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4 Hacks To Overcome The Struggles Of A Running A Small Biz

Here is my list of the top struggles start-up businesses face and some ideas to overcome them.

Sage

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Entrepreneurship is a difficult, yet rewarding path to follow. Some challenges you might face as a small business owner include cash flow problems, difficulty in attracting top talent and finding time to innovate.

The good news is that digital tools – and the impact they’re having on the workplace – give you access to the audience, information and resources you need to overcome common challenges and tip the scale in your favour.

Here is my list of the top struggles start-up businesses face and some ideas to overcome them: 

1. Attracting customers

Challenge: As a small business owner, you’re competing for customers with businesses that have more money to spend on sales and marketing than you do. Print and radio advertising can be expensive, and it’s difficult to be sure whether they’re successfully attracting new customers to your business.

Related: Cash Flow Tips For Small Businesses To Survive Rocky Times

Hack: Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, and search engines like Google, offer you an affordable cost of entry for advertising. You can set strict budgets so that you don’t overspend, and you can target people by factors such as their location, interests and demographics. You can also easily track how people share and interact with your content so that you can optimise for better results. Keep in mind that while social media can be useful, don’t forget about your connections offline. Networking is still a great tool to gain the trust of others and gather some referrals.

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2. Mastering the art of paperwork

Challenge: You’re not ready to invest in a proper accounting package, perhaps because you’re not familiar with accounting solutions or because you don’t want to spend the money. Yet you also realise that doing your invoicing and quoting on Excel spreadsheets is time-consuming – and it can be a nuisance to track unpaid amounts.

Hack: Simple and affordable online software like Sage One Invoicing enables business owners to quote and invoice on-the-go from a PC or mobile device, as long as they have access to an Internet connection. It takes seconds to generate a quote while you’re sitting with a client, or to send an invoice once the job is finished. It’s also easy to track unpaid invoices and to see how business is doing. Plus, it will also generate the quote and invoice on your company’s branding, for a professional look.

3. Hiring the right people

Challenge: When you’re ready to grow from one-person or two-person company, you need to find the right people to take your business to the right level. You probably will not be able to pay them as much as a bigger company; what’s more, you need to hire carefully to ensure that they fit with your company culture and your management style.

Hack: Let your business network know that you’re hiring and look carefully at the people your contacts refer to you. This is a great way of tapping into talent that will be a fit for your business without publishing an ad or turning to an external recruiter. Don’t look at qualifications alone – hire people for their attitude and their willingness to grow with your company.

Related: Why Small Business Deserves To Be A Bigger Priority

4. Mastering multiple roles

Challenge: Every small business owner needs to be a jack-of-all-trades, managing everything from the printer and the coffee machine to finance, sales and operations. As your company grows, you’ll need access to more specialised skills to run an effective business. At the same time, you might not have budget to pay for a full-time accountant, IT manager, HR manager and marketing director.

Hack: Selectively outsource your business needs to freelancers and agencies who know your industry and who work with other small businesses. This will free your time up for innovation, product development, sales and other aspects of your business you consider to be your real strengths. It will also give you access to fresh perspectives and helpful advice.

Sage is supporting the growth of South African businesses through the 2017 702 and Cape Talk Small Business Awards with Sage. This is an annual search for small South African businesses that have enormous potential for the future. Visit http://www.sba.702.co.za/ or http://www.sba.capetalk.co.za/ for more information.

Sage specialises in accounting and business management software development aimed at small and medium sized business, although we do offer expertise and business solutions for larger businesses. Over the past twenty years Sage has become a local leader in business software solutions backed by the strength of the global Sage brand.

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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​.

Lexus

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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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