Most business coaches pursue big corporate contracts. Xolisa Mnyani is an exception: he provides training, business coaching and mentorship for SMEs. With a background in construction, his focus is small contractors, construction suppliers, and repair and maintenance teams. His is a one-man business that draws on a network of associates when a contract requires more hands on deck.
When lockdown started, Mnyani had two contracts on the go. Overnight human interaction became impossible and, given that he mainly works with new businesses, none of his clients had the online facilities that would allow meetings and training to continue.
In addition, Mnyani was not getting paid for work already done as clients couldn’t get to their offices to process payments. “We had planned our revenue and cash flow for 2020, but lockdown disrupted all of that,” says Mnyani. “In some cases we only got paid towards the middle of May for work done in March.”
Mnyani’s accountant brought the Sukuma Fund to his attention and urged him to apply. The survival grant came through, bridging the gap between invoicing for a job and getting paid for it.
As matters stabilised, Mnyani succeeded in helping some of his clients to use platforms like Zoom for customer engagement and even quoting. “A prospective client can show the contractor what a room looks like on Zoom so that the contractor can quote, for instance, to do the tiling.” The harsh reality, however, is that the extended lockdown also threatened the viability of Mnyani’s clients.
The future is still uncertain. “The contracts we had have been halted as people hold on to their cash in the face of the uncertainties, and this has an impact on everybody downstream. But we are holding on, hoping that some of those contracts will kick in again.”
In the meantime, Mnyani services his clients via email and online, and uses the quiet time to develop material. His mission remains to be a small business that helps other small businesses to become sustainable and profitable.