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Your Top 10 Growth Moves For 2017

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

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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.

Related: 3 Insanely Easy Ways To Double Your Sales

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

cyber-crime

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.

Related: 4 Top Retail Trends You Can Expect In 2017

4Go Digital

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

cybersecurity-attacks

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.

Related: 10 Behaviours of Unstoppable Entrepreneurs

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.

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The Alfa Romeo Stelvio – More Than An SUV

The All-New Alfa Romeo Stelvio draws inspiration from the legendary mountain pass linking Italy to Switzerland, with 48 hairpins in quick succession.

Alfa Romeo

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The All-New Alfa Romeo Stelvio draws inspiration from the legendary mountain pass linking Italy to Switzerland, with 48 hairpins in quick succession. The Stelvio pass is widely seen as one of the most beautiful and engaging roads on the planet.

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Enhance Your Entrepreneurial Flair With An Online Postgraduate Diploma From The University Of Pretoria

The Department of Business Management at the University of Pretoria, a leader in business management education, will be offering an Online Postgraduate Diploma in Entrepreneurship for the 2018 academic year with some seminars to enrich your action learning experience.

Dr Alex Antonites

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The Department of Business Management at the University of Pretoria, a leader in business management education, will be offering an Online Postgraduate Diploma in Entrepreneurship for the 2018 academic year with some seminars to enrich your action learning experience.

The programme content focuses on the start-up processes, creativity and opportunity recognition, business planning and marketing as well as financial management. Furthermore, the programme emphasises entrepreneurial growth and small business policy development with relevance to the enabling environment.

Who should enrol?

The programme is designed for pre-, nascent and start-up entrepreneurs who want to attain an advanced degree in entrepreneurship. It is also intended for individuals who work in an entrepreneurial environment and are involved with small business policy development. Although many students in the programme have academic credentials in entrepreneurship or business management, the programme is also appropriate if your education and/or experience may be in other disciplines (e.g. engineering or medicine).

Admission requirements

A relevant bachelor’s degree.

Related: This Enterprises UP Expert Explains Why Start-Ups Really Fail

Additional programme information

The duration of the course is one year. The language of tuition is English and the course will be presented in two blocks by means of the blended learning method (70% online and 30% contact sessions). Students need continuous access to the internet to complete the course.

Course Contents

Overview of modules for Block A

  • Ideation-to-market: Starting up
  • International Business Venturing
  • Venturing Strategy Building (Part 1)

Overview of modules for Block B

  • Entrepreneurial Marketing
  • Entrepreneurial Supply Chain Management
  • Entrepreneurial Finance
  • Venturing Strategy Building (Part 2)

Click here for more information.

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Win A Business Makeover With Retail Capital To The Value Of R250 000

Retail Capital is giving SMEs an opportunity to win a makeover to build their brand with an investment of R250,000.

Retail Capital

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Retail Capital is giving SMEs an opportunity to win a makeover to build their brand with an investment of R250,000. During the summer campaign, SMEs are encouraged to share the vision of how they would like to see their business grow, and led by a team of experts, Retail Capital will work with the winning SME to help make their vision come true.

While South Africa’s economy is not faring well, Retail Capital CEO Karl Westvig remains optimistic about the country’s retail and hospitality sectors. “We are seeing some green shoots, with an increase in turnover in these sectors – starting from the end of September. Economic conditions remain very tough, but businesses seem to be trading well into October and we’re hoping this continues into the festive season trading.”

According to recent statistics from Statistics South Africa (Stats SA), South Africa’s retail sales rose by 5.5% year-on-year in August 2017, following a downwardly revised 1.6% gain in the previous month and above market expectations of 2.3%. It is the biggest gain in retail trade since August of 2012.

Related: How To Raise Working Capital Finance

“I do believe that these sectors will see an improvement during the summer season. But, key to this will be for small business owners to ensure that they have the right amount of stock, adequate cash flow, as well as other systems in place to meet the ever-changing needs of customers,” says Westvig.

For many small businesses, however, continually adapting to market changes requires cash injections that they don’t often have.

The prize includes the following:

  • Business plan/consulting
  • Marketing strategy
  • Design and branding
  • Website and social Media and,
  • R50k capital to gear your business.

Westvig explains that the summer campaign tagline ‘Your Vision. Our Belief’ really speaks to why Retail Capital first opened its doors. “Our goal is to see the potential of small businesses and to work with them in making these become a reality.”

He adds that the idea is not to simply help one business during the campaign either. Westvig points out that one of the biggest challenges that small businesses face in the sluggish economy is enough foot traffic through their doors. “Generally, the main hurdle in creating brand awareness and projecting credibility of their establishments boils down to establishing a strong online presence.”

“One of the first ways that South Africans identify a business or service provider that they want to work with is over social media – even in a country where the digital divide has traditionally separated the technological haves from the have-nots,” he says.

He explains that companies that don’t have a social media presence are running the risk of being overlooked entirely. “They may attract customers in their own community with signage or word of mouth, but to grow a business, they need to expand their reach – and that’s where social media comes in.”

But, the reality is that resource and time constraints mean that for many SMEs, social media is not prioritised. “Unfortunately for the average small business owner, they don’t have the time or expertise to get connected.”

Understanding the importance of having an online presence, Retail Capital has also committed to developing the digital presence of all campaign entrants. This would include setting up each entrant’s digital presence on platforms such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, Tripadvisor, Zomato and any others that may be relevant to their specific market or industry.

“As a partner to many SMEs in South Africa, we are continually looking at new and innovative ways to help provide them with the much-needed support in order for them to realise their visions. SMEs need to be supported with initiatives like targeted education and training, supportive legislation, and funding opportunities that collectively help them grow our national economy,” says Westvig.

Related: 6 Great Tips For A Successful Shark Tank Pitch

Who we are and what we do:

“More than R1.25 billion has been extended to a range of businesses including food trucks, hair salons, restaurants, spas and franchised retail stores. Many of these businesses have not been able to raise funding in any other way, other than to go to unscrupulous lenders,”says Karl Westvig, the CEO Retail Capital, a company that provides working capital with the help of innovative lending technology.

“We have also estimated that for every R160 000 we lend, we create a new job. This means that 625 jobs have been created purely by enabling small businesses to get the funding they need for working capital requirements or expansion opportunities.”

Retail Capital’s system, which enables it to advance funding to small businesses, based on real time information on credit card transactions, is providing a new funding alternative to entrepreneurs who have previously been turned away by banks. Because it is able to get actual sales information, it can approve funding immediately, and allow for flexible repayment options based on sales cycles of the particular businesses it is funding.

“This creates significant opportunity for small business owners to focus on their business and grow volumes or look for expansion opportunities rather than spend their time frantically trying to repay debt or keep the business alive after debt repayments have eaten away at any cash reserves they might have had.”

Retail Capital funding is repaid by it taking a percentage of a business’s recorded credit or debit card sales, with repayments fluctuating in line with their business cycle. This has the effect of ensuring that it isn’t overburdened with debt.

“In the past six years since starting the business, small businesses have had the benefit of R1 billion in funding they would have been unable to get through traditional channels,”says Westvig.

Against the backdrop of recessionary conditions in South Africa, Retail Capital’s client information reveals growth in informal sector turnover across a number of industries.

“We believe that growth in the informal sector is outstripping that of the formal sector,”says Westvig.

As a large proportion of the businesses it funds are women- and black-owned, there is evidence that entrepreneurs who have previously been excluded from access to finance are now enjoying success now that their access to finance problem has been solved.

Win A Business Makeover with Retail Capital

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