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Updated 29 Feb 2020

Zico’s Tshego Sefolo on growing in a tough market

How do you grow a business when times are tough? According to Zico’s Tshego Sefolo you need to be brave and innovate, but you also need to be realistic.

Nadine Todd, 07 November 2015  Share  0 comments  Print

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If you find that the economy is struggling and your traditional market is shrinking, you need to be innovative and find other avenues of opportunity if you want to grow and keep moving forward.

Related: Innovative thinking can take you anywhere


Growing a company is obviously particularly difficult when the economy is struggling. In order to not only survive tough times, you need to be innovative and provide customers with great value. However, you also need to remain agile and abandon a strategy if you find that it isn’t working.

The need to innovate

Tshego -Sefolo -Zicos

“I would recommend creating pockets of excellence within your company. If you look at companies like Apple and Google, they have been very good at doing this. They create teams that are focused on identifying new opportunities and innovating. If the market is contracting, you might have no other option but to do this.”

It is also important to look at ways in which you can provide innovative new solutions for your clients. “If it starts becoming increasingly difficult to make sales, you have to look at how you can provide customers with increased value. What can you offer that clients won’t be able to find anywhere else.”

Staying agile

Innovation is important when clients become increasingly hard to find. However, it is important to remain realistic. Innovation can be expensive and time-consuming, so, if you find that your ideas aren’t working out, you need to let them go. Don’t stick with a strategy that isn’t working.

“Every potential opportunity needs to have a definite payoff. You need to be firm in your specific RIO targets. If an idea isn’t resulting in revenue, you need to kill it.”

Liquidity is another important factor to remember. Innovation and growth cost money, and it can be risky to lock your capital into long-term strategies when the current state of the market isn’t great.

Related: How to predict your business performance

“A business that has capital reserves has a better chance of surviving a lean period. Innovation is crucial, but it shouldn’t put your future at risk.”


  • Dedicate time to coming up with innovative ways of increasing revenue.
  • Find affordable ways in which you can provide extra value to clients.
  • Don’t dive, or don’t deplete your capital reserves too deeply into your capital reserves. They can be crucial for survival.
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Nadine Todd

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