How to run a small business in the dark during load shedding

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PHOTO: iStock

It is an important skill nowadays to run a small business in the dark due to load shedding. Small business owners now also have to ensure they have enough data and batteries, as well as gas or a charged inverter to ensure they can deliver the goods or services they sell.

Research from Alexander Forbes suggests that South Africa loses over R4 billion every day that the country is on stage 6 which means that the impact of load shedding stretches far beyond the frustration of having to remember to charge your devices. Load shedding puts businesses and subsequently, livelihoods, at risk.

According to iKhokha, that supplies card payment technology for small business, load shedding affects small businesses in various ways. Load shedding not just an irritation, but it can very easily leave your business with a drastic drop in monthly income, foot traffic and overall performance.

Therefore, the best thing you can do is prepare yourself for the issues load shedding causes, such as loss of production and income, theft and burglary, and poor connectivity.

Loss of production
If you rely heavily on electricity to run your business’s machinery and equipment, productivity will decline when load shedding strikes because without functioning equipment, you will not be able to manufacture products, provide services or transact digitally.

Loss of income
Consumers tend to postpone their shopping during load shedding to avoid challenges such as dark stores where you cannot find what you are looking for and stores cannot accept digital payments. The drop in foot traffic that results drops your sales and dents your overall income according to iKhokha.

Theft and burglary
The best time for theft and burglary is when the lights are out and alarm systems are disarmed, making your business an easy target for thieves who hide in the shadows.

Poor connectivity

Poor connectivity is a big problem for online business owners whose “shops” are only accessible through the internet. Almost every aspect of online business requires a device and an internet connection to run smoothly and without it, how would you fill orders or communicate with customers?

However, iKhokha says you can be proactive and protect your small business. “It is no use knowing about all the things that can go wrong when load shedding hits, with no idea about how to avoid the risk, or at least minimise the damage.”

iKhokha has these practical measures you can put in place to keep the load shedding woes at bay:

  • Make it your duty to stay informed at all times. You must always know what stage of load shedding your area is in and what time you will be affected. The last thing you need is to be surprised (and left in the dark, scrambling for a torch!).
  • Look for alternative energy solutions. Businesses are increasingly investing in uninterrupted power supply (UPS), generators and solar power systems to ensure load shedding does not affect them. Although this can be quite a costly investment, many believe the benefits far outweigh the cost.
  • Back up your data. When load shedding kicks in and you lose connectivity or your device switches off, you may find yourself in a situation where you lose the document you were working on or unsaved records just disappear into thin air. Save yourself the stress of having to go through that and make it a regular practice to back up your data.
  • Unplug your equipment from wall sockets. Once the dreaded dark hours are over and the electricity has returned, the power surge could affect the steady voltage flow in the electrical system, which can damage the electronic components of the equipment plugged in.
  • Plan ahead to maintain productivity. Try your best to plan your day around load shedding. Allocate the hours of load shedding to tasks you can complete without electricity. Maybe a good spring cleaning? Or perhaps some organising? How about dedicating the time to some upskilling? Flip the switch and make the most out of load shedding to end the day feeling like you managed to get a lot done despite the challenges.

Ina Opperman/The Citizen