New Opportunities for Entrepreneurs in a Changing Economy

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In the past, the majority of adults in the workforce tended to look for a career that would see them through to retirement in their 60s. They were happy to work for one company for the duration of their working life.

Times have changed. Today, we have an ageing Baby Boomer generation living longer and needing to work well past “retirement age”, and millennials wanting more independence, work satisfaction and variety. High levels of debt see many, across the age groups, working more than one “job” to service debt and achieve the living standards they aspire to. At the same time, challenging economic times are seeing companies streamlining, getting leaner and looking at ways to reduce overheads.

All this has led to a new-look workforce, an unprecedented rise in the number of freelances, “slashers” earning additional income over and above their main job, solopreneurs and the otherwise self-employed as independent contracting becomes a mainstream way of life. Adaptive business models are also emerging, which tap into what has been variously termed the freelance economy, gig economy and liquid workforce.

“The future is now. Companies in South Africa must adapt, just as they are having to do internationally,” says Tony Marchesini, business owner and managing director of H2O International.

According to Upwork, the world’s largest freelancing website, the top drivers motivating people to go on their own are the desire to be their own boss, to choose when they work, to choose their own projects, to choose where they work and to earn extra money.

“As business owners, we need to look at offering independent opportunities that suit this new spirit of independence, whether that’s allowing your sales force to work independently from home or remotely, or adapting franchise models to suit the new spirit of entrepreneurship,” Marchesini continues. “We must recognize and face the challenges of the future head-on and build organisations that will support the 21st-century workforce.”

In Old Mutual’s latest Savings and Investment Monitor survey, while only 13% of respondents defined themselves as self-employed, 43% (up from 37% in 2017) of both young and older South Africans said they were generating additional income from work other than their main employment.

Annette Muller, founder of Flexy, a South African digital platform that facilitates on-demand working for individuals and companies, says, “We are definitely seeing the rise of the ‘solopreneur’ in SA, with more and more people leveraging their own skills, networks and technology to make a living on their own terms.”

As Tony Marchesini says, South Africa’s corporates have to adapt and this is why H2O International has taken the decision to evolve its business strategy as the company adapts its franchise model. “We’ve taken note of emerging entrepreneurs, as well as the current retail landscape and consumer trends, by lifting the timeline in which a franchise must open a retail space,” says Marchesini. “This is in order to give new franchisees the scope to scout for optimal retail positions and build their business before outlaying capital for a retail space. By creating a seamless experience between the digital and a physical presence, we are providing a flexible franchise model that ensures that our franchisees have the support to succeed in the retail environment but is also tailored to the revolution in the way people want to make money now. They don’t want to be chained to a desk, making money for someone else – they want their independence. If we as business owners make it easy for them to achieve that, we grow the creative entrepreneurial side of our economy and we all win!”

H2O International South Africa has been franchising its very own unique Water Bar concept for the past eighteen years. “To meet the rising demands for purified water in Southern Africa and the need to adapt to a changing workforce, we have introduced two new franchising opportunities – the H2O Water Kiosk and the H2O Water Station. Candidate franchisees have a choice of different business models and all offer great scope for growth and the freedom to determine how you want to progress. Outlets operate on a direct selling model and each franchisee is responsible for appointing their own sales team to sell and market H2O International’s range of products through in-home presentations and exhibitions.

For more information please visit www.h2o.co.za or call (021) 702 3262.