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How To Successfully Transition From Start-up To SME

Here are six steps to ensure our start-ups successfully transition into sustainable SMEs.

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The South african climate has long been fertile ground for start-ups and entrepreneurs. With incubators and accelerators for almost every industry, funders constantly in search of viable businesses to invest in, and government doing their bit, South Africans are no strangers to start-ups.

So why is that, according to Forbes.com, even with all the incubators and accelerators at our disposal, 90% of entrepreneurs fail. What are we missing?

Here are Six Steps to Ensure our Start-ups Successfully Transition into Sustainable SMEs:

1. The Lone Ranger is a Fossil

lone-ranger

Transitioning successfully from start-up to a small business or enterprise is a tricky balancing act; you need the income to drive you forward but not too quickly that you can’t expand staff at the same time.

Related: 21 Steps To Start-Up

Outsourcing – thankfully something South Africans are no strangers to – is still the best interim solution. Outsource your accountant, marketing and even you PA so that you can bridge the gap as your business transitions from one phase to another.

Also consider a business coach to guide you through this transition phase. The value of a coach’s guidance as you let go of the old and embrace the new, will ensure you don’t leave what’s important behind.

Bring people around you. That ensures you are free to focus on the core functions of your business, while they carry on with the peripheral functions.

2. Focus on What Matters

Throughout the start-up phase, and beyond, it’s important to set achievable goals and regularly review your progress against them.

However, instead of focusing on growth, stay focused on your key objectives and what makes you different from your competition.

Focus on your team and creating a great customer experience, rather than growth: Growth is a by-product of a successful business.

Progressing from micro to SME shouldn’t change your company attitudes and culture: these make you unique.

Hold onto these and incorporate them into your bigger profile as you develop your business.

3. Bloom and Grow

Powwownow

Your next big step is to hire a full-time key member of staff – a production manager, operations manager, perhaps a senior accounts manager. I know this is a large financial commitment, but you will see a return on your investment.

Firstly, the boost in moral will lift the spirits of the existing team, as this senior position will alleviate some of their workload. Secondly, the added seniority on the team will help support your leadership.

Related: The 7 Business Lessons You Should Learn by 30

According to Paul Lees, chief executive and founder of Powwownow, which has gone from a start-up to a well-established SME in the last decade, believes that often the hardworking individuals who have built a business from the ground up, are not equipped with the skills to take it to the next level.

Invest in knowledgeable individuals, hold on the knowledge of the original team, and your business will transition start to grow.

4. Know What You’re Worth

In the beginning, most startups exchange low prices for their school fees. I.e. you and your team are still learning how this thing called ‘start-up’ works, so you charge lower fees as your service or product might take a little longer to be delivered, and might have a glitch or two. You probably also take jobs that might not be your core business, but you need the work, so you do it.

No problem. Learn, dig deep, eat humble pie, say yes and grow. However, you are not meant to stay in this phase forever.

With time, you gain experience, confidence and expertise. When you are ready to transition, you no longer need to stay in the cheap and cheerful seats. It is likely that your value and team have scaled and you now qualify to play in a different price league.

When you initiate the transformation to expand your business, be sure to evaluate clients and their worth.

  • If necessary, walk away from a client or two who might not be willing to evolve with you.
  • Be consistent and never compromise on your quality of service.
  • Weigh up your strengths and weaknesses, what you enjoy doing and ultimately what gives you the best return.
  • Prioritise these core areas of strength to drive your business forward.
  • Identify what your ideal customer looks like, so that you can cater to their needs, and make your offering more attractive to them. A good marketing company or brand coach can help you with this.

5. Think Big, Act Small

think-big-entrepreneurship

If you’re an entrepreneur and you’re still in business, congratulations – you are doing something right. With only 10% of start-ups surviving, it is important that you don’t walk away from everything that got you here in the first place in exchange for ‘growth’.

  • Startup Culture: Your culture is a foundational pillar when you’re a small company – it’s what carves out your reputation and generates those highly-coveted streams of repeat business. Have big goals, but protect the energy and agility of your startup.
  • Start Somewhere: ‘Think big, act small’ also implies that each big dream has to start with that first small step.

Related: 4 Essential Steps To Start-Up Success

In a post from Google’s Think Insights, Google’s former Senior Vice President of Adwords and AdSense, now Senior Vice President at YouTube, Susan Wojcicki explains, “No matter how ambitious the plan, you have to roll up your sleeves and start somewhere. Google Books, which has brought the content of millions of books online, was an idea that our Founder, Larry Page, had for a long time. People thought it was too crazy even to try, but he went ahead and bought a scanner and hooked it up in his office. He began scanning pages, timed how long it took with a metronome, ran the numbers and realised it would be possible to bring the world’s books online. Today, our Book Search index contains over 10 million books.”

  • Update How You Do Things: ‘Think big’ also means it’s time you stop running your business with free-trial software and patchwork systems. If you want to compete with the big dogs, adrenaline and will-power are not enough to go the distance.

I know this is not glamorous or very ra-ra, but if you want to emerge as an SME to contend with, it’s time to improve your internal systems, software and policies. The systems you use now will buckle and fail under the strain of rapid growth.

Does someone in production consistently produce great work in record time? Map out what he does and how he does it, step by step, then make that a new production policy, so that your product delivery becomes reliable and consistent. A business coach could help you here.

Still using excel to handle your orders, invoicing and reports? It’s time to look at a more holistic, smarter approach that will scale with you. Business Operating Systems (BOS) – the next generation of ERPs – automate the admin of your business so that you are free to grow. A good BOS should cover quotes, production management, stock control, time keeping, reports, invoices and accounting. If you have a big budget, look at SAP. If you want software that will grow with you, and has friendly support, we like QuickEasy BOS.

6. Jack Be Nimble

Finally, never cease to innovate. Stay nimble. You’re the boss, right? That’s one thing that large corporates envy about SME’s: If you have an idea, you are able to immediately put it into action. Test it. If it works, great. If not, try something new.

Heinrich is the owner and founder of QuickEasy Software, a proudly South African software company based in Cape Town with a national footprint, focused on simplifying business processes by integrating every aspect of the business cycles into one, easy-to-use system. Heinrich is passionate about releasing business owners to run their businesses efficiently through this affordable ERP software that improves efficiency at every station; from leads, CRM, quotes, job tracking, time tracking, stock management, invoices, and reports - effectively freeing them from the drudge work of running a business in order to grow their business.

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Small Business

A – Z Easy Small Business Ideas

Whether it’s a ‘eureka’ moment at three in the morning, or a persistent feeling that you’ve got a great small business idea, here’s some of the things you need to know to determine if you’re on to a good thing.

Entrepreneur

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List of Small Business Ideas

A small business is by no means a lesser one to the big corporates out there – even they were once small.

The term ‘small’ simply refers to the size of the company in terms of its turn-over (less than R1 million per annum) and its number of staff (usually 50 or less), certainly not its clout.

Related: How To Go From A Clever Idea To A Viable Moneymaker

In fact, it’s often small businesses that give large corporates a run for their money as being small allows for greater agility and flexibility, quicker turn-around time, and greater room for customisation. Ready to get your small business started?

A small business can start in a home kitchen, a spare room; it can start in a garage. It can start in a small rented office space with just a laptop computer and yourself manning it, or it can start between friends, spouses, business partners.

Mostly though, a small business has minimal staff, is started with a small amount of capital, and it carries low overheads.

Need small business ideas?

Take a look at the list below to help you start brainstorming. The key is to examine an industry that you have strengths in, and determine whether the skills and character you have (or can develop) can meet a need within that industry.

Here are some examples of businesses you can start from home:

A

  • Air-conditioner and appliance repair
  • App developer
  • Ad agency
  • Antique restoration and resale
  • Aquarium supplies and maintenance
  • Animal trainer.

If you have a skill and it can be sold to someone who needs your skills, it is a business.

B

  • Bookkeeping
  • Professional blogger
  • Business consultant
  • BEE consultant
  • Baker
  • Body guard service.

If you are looking at service oriented businesses, make sure you are properly qualified to perform the service and registered with the appropriate associations for credibility.

C

  • Catering business
  • Chef
  • Carpenter
  • Car mechanic
  • Cellphone repair
  • Child care
  • Computer maintenance and repair
  • Computer training or programming
  • Construction and clean-up
  • Customer service professional
  • Call-centre.

People will buy a product or service if it makes their lives that little more convenient.

Something that saves people time, money or hassle is essential for a sustainable business.

D

  • Dry-cleaning service
  • Driving service or school
  • Data capture or data analysis service
  • Desktop publishing
  • Dog training, walking or grooming
  • Disaster prevention and planning service
  • Direct mail marketing service
  • Database management

We know you were thinking Doctor – however, there are options beyond being a ‘doctor’.

E

  • Engineering consultant
  • Exporting business
  • E-tail store
  • eBay reseller
  • E-tail secret shopper to see if someone’s e-tail experience is easy.

If it’s happening online, you can add an e- to it.

F

  • Florist
  • Freelancer
  • Furniture removal company
  • Fire safety
  • Fire-hydrant maintenance and sales.

Whatever you do, it doesn’t always matter if it’s a traditional or ‘old’ business, so long as you’re doing things differently and that they’re meeting the needs and interests of the modern consumer.

G

Although established internationally, an up-and-coming industry in South Africa is all things green, from construction to materials, to greening businesses through lowered carbon footprints.

  • Green cleaning service
  • Green consultancy

If green doesn’t float your boat, there are household aggravations like:

  • Gutter cleaning
  • Garage makeovers
  • Gluten free products and foods creation and baking.

H

  • Hairdressing
  • Handyman service
  • Holiday planning service
  • Home inspection service
  • House-sitting service and anything home-based.

I

  • Importer
  • Image consultant
  • Image or Internet researcher
  • Interior designer.

Be careful to research your industry properly before entering in to it, take ink cartridge refilling for example. As technology changes, will you be able to sustain your business?

J

  • Jewellery designer
  • Jam-maker
  • Journalist
  • Javascript developer
  • Got space? How about a junk yard?

K

  • Knitting,
  • Kitchen fitting
  • First aid kits like cyclist and other sports, or kit-cars for motor enthusiasts.

L

  • Life coaching
  • Labour broker
  • Liquor manufacturer
  • Lab consultant or running your own lab
  • Laundry service
  • Language instructor
  • Lock-smith service
  • Lifesaving.

Provided whatever you do adds value to the customer that they can’t get elsewhere, you’re on to a good idea.

M

  • Start your own marketing company
  • Massage therapist
  • Make-over consultant
  • Motivational speaker
  • Moving company
  • mobile masseuse
  • mobile salon
  • mobile food truck
  • mobi-app developer
  • Medical consultant.

The latest trend as technology advances is for things to be mobile.


8 Ways to Come Up With a Business Idea

So, you want to be an entrepreneur? Then you’ll need a business idea. Here are eight ways to come up with a original business idea.


N

  • Nail salon
  • Nutritionist
  • Nurse – Think a post-operative care service, or even elderly care.

O

  • Organic producer
  • Online trader
  • Occupational therapist.

P

  • Personal shopper
  • Plumber
  • Party planning
  • Personal trainer
  • Pest control
  • Photographer
  • Photo-retoucher and restorer
  • Project manager
  • Personal tutor
  • Pool cleaning
  • Proofreading.

Q

  • Quality controller
  • Queuing service
  • Quantity surveying
  • Quiz master.

R

  • Restaurateur
  • Resume consultant
  • Recruiter
  • Research consultant
  • Restaurant or business reviewer.

S

  • Secret shopper or secret reviewer.
  • Sales
  • Salon or spa
  • SEO
  • Social media strategy
  • Scrapbooking
  • Speech writer
  • Sound engineer.

T

  • Translation services
  • Transcription services
  • Tax accounting and consulting
  • Sun-free tanning solutions
  • Training
  • Tutoring.

U

  • Underwriter
  • Upholsterer
  • Undertaking services.

V

  • Video producer
  • Videographer
  • Virtual assistant service
  • Voice-over production
  • Voice training
  • Viral marketing.

W

  • Webmaster services
  • Web design
  • Wedding planner
  • Wallpaper design and hanging
  • Car washing service.

X

Ok you’ve got us there… try something x-treme.

Y

  • Yoga instructor
  • Youth mentoring, counselor, camps, youth co-ordinator
  • YouTube video producer
  • YouTube channel manager.

Z

We’re drawing at straws for this one, especially when the only thing you can come up with is ‘zoo’. But even they might need some services outsourced.

choosing-a-business-idea

Tips about selecting a small business idea

So now your brain is thoroughly overflowing with new business ideas. But before you go quitting your job and investing everything you own into it, it’s time to assess whether it can be turned into a sustainable small business.

Here’s what you need to evaluate:

  • Who is the target market? There’s no business if no one will buy your product or service. Is your target market able to afford (and prepared to pay) for it? Do you have reams of market analysis about your target market’s likes and dislikes, area densities, income, responsibilities, age, gender, education etc? The clearer the picture you can paint of your target market, the more able you are to provide to them.
  • What makes you stand out? Does your idea already exist? If so, what are you doing differently to your competition? Is there something unique or value adding that you offer? If your business idea is new, is your target market ready to take you on? SEO, for example, was around a long time before businesses saw its value and started paying money for it. Make sure your business has a unique selling proposition (USP).
  • Money, money, money. While some ideas are great, whether it will translate into an awesome business is determined by a financial feasibility study. What will it cost you to get the business off the ground, how long will you need to wait before you break even and see a return on investment? What are the on-going expenses like overheads? How will you bridge the gap between starting the business to it becoming profitable? Once you’ve completed a feasibility study, you may be disappointed to discover that the idea just won’t make a profitable and sustainable business. Don’t be sad though, at least you discovered this before you poured in your life-savings into a dead-end idea. Keep thinking.

Choosing a small business idea based on strengths and passions

Everyone has skills. The trick is to see what skills you have in your current job or through your work experience that are transferrable into your new business.

Take a hard look at your business idea and see whether you’ve got both the personality traits and the necessary skills to make it happen.

If the answer is yes, keep going. If you find that you’re quitting your corporate job because you despise it, starting a business to capitalise on that same work experience might not be your calling.

Related: 10 Businesses You Can Start Part-Time

Assess what your personal interests are, what you’re passionate about, and how you can use the skills you have to turn it into a business. Entrepreneurs need to be passionate about their business idea – as it will be passion that motivates you during tough times.

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Company Posts

4 Black-Owned Businesses Participating in This Enterprise Development Programme That Are Growing – Fast

The Department of Small Business Development (DSBD) and Property Point have joined forces to take 16 small to medium-sized, black-owned, businesses, through a life-changing enterprise development programme.

Property Point

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The Department of Small Business Development (DSBD) and Property Point have joined forces to take 16 small to medium-sized, black-owned, businesses, through a life-changing enterprise development programme.

In its first three months of operation, this programme has already seen incredible results with an average growth rate of 27% per business,  R17,8million in contract secured and 21 direct jobs created. This is a unique collaboration in that it is set up specifically to encourage access to markets for the beneficiary businesses and is the first of its kind in the industry.

But who are the people behind the numbers?  Meet four out of the 16 business owners , Thabiso, Falvia, Malusi and Mandla taking full advantage of this opportunity.

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Entrepreneur Today

How WordPress Can Help Your Small Business

WordPress is an amazingly large platform filled with incredible tools from useful plugins to intriguing extensions. It’s a platform for bloggers, social media influencers, and increasingly, small business owners.

Josh Althuser

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WordPress is one of the largest content management systems available. In fact, it powers nearly 30% of all US websites. Its ease of use and a open-source nature has prompted the platform to become overwhelmingly popular.

For many, WordPress is an invaluable resource that makes website management simple and promotes their brand easily. It is Little Wonder then that so many businesses use WordPress to handle their website and online presence management. Even though it is very popular, learning WordPress is an entirely different task.

Not many small businesses can afford to have a WordPress developer. In that case, it is important for many owners to learn as much as they can about WordPress.

Achieving effective market growth

There are those who still wish to use traditional services but are usually dumbfounded by the price and time requirement for making custom websites outside of the platform.

The abundant array of tools and applications makes using WordPress simple but effective for market growth.

For many businesses just starting out, getting traction and marketing growth are very difficult and can be taxing experiences if done by hand.

Related: 7 Ingredients Of Small Business Success Online

With a platform like WordPress achieving a beautiful website and pushing a brand is much simpler and easier than trying to do everything yourself.

Optimising your website with SEO

One of the most important aspects of business writing on a website is search engine optimisation or SEO. WordPress fortunately comes with a number of plugins that makes SEO very simple such as Yoast.

This service scroll through text and automates the SEO process to make sure your content is pushed to the best of its ability while also giving your brand the most exposure it can possibly take.

SEO is a very taxing and tedious process for many small business owners and the WordPress platform makes it simple.

Monitoring your website and developing leads

There is also the issue of monitoring who is coming to your website and who was looking at your products. again, on the WordPress platform there is the Google analytics plugin which allows owners to analyze who’s coming to their website and for how long.

This can be used to determine if your marketing or branding is effective and can determine what things need to change to increase exposure.

For small business, exposure is everything and awareness is the key to a successful business.

Increasing site security

Keeping a site secure is another main issue for people who run their own website and luckily WordPress has a plug-in for that.

Vaultpress, the premier security plugin, keeps your website secure and in the event of a catastrophic failure it can restore the entire site.

Business owners often fear their website crashing as it would reduce the amount of traffic it could garner and may interrupt their business practice. The WordPress platform has many tools which prevent loss of data or breaches of security so that your business can continue to run smoothly.

The benefits of using WordPress

These tools, mixed with a host of other utilities, make WordPress the premiere platform for websites for businesses of any size.

With its integration software you can automate messaging, simplify marketing and, optimise the speed of your website to give users an incredible experience without the cost of a full development team.

The technological age requires that all businesses must have a website or at least a web presence of some kind. it has been shown time and time again that a website is the best way to make a big impression on the consuming public.

Related: 10 Online Marketers To Watch In 2018

Time, as it moves slowly forward, shows us that the world will revolve around the Internet and technology. A web presence then, is not just a good idea or a trendy notion, but rather imperative to stay competitive in the future. To that end, there is no better platform to create a website on than WordPress.

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