Mpumelelo Mtintso is the founder of Book iBhoni, a bicycle tour company in Soweto that doubles as a book donation drive for rural libraries. Like many other tourism businesses in South Africa, the COVID-19 pandemic caused a total disruption in his business operations. The phased approach to ending lockdown meant that Book iBhoni as it was would be closed until Level 1 but Mpumelelo had an idea and let inspiration take over.
The Book iBhoni pivot
His brainwave was a simple one: to transform a bicycle tour company into a bike courier service. With a little online learning, and using the assets he had at his disposal, Mpumelelo put together a business plan and connected with other small businesses to deliver their orders for a fee.
We caught up with him via video call to learn more about his pivot, and what he sees for Book iBhoni’s future.
Watch his Unlocked story here.
There is so much to learn from small business owners like Mpumelelo. The Coronavirus pandemic is uncharted territory for every entrepreneur and the best thing to do is get comfortable with the uncertainty.
Here are some of the things we learnt from Book iBhoni:
- Sometimes a crisis pushes you into doing something you’ve thought about but never taken any action on. A bicycle courier company was an idea that Mpumelelo had before, but it was the lockdown that made him take action. There is no other option except to dig deep and innovate!
- Gather all the knowledge you can online, and never stop learning. This pivot meant that he would have to get to know an entirely different industry. He accomplished this through a lot of online reading and even though the business is up and running, he continues to read and learn.
- Use what you have at your disposal. Using his bikes for a different purpose may seem like a simple solution but it’s often the simple things we don’t think about. When you plan your business pivot, make a list of everything at your disposal to help you.
- Connect to your community. Mpumelelo is connected to other small business retailers who use him as a courier. This network is incredibly important and due to the pandemic, the focus for small business will increasingly be on local. Support small. Support local.
- Leverage all the technology you can to make your pivot efficient and as cost effective as possible. By incorporating Yoco’s online payments solution, Payment Request, Mpumelelo is able to receive payments in a way that is quick, simple, and contactless which is great for business. Brainstorm technology solutions that do the same for your business – anything that can streamline processes is worth incorporating.