List of Small Business Ideas
A small business is by no means a lesser one to the big corporates out there – even they were once small.
The term ‘small’ simply refers to the size of the company in terms of its turn-over (less than R1 million per annum) and its number of staff (usually 50 or less), certainly not its clout.
In fact, it’s often small businesses that give large corporates a run for their money as being small allows for greater agility and flexibility, quicker turn-around time, and greater room for customisation. Ready to get your small business started?
A small business can start in a home kitchen, a spare room; it can start in a garage. It can start in a small rented office space with just a laptop computer and yourself manning it, or it can start between friends, spouses, business partners.
Mostly though, a small business has minimal staff, is started with a small amount of capital, and it carries low overheads.
Need small business ideas?
Take a look at the list below to help you start brainstorming. The key is to examine an industry that you have strengths in, and determine whether the skills and character you have (or can develop) can meet a need within that industry.
Here are some examples of businesses you can start from home:
- Air-conditioner and appliance repair
- App developer
- Ad agency
- Antique restoration and resale
- Aquarium supplies and maintenance
- Animal trainer.
If you have a skill and it can be sold to someone who needs your skills, it is a business.
- Professional blogger
- Business consultant
- BEE consultant
- Body guard service.
If you are looking at service oriented businesses, make sure you are properly qualified to perform the service and registered with the appropriate associations for credibility.
- Catering business
- Car mechanic
- Cellphone repair
- Child care
- Computer maintenance and repair
- Computer training or programming
- Construction and clean-up
- Customer service professional
People will buy a product or service if it makes their lives that little more convenient.
Something that saves people time, money or hassle is essential for a sustainable business.
- Dry-cleaning service
- Driving service or school
- Data capture or data analysis service
- Desktop publishing
- Dog training, walking or grooming
- Disaster prevention and planning service
- Direct mail marketing service
- Database management
We know you were thinking Doctor – however, there are options beyond being a ‘doctor’.
- Engineering consultant
- Exporting business
- E-tail store
- eBay reseller
- E-tail secret shopper to see if someone’s e-tail experience is easy.
If it’s happening online, you can add an e- to it.
- Furniture removal company
- Fire safety
- Fire-hydrant maintenance and sales.
Whatever you do, it doesn’t always matter if it’s a traditional or ‘old’ business, so long as you’re doing things differently and that they’re meeting the needs and interests of the modern consumer.
Although established internationally, an up-and-coming industry in South Africa is all things green, from construction to materials, to greening businesses through lowered carbon footprints.
- Green cleaning service
- Green consultancy
If green doesn’t float your boat, there are household aggravations like:
- Gutter cleaning
- Garage makeovers
- Gluten free products and foods creation and baking.
- Handyman service
- Holiday planning service
- Home inspection service
- House-sitting service and anything home-based.
- Image consultant
- Image or Internet researcher
- Interior designer.
Be careful to research your industry properly before entering in to it, take ink cartridge refilling for example. As technology changes, will you be able to sustain your business?
- Jewellery designer
- Got space? How about a junk yard?
- Kitchen fitting
- First aid kits like cyclist and other sports, or kit-cars for motor enthusiasts.
- Life coaching
- Labour broker
- Liquor manufacturer
- Lab consultant or running your own lab
- Laundry service
- Language instructor
- Lock-smith service
Provided whatever you do adds value to the customer that they can’t get elsewhere, you’re on to a good idea.
- Start your own marketing company
- Massage therapist
- Make-over consultant
- Motivational speaker
- Moving company
- mobile masseuse
- mobile salon
- mobile food truck
- mobi-app developer
- Medical consultant.
The latest trend as technology advances is for things to be mobile.
- Nail salon
- Nurse – Think a post-operative care service, or even elderly care.
- Organic producer
- Online trader
- Occupational therapist.
- Personal shopper
- Party planning
- Personal trainer
- Pest control
- Photo-retoucher and restorer
- Project manager
- Personal tutor
- Pool cleaning
- Quality controller
- Queuing service
- Quantity surveying
- Quiz master.
- Resume consultant
- Research consultant
- Restaurant or business reviewer.
- Secret shopper or secret reviewer.
- Salon or spa
- Social media strategy
- Speech writer
- Sound engineer.
- Translation services
- Transcription services
- Tax accounting and consulting
- Sun-free tanning solutions
- Undertaking services.
- Video producer
- Virtual assistant service
- Voice-over production
- Voice training
- Viral marketing.
- Webmaster services
- Web design
- Wedding planner
- Wallpaper design and hanging
- Car washing service.
Ok you’ve got us there… try something x-treme.
- Yoga instructor
- Youth mentoring, counselor, camps, youth co-ordinator
- YouTube video producer
- YouTube channel manager.
We’re drawing at straws for this one, especially when the only thing you can come up with is ‘zoo’. But even they might need some services outsourced.
Tips about selecting a small business idea
So now your brain is thoroughly overflowing with new business ideas. But before you go quitting your job and investing everything you own into it, it’s time to assess whether it can be turned into a sustainable small business.
Here’s what you need to evaluate:
- Who is the target market? There’s no business if no one will buy your product or service. Is your target market able to afford (and prepared to pay) for it? Do you have reams of market analysis about your target market’s likes and dislikes, area densities, income, responsibilities, age, gender, education etc? The clearer the picture you can paint of your target market, the more able you are to provide to them.
- What makes you stand out? Does your idea already exist? If so, what are you doing differently to your competition? Is there something unique or value adding that you offer? If your business idea is new, is your target market ready to take you on? SEO, for example, was around a long time before businesses saw its value and started paying money for it. Make sure your business has a unique selling proposition (USP).
- Money, money, money. While some ideas are great, whether it will translate into an awesome business is determined by a financial feasibility study. What will it cost you to get the business off the ground, how long will you need to wait before you break even and see a return on investment? What are the on-going expenses like overheads? How will you bridge the gap between starting the business to it becoming profitable? Once you’ve completed a feasibility study, you may be disappointed to discover that the idea just won’t make a profitable and sustainable business. Don’t be sad though, at least you discovered this before you poured in your life-savings into a dead-end idea. Keep thinking.
Choosing a small business idea based on strengths and passions
Everyone has skills. The trick is to see what skills you have in your current job or through your work experience that are transferrable into your new business.
Take a hard look at your business idea and see whether you’ve got both the personality traits and the necessary skills to make it happen.
If the answer is yes, keep going. If you find that you’re quitting your corporate job because you despise it, starting a business to capitalise on that same work experience might not be your calling.
Assess what your personal interests are, what you’re passionate about, and how you can use the skills you have to turn it into a business. Entrepreneurs need to be passionate about their business idea – as it will be passion that motivates you during tough times.
How The SA Government Can Help Small Businesses Thrive
The Xero report has gathered the top five priorities – as identified by South Africa’s small business owners.
Small businesses are a critical component of the South African economy. They account for 52% of the country’s GDP, contribute millions in tax revenue and help address the nation-wide unemployment problem by creating more jobs. The government does acknowledge this to some extent and has made some effort to support their growth – but more needs to be done.
The Department of Small Business Development launched in 2014. Its aim is to support South Africa’s entrepreneurial community. However, the initiative hasn’t quite achieved its objectives and, according to Xero’s 2017 State of Small Business report, only 4% of small businesses feel that the department has helped their organisation. A surprising 89% say it is has not helped their businesses in any way.
The reality is, the current national and global economic climate is putting South Africa’s small businesses under immense pressure. They require specific attention and support. The Xero report has gathered the top five priorities – as identified by South Africa’s small business owners.
1More funding options
Almost half (48%) of small businesses would like to see more help from the government with regards to funding. Currently, 85% of South African start-ups are self-funded. This route requires personal resources that are out of reach for many would-be entrepreneurs. And even those who do manage to fund their own companies, won’t necessarily have enough to grow their businesses to their full potential.
Related: Smart Money For Small Businesses
Access to outside funding options is thus crucial. If the government makes more money available to small businesses through subsidies and grants, then more new companies will be able to launch – and grow.
To limit the number of South Africa’s successful entrepreneurs to those with enough money to fund their own companies, perpetuates economic inequalities, frustrates individual ambitions and does little to help the country’s progress.
South Africa is a country of rules. Our regulatory environment is notoriously restrictive and 44% of entrepreneurs would like to see less red-tape. It’s not necessarily the regulations themselves that are the problem – but rather the level of bureaucracy. The government expects full compliance, yet offers little official assistance to help businesses navigate the corridors of power.
Small business owners, who typically don’t have much time to spare, have to spend valuable hours travelling to and from various government agencies and departments. The issue is the current lack of co-ordination between these offices and their individual legislative interpretations. Entrepreneurs are often shunted from one to the other, seeking a signature here and a stamp there – only to be told that they’ve missed a step and have to start at the beginning.
Compliance is of course, crucial. However, small business growth should not be interrupted by unnecessarily obstructive rules and regulations. If the government would like to boost the economy even further, it needs to create a legislative environment in which small businesses can thrive.
3Offer tax breaks
High taxes keep 16% of South Africa’s entrepreneurs up at night and 42% would like the government to offer tax breaks. Prohibitively high taxes can hurt the country’s economy: Businesses move overseas to more tax-friendly locations and take jobs and revenue with them.
Tax breaks benefit both the small business community and the government. They make it more affordable for would-be entrepreneurs to start a business. And, as more companies launch, tax revenue increases.
4Improve access to finance
Access to finance is a recurring issue. With so few subsidies and grants available, small businesses battle to secure the funding they need to grow. Banks are hesitant lenders, especially when it comes to start-ups – and 35% of entrepreneurs look to the government to help them access the financial solutions they need.
The good news is, the government can help. The Department of Trade and Industry, along with its various satellite organisations, offers loans with flexible repayment terms and lower interest rates. Of course, this doesn’t meet the growing demand, and more finance options need to be made available to help entrepreneurs get their businesses up and running.
The high unemployment rate in South Africa is compounded by a severe skills shortage. Small businesses need very specific skills and have to hire carefully – the wrong recruit can become an expensive mistake. Too many entrepreneurs struggle to find the right people with the experience and skills that they need – which limits their growth potential.
Almost a quarter (22%) of small businesses believe that the government needs to invest more in education. While this is no short-term solution, it is a necessary step towards building South Africa’s talent pool and safeguarding its economic future. If this doesn’t happen, neither the companies nor the country will be able to function at maximum efficiency.
The government has much to gain from working in the best interests of the small business community. The sooner the two parties are on the same page, the better for the economy.
Smart Money For Small Businesses
Being smart with your money leads to smart business practices and you don’t need more reason than that to keep reading.
Starting out or keeping it small, it’s time to be smart with your money as a business. Below you will find smart ways of managing your money, as well as simple ways to save money as a business.
Being smart with your money leads to smart business practices and you don’t need more reason than that to keep reading.
Things that start with business…
A few things that start with business and end in smart money choices are:
- Business car leasing: Leasing a business car means you don’t have to worry about depreciation in value and struggling to sell your car at the end of its term. If your business requires a more-than-average amount of time on the road, for clients and site visits, then you should consider this business car option. You’ll also save money leasing a car by paying lower monthly installments than if you chose to purchase the car.
- Business credit card: Besides the obvious advantage of building a credit score – for necessary equipment, office space and other contracts – using a business credit card is an easy way to keep track of your expenses. You also have the chance of cashing in from some type of rewards program. Be sure to research your credit card options and find one suitable for your business ventures.
- Business expenses: Tax deductible. Look it up. Know what classifies as a business expense and that can be claimed back at the end of the financial year. You’re welcome.
As important as it is in your personal finance life, setting a budget for your small business is equally as important. Monitor money coming in and leaving the business and make sure you know how it’s making its entrance and exit. Take note of fixed monthly money allocations and budget for new expenses and profits.
Creating and implementing a budget places everyone on the same page with regards to how money moves in the business and that all movements are being tracked. In any business, it’s also a means of keeping tabs on how the company is doing with regards to reaching their business goals.
Don’t be quick to give yourself a raise when the business starts doing well. There’s constant instability in almost every business market and that extra money is better “spent” sitting in a savings account. Find ways to save money in your business and where you do save, put that money away for a rainy day.
Implementing green practices in your business will save you time and money. Energy-efficient lighting will reduce your electricity bill and using less paper and printing equipment will save you those costs as well. And if being completely paperless isn’t possible, be sure to recycle.
Save money on a marketing department while you’re still small and head it up yourself with the help of media management applications and building media connections.
This will save you time and ultimately money. There are so many different kinds of business technology software designed to make running your business easier. Whether you need accounting services, mass mailing, social media schedules, customer service, internal collaborative platforms, invoicing, project management or data storage, you will be able to find an automated system to help you out.
Schedule your payments, posts and admin tasks with automated solutions. As a small business or start-up, you may not be in the financial position to hire someone to do these tasks and your time is better spent working on the front lines of your business.
Don’t throw your money at hiring a team of salespeople when you only, in fact, need one (for the time being). Quantity will come as your business grows and you have more clients and credibility in the industry. For now, all your small business needs is one or two quality sales professionals who can get business flowing.
Take the time to interview a variety of candidates and take into consideration their experience and skills, not only relating to the job position. The chances of them having to help out in other departments is likely and you will find more value in an employee of many talents than one great salesperson who cannot contribute to anything else in the company.
Every business has their own plans and needs so keep them in mind when making smart money choices in their small business.
What Is The Impact Of Late Payments On Your Business’s Sustainable Growth?
As one of the largest accounting professional bodies in the world, we at ACCA have a birds-eye view of the key issues affecting SME business performance.
Today’s economic and political environment places a number of challenges upon entrepreneurs and small businesses growth. One of the most prominent is uncertainty – and the impact this has over the cost of doing business.
This has the potential to affect the ability of businesses to access finance, invest, export, and ultimately, grow. Consequently, the provision of tailored guidance and business support plays a vital role towards shaping the prospects of small businesses at an individual as well as the wider growth prospects of the South African economy as a whole.
Chartered accountants play an equally important role in this regard. Research indicates they remain entrepreneurs and SMEs’ most trusted advisors, with half of those small companies in the UK that have sought business support having approached their accountant. And as one of the largest accounting professional bodies in the world, we at ACCA have a birds-eye view of the key issues affecting SME business performance.
Problem of poor payment practise
Perhaps one of the biggest problems we hear about from small businesses and entrepreneurs is poor payment practice. Delayed payment affects businesses in a number of ways.
Evidence clearly shows that it reduces business productivity, with businesses that would otherwise be spending time growing and investing in their business instead chasing debts owed to them and being a substantial distraction to business staff.
Part of the reason for this is because small businesses suffer from a lack of bargaining power when dealing with established businesses and government because they do not have the resources (time, labour or capital) to dedicate to dealing with relevant disputes.
Typically, in a small business, all resources are focused on growing and sustaining the business and in particular, maintaining cash flow. Further resource is targeted at meeting key legal requirements, such as paying tax or regulatory compliance.
Small companies are, therefore, often relatively unsophisticated when dealing with contractual issues and no better able to protect themselves than individual consumers.
Both for small businesses and the South African economy, this is unacceptable practise. The knock – on effect results in potential job losses, unsustainable businesses and might in the long term translate the SME sector as a weak contributor to economic growth, increase barrier to entry and thus reduced competition in sectors where the late payment is rife.
At the moment, poor payment practice is not taken seriously enough in the boardrooms of larger companies. Given the impact of poor payment practices by large companies on smaller ones, it is essential late payment becomes a central focus for policymakers going forward.
Suppliers can protect themselves through careful due diligence and in-depth receivables analyses building on ageing debtors reports. They can make more realistic
provisions for bad debt, informed by first-hand information gathering, and incorporate these into regular cash projections. There is also a lot that they can do to improve the administration of receivables, from better understanding of customers’ systems and the use of automation to bringing in outside expertise on credit control and collections.
For suppliers, the fight against late payments continues with contract design: Businesses should ensure that their terms of credit are clear and explicit and that contracts give them appropriate rights over goods that remain unpaid for, as well as the right to withhold services or delivery as appropriate. Even the methods of payment can make a significant difference and must be specified in advance.
In addition, despite receiving very unfavourable press coverage, prompt or early payment discounts can be an acceptable means of aligning prices with the cost of servicing individual customers – as long as they are not imposed unilaterally and at short notice. Managing early payment discounts is easily managed in QuickBooks.
Financing and liquidity insurance is a major element of the fight against late payment, and small suppliers in particular need to replicate to the extent possible the protection provided by the internal cash pools of diversified business groups.
Exploring and securing alternative sources of finance (including factoring and trade credit insurance) is important, but ultimately directors must be alive to the implications of providing credit to major suppliers and be willing to take on some risk through equity injections.
Finally, suppliers need to be able to distinguish quickly between late payment and genuine credit risk. There is often no substitute for first-hand inspection and probing. When customers are struggling but ultimately viable, forbearance can work.
Businesses should seek to shield themselves from further cash disruption and reduce services to struggling customers but should also use payment plans to maximise recoveries and help customers surmount their problems.