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.
4 Ways to Stop Worrying in 2019
If you’re a bit of a worry-wart, you have to acknowledge this and get proactive about managing your stress, anxiety and worrying levels. Here’s how.
What if I can’t complete that piece of work in time? What if my home gets burgled while I’m on holiday? We all worry – some people more than others. A few of these worries are genuine concerns, but most are completely out of our control and are most likely never to materialise.
But still, they occupy our minds. And with the digital world now occupying even more of our time, we’ve been given even more material to worry about. Famines in far-away countries, children orphaned by a flood, if we simply turn on our TVs or look to social media, we can become completely overwhelmed by what we see. And it’s making us all desperately unhappy.
So, what do we do? If you’re a bit of a worry-wart, you have to acknowledge this and get proactive about managing your stress, anxiety and worrying levels. Here’s how:
Monitor and limit social media
We all know our phones are an addiction. And scrolling through Twitter or Instagram, you can compare your life to everyone else’s and add another huge worry to your ever-growing list: I’m not good enough/my life sucks. Which is why there’s a growing trend among Generation X-ers (and even some Millennials), to quit social media altogether.
“It was like breaking an addiction for the first few days, where I felt I was missing out, but after a few weeks I realised that the world carries on, and I was still in touch with those people I actually wanted to connect with. I felt lighter and happier,” says Caryn White*, a mother-of-two and small business owner. If you can’t quit social media for work reasons, then take it off your phone, and only access it on your desktop at specific times of the day.
We’re not advocating sticking your head in the sand: just limit which channels you absorb news from, and how often you do it. The last thing you need is to open up your phone on waking up and read about the latest catastrophe, which you are powerless to do anything about.
Pick a few trusted news sources and check them at specific times. Avoid the news on the radio in your car; rather listen to fascinating audio books or podcasts that lift your mood instead of making you worry.
Assumption or fact?
This simple concept is incredibly helpful when faced with a worrying situation. Your child has a strange rash, you’ve Googled it and you’re pretty sure it’s chickenpox. Now the whole family is going to get it, you’ll miss work, your boss will be angry, and you may lose your job. Is the fact that your child has chicken pox an assumption or a fact?
Is losing your job a fact or an assumption? They’re both assumptions. So, take your child to the doctor, get a proper diagnosis and then take the next steps from there (a good medical aid can also help ease the stress of the financial cost of doctors’ visits). This approach is a simple way to deal with worries that start to spiral out of control in your mind.
Write them down
Worrying can seem insurmountable if it’s all in your head. Instead, try this strategy from Qualified FAMSA Counsellor Lynette Blomfield:
- Take a few deep breaths with your eyes closed, until you calm down.
- Once you’re calm, write down the five most stressful things on your list. It could be increasing expenses, like a huge jump in medical aid costs per month.
- Brainstorm what you could do to change or eliminate the worry/problem (maybe you can move to a medical aid company that charges less each month?). If necessary, ask a good friend or colleague for advice.
- Focus on making progress, not ticking all your worries off and striving for ‘perfection’.
- Stay on course and come back to your list regularly.
Dealing with worrying is about being proactive. You’re the only one that can begin the process of reducing anxiety, so now’s the time to take some steps. If you don’t know how to begin doing this on your own, it may be best to see a qualified counsellor or therapist to get you started.
*name has been changed
Benefits Of Automated Cash Management
Every entrepreneur knows that cash is the lifeblood of a business, but few realise that the way one manages cash, can be the difference between success and failure.
Automated cash management has become a vital component of every cash-centric business, particularly in the retail trade. As much as the use of credit cards and online banking is encouraged, consumers remain sceptical and nervous of internet fraud and cybercrime and continue to prefer hard cash as the primary means of transacting.
The days of physical cash are not numbered. Current cash in circulation is approximately R140 billion, having grown from R119 billion in 2014, according to the South African Reserve Bank and according to a recent banking report, cash represents close on 90% of all transactions in South Africa.
If you run a business, some of this cash will find its way into your cash register (or, heaven forbid, the envelope you hide in the fridge until you make the trip to the bank). As a business owner, it is your responsibility to keep your cash safe, not just in the interests of profitability, but in the interests of the welfare of staff and customers who could be caught in the cross fire of armed robbers who almost always, get to know what you have been up to!
According to Richard Phillips, joint CEO of Cash Connect Management Solutions, cash automation is the way to go. “Automated cash handling saves money and time, allowing retailers to focus on their core business and greatly improves their risk profile,” he says. And don’t think your enterprise is too small to automate, as cash, whether small or large in volume, remains high on the criminal agenda.
But the real commercial advantages of cash automation are often hidden by safety and security considerations. The advantages of an automated cash handling solution are and should, do much more than giving your cash a safe ride to the bank. Just have a look at what the Cash Connect solution, arguably the most advanced of its kind in the local market could do for you:
1. Increased business efficiency
Bill Gates once said that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. It is certainly true for automated cash management. It’s fast, accurate and error free. It eliminates all staff touch points associated with manual reconciliations and banking, which gets rid of shrinkage and double count supervision. It lowers insurance and other overhead and back-office costs, along with your exposure to crime, both in store and en-route to the bank.
2. Improved cash flow
With the right solution, your cash will reflect in your bank account on the same day that the cash-in-transit company collects from your premises. Cash Connect goes even further with its Instant Access feature, which allows access to the cash while still in the vault, converting the retailers’ cash into value whenever they need it.
3. Business continuity
Cash Connect guarantees the cash from the time it is deposited into the cash vault, whilst in transit and until the cash reflects in your bank account. This means that from a cash flow point of view, your business can not only survive most crises, but that business continuity is guaranteed.
4. Cost savings
In a manual cash handling environment, the combination of all the elements required to give effect to realising value in one’s bank account will vary with the actual monthly cash turnover; But on R1,5 million of cash receipts a month, the cost will be somewhere in the region of 135 basis points.
A corresponding integrated automated cash management service will cost in the region of 70 basis points.
As a matter of interest, card transactions cost the retailer anything between 300 and 500 basis points – reinforcing why, for the retailer, cash is the preferred medium of payment.
5. Access to alternative funding options
Imagine applying for a business loan, getting funding approval in one hour and having R1,8 million paid into your bank account within 24 hours. Far from a pipedream, this is what Cash Connect recently did for one of its retail supermarket clients under its Cash Connect Capital offering. You too can get fast, flexible, hassle-free, and unsecured growth finance when you need working capital to boost your business.
Having grown Cash Connect from an entrepreneur’s start-up to the success it is today, the Cash Connect team remains driven by the desire to empower and enable South Africa’s SME community and retail sector, by creating a trading environment that takes businesses from a place of safety to a place of growth.
And in today’s modern world, that is exactly how entrepreneurs should think about cash management solutions and how they can improve business efficiency and cash flow.
How To Get A Tax Clearance Certificate In South Africa
This post is for you if you need a Tax Clearance Certificate from SARS. We explain everything you need to know about Tax Clearance Certificates in South Africa: from why you need one to apply for most Tenders, Contracts or RFQ’s to how to get yours as quickly as possible.
When applying for Tenders, Contracts and RFQ’s in South Africa, chances are you need to submit a Tax Clearance Certificate. In this piece we’re explaining the why, the how and the where on getting a Tax Clearance Certificate in South Africa.
We’ve asked our team of specialists at Company Partners to answer frequently-asked questions they get from South African entrepreneurs on Tax Clearance Certificates. Company Partners is a local company who specialises in fast-tracked company documentation like Tax Clearance Certificates.
Here are the questions SA entrepreneurs have on Tax Clearance Certificates and our expert’s answers (you can just skip to the FAQ’s you’re interested in):
- The definition of a Tax Clearance Certificate
- Why do I need a Tax Clearance Certificate for Contracts, Tenders or RFQs?
- How to get a Tax Clearance Certificate in South Africa
- Where to get a Tax Clearance Certificate
- Is a Tax Clearance Certificate compulsory in South Africa to apply for Tenders?
- The fastest way to get a Tax Clearance Certificate in South Africa.
Expert tip: if you’re interested in getting a fast-tracked Tax Clearance Certificate, just call Company Partner’s toll-free number 0800 007 269 or visit their Tax Clearance Certificate page here.
1. The definition of a Tax Clearance Certificate
A Tax Clearance Certificate is essentially a piece of official documentation that your business can get from SARS as proof that you have no outstanding Tax at SARS. Having a Tax Clearance Certificate in South Africa means your business is in good standing with SARS.
2. Why do I need a Tax Clearance Certificate for Contracts, Tenders or RFQs?
You want to partner with credible companies, right? The same goes for companies looking for contractors. That’s why companies want to check if their potential contractors are in good standing with SARS.
You cannot skip your SARS payments and get a Tax Clearance Certificate. You need to “clear” all Tax matters first before you can get the certificate.
In short, that’s exactly why you’ll see most Tenders, Contracts or RFQ’s asking you to provide a Tax Clearance Certificate in your applications/bids. It’s essentially a form of administrative security to ensure you don’t have bad debt with SARS.
3. How to get a Tax Clearance Certificate in South Africa
SARS is the only entity who can issue legal Tax Clearance Certificates in South Africa. However, there are various way to get a SARS-issued Tax Clearance Certificate.
The first method is using eFiling and navigating SARS’s e-portal by yourself.
The second is queuing at a local SARS branch.
The third, and the easiest method is asking a Tax Professional to assist you. This can either be a Tax Accountant, or a fast-tracked company service provider like Company Partners. They have a team of Tax Experts who communicate directly with SARS on your behalf.
Their team specialises in assisting South African businesses to get their SARS-issued Tax Certificate as quickly, and with as little effort as possible.
This is one of the easiest methods to get your Tax Clearance Certificate simply because you don’t need to figure out what, how and where you need to submit your details and the required documentation. Company Partners knows exactly what SARS wants – and also how and where they want it.
This process is also much faster and easier because it’s online and completely rules out queuing and unclarity.
4. Where to get a Tax Clearance Certificate
As mentioned in the previous answer, there are three ways to get a Tax Clearance Certificate. Although all three approaches entail a SARS-issued Tax Clearance Certificate, the third way is by far the easiest and the fastest.
The first method is applying online and DIY via SARS’s eFiling site. This might be complicated and time-consuming if you don’t know exactly what documentation you need to submit and in what formats.
The second method is visiting a local SARS branch for assistance.
The third option is using a Tax Accountant or a professional service provider like Company Partners.
The Company Partners process is simple:
Sign up for their Tax Clearance service here. A dedicated expert will give you a call and walk you through everything. Alternatively, you can call them directly on their toll-free number 0800 007 269.
Follow the easy steps your dedicated Consultant gives you telephonically and via email. If you need any assistance, just contact your Consultant.
They make sure you get your Tax Clearance Certificate in record-breaking time. It’s as simple as that.
5. Is a Tax Clearance Certificate compulsory in South Africa when applying for Tenders?
Usually, yes. Any credible company or government institution will probably request a Tax Clearance Certificate.
A Tax Clearance Certificate issued by SARS is the only proof they have that you don’t have any outstanding debts payable to SARS.
6. The fastest way to get a Tax Clearance Certificate in South Africa
The fastest way to get a Tax Clearance Certificate in South Africa is using a professional to assist you. Before you opt out in fear of the associated cost, there really are cost-effective options for you.
You could use a part-time Tax Accountant to assist you or you could use a service provider like Company Partners. At Company Partners they specialise in offering online and fast-tracked company administration.
Using a professional cuts out the time you’re going to spend queuing at a local SARS branch or trying to figure out what and how you need to submit the required documentation.
You can call Company Partners on their toll-free number 0800 007 269 to start.
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