There has probably never been a more exciting time to own a small business than right now. One only has to look at the ways in which small companies are leveraging technology as a means to compete head-to-head with large, well-established enterprises to realise that in today’s world, size really doesn’t count anymore.
Of course, the wonderful opportunities presented by technology’s evolution are counterbalanced by the fact that, well, it’s technology.
Terms like ‘cloud computing’, ‘mobility’, ‘big data’ and ‘the Internet of Things’ (IoT) may be familiar in some sense, but as an entrepreneur, their true value to your business may escape you. And yet, these are the keys to a whole new way of doing business.
Embrace the ‘Idea Economy’
All of the terms mentioned above, along with social media, form the basis of what is referred to as the ‘Idea Economy’. In this new world, the judicious use of IT will enable even a small business to create new opportunities and launch industry-defining products.
You only need to look to the success of Uber, the poster child for creating new opportunities, as an example.
Read more on the Uber Story here.
Wouldn’t you just love to create an entirely new business model that so thoroughly disrupts the industry norm? Of course you would. This is the crux of the Idea Economy: The ability to turn an idea into a new product or service easily, by making effective use of these new technologies, which are perfectly geared towards disrupting the status quo.
The good news is that as complicated and ‘big business’ as cloud computing, mobility, big data analytics and the IoT may sound, they are, in fact, tools that are easily accessible and affordable to businesses of all sizes.
Select your technology infrastructure carefully
Remember that while Uber started off as the completely out-of-left-field vision of its creator, its success is ultimately built on the technology platform it runs on. If you want your own ideas to succeed, you will have to have not only the same kind of innovative vision, but real technological agility.
You will need to be nimble if you are going to quickly turn ideas into reality, and your technology platform will need to be the same.
Investing in Composable Architecture will give you the foundation from which to easily launch your industry-disrupting idea. You have ideas that are unlike anything anyone else has come up with, so you should invest in an IT infrastructure that can be composed and recomposed to meet these shifting demands.
Choose the right partner
But, I hear you ask, how can I ever leverage all these new-fangled technologies to turn my business into a success?
The answer to that is quite simple: You don’t have to do it alone. There is no reason you should have to do this all by yourself – even Batman has Robin, so find yourself a partner that is well versed in the ways of technology and work with them.
The right partner will be an enterprise that has knowledge and experience in the realms of hardware, software and services. Allying yourself with a large technology partner will lend muscle to your smaller company’s agility. And it will give you the opportunity to access the specialist IT skills of an organisation that can then assist you in developing an effective roadmap to get you from where you are right now, to where you want to be in the future.
In the end, your flexibility and agility are already two of your biggest weapons in standing toe-to-toe with the current market-leading enterprises. By embracing the Idea Economy, implementing the right technology infrastructure and finding a skilled partner, you will quickly find that in a world where industry disruption is fast becoming the norm, you will the disruptor, rather than one of the disrupted.
The Importance of Outsourcing Your Payroll
One of an organisation’s biggest overheads is that of salaries and wages. And yet, if these are not processed on time, it can negatively impact staff morale and create the impression that the company is not financially stable.
For a small business, payroll is normally the responsibility of an accountant or bookkeeper, but even administrators can sometimes be roped in to do the job, even though they have no expertise in the matter. This is where the value of outsourcing your payroll comes in.
When should you outsource?
- If you want to grow your business but are not aware of ongoing legislative changes that could pose a risk to your company, then it is better to get professionals to assist.
- Accountants and bookkeepers are not specialists and do not keep up with the compliance environment. If you outsource your payroll, you enable them to focus their core duties and not get bogged down by legislative complexities.
How to choose an outsourced service provider
Understandably, payroll is a sensitive subject dealing with highly confidential information.
This is often the last thing a small business owner wants to outsource. It is therefore vital that the company does its homework and researches the potential outsourcing partner thoroughly.
Instead of going with the first available service provider or the cheapest one, here are some questions to ask:
- Is the service provider a one-man band and, if so, what backup resources are available?
- Is the service provider a recognised payroll provider belonging to a professional body?
- Do they have the necessary training and skills on payroll?
- What does the service provider do to ensure it stays up to date with legislation?
- How secure is the payroll data and can the service provider take on historic data?
- How easy is it to recover your payroll data in the event of a disaster?
- What value-adds can the service provider offer? These can include anything from leave management and third-party payments, to employee self-service, time and attendance management, and any other related human resource service.
- Can they process salaries and/or wages hourly, weekly, fortnightly, or monthly?
- Can the service provider accommodate your growth requirements if you open new branches?
- Is the service provider able to assist with payrolls in other African countries, manage their currencies, and deal with their regulatory environments?
- What processes are in place to ensure the timeous processing of payrolls?
The advantages of outsourcing your payroll
One of the most obvious benefits of going the outsourcing route is freeing up your resources to focus on your core strategic objectives. This ensures you provide quality of service and control costs while an experienced partner takes care of your payroll.
Here are a few other benefits:
- Reduce operating costs.
- Statutory compliance and consistent service delivery.
- Access to the latest technology, as well as skilled and dedicated payroll resources.
- Access to a secure, risk-free and confidential payroll environment.
- Increased flexibility and responsiveness.
- Streamlined internal processes and procedures.
Thinking of Immigrating to America from SA? Now Is The Time
More South Africans are looking to get their Green Cards with the EB-5 visa. Here’s why – and how you can use this opportunity too.
South Africans are surging towards the popular United States EB-5 Immigrant Investment Visa programme ahead of possible price increases that will likely place the EB-5 visa programme out of reach for many, other than for the uber-rich.
NES Financial, the leading EB-5 financial brokerage in the US, has estimated a 600% increase in EB-5 petition filings from South Africans this fiscal year from three years ago.
Increasing applications for the US Investor Visa
Bernard Wolfsdorf, a US EB-5 lawyer and former South African, has filed more South African cases in the past year than he has processed in the past ten years.
“I think it’s the fact that the investment amount could soon increase soon from $500 000 to $1,8 million that is driving many South Africans,” he says.
However, Wolfsdorf, Past President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, speculates that there are other factors, such as the stable US economy, excellent business environment, and outstanding educational opportunities that are enticing many South Africans to invest in the U.S.
“The currency swing has convinced many South Africans I speak to that foreign investment in the US makes sense,” he adds.
Assisting with understanding your US immigration options
The Tier 1 top ranked US immigration law firm, Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP has now set up a South African focused website and is regularly sending experienced lawyers to meet with South Africans and explain their immigration options.
“While on the one hand I am sad that many South Africans are choosing to leave, my hope is that, with global investment, many will continue to run and expand their South African companies and that the foreign investment will benefit South African trade and exports and create jobs locally,” says Wolfsdorf.
Other countries, such as China and Korea have many immigrants and they continue to drive trade with their ‘mother’ countries. “I expect to see many South African immigrants continue to develop trade and commerce with the US as this huge influx continues,” he says.
The Office of the United States Trade Representative confirms that US goods and services trade with South Africa totaled an estimated $18,9 billion in 2018. Exports were $8,4 billion; imports were $10,5 billion, creating a trade deficit with South Africa of $2,1 billion in 2018.
Some of the top imports from South Africa into the US include precious metal and stone; iron and steel; vehicles; and agricultural products like tree nuts and fresh fruit. However, the strong dollar greatly benefits trade and prices for many South African goods are high.
Why South Africans are immigrating to the US and not Australia
Other factors leading South Africans to choose the US is the fact that Australia and the United Kingdom have been less welcoming to immigrants recently, so while the US has been in third place as a choice, this is likely to soon change soon.
“In fact, Australia is becoming less and less friendly to immigrants on a personal level, with many Australians believing it’s time for its liberal immigration policies to end,” says Wolfsdorf.
“The country is implementing visa crackdown measures to limit work visas and ensure that foreign workers have the right skills and occupational licenses to conduct business. Additionally, with Brexit causing uncertainty, many South Africans have decided to look towards America for a Plan B.”
Joseph Barnett, a partner of the law firm who specializes in EB-5, is currently making his second trip to South Africa in the past six months.
“I really enjoy meeting with South Africans on my previous trip,” he says. “They are friendly, hospitable and hardworking. I’m sure this is the main reason most South Africans seem to do so well in the US.”
Why consider the EB-5 Visa
“The EB-5 Visa remains popular because there is no US employer sponsorship requirement, no education requirement, travel throughout the visa process is relatively simple, and because South Africans can choose to live wherever they desire once obtaining the green card,” the attorney adds.
“In short, the opportunity to live the American dream is open to anyone able to invest $500 000.”
South Africans should be aware that regulations first proposed in 2017 have now reached the final stage of the rulemaking process, review by the US Office of Management and Budget, before being finalized. The time to act is now.
For more information on how you can begin your US EB-5 Immigrant Investment Visa process, visit Eb5greencard.co.za
Your Skill Set Could Be Limiting You As A Business Manager
Without a cross-functional skill set, business managers will stick to what they know and neglect what lies beyond their scope.
Almost 80% of SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) in South Africa fail within the first three years. This statistic presents a staggering blow to the hopes of the South African economy, which is invested in the crucial role of SMEs in stimulating economic growth and providing relief from a shockingly high unemployment rate.
Entrepreneurs, those that venture forth and create new business opportunities, face extraordinary challenges and dooming statistics in South Africa.
Inside larger, more stable organisations, the management portfolio has expanded to incorporate a whole new skill set. Managers now need to be leaders, who develop their people and innovate, while at the same time stimulating innovative thinking and being informed and prepared enough to be agile and responsive to change.
Intrapreneurs, those organisational managers that display visionary leadership and stimulate the creative thinking that unlocks new business potential, are in high demand and short supply.
What closes doors for entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs?
According to a recent study SMEs fail as a result of both external and internal factors. The South African economic and business landscape and the impact of globalisation make it challenging for any entrepreneur to succeed.
As managers of SMEs, entrepreneurs struggle to obtain the right talent to fuel business success. They also lack the knowledge, skills and experience to obtain business funding and manage resources and finances effectively. With no business insight, no money and no resources, even the most visionary entrepreneurs will encounter doors slamming in their faces.
Leaders in organisations are not faring much better. South African leaders are focused on developing their skill set to manage the organisation of the future. Old ways of managing have been disrupted with concepts like collaboration, agility, innovation and cross-functionality.
South African organisational managers face the same battle that the managers of SMEs face – there simply isn’t enough talent to drive business success. Without the skills to unlock potential in themselves or others, business managers are unable to open the doors to new business opportunities.
Skills for visionary leaders
From these challenges, it is clear that managing a small business or a business unit in a large organisation requires a new skill set that will create a well-rounded, informed and visionary business leader.
Tim Brown, leader of global design company IDEO, proposes the concept of a T-shaped person, who has developed deep technical expertise in their area. These experts in a given area often become managers of either their own business or a business unit because they are just so good at what they do.
However, this deep expertise is not enough; leaders of the future should have a broad skill set, symbolised by the horizontal line of the T. This broad skill set should include people skills, the ability to collaborate across business functions, a basic understanding of other business areas, an ongoing growth that spans across organisations or businesses.
Today’s business managers should be able to understand and leverage the broader business landscape, balancing their expertise with a wide swath of cross-functional business insights that will allow them to play comfortably with others and navigate the broader business landscape.
Without a cross-functional skill set, business managers will stick to what they know and neglect what lies beyond their scope. The resulting imbalance will see areas of the business wither away for lack of attention, fuelling the high failure rates of SMEs and the challenges that keep organisational managers awake at night.
The Wits Plus Business Management Essentials short course provides entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs with a broad view of the business landscape and aims to produce T-shaped business managers, with deep expertise in their own fields, coupled with broad, cross-functional business savvy.