None of us could have anticipated the strange events of 2020. They affected every person on earth – the only difference was a question of degree.
It was a year characterised by unpredictability and has brought home to me that we might plan all we like, but events will occur that are beyond our control, making us feel that we’re operating in the dark.
However, certain business and personal principles pulled us through this year and, I believe, will continue to do so.
Financial markets rebound
On the financial front, we had many surprises. The Rand-Dollar exchange rate reached heights never seen before – while on a positive note local interest rates were lowered – and predictions were rife that the next global financial crisis was looming.
Liquidity dried up everywhere. Many people lost their jobs. Many companies, especially in more vulnerable sectors, had to close.
The events of 2020 have taught us to safeguard the foundations of our business – and to keep looking forward.
Luckily, financial markets are doing extremely well at the moment. Base commodities have improved greatly in price. We have yet to understand all the reasons for this. The improvement has been so quick that we are slightly cautious that in 2021, the positive trends might reverse.
A lot of synthetic optimism, such as the US stimulus of many trillions of dollars, is being injected into the market with little clarity about where the money comes from and when the promised funding will be allocated. This could be dangerous. It confirms the need to operate cautiously and, while listening to the economic experts, to think for ourselves. 2021 could still have teeth.
Looking back over the year, at Dolphin Bay, we were worried about our clients’ well-being. Our own cashflow situation put us in the position of having to make difficult choices. Some were the right ones and others were not, but we did the best we could with the information at hand.
With hindsight, we would have chosen differently in some instances. However, not for a single moment did Dolphin Bay pass any additional stress onto our staff or clients.
Our priorities were managing the health of our own business, reaching out to our customers, and working through predicaments with some of our suppliers in regard to incoming materials when ports were not operating.
Luckily, financial markets are doing extremely well at the moment. However, the improvement has been so quick that we are slightly cautious.
Our team was in the lucky position of being able to continue working from home. For us, a company is also a type of family. We asked everybody at Dolphin Bay to log into our Friday meetings, not only those who usually attend, to make sure technical issues they faced could be resolved, and to help them cope with the anxiety. We were aware this was especially important for the people who lived alone. To see their faces was very important.
Like other businesses, Dolphin Bay has been financially affected by events this year and we too will continue to feel the aftermath. However, we are very happy that we could manage our way out of this crisis.
In all humility we acknowledge that if lockdown had continued for longer it would have been much more difficult to retain this position.
Striking the balance
The events of this year confirmed our caution in avoiding financial risks or deals that might not be good for the company, without restricting growth. It’s a balance, and we continue to learn how to strike it.
Family – the juggling act
For us as a family, it was a whole different scenario. With my husband, mother, and sister working at the local hospital, we were much more exposed to Covid-19 than most people. My husband Werner works with Covid-positive patients, and even with all the health protocols and regulations in place, was very much exposed.
Due to all the restrictions in place, and the fact that the number of overall patients decreased as only emergencies were addressed, his income decreased more than 50%. We are very fortunate that none of us became infected.
Children don’t understand crises like this. They just know there’s a gogga outside!
At the start of Lockdown my sister and her four-year-old daughter moved in with us as she had to go to work. Together, she and I kept our own work on track, schooled the four children in our house, and did all the cooking and home management. Keeping all of this going at a time of great uncertainty was quite a challenge.
Children don’t understand crises like this. They just know there’s a gogga outside! It was hard for them to realise they couldn’t visit Ouma and Oupa, who were secluded in their homes and missed the children. It was tough. We had to create moments in which we could laugh, be creative and enjoy each other’s company; to celebrate birthdays and the small things in life.
And we’ve done it – which shows how adaptable we actually are. We’ve all taken a knock but we’ll manage to get out on the other side.
I feel privileged to be part of this team, as our company consistently acknowledged our concerns and supported us in managing them. I’m also very grateful for the people who pitched up and offered to help.
Light through a pinhole
This period has felt like sitting in a dark room all alone and hearing someone from the outside punching a hole in the wall. We had to hold on to this sign of hope, eventually peeking through the hole to see that life as we knew it would start again.
The time has confirmed for me that if we are willing to give support, we will receive it.
When we look outwards, we see that we are not alone.