Staying in touch from our couch to yours #thepowerofsmall

Busi is an incredibly passionate young woman and we had the best time with her during our couch session. We spoke about everything from post-Lockdown food cravings, to the importance of having an e-commerce strategy and small acts of kindness that we, as South Africans, can do to help SME’s and local entrepreneurs…

TLM: Tell us more about who you are – and also more about your brand…

Busi: I’m a young millennial, who is really passionate about entrepreneurship, as well as driving financial, digital inclusion in the country. So that’s kinda me. And then I have a business where I import different teas from Kenya. The brand is called Kericho Gold. I sell the tea at different pop-up markets as well as e-commerce platforms. I started the business in 2017.I was just travelling to Kenya and I bought my husband a gift – a luxury tea box. That’s how the business started after having a great cup of apple and cinnamon tea…

TLM: Do you travel to Kenya a lot?

Busi: I used to travel a lot – but now I have made a connection with the company who actually manufactures the tea, so now everything is just via phone and emails in order for us to order or touch base.

TLM: How has Lockdown impacted your business?

Busi: I’ve got a very interesting balance in terms of my business, I’ve alluded to earlier. So with now pop-up markets at all I have had no sales whatsoever from a brick-and-mortar type setup. I’m very dependent on pop-up markets because people get to taste the tea, they get to enjoy the tea and communicate- you get to explore. So for example not being able to trade at The Linden Market which is one of my best and top market performers is a very different experience because I don’t have my regular customers who come and buy tea. That’s the one view of it.

If I look at my graphs, yesterday I was actually doing an analysis – so there’s 0% revenue from pop-up markets because there is no trade. Then there’s the other side of the business when luckily in 2018 I made the decision to go onto e-commerce. I trade on where now I’ve got an upward trajectory in terms of sales on the e-commerce side because I invested in an e-commerce strategy in the earlier phases of the business. There I’m seeing a huge growth week-on-week. I have been tracking every week of Lockdown if tea is improving, so that’s been the benefit. At least I can still trade, I’m an essential good…

TLM: Except for focusing on the e-commerce side of your business, how else have you adapted your business during Lockdown?

Busi: Even if you are online, you still have to create brand presence, brand awareness and be present because you technically have a captive audience everyone is on their phone and what I have tried doing is running a digital competition on Instagram to try and engage with the followers and any tea lover or the tea community. I’m getting people to be creative, to send poems but using the word “tea”. They have to change the word like quali-tea, agili-tea, simplici-tea, I want tranquili-tea. Then I giveaway prizes. I got some really cool insights and quirky quotes from tea-lovers – it’s been a very lovely experience.

The other one was like a mugshot where you are feeling guil-tea… so you send a photo of yourself with a cup of tea and then I would add a link that redirects you to see the tea, or buy the tea etc. So that’s my play and how I have positioned seeing that I don’t have the physical interaction.

TLM: When I phoned you to ask if we could have a couch session, you were actually on the road delivering tea. Do you do all the deliveries yourself?

Busi: I only do the Takealot delivery part. I think it’s that onbe trip that I get to do where I get some me-time and I’m not with everybody else. I go to the Takealot DC, I drop it off and go back home. I’ve also got a courier company which helps me fulfil Gauteng deliveries. But it’s also very difficult getting hold of other courier companies because some aren’t fully trading, others are only delivering masks, hand sanitizers etc and not really food stuff. The winners of the online competition in Cape Town will only get their tea after Lockdown.

TLM: When you are not driving around, couriering, what else are you keeping yourself busi with during this time?

Busi: A balance – I love my TV. I’ve been watching a lot of Showmax, DSTV, Netflix. A LOT of TV time which has been really cool. Catching up on all the content and series that I have been missing. Here and there I will pick up a book, like an entrepreneurial one to give me some inspiration, which will probably then spark another creative moment. And then the domestic part, the cooking, the cleaning, the laundry… now more than ever I’m missing the ladies who help in our house. I’m suffering!!!!

Then there’s been times where we’re tired of TV so we played some games like 30 Seconds, or bake or do something.

TLM: What do you think is the one thing that you are going to miss about this time of Lockdown?

Busi: Not driving. And that’s the weirdest part – Even though I do the occasional drop-off here and there I think the whole long distance commuting, if I for instance have to go see a client – it’ll be like “but I can just phone you??” “We can just dial in to get the work done”. The fact that there is no long distance commute is one of the things I am treasuring during the Lockdown. I’m also treasuring your me-time. Like in terms of just sitting and not having to be in a crowded space. Connecting with yourself. Having time to intro-spect. To reflect on yourself as well as your business and asking yourself the difficult questions that I think we don’t have time to address when we are on the go Time to slow down…

TLM: What are you most looking forward toafter Lockdown?

Busi: The funniest thing! I had a call with my family on Sunday and we all said we want Chicken Licken.

TLM: When you went into Lockdown, what was the one thing that you wanted to achieve by the end of it?

Busi: Admin! I think that’s one of the things that as an entrepreneur you usually leave on the backburner. I was like “ja I’ll get to it, I’ll get to it…”. I still haven’t gotten to it, but I still have week. Doing the recons, data-capturing, the analysis, be able to start the next half of the year on a clean slate, knowing everything has been administered.

TLM: You said you are passionate about entrepreneurship. How would you like the South African Public to better support small business in our country?

Busi: I think buying from small businesses. I think it all starts with a purchase. It doesn’t matter how big it is, or how small it is, I think it is just about starting with a purchase. Supporting small businesses really has a ripple effect – it goes to the family. Your expense lines are not as big as big corporates so at least you know the bottom line goes to where it’s supposed to go and serve that purpose.

The second thing is also about us as entrepreneurs to collaborate now more than ever the Lockdown has sparked thoughts of creativity as well as how can I collaborate, who can I collaborate with and take my business to the next level. Because the game has changed and collaboration is the new competition… so I think that is also very important. And I think looking for tools that are out there. If I look for example at YOCO just launched a digital payment voucher system to help small businesses now during Lockdown get some cash flow. So I can buy a voucher for loveTEAtime that I can then redeem sometime in future and then it would have helped with the cash flow. So I think it is about finding those things during Lockdown that will help us post-Lockdown.

I also think beyond sales sharing brand awareness. A picture, a tweet, share – it will go far and it will end up in the home of a tea-lover without you even knowing. Just those small random acts of kindness that I think will really help small businesses and get the South African public to build this nation.

TLM: What is the one piece of hope of advice that you can give to other small businesses and entrepreneurs?

Busi: Get onto E-commerce!!!!! It’s very, very important. You need to have a balance in the strategy. If you have a physical store, get online, get a website, get an e-commerce plugpoint. It doesn’t matter if you run your own shop on your website or if you go sell on a Takealot or a Superbalist. I read an article on Linkedin, there’s a retail store in the UK, called Primark. They were making £650 000 000 a month selling clothes in their shops. Their income has gone over night to £0. Why? They had no e-commerce strategy, no e-commerce plan. That’s like being a millionaire to completely broke overnight. So get an e-commerce strategy.

The second thing – Digitise your business in other ways as well. If you were trading at pop-up markets like The Linden Market and you didn’t have a card-machine or you didn’t take QR-codes payments. There’s so many players in the market – get a YOCO, Zapper, Snapscan get something! Get digital because after this there is going to be less cash trading hands, because people are going to be freaked out – have I sanitized that R100 bill? And if you don’t have digital payment systems people will move on to the next stall. Digitize, digitize, digitize!

And the last thing is talk. If you need help, talk. If I can’t help you, I will find someone who can. Don’t struggle in silence. That’s the direction we as a society should go in. If we truly believe in Ubuntu as one of the values, then now more than ever it’s the time to live it.