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Small Business Should Be Higher On The Local Government Election Agenda

Parties must set out how they will help entrepreneurs and Small & Medium Businesses, says Sage.

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Much is said about how national government can and should help create an enabling environment for Small & Medium Businesses to flourish, but local government also plays a vital role in shaping their business environment. As such, entrepreneurs should be listening carefully to the promises and policies outlined by the candidates and parties standing for South Africa’s upcoming municipal elections.

That’s according to Anton Van Heerden, EVP and Managing Director, Sage South and Southern Africa, who says that the day-to-day impact local government has on the average small business’s day-to-day operations should not be underestimated. “Where national government sets macro-economic policy and national laws for industry and commerce, local government is the coalface of service delivery to citizens and businesses alike,” he adds.

Related: Is Entrepreneurship Dying In SA

Local government affects small businesses in many ways. For example, companies planning to set up an office or factory will often need to consult with the municipality about zoning regulations and building bylaws. Meanwhile, if you operate in an industry such as food or entertainment, you may need to get a trading licence from the municipality and show your compliance with health, safety and noise control bylaws.

Building the ratepayer base and creating employment

Local government also provides a range of mission-critical services to small businesses, from refuse collection to electricity distribution. If a municipality fails to maintain its local power infrastructure, its Small & Medium Businesses may suffer financial and productivity losses that harm their sustainability. Conversely, a municipality that invests in broadband infrastructure and maintains its local roads efficiently creates an enabling environment where entrepreneurship can thrive.

“However, we haven’t heard much from most political parties about what they will do to make the towns and cities they govern into better places to do business,” says Van Heerden. “We consider this to be an oversight since municipalities that do a good job of attracting and supporting small enterprises can boost their ratepayer base and help to create employment for their residents.”

Van Heerden says that Small & Medium Business owners should ask their local candidates and councillors questions about what they will do to streamline red-tape for businesses in their constituencies. For example, do they have any plans to make it faster and easier to apply for a trading licence or a building permission? “In many cases, small business owners need to go and stand in a queue to file a simple form,” Van Heerden says.

“Visionary municipalities should make it easy to apply, pay and file paperwork online.”

Entrepreneurs should also scrutinise the plans municipal candidates set out to ensure the steady and reliable provision of services such as power, adds Van Heerden. Also high on their priority list is consistent, reliable billing for municipal services as well as transparent and fair ways to initiate billing disputes. 

Related: 11 Uniquely South African Business Ideas

Make a seat at the table for the entrepreneur

Van Heerden calls upon councillors and mayors who will be taking new positions in local government after the elections to make a seat at the table for small business. “We think that mayors, councillors and city managers can help their cities to thrive and prosper by supporting Small & Medium Businesses,” he adds.

In addition to revisiting red tape – in line with the 2013 Guidelines for reducing municipal red tape from the departments of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs – there is much municipalities can do to nurture small businesses.

One example is ensuring that they buy local as much as possible when procuring goods and services, and paying small business suppliers and service providers promptly, says Van Heerden. Another is by working with large businesses to create training and mentoring schemes for small local businesses.

“In a world where only the voices of the biggest are heard, we must always fight to hear the voice of the entrepreneur,” Van Heerden says. “It is only through growing a vibrant small business community that our towns and cities can prosper.”

Entrepreneur Magazine is South Africa's top read business publication with the highest readership per month according to AMPS. The title has won seven major publishing excellence awards since it's launch in 2006. Entrepreneur Magazine is the "how-to" handbook for growing companies. Find us on Google+ here.

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How SMEs Could Cash-In On Black Friday And Cyber Monday

Provided that SMEs prepare ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, there is an opportunity to leverage off the global hype, where some simple alignment to the theme can result in big benefit without much investment into promotion.

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Jesse Weinberg

Provided that SMEs prepare ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, there is an opportunity to leverage off the global hype, where some simple alignment to the theme can result in big benefit without much investment into promotion.

In the midst of low consumer and business confidence, tapping into the opportunities presented by these two days could contribute significantly to boosting the cashflow of SMEs.

“To benefit from Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the two big focus points would be the thinking around what the business will offer to customers and how it will promote the offerings ahead of the days. This allows customers to plan their purchases ahead of time, which also ensures traffic for the SME,” says Jesse Weinberg, Head of the SME Customer Segment at FNB Business.

Related: How To Prepare Your Business To Win Big On Black Friday

Weinberg provides useful tips for small businesses to help SMEs take full advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday:

  • Use social media – Businesses should make full use of social media as a tool to support their offers on these days. A powerful tactic seen recently is for businesses to actually ask customers what they might like to see as a special offering by the businesses to assess the potential demand from the market.
  • Gauge customer appetite – A simple poll survey offers great insights into what customers want. The real trick for business on these two days is to ensure that the special deals on offer will actually be desired by customers, especially if the business plans on taking-on extra stock in for these specials.
  • Pre-promotion of specials – Another powerful example of using social media would be to communicate the specials that you plan on running on these days to create sufficient awareness and demand by persuading customers to plan their wish lists, with the idea that the special the business wants to run will be on their list.
  • Stock management – Businesses should avoid over-buying with the hopes of profiting from the additional demand. Getting in touch with customers may help the business buy the most desirable stock to ensure it sells.

SME’s should take full advantage of special global trade days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday – it’s like being able to plug your specials into someone else’s marketing campaign for no extra charge,” concludes Weinberg.

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Leading South Africans Inspire Guests At The Standard Bank Business Breakfast In Association With Jacaranda FM

A full house of business owners, professionals and entrepreneurs emerged inspired from today’s Standard Bank Business Breakfast, in association with Jacaranda FM, held at the Montecasino Ballroom in Johannesburg.

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Standard Bank Business Breakfast

A full house of business owners, professionals and entrepreneurs emerged inspired from today’s Standard Bank Business Breakfast, in association with Jacaranda FM, held at the Montecasino Ballroom in Johannesburg.

The latest event in the ongoing Business Breakfast series featured a star-studded line-up of South African leaders and achievers in various fields sharing insights and motivational learnings. Attendees from the corporate world and the Jacaranda FM audience drew inspiration and shared networking opportunities as the speakers talked about their respective journeys to success and what kept them motivated.

“This morning’s speakers are all examples of South African excellence,” said Jacaranda FM General Manager Kevin Fine.

“They showed grit and dedication in overcoming hurdles to succeed in their fields and inspire others to do the same. We’re glad to join forces with Standard Bank to help them connect with our audience and to give our listeners insight into Standard Bank’s business offerings.”

The audience remained glued to their seats throughout the morning, as the speakers gave their views on life, what motivates them and lessons that can help business people excel in their respective sectors.

Speakers at the breakfast were principled political leader Dr Makhosi Khoza, Springbok rugby captain, Warren Whiteley, Astrophysicist and Mars One candidate, Adriana Marais and philanthropist and businesswoman Basetsana Kumalo.

dr-makhozi-khoza

Dr Makhozi Khoza speaks at the Standard Bank Business Breakfast in association with Jacaranda FM

Dr Khoza spoke on her political and business life path, and the importance of speaking truth to power. She encouraged South Africans to accept that “none but ourselves – the good men and women of this country – can save SA”. She ended her talk with an enigmatic reference to the need for “a new vehicle to take us to a prosperous society”.

Related: 10 Successful SA Women Entrepreneurs’ Top Advice On Balancing Work And Family

martin-bester

Martin Bester, Jacaranda FM breakfast show host interviews Warren Whiteley at the Standard Bank Business Breakfast in association with Jacaranda FM

In conversation with Jacaranda FM morning drive show host Martin Bester, Whiteley spoke about the need for cohesion, commitment, continuity and morale in sport and in life. He explained how the successful Super Rugby team saw purpose as more important than winning.

“Our purpose is to inspire people through what we do on the field and off it,” he said.

dr-adriana-marais

Dr Adriana Marais speaks at the Standard Bank Business Breakfast in association with Jacaranda FM

Dr Marais is one of the 100 finalists to be part of Mars One, the first manned space expedition to the red planet. She emphasised the power of inspiration, reminding the audience how the Apollo moon-landings had inspired a generation of young people to embark on science careers, which led to advances in technology and communications. She explained how the innovations that solved resource scarcity in space could be used on earth to improve inefficiency and to resolve resource disputes.

Related: 13 Female Entrepreneurs Rising To The Top

basetsana-khumalo

Basetsana Khumalo speaks at the Standard Bank Business Breakfast in association with Jacaranda FM

In her address, Basetsana Kumalo reflected on her journey from Soweto schoolkid to Miss South Africa 1994, to trail-blazing businesswoman and serial entrepreneur. Having founded TV production companies, resources ventures, travel and property firms, she said her guiding wisdom was to “show up and raise your hand”.

“Challenge the status quo”, she said. “Resist gender stereotypes and help others. Your success can create a generational legacy for those that come after you.”

Jacaranda FM Marketing Manager, Minisha Patel, said the breakfast was a great success, “We offer a full spectrum of informative and entertaining content, and sharing business knowledge is part of that. It was great to see a packed house and so much passionate engagement during and after the event. Clearly our speakers’ messages resonate with the Jacaranda FM audience.”

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SEDA Launches A Centre For Entrepreneurship And Rapid Incubator In Upington

The Centres for Entrepreneurship (CfE) and Rapid Incubators form a strong link between institutions of higher learning and enterprise development.

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The Centres for Entrepreneurship (CfE) and Rapid Incubators form a strong link between institutions of higher learning and enterprise development. It is in this spirit that Deputy Minister of Small Business Development, Ms Nomathemba November will be launching the Vaal University of Technology (VUT) CfE/Rapid Incubator in Upington.

This centre will service graduates from the university and broadly young entrepreneurs from Upington and neighbouring towns such as Keimoes, Kakamas and Groblershoop.

Related: Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda)

The VUT CfE and Rapid Incubator centre strategically located to focus on predominant economic sectors within the area they are located. The VUT centre will focus on renewable energy, agriculture and tourism sectors.

These sectors are key the local economic activities within the Upington area with a potential of accommodating new entrants in particular graduates with innovative ideas who would like to take advantage of opportunities within the area. These are young people who are going to be developed into entrepreneurs through CfE/Rapid Incubator programme.

The programme is designed to develop viable innovative ideas into small enterprises after 18 months.

The CfE/Rapid Incubator is divided into two parts, the first part is CfE which is six months theoretical training programme focusing on business entrepreneurship training, innovation and idea generation training and product conceptualisation.

Related: Funding And Financial Assistance For SA Women Entrepreneurs

The second part of the programme is the 12 month rapid incubation open only to qualifying selected candidates. It is during this period that actual product development and refinement takes place.

During this period the commercialisation of the product entails advanced sector specific technical training, seed funding and other business support also takes place. After the 18 months the SMME is expected to be ready for the open market and will graduate from the programme.

The CfE is able to accommodate up to 60 clients but only around 20 graduates are selected at enterprise start-up week for rapid incubation by the incubation team and Seda. This is the eighth rapid incubator to be launched out of the nine planned across the country.

Related: Tender Process For The Tough-Minded

Other provinces which have launched are: KwaZulu Natal (Esayidi TVET College); Northern Cape (Northern Cape Rural TVET College); Limpopo (Vhembe TVET College); Western Cape (False Bay TVET College); Free State (Motheo TVET); Free State (Goldfields TVET) and North West (Orbit TVET College).

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