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4 Signs that your Small Business has Finally Arrived

Here are a few ways that you’ll know that your company has grown from a shaky fledgling into a successful and sustainable business.

Steven Cohen

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There is no shortage of articles, seminars, and textbooks that claim to tell you how to run a successful small business, but few of them define exactly what it means to succeed. Yet it’s important as a small business owner to know what you’re striving for every day so that you can stay focused on your goals.

What are you hoping to achieve with the long hours, the risks, and the sacrifices that come alongside running your own business?

We-recommend-tickRecommended: A Simple 6-Step Process to Starting a Small Business

For each SME owner, the answer will be different, given that some simply want to provide a good living for their families, others want to inspire their customers, and many hope to change the world with a new way of doing things.

That said, most successful businesses have a few things in common.

1. Your cash flow is healthy and you’re starting to see consistent profits

When you start a business, you can usually expect to lose money for at least a few months. Your start-up expenses, such as stock, equipment, marketing, business services, rent and overheads will initially be higher than your revenues.

When you start to see a healthy stream of revenue into your business, so that you’re able to cover most of your expenses from cash flow each month, you’ll know that you’re on the right track.

And after a consistent few months where you are making a profit rather than a loss, you’ll be sure that you have a sustainable cost base and that there is a demand in the market for your products or services.

Each month and each year that you’re able to sustain and grow profits vastly increases the odds that your business will survive and thrive into the long term future.

2. Your customers are saying good things about your company

Listen to what your customers are really saying about your business – use an informal survey (tools such as Survey Monkey can help), social media monitoring, and face-to-face interaction to find out what they think about your service or product.

If they’re satisfied with your offering, then you are resonating with your market and have a strong base for the growth of your business. Repeat business from the same customers speaks even louder than social media praise – if they keep coming back for more, you’re definitely doing something right.

3. Your employees are happy and your staff turnover is low

Another sign that your business has established itself is if you’ve managed to build a strong core team that has stayed with the company for a couple of years.

If your people are happy, then your business is probably growing. And the longer they stick around, the better they will get at what they do.

4. You’re happy that you’ve done the right thing with your life and your career

Many business owners are motivated by money or the flexibility and independence that comes from being their own boss; others love the prestige of entrepreneur awards or the buzz that comes from making a difference in the community. These are all valid metrics for success.

We-recommend-tickRecommended: HR Management Basics for the Small Business

If you feel that you are doing the right thing with your life when you look at yourself in the mirror each morning, you’re doing well.

There are moments of self-doubt and difficult periods in any entrepreneur’s life, but if you wouldn’t easily trade what you’re doing for anything else in the world, your business is on the road to success.

As head of Sage One for AAMEA, Steven Cohen is overseeing the growth and development of Sage’s cloud-based accounting and payroll solutions in Africa, Australia, the Middle East and Asia. Before taking his current post, Cohen dedicated his 25-year career to Sage Pastel, the innovative business software company he founded with partners Ivan Epstein and Alan Osrin in 1989. During this time, Steven has held several management positions in the company, including financial director, chief operating officer, and managing director. He has played a central role in the company's growth from a start-up to a part of the JSE-listed Softline Group, right up to its present incarnation as part of Sage plc, a FTSE 100 company. A charted accountant by qualification, Steven has driven Sage Pastel's approach to keeping accounting at the cutting edge of technology and turning accounting software into a business management tool. Now, he will apply his skills and experience to Sage AAMEA’s strategically important and rapidly growing cloud business.

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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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