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Achieve Personal Development Through Learning With Wits Plus

Jobs change quickly and there seems to be a continuous demand for new skills, more knowledge and higher levels of functioning.

Wits Plus

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Living and working in a knowledge-driven society is the challenging reality that most of us face these days.

There are many reasons why you might have a need to improve your qualifications or add to your skills profile: You may want to qualify for promotion, consider making a career change, or maybe you just want to be sure that you stay abreast of new developments in your industry.

Wits Plus, the Centre for Part-Time Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand, accommodates working professionals who want to further their studies by offering access to a wide range of accredited short courses and degrees on an after-hours basis.

What do you need?

‘Study skills’ can be described as the strategies and methods to manage learning efficiently and also make up an important set of transferable life skills. Study skills could include time management strategies, note taking and active listening abilities, as well as reading and analysis skills.

Related: How to Be a Jack-Of-All-Trades in a Small Business

Study skills develop over time; for example, some students may retain information better when presented with visuals, while others absorb information efficiently through lectures and even through textbook readings. Part of developing good study skills is to acknowledge that people learn in different ways.

Develop your own study skills

You need to develop your own personal approach to study and learning in a way that suits your own individual needs. As you develop your study skills you will discover what works for you, and what doesn’t.

Study skills are generic and can be applied when studying any subject or course. You will, of course, need to understand the concepts, theories and ideas surrounding your specific subject area. To get the most out of your studies, however, you will want to continuously develop your study skills.

Practising and developing your study skills will increase your awareness of how you study and you’ll become more confident. Once mastered, study skills will be beneficial throughout your life. Study skills are transferable life skills that you can apply in all sorts of new contexts, and include organisational skills, time management, prioritising, analysing, problem solving, and the self-discipline needed to stay motivated.

Become a critical reader

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Most of us read in everyday life for different purposes. We read to gain information for practical use, for example, a train timetable or a cinema listing. We may read fiction to be entertained or newspapers and magazines, in print or online format, to stay informed about current events.

Unlike most everyday reading though, academic reading should not be seen as a passive activity, but should be an active process that develops learning. Reading for learning requires a conscious effort to make links, understand opinions, do research and apply what you learn to your studies.

Related: How Staying Smart Means Staying Ahead

When you read while studying an academic course, your principal goal will be to gather information in order to answer assignment or exam questions. Underlying this is the more important goal of learning and development: To develop your thoughts, to incorporate new ideas into your existing understanding, to develop your knowledge and understanding and ultimately yourself.

Learning comes about not just from reading and remembering details, but from developing your understanding of the meaning of the details.

Wits Plus, the Centre for Part-Time Studies at the University of Witwatersrand, offers selected undergraduate degrees, as well as a wide range of short certificate courses. Evening classes make all qualifications accessible to working people and busy entrepreneurs. Wits Plus also offers a range of online short courses that enable you to study wherever you are. Certificates of Competence are awarded to successful participants for both certificate and online short courses.

Company Posts

What’s Stopping Your Business From Growing?

Three masters of scale unpack the reasons why you might be failing at growth – or in danger of doing so.

Matt Brown

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So, what’s stopping you from scaling? If you ask Rich Mullholland, founder of Missing Link, the reality is that most entrepreneurs don’t need to understand what it takes to scale. “Scaling speaks to exponential growth,” he says, “which for the vast majority of business owners simply shouldn’t be a consideration. Growth by itself is okay, and even then, it should be growth as and when it’s required.”

Rich’s key point is that growth for the sake of growth should never be a business owner’s primary goal. Growth should be strategic, and good for the company. Growth without a solid foundation can actually harm – or even kill – your company.

If your goal is growth though, here are three key points to keep top of mind.

1. Too many business owners don’t understand what it takes to scale a business

“Entrepreneurs are so focused on getting through the month with their cash flow intact that they often fail to lift their heads and look to the horizon,” says Allon Riaz, CEO and founder of Raizcorp. “Scale requires strategic thinking, while most entrepreneurs are in operational thinking mode.”

Howard Mann, president at Brickyard Partners and a US-based business turnaround specialist, advises business owners to stop focusing on revenue growth alone. “Scaling a business is about balance and too many entrepreneurs just focus on the speed of revenue growth. When revenue grows without the infrastructure to support that growth, clients leave as quickly as they come in.

“Instead of focusing on top-line growth, focus on maximum profit margins. This will completely change where you focus your efforts. I would rather have a $10 million business with 50% margins over the false glamour of a $50 million revenue business with razor thin profits.”

Related: Raizcorp: Business ‘Think’ has to come before the Business ‘Plan’

2. Without the right systems, process and people, you’ll never be able to scale

Allon believes the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make are:

  • Not arranging sufficient cash reserves for a growth period
  • Believing that the people who brought you to point A are the same people who will take you to point B
  • Having insufficient systems to scale the business

Rich agrees, adding that you need to focus on the business you want to be, and not the business you currently are. “Businesses often commit legacide,” he says. “They allow the legacy systems, put in place for a business of a smaller stature, to hold them back. Not to get too cheesy here, but to quote the Great One, NHL hockey legend Wayne Gretsky, you need to skate to where the puck is going. The systems you put in your business should be systems appropriate for the business you want, not the business you have. Sure, you’ll possibly be paying more in the short term, but it will be a fraction of what you lose trying to play catch-up later.”

Howard believes that losing track of managing the expenses required to manage growth is one of the biggest stumbling blocks entrepreneurs face. “To intentionally over simplify it, you want to figure out the most efficient and effective way to rapidly attract and close new clients while being able to serve and delight them at the lowest possible cost,” he says.

“Another mistake is taking on too much debt in the name of growth. We are all mesmerized by VC backed start-ups that put out press about their massive growth. You do not see how much cash they are burning through and that most of these companies have net losses that are growing as fast (or faster) than their revenue growth. Again, protect your profit margins. That is your growth fuel and protection against shocks in the economy.”

Related: [PODCAST]: Listen To Rich Mullholland Share Tips On Building Your Personal Brand

3. Growth for the sake of growth can actually kill your business

Before you embark on your growth journey, understand that growth, without sufficient structural foundations, can often lead to a business collapsing. “Some scale has the opposite of economies of scale, and actually becomes more expensive as the business becomes more complex,” says Allon. “It’s important to restructure the model as the business grows to ensure the highest possibility of economies of scale.”

Howard warns that a business structured to lose money as it grows is a poorly structured business. “Making the switch back to strong profitability after a growth phase is difficult to pull off,” he says. “Yes, we all know Amazon.com eventually did it. You are not Amazon.com. Growing with a net loss is a straight road to the business graveyard.”

Rich disagrees with the notion that growth in and of itself will lead to death. He believes that growth is, generally speaking, healthy. “I’ve seen businesses grow too quickly and not know how to deal with it, and I’ve seen businesses that out-grow the maturity of their management teams and get strangled by the firm hold the management team try to keep,” he says, but for Rich, this is the product of a business ill-prepared for growth, rather than a product of the growth itself.

“This is why slow is often better, as opposed to scale,” he says. “I remember when my son was young, and I was still his hero. I couldn’t imagine him shouting at me the way I did to my folks as a teenager – I’d be destroyed. So, I asked my dad about it, he smiled and said, don’t worry kiddo, they ease you into it, it all happens over time. By the time they start screaming, you’re ready. That’s true too for business growth. Most entrepreneurs are running their businesses as a real-time business school. You can’t always rush that education.”

Related: [PODCAST] Howard Mann, President Brickyard Partners – How To Survive The Struggle Of Running A Business


TOP TIPS

Allon: One top tip for business owners on scale is to remain strategic by knowing what you want to create and by ensuring a healthy balance of capital resources, sufficient people skills and the appropriate support systems.

Howard: Famed business owner Ricardo Semler said “Only two things grow for the sake of growth: Businesses and tumors.” Get crystal clear on why you want to grow. Once you do, find your balance between accelerating new business and the cost to manage that business.Scaling, like a scale, needs balance

Rich: Stop thinking about scale, and start thinking about solving an important problem that world has, even (especially) if they don’t know it yet. It the problem is real, and big enough, you will have a scale-able business.


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See Allon Raiz, Rich Mulholland and Howard Mann live at the first Secrets of Scale event, which will be taking place at the MESH Club in Rosebank on Thursday, 24 May. Buy your tickets online here: www.qkt.io/secretsofscale

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Company Posts

Why Customers Don’t Respond To Disruption

You’ve got chatbots running your customer service, interactive screens across your stores and you’ve just appointed a chief digital officer. Why aren’t you seeing sales going through the roof?

PwC

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PwC partner Quinton Pienaar says there could be many reasons for this. But the short answer is probably that in your understandable rush to stay relevant and keep up with the latest technology trends and developments, you lost sight of your number one priority. You’re just not that into your customers – and they know it.

It’s fairly easy to get dazzled by the array of technologies out there. But the trap that you’ve got to guard against is that you start seeing the world through a technology lens, rather than a customer one. Remember, technology is a tool, not an outcome. It’s the means to the end, not the end itself.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t be transforming your business digitally. You absolutely should. But there’s a big difference between investing in technology to keep up with the Joneses, and investing in technology that’s going to drive specific business outcomes and improve the customer experience.

Related: Reimagine The Use Of Technology

In fact, it would be downright dangerous to ignore the game-changing benefits that the current wave of emerging technologies brings to the table. To understand what they can do for your business, you have to know what they are. We at PwC talk about the ‘essential eight’:

  • The Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are the building blocks for the next generation of digital work.
  • Robotics, drones, and 3-D printing are all about machines that extend the reach of computing power into the material world.
  • Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) merge the physical and digital realms, and offer incredible advances in customer experience.
  • Blockchain rethinks our approach to commercial transactions by allowing participants to exchange value, and verify ownership of something, without a third party.

Some of these technologies are verging on science fiction. So how do we use them in a way that supports customer obsession? The starting point of any successful customer transformation is a customer-focused design that brings together three essential elements – business strategy, customer experience and technology – into a coherent, fully-fledged digital strategy.

In other words, today’s most successful companies have a strategy that is focused around a simple and regularly-updated list of priorities. They incorporate the new generation of technologies like IoT, blockchain and AI. But they keep their people, and their customers at the core of their business by designing strategies that directly address customers’ underlying needs and desired outcomes.

Related: Why Your Latest Tech Investment Might Not Be Wowing Your Customers

This sounds dead obvious. But what we find is that many companies we talk to are focused on growing their revenues, or making improvements to their products and services, rather than creating better customer experiences. Or they have the strategy, but are battling to execute it effectively.

Of course, to underpin this customer transformation journey, you’re going to need some data and the foundational technologies on which today’s innovations depend – data mining and analytics, mobile, and cloud. You may also need to rethink your processes to manage, enrich and maintain data, and operationalise it throughout your business.

So you have all of that in place? Good. Now stop. Breathe. Ask yourself whether your technology and data are truly supporting an unwavering focus on the customer. Because if you take one message from this article, let it be this: in today’s marketplace, putting your customer at the centre of your business is imperative to driving growth and profitability, winning market share and unlocking the value of your technology investments.

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Are You Suited to Entrepreneurship

Start This Business With Zero Advertising Budget And No Need For Premises

What do we need to do to make our chances of entrepreneurial success as high as possible? Is it possible to build and position a business that has the highest statistical chances of survival? How would we even go about building such a business? Financial Freedom Project seems to have the answer.

Financial Freedom Project

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What are the causes of most business failures?

When it comes to business failure in South Africa, the numbers aren’t optimistic. Some of the more common reasons for business failure include:

  • Start-up funding
  • Ongoing support
  • Lack of new business to sustain growth
  • Admin time / costs associated with running a business
  • High cost of equipment / premises
  • Advertising budget
  • Cost of personnel labor
  • Legalities of employment contracts
  • Costs of credit
  • Market experience
  • Competition within the industry
  • Current market conditions.

With the odds stacked against you, what type of business could you start that offers you:

1. Minimal start-up funding

Consider minimal start-up funding requirements to mitigate as much risk as possible and make start-up as easy and quick as possible.

We need to go as low as less than one month of one month’s average salary as so to be able to start this business on the spot. Let’s make our criteria less than R10 000.

Related: 15 Things Every Newbie Needs to Know About Starting a Business

2. Mentor/ Trainer support

For support and experience we need to have easily accessible communication methods with a mentor / trainer i.e. WhatsApp and skype.

3. Access to a market full of customers with unlimited spending ability

Want a colossal market, how about an estimated 5.3 Trillion Dollars a day?

4. No need for an advertising budget

Maybe a business where customers come to you without advertising because they want what you have. Let’s be ridiculous and put a zero advertising budget.

5. Minimum paper work / admin requirements before and after sales

Let’s aim for no admin and have everything processed and stored online for absolute minimal ongoing costs.

6. No premises required

You can work from anywhere at minimal cost and only need one computer.

Related: Why Build a Business Just to Close It?

7. No employees required

This business must be able to run as a “one man show” as to exclude all labor costs and employment legalities. As in previous point, let’s aim for one person to run this business and internet to stay connected to the world.

8. Little competition

This industry offers the least possible competition between participants.

9. A industry with no “seasonal times” so you can make money all the time

To get a never ending supply of opportunity we absolutely have to be a part of the global supply and demand system.

10. A proven concept

This will be outlined below.

What’s the business?

Financial Freedom Project provides you with a long-term financial freedom by utilising financial markets. The Financial Freedom Project is a results-based wealth creation training and mentorship programme that has start-up capital requirements of only R4 000 to begin accessing markets.  The course requires only 3 days of your time and offers unlimited course re-sits.

For more information about how you can work with Financial Freedom Project visit financialfreedomproject.net or call them on 010 020 5699 for further info.

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