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.
Reimagine The Use Of Technology
The phenomenon of ‘big data’ is rapidly catching up with the world of tax.
Enter The 2018 Entrepreneur Of The Year® Competition To Win Prizes Over R2 Million
The Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS aims to honour, benefit and uplift South African SMEs. Now in its 30th year, the competition celebrates excellence in entrepreneurship, serving as an inspiration to others to succeed in the world of business.
Amid the current political optimism, entrepreneurs should be especially inspired by the continued commitment to SME support which emerged as a consistent theme in both the 2018 State of the Nation Address and the National Budget Speech.
This is according to Christo Botes, spokesperson for the 2018 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS, who believes that this continued focus evidences Government’s recognition of the vital role played by entrepreneurs in enabling economic growth.
Continued celebration of excellence in entrepreneurship
Speaking in light of the launch of the 2018 competition in Johannesburg today, Botes says that this long-deserved recognition of the SME sector only further validates the competition’s unwavering commitment to celebrating excellence in entrepreneurship and fostering future economic growth.
“Now in our 30th year, this renowned competition continues to pay homage to the fearless South African entrepreneurs who dedicate themselves to their enterprises and businesses: driving growth, combatting unemployment and contributing towards the country’s economic development.”
“It is therefore wonderful to see the public sector taking the required steps to improving the environment in which these entrepreneurs operate in order to promote further growth in the sector.”
Botes, who is also executive director at Business Partners Limited (BUSINESS/PARTNERS) has been involved in the competition since its inception in 1988, “Looking back over the last 30 years, this competition has evolved from an internal competition that recognized BUSINESS/PARTNERS’ clients only, to a nation-wide search for outstanding South African-based entrepreneurs, with Sanlam as our valued partner.”
Rewards for successful local business owners
He says that the competition continues to reward successful local business owners for the valuable contributions they make to grow their local communities and economies, and aims to inspire others to do the same. “As our 30th- anniversary year, we’re hoping to see even more entrepreneurs enter.
The competition is open to all South African-based businesses and prizes are awarded for the following categories: Overall Entrepreneur of the Year®, Emerging Business Entrepreneur of the Year®, Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year®, Medium Business Entrepreneur of the Year®, Job Creator of the Year and Innovator of the Year,” says Botes.
Botes adds that this year, the 2018 competition will also recognize a South African entrepreneur for a Lifetime Achievement award.
“The purpose of this specially nominated award is to recognize an entrepreneur who has made a significant contribution to the South Africa economy and has grown their business from start-up to large-scale, perhaps even multi-national corporation. We want to reward the individuals who have dedicated their lives to building our economy and inspiring others to do the same.”
What the winners can expect
The 2018 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition, sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS, offers prizes valued at over R 2 million, which includes cash prizes of R 70 000 for each main category winner, and R200 000 for the overall winner.
Competition winners will also receive valuable mentorship support, networking opportunities and national media exposure.
Botes says that in celebrating 30 years of searching for entrepreneurial talent in all sectors of the economy, the competition remains fiercely committed to its cause in 2018.
What the judges are looking for?
“The judges are looking for entrepreneurs that have succeeded against the odds, either by carving out a niche market for their product or service offering, or by succeeding in a very competitive environment. Perseverance and endurance, innovation and agility are some of the qualities we look for in the entrepreneur.”
Botes adds that there are also a number of quantitative competition measures, such as turnover growth, profitability, owners’ equity growth, positive cash flows and job creation that play a part in the competition’s judging process.
Entrepreneurs are encouraged to enter the competition and can do so by downloading the entry form online at www.eoy.co.za. They can also interact with fellow entrepreneurs, past winners and entrants on the competition’s social media platforms www.twitter.com/@EOY_SA and www.facebook.com/EOY.SA. The closing date for the competition is 31 May 2018.
This Podcast Interview Will Inspire Every Business Women On International Woman’s Day
Fumani Mthembi and Teresa Oakley-Smith, both MDs and founders of their own successful businesses, share their personal stories of fighting gender and racial stereotypes in pursuit of a dream. Mthembi and Oakley-Smith, spoke at an Investec Women in Leadership event, entitled, “The Courage to Change.” We bring you this inspirational podcast.
International Women’s Day highlights the imperative role women play in business, the economy and households. Whilst women have come a long way in terms of recognising their worth, we’ve got a long way to go – and that starts in the boardroom. According to an EY study, there is overwhelming evidence that links gender parity to innovation and improved financial performance.
Businesses with women in top management roles experienced an increase in “innovation intensity” and were worth, on average, about US$40m more than companies with only male leaders. Yet on average, in SA, women earn about 73% of what men earn. (Ipsos 2017 survey)
In a frank and honest chat with Investec, two inspirational female leaders, Fumani Mthembi and Teresa Oakley-Smith, share their extraordinary business journey from having “a big dream” to surviving through the mean and lean times.
Fumani Mthembi, is a founding member of the Pele Energy Group – South Africa’s largest 100% black-owned independent power production and development firm – and MD of its research and development subsidiary, Knowledge Pele (KP), and Teresa Oakley-Smith, is the founder of Diversi-T, a change management consultancy with a focus on transformation and diversity training.
Listen to the podcast below for the full interview.
Here are some of the stand-out highlights from the interview:
1. Overcoming challenges female entrepreneurs face
Both Fumani and Teresa believe that, based on their respective experiences, men don’t take women seriously.
“It’s very common in my industry to attend a meeting and have all the men address each other and not you,” says Fumani.“So I’ll be sitting there and they’ll all have their backs turned and they’ll be having a conversation amongst themselves.”
“I’ve had to work twice or three times as hard as male competitors to gain a contract; I’ve had to bend over backwards to actually make sure that my delivery is ten times better,” says Teresa.
2. Breaking down stereotypes
“In households of dual income, often the woman is bringing in more than the man, yet when we have to approach institutions of power, we feel somehow belittled, or we somehow lack our courage in an appreciation of the power we actually hold,” says Teresa.
“One of my clients is a very large retail company and they only have one woman out of a board of 40, and I was challenging them by saying: Who does the shopping? Women hold the purse strings, women go to the supermarkets, so why are they not represented? Why are their voices not heard?”
3. Encouraging diversity in the workplace
Teresa work centres around helping employers create work environments that encourage intersectionality, and recognise women’s unique needs.
“Does your company provide proper facilities for breastfeeding women and supply feminine hygiene products in case a female staff member is in need?” asks Teresa.
4. Educating about the need for empowerment
Fumani’s aim when starting her company was to transform society through knowledge and power and make a difference through a legacy that creates a new kind of context in which people like herself – a young, black female entrepreneur – could operate. “We wanted to spread the justice dividend and to use our privilege responsibly,” she says.
In her experience, banks struggle to recognise the need for women to seek finance for start-ups, because “they don’t need to take on that kind of risk. And that’s the thing about this dual economy, and as women we represent that second economy,” she says
“We’re a new risk; the things we want to do in this economy are new. Everything we do and present is new and we can be disruptive. So while we can ask for change, we can also be the change, and we can create these institutions that really understand us.”
5. Seizing the power within you
Both women agree that recognising the challenge of being a woman in South Africa, should lead to women standing together and reclaiming their power. “We can only own our power if we join together as women of all races, ages and abilities and understand each other,” says Teresa.
Out of Fumani’s 25-strong staff complement, only five employees are men. She puts that down to the talent and intellect shown by her women employees. But this female-male mix is far from the norm. Why? “What I’ve often seen is that women are very risk averse they’re incredibly bright.
We just don’t want to take a bet on ourselves,” says Fumani. “All these institutions are growing on the back women’s efforts. There’s a reason why 54% of graduate are women – we can do it, it’s just a matter of taking that chance on yourself.”
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