How many business formats do you know that remain a sure thing like snoek kop sop?

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Long  past the glory days of  100-a-man snoek in False Bay.  Copyright 2016 Chesney Bradshaw
Long past the glory days of 100-a-man snoek in False Bay. Copyright 2016 Chesney Bradshaw

We drove out during the festive season to Millers Point to buy fresh Snoek from the professional ski boat fishermen at the Rumbly Bay slipway.

The Snoek was in very good condition and was a large one with a humongous head. I couldn’t throw the head away because it had so much potential to make tasty Snoek head soup. This delicacy was a staple in our household growing up.

The local Cape term for this is “Snoek Kop Sop”. Although my mother is no longer with us, I was able to take her recipe from her fish cookbook that she produced so many decades ago and come up with something that resembled what she would make but, of course, not as excellent as hers.

While making the fish head soup, I was reminded of how the ski boat fishing scene has changed over the years. At one time with petrol costs low and maintaining ski boats relatively inexpensive, it was viable for ski boats to make a reasonable living catching a line fish in False Bay.

Catches were huge then and fuel was a relatively minor part of overall costs.

Today everything is changed and with petrol skyrocketing combined with patchy catches of line fish in False Bay, commercial ski boat fishing is not what it used to be.

Sadly, I was told by a commercial fishermen that several ski boat owners were forced to sell their fishing outfits mainly because of the rising costs and dwindling fishing stocks. There has been great uncertainty about fishing licences with the threat of confiscating all fishing rights from ski boat owners.

Driving in the Southern part of the Peninsula, I noticed a large storage facility that is doing well these days. If you looked at this storage operation 15 years ago, you might have thought that the owner was crazy to start such a business. But nowadays with changing demographics and higher levels of consumption, many people have less and less space available for the possessions. Garage’s are already stacked high with goods and so space is at a premium.

Consider the storage business which has very low labour costs basically because people hire out the space and pack the storage garage themselves. Running costs are down to a minimum and people who hire out the storage space take on the risk of their own goods for fire and theft. Now this storage business looks like a sure thing because of the high occupancy and low operational cost. But who knows how it will look in the future?

The cost base for any business is an important component of the ultimate business model. The cost base is also at an area for innovation by sharp entrepreneurs.

If you can bring the cost base down in industries or markets through innovation or technology, you have the possibility for an advantage, especially if those operating under the existing cost base can’t catch up quickly.

Before you consider leaping into developing a new business idea, it pays to closely examine the underlying cost base, think how that will change over time and what’s opportunities they are for lowering the cost base.

While you’re mulling over it, enjoy a delicious bowl of Snoek Kop Sop — if you can.

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