Tech-driven disruptive new businesses have emerged and are competing with traditional business. To stay competitive and grow sustainably, entrepreneurs can’t afford to fall behind in the technology stakes, says MTN Business. By David Mphelo
In 2017, South African SMEs have to move with the times to remain competitive. MTN Business believes the following are the top ten steps entrepreneurs should take to keep pace with the competition.
1Have a plan
Whether you’re in retail, catering, consulting, transport or any other traditionally non-IT sector, planning is critical to run a successful business.
SMEs have to actively explore the technology solutions that exist in the market, acquaint themselves with the technology tools that can help them grow their businesses, and with that information at hand, charter a plan i.e. an innovative strategy making use of technology to be more cost-effective, more efficient and to serve their customers better.
2Get smart about comms
Communications lies at the heart of the modern business. Any entrepreneur still using little more than mobile and data at consumer rates is not making the most of the plethora of channels and business bundles now available for engaging with stakeholders, partners and customers.
MTN Business offers SMEs the ability to manage multiple calls and queries, empowering them to provide their customers with a better experience.
MTN Mobile Private Branch Exchange (PBX) enables a mobile device to become a full-featured call centre service, offering reduced call rates and full management capabilities.
3Lock IT down
77% Of cybersecurity attacks are targeted at SMEs. Entrepreneurs may be more at risk than larger enterprises because many lack the resources for a dedicated information security team. Global cyber crime is predicted to cost businesses $2,1 trillion worldwide — four times the estimated cost of breaches in 2015.
Phishing attacks, viruses, DDoS attacks and lost or stolen mobile devices and laptops are but a few of the threats facing entrepreneurs. MTN Business has partnered with the vendors of best-in-class security solutions to bring to South Africa all the IT security solutions entrepreneurs need to mitigate risk.
Digital allows you to improve efficiencies, track assets more effectively, and manage sales, orders, shipments, contracts and more from a mobile device wherever you are.
When all data and systems are digital and connected, the entrepreneur can begin using and building on its data across departments to improve service and customer experience.
Going digital positions growing businesses to use Business Intelligence, CRM tools and data analytics.
5Get into the cloud
Cloud-based business solutions level the playing field to give entrepreneurs access to the same tools enterprises use, at a manageable cost.
Cloud solutions have brought a revolution in business operation by enabling easy access to data from any place where there is an Internet connection and eliminating technology management. Allowing entrepreneurs to focus on their core business areas, save costs and improve operational efficiency.
6Be open for business 24/7
The simplest tool for 24/7 market presence is the company website, yet more than half of growing businesses still do not have one.
Numerous options exist for free or low-cost website development, including MTN Business’s Build Your Business Online platform, which helps customers choose and register a domain, create customised email addresses, drag and drop content to build a website, and even set up a search engine optimisation function. When you have a website, customers can interact with your business 24/7.
7Maximise social media
When all stakeholders and all customers are active on social media, businesses have to be present in this environment too. World Wide Worx’s South African Social Media Landscape 2016 study puts local Facebook users at 13 million.
Twitter and Instagram are also strong in South Africa. Marketing and brand building on social media is possibly the most cost-effective way to engage with your target market.
8Use free business tools
Developer toolkits, business tutorials, strategic planning tools and basic business tools such as accounting and billing solutions, storage and sharing facilities are widely available for free.
For greater peace of mind, SME tools can also be accessed on a pay per use or subscriber model to control costs.
9Market your business more
Ineffective marketing is a major cause of failure among South African entrepreneurs. Within a carefully-laid strategy, entrepreneurs should embrace the brand-building potential of their website, contact centre, mobile apps and social media to build awareness and interact with their markets.
10Get strategic about partnerships
The right partnerships are crucial for the success of the SME. Entrepreneurs with limited ICT capacity need to seek out ICT service partners who can enable the digital business effectively, within budget. With our enhanced focus on SME development, MTN Business offers end-to-end business mobile and ICT services in partnership with global market leaders.
Get The Edge This Winter
Five short courses from WITS kicking off in July will give you the competitive edge.
From Gauteng’s most trusted provider of the best learning experiences, come five WITS-curated courses starting in July 2019. Use the longer, colder days to curl up with a “good book” and emerge from winter with a new edge.
There are three online short courses offered via the WITS Digital Campus, starting 15 July.
Managing Labour Relations
This 10 week course will equip you with sound knowledge of South Africa’s complex labour landscape and an understanding of your legal rights as an employee or employer.
You will also learn skills for navigating employer / employee relationships successfully, and get tools for managing disputes effectively. There are eight modules, covered in online lectures over eight weeks, requiring a commitment of five to seven hours per week. The exam is in week 10.
Logistics and Supply Chain Management Practice
This 10 week course is packed with practical and theoretical information to help retail managers, supply chain supervisors, stock controllers and even CEOs drive efficiencies in the value chain.
It covers everything from improving exporting transportation, warehousing, order processing and procurement to financial management and managing waste. There are eight modules, covered in online lectures over eight weeks, requiring a commitment of five to seven hours per week. The exam is in week 10.
Applied Digital Marketing
We operate in an increasingly digital world and traditional marketing must include digital aspects and channels to be relevant.
This 10 week course will teach you to think digital, talk digital and deliver effective digital campaigns to elevate marketing and brand-building initiatives. You will learn to conceptualise and implement successful digital marketing strategies that drive customer acquisition, optimise your digital footprint and deliver business results.
There are eight modules, covered in online lectures over eight weeks, requiring a commitment of five to seven hours per week. The exam is in week 10.
Comprehensive onsite courses in July include:
Real Estate Investment Analysis
This intensive five day course is for people who have been introduced to the real estate discipline at NQF 4 and NQF 5 levels. It is designed to provide higher level, more focused training as well as tools for analysing different types of real estate investments at the individual asset level, and measuring investment performance.
The course will benefit property practitioners who do not have property degrees; past graduates of SAPOA programmes in different aspects of the real estate business and people from different disciplinary backgrounds considering entering the profession. The course takes place over five days from 1 to 5 July 2019.
Advanced Performance Management
Presented by the School of Accountancy together with Wits Enterprise, this course is designed to prepare students for the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) Professional level exams.
On completion of this course, you will be able to:
- Use strategic planning and control models to plan and monitor organisational performance
- Assess and identify key external influences on organisational performance
- Apply strategic performance measurement techniques in evaluating and improving organisational performance
- Advise on business performance evaluation as well as recognize vulnerability to corporate failure
The course will run from 15 July to 22 October 2019.
For more information on registering for any of these courses, criteria for registering, and costs, visit.
This article was originally posted on Entrepreneur.com/sa.
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.
This article was originally posted on Entrepreneur.com/sa.
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
This article was originally posted on Entrepreneur.com/sa.