3 Critical Tools for Your Small Business to Survive Load Shedding This Year
Member Blog Feature: by Corné of Virtually Centered Solutions
Yes, it’s the new swear word every online service provider dread.
As OSP’s (Online Service Providers) in the virtual assistant industry, you need all the tools you can get to overcome this critical attack on your productivity and not to mention your income. In this article, we discuss the challenges and downright gut-wrenching frustration of electricity cutbacks and how to successfully address this issue without giving up your sanity and your income in the process.
The Good, the Bad & the Ugly
As unheard of as it may seem, our developed country doesn’t have the capacity to supply in the electricity needs of its economy. That much has become apparent over the last few months and especially during the last week as Eskom (our national power supplier) implemented load shedding schedules in order to save electricity. Not far from my mind is the severe load shedding schedules we were submitted to in 2008 when Eskom was having similar problems. Eleven years down the line and at least one family I’ve read of took the lesson to heart. The rest of us again haunted by the same problem as a decade ago.
Only this time it affects me directly! I’m no longer employed by one of the largest insurance companies in the industry. This time I’m the employer. The entrepreneur. The solopreneur. All my services are offered exclusively online and depend, first, on having electricity and secondly internet connectivity. Believe me, I was all over the internet to do the research on my options and any and all possible solutions to this income-assassin called load shedding.
We’re Losing Income in Stages
Aka billable hours… OSP’s, especially Virtual Assistants normally bill per hour. Guess what, when your area or town’s number is up, we are talking about anything between a 2.5 – 7.5 hours loss within a 24-hour period, depending on the stage implemented. If you consider that the average workday is eight hours, you’ll quickly come to the shocking realisation that your livelihood is in serious jeopardy if you don’t have a contingency plan to counter the electricity crises. You may comment that not all load shedding takes place during business hours and you would be right. Always something to be thankful for! VA’s like me, however, are not only bound by business hours; no entrepreneur or small business owner in the process of building and growing their business is.
Every pocket of our time is dedicated to some client task or project. You see, most of us became entrepreneurial OSP’s so we could have the flexibility of working outside the normal 9-5 business hours if we needed to, so we are able to support our families and children during the day. Talk about working double shifts… So that means we need options!
3 Ways to survive off the grid, and counter potential income losses
Working on a desktop, with two monitors is an absolute necessity to me. No laptop or Mac book comes close to the efficiency of two screens. Problem is my UPS only lasts for 1 hour or less if my wi-fi is also connected to it.
The bare necessities we should focus on
Know what you’re up against
Get a free downloadable app that sends push notifications to your mobile or check the Eskom website the night before. Don’t kid yourself if the site says it’s not currently load shedding. Look at Stages 1-4 and add it to your calendar for the following day so you’ll be prepared if push comes to shove. Better yet if you plan for the week ahead and pencil in the downtimes. This will enable you to work around the downtimes as much as possible and provides an easy way to share the possibility of delays with your clients by sharing the day’s calendar entries.
Standby devise for your computer
In my case that would be an 11” Notebook. It’s small enough to almost fit in my handbag yet versatile and allows me at least four productive hours when fully charged. More than enough time to get through a 2.5-hour power outage and ample time to charge before the next one hits. A limited number of tasks can of course also be done from your mobile, tablet or iPad. So, keep that in mind as well.
Standby power supply for your internet connectivity
This one is not as expensive as you might think. Think re-chargeable power bank! There’s no better internet connectivity when your wi-fi is down than your mobile network service provider. Simply make your mobile a hotspot and keep your mobile charged with the rechargeable power bank. That means you’ll be using your mobile data so be sure that you buy data-bundles first, so you don’t break the bank with extremely expensive airtime or out-of-bundle rated data. Also make sure you identify a coffee shop or similar establishment as close and convenient to your home or office as possible, that obviously has wi-fi access and of course a generator, should your mobile connectivity also be down. You never know!
Bringing it together
The reality is we might be facing this challenge for some time to come and nothing beats preparation. We may have a whole off the grid system planned, but if we don’t do the actual preparation, what might have been some gut-wrenching frustration and severe inconvenience, could easily turn into the end of the road for many small entrepreneurial businesses. As with everything in life we are given a choice. Do we take the challenge, prepare and limit potential loss’? Or do we sit back and complain about the unfairness of the situation while watching our clients evaporate into thin air.
I for one choose to accept the challenge! How about you?
For more on Corné and how her business Virtually Centered Solutions can assist you, please do visit our members page.