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Successful Entrepreneurs Limit The Downside To Maximise Profits In The Future

The year ahead will be tough, but commercial businesses that can process increased complexity and drive an entrepreneurial agenda are likely to outperform, says Standard Bank.

Standard Bank

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Commercial businesses, which earn revenues of between R300 million and R1.2 billion, are seen as a fast growing market segment despite the economic headwinds due to their ability to adapt quickly to changing circumstances.

Head of Business and Commercial Banking at Standard Bank, Craig Polkinghorne, says while conditions will be tough, businesses that thrive will be able to limit the downside and thereby maximise their long-term futures.

“Growing entrepreneurship is a priority for us. It is time for Africa to scale up growth, but businesses still need to bring the right ideas to the table so they can be guided on their journey. Education is becoming increasingly important in this regard, as is the ability to make sure short-term challenges do not scupper a good business opportunity,” says Mr Polkinghorne.

Related: Spring-clean Your Business and Bear the Fruits of Increased Efficiencies

He says an entrepreneur is a person who “relentlessly pursues opportunities regardless of the resource constraints that get in the way”. So entrepreneurship does not simply relate to small start-ups.

“A successful business ready to take the next step is equally important and we look to support and partner them,” he says.

Growth and economic activity globally is likely to come from this mid-tier and entrepreneurial business segment.

“It is an area which is likely to see outperformance, as big firms face margin pressure and look to shed jobs. Mid-tier businesses have an opportunity to move quickly and get to market more effectively,” he says.

Funding Opportunities

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According to Mr Polkinghorne, one of the risks entrepreneurs face is using short-term funding to fund long-term assets.

“It is important that we understand and advise on appropriate funding levels – this is where we can get it right and we are already having those conversations.”

However, due to the complex nature of the global market and regional value chains, education is becoming increasingly important to ensure businesses are ready to take the next step to thrive.

In this regard, Standard Bank has set up two incubators in Johannesburg. The Business Incubator based in Rosebank, that provides mentoring, coaching, and access to training in enterprise development and the Technical Incubator at the University of Johannesburg.

A Virtual Incubator, meanwhile, will provide entrepreneurship co-working space at Workshop 17 in the Watershed, Cape Town, and offer access to development opportunities. Additionally, three satellite incubators run by Standard Bank’s partner LifeCo, will support social entrepreneurs operating in the Free State, Limpopo, and KwaZulu-Natal.

Related: How to Put your Small Business in the Best Position to Get Credit from a Bank

Once an innovator has completed a programme at one of the incubators, the Standard Bank Incubation team will monitor his or her business for the next twelve months, measuring the growth and viability of the business.

Mr Polkinghorne says about half of commercial businesses are looking to expand into Africa, but increasingly need a solutions driven, bespoke response.

“The ability to process complexity and receive on the ground sector expertise and assistance to help drive growth is crucial. We see Africa as our home and will continue to drive her growth by helping businesses maximise the opportunities on offer,” he says.

Mr Polkinghorne believes Africa should look to solve its own problems. “We have the capacity to support business growth and development, for example. But there are a host of potential investors who can assist in driving the African growth story.”

A major focus area needs to be an improved understanding of the impact of macro-economic factors on value chains.

“All businesses have a value chain, but managing this is becoming more complex as more goods cross borders and regulatory burdens increase. In the short-term, businesses need to manage their working capital and be aware of every facet of their business at all times with trading partners,” he says.

Related: How to Fund your Small Business

Mr Polkinghorne says a “relentless pursuit of opportunity” gives a commercial business every chance of being successful over the medium term.

“There are big trends that will sweep well prepared businesses along. Long-term forecasts in population growth, mobile penetration and the use of technology that leap frogs legacy infrastructure is not going to change, and those businesses well positioned to benefit from the upside will thrive,” he says.

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Standard Bank SA is the largest operating entity of Standard Bank Group, Africa’s largest bank by assets. Standard Bank SA provides the full spectrum of financial services, with more than 720 branches and over 7 100 ATMs. Independent surveys of customer satisfaction consistently place Standard Bank at or near the top of their rankings. The personal and business banking unit offers banking and other financial services to individuals and small-to-medium enterprises. For further information, go to community.standardbank.co.za

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Two 20 Year Olds Reshape Entrepreneur Landscape With New Social Investment Platform

The Merge vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

Merge Connect

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It’s no secret that finding the right investor for your venture is a challenge that most entrepreneurs face. The current process of finding investment is one that is outdated, and limits entrepreneurs due to a lack of time, and network that is needed to find the right investor. But, this doesn’t have to be the case in today’s digital society, says Zander Matthee and Brandon Bate, co-founders of Merge.

“By making the Internet the middleman, we are able to connect with each other much simpler and faster than before” was Zander’s response. “We have taken advantage of this, and have created a digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors” added Brandon.

Merge is a social platform that connects entrepreneurs and investors. It aims to simplify, refine and accelerate the process of finding investment for entrepreneurs, and the process of finding investment opportunities for investors. From idea to developed, the platform allows entrepreneurs to present a brief outline of their venture to a network of all investor types. While doing this, entrepreneurs are able to browse through, and connect with investor profiles that suit their requirements.

Related: 8 Codes Of Success That Helped Priven Reddy of Kagiso Interactive Media Achieve A Networth Of Over R4 Billion

From Private Investors to Venture Capital, and everything in between, Merge allows all investor types to join. Investors have the opportunity to personalise their feed to suit their investment preferences, and will be able to connect with innovative businesses – that are looking for investment – at their fingertips. Only once there is a mutual interest in each other, are users able to enter a secure private chat where they can discuss further and share documents under the protection of a digital NDA.

The two boys became good friends during their time in high school at St Stithians Boys College. However, it was only in their last year, 2016, that they decided to pursue their dreams and create the platform. They didn’t know how to code, so rather ironically, they needed some form of investment to get the platform off the ground.

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“We knew we had a mountain to climb, but we believed in our vision and that we were really trying to make a difference, and if we could get others to see that, they would be onboard.” said Zander.

Related: Lessons From The Rich And Famous: Manage Your Money Like Oprah To Avoid Going Into Debt Like Nicholas Cage

Chris Peters is one of these individuals that bought into their vision, and became Merge’s first investor. As a successful entrepreneur and part time investor , Chris saw how much value the platform could bring to all entrepreneurs and investors alike. His marketing and strategic background gave him insight into how Merge could play a vital role in a lucrative space, Brand involvement.

“Entrepreneurship and SME development are two key factors that drive economic growth in developing countries like South Africa. That is why brands are currently getting involved, and looking to support entrepreneurs through various means. We have built a platform that allows these brands to successfully market, and execute on the programmes they have created to assist entrepreneurs.” said Chris

Merge was created to assist all entrepreneurs and investors in finding exactly what they are looking for, regardless of age, race, sex, financial position or social status. That is why anybody can sign-up as an entrepreneur. As long as you are determined and willing to work for your dreams. For too long has the investor space been seen as an “elite club for the select few”, and Merge is here to change that. Whether you’ve gotten your bonus at the end of the year and looking for new investment opportunities, or are an active investor, you can sign-up. Whether you’re currently working, or a retired industry leader, you can join as a mentor.

Their vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

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How Lexus Is Emphasising Quality And Taking Craftsmanship To New Heights

The seventh generation Lexus ES is crafted to the last millimetre and is the essence of comfort​.

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The seventh generation Lexus ES ushers in an era of performance, mirrored by design that stirs the soul. The exceptional body rigidity allows for incredible design freedom, resulting in design that has the confidence to stand out. The brave new design that is lower, wider and sleeker, giving this sedan a coupé-like silhouette.

The 2018 Lexus ES range has no space for mediocrity – every vehicle excels and provokes. The petrol ES 250 EX and hybrid ES 300H SE set a standard of excellence with unparalleled levels of sophistication, elegance and performance. The Lexus ES range places all available performance in the driver’s hands for an intimate experience. It is performance that can be heard and felt.

The new Lexus ES has a profile that is impossible to ignore. The striking signature spindle grille is a significant feature, a sculpted form that speaks of inherited architecture and meticulous craftsmanship. It is the embodiment of provocative elegance, of finesse and sophistication.

Every curve builds from the grille. Athletic headlights flow from the spindle grille, emphasising the sleek lines of the three-dimensional front-end while tracing the outline of the lowered roofline.

The Lexus Takumi craftsmen embody the quest for perfection by carefully refining design elements. Boldness is balanced with elegance, and innovative design characteristics are made possible by the new chassis platform that allows the New Generation ES to be longer, wider and more spacious than ever before, but with a sleeker and lower silhouette. The fastback roofline captures the glamour of a coupé and emphasises the low stance, while the interior roominess is all premium sedan.

Related: 10 SA Entrepreneurs Who Built Their Businesses From Nothing

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The meticulous attention to detail of the Lexus Takumi craftsmen is evident in every inch of the Lexus ES interior. In a physical manifestation of Omotenashi, the Japanese philosophy of warm hospitality where your every need is anticipated and catered for, the Lexus ES offers a personal comfort zone, an escape from the ordinary.

The ES seduces you with details such as embossed stitching on semi-aniline leather-trimmed* seating and real wood trim*. The door panels flow into the instrument console, creating a sense of spaciousness, and at the same time placing all controls of the navigation*, Multi-information and entertainment systems within your grasp, while all driving related functions, as well as those for communication, are controlled from the leather-trimmed steering wheel.

Define your own personal climate with automatic dual zone climate control. The innovative nanoe air-purifiers cleanse the air and moisturise your skin, which is why stepping out of the new Lexus ES, is just as invigorating as stepping into it.

For further individual comfort, the front seats of all ES models have adjustable lumbar support, with standard heated and ventilated seats.

At Lexus safety is of paramount importance, which is why the new Lexus ES features the most advanced passive and active safety and driver support systems available. This is the most technologically advanced Lexus ES ever, with traditional measures of comfort merged with cutting-edge technology for all-encompassing driving pleasure.

* Available on ES 300H only

Read next: 10 Dynamic Black Entrepreneurs

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Rethinking Learning In The 21st Century

The changing world of work has disrupted the three elements of the traditional ‘career’: Expertise, duration, and rewards.

Wits Plus

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Traditionally the concept of a ‘career’ was considered to include three elements:

  1. A career represented our expertise, our profession, and ultimately our identity.
  2. A career was something that built over time and endured. It gave us the opportunity to progress and advance.
  3. A career gave us financial and psychological rewards. It made life meaningful and paid us enough to live well.

The changing world of work has disrupted all three elements: Expertise, duration, and rewards.

A career can now be as long as 60 years; at the same time, due to rapid advancements in technology and the changes that bring about in the workplace, skill sets can become obsolete in as little as five years.

Increasingly, companies need to rethink the way in which careers are managed and learning opportunities are delivered, and many have already begun to overhaul their career models and L&D (Learning and Development) infrastructure in line with the digital age.

Related: Your Investment In Knowledge

Employees’ learning behaviour is also changing. In the past, employees were able to obtain the skills required for their career early on and as a once-off; now, the career itself is a journey of learning, up-skilling, re-skilling and continuous reinvention to remain relevant and to thrive in the changing world of work.

Older employees who studied at a time where most of one’s learning occurred prior to entering the workplace, find themselves working alongside millennials who place greater value on learning and progression rather than on earning potential as a first priority.

Eighty-three percent of the respondents surveyed in Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends survey say their organisations are shifting to flexible, open career models that offer enriching assignments, projects, and experiences rather than a static career progression.

However, in today’s fast-paced business world, even if companies are restructuring L&D delivery, no one is going to make you engage in a strategy that is essential to your future success – continuous learning. You will have to take the initiative yourself.

Noted self-help expert W. Clement Stone, in his many writings on this topic, recommended that one spends anywhere from a half-hour to two hours a day in study and thinking time. This tireless dedication, combined with an insatiable curiosity, will equip you to excel in the future world of work. What’s more, learning new skills and knowledge can be fun!

The good news for both companies and for employees is that an explosion of high-quality content and digital delivery models offers employees ready access to continuous learning. The Wits DigitalCampus offers a range of accredited and fully online short courses to support your continuous learning.

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