dalton on 04 Sep 2009

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