Despite reports of South Africa’s economic decline, there appears to be a significant rise in travel among small and medium enterprises, reports Flight Centre Business Travel.
“Destinations like Addis Ababa, Abidjan and Ouagadougou are seeing enormous growth from outbound SMEs. FCBT has in fact seen 20% growth in its SME business travel year-on-year – a trend we are attributing to the rising numbers of travelpreneurs that need to travel for business,” says Ryan Potgieter, Brand Leader Flight Centre Business Travel
Thanks to the Internet and technology, there has been a global shift towards a more liberated way of living, and working for that matter. Many have started to opt out of the 9-5 rat race by creating their own income and embracing their freedom to travel.
This shift has led to the rise of the ‘travelpreneur’.
What is a travelpreneur?
A ‘travelpreneur’ is a new class of entrepreneur who travels the world to grow their business. Some of their characteristics include:
- Not being restricted to a certain location by operating their business online.
- Freedom to create their own schedule and choose their own hours of work.
- A deep-rooted passion of the travel lifestyle, and travelling regularly whether it be for the interest of the business, for leisure, or sometimes both.
Time is Money
Are you a travelpreneur? Think about how much you travel to grow your business. Think about how often you’ve had to change your plans on the fly for the good of your business. Think about how often that’s a last-minute change.
Travel plays a massive role in the lifestyle of a travelpreneur, but as a business owner too. For most can-do travelpreneurs, it takes a lot to convince one that itinerary decision-making, booking and changing can take up valuable time you could spend on building the business. Next time you need to book a trip to Johannesburg or Cape Town, think how much time you’ve spent trying to find the ‘best deal’ and how much your time is worth. And when you need to change that air ticket because something else has come up… think how much it’s cost to change all your travel plans accordingly.
A small business owner, or travelpreneur, may not think they’re ‘big’ enough to outsource something they believe to be so easy to do themselves. But if travel means business growth and profits, it’s essential that they get it right, and don’t spend unnecessary time on admin, they could be spending on growing their business.
Says Sntial’s Steph Reinstein: “I spend hours every month finding the right flights, only for it to be changed because I’ve had to accommodate another meeting or had to change my travel plans at the last minute. Sometimes I change my flight so many times, I have to actually forfeit my ticket.
“From time to time, I’ll be at a meeting that has overrun, knowing that I’m going to miss my flight and fretting over the repercussions of missing it, which of course I have to sort out myself. When I weigh the benefit of doing it myself against paying a travel consultant to do it for me, even if I think it’s easy, it’s a no-brainer.”
Annamarie Pieters from Global Roof Solutions says when you’re a travelpreneur, the last-minute changes are critical. “On many occasions, I’ve needed to change flights over weekends and in the late evenings. It helps when you know there’s someone who can help you 24/7. At the most critical time, there’s been someone on hand to assist so you don’t have to spend time changing your travel plans.”
“The last thing you should be doing as a travelpreneur is spend hours looking for the best flight, or changing your travel plans at the last minute because life happens, says Potgieter.
“Travelpreneurs, whose businesses are run based on their travel arrangements being successful, should consider the cost of doing it themselves.”
Here are FCBT’s top tips to ticking all the right travelpreneur boxes:
- Avoid the queues Those red-eye flights can be a killer, but did you know by travelling just an hour or two later, you’ll miss the crowds and preserve your sanity? Instead of booking the 6am to Cape Town, consider flying just a little later and clustering your appointments at one quiet café to save the commute between offices. It may even be worth your while to book a small meeting room at a hotel for the duration of the day than brave the traffic.
- Sit at the back of the ‘bus’: More often than not, by sitting at the back of the plane, you’ll be one of the first passengers off. Plus, like most travelpreneurs, if you’re travelling light, you’ll be out the airport in less than 20 minutes and ready to tackle your day with gusto.
- Don’t check your bags: From experience, try not to check your bag. If it goes AWOL and your company brochures, clothes and worse, your laptop charger, go the same way, not only will you be incapacitated, you will be flustered and unable to function at your meetings. Pack light.
- Embrace the cloud: Physical documents tend to go missing. Prep for your business trip by keeping all your documents on the cloud – whether this is a copy of your passport, your meeting schedule, or even your travel vouchers. Ever left your wallet behind? You’ll be glad you have your documents on a cloud.
- Ditch breakfast, for free WiFi: If you think free and uncapped WiFi should be included on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs put your hand up. When you are selecting a hotel, pay more attention to the WiFi service offered than whether breakfast is included. This is especially since as a travelpreneur you will more than likely have a meeting scheduled for breakfast in any case, and quick, unlimited WiFi during you stay will be far more important.
Simple Strategies For Financing Your Small Business
Below is some useful information on simple strategies to finance your small business.
So, you have found your passion and now want to start a small business? One of the first steps to fiscal success is to look for simple ways to finance your new venture. This might sound difficult and you might not know exactly where to start, but it can be done with the right know-how and tips.
You could start by looking for small business funding online. There is also the option of attracting an “angel investor” or crowdfunding, but if you are just starting out it is best to keep things simple. Below is some useful information on simple strategies to finance your small business.
Look for small business-specific loans
There are financial companies in South Africa that are geared specifically towards helping small businesses. They believe that small businesses are making a difference in the country and are building a better solution by striving for excellence. Simply put, these financial companies want to help you reach your goals of success.
You will have to meet certain criteria for some of these companies, such as having at least three of the most recent months of bank statements for the company to scrutinise. You will be scored according to the performance of your company, but if you are just starting out, the process will be slightly different. If you look for small business funding online, you will need to find out the stipulations, such as having been in business for at least a year, earning R500 000 annually and being based in South Africa.
Try out crowdfunding
Through crowdfunding sites such as Indiegogo or the South African version Candystick, you will have access to thousands of investors who could help fund your business. One of the benefits of crowdfunding is that many of the contributors are not necessarily interested in acquiring equity in your company but simply want to get their hands on your product.
You will need to ensure that your crowdfunding campaign will attract investors and contributors. An effective way to draw the attention of investors is to offer an incentive, such as sending the first 100 people to contribute funds a sample of the product you are planning to make in your small business.
Be sure to read all the terms and conditions to find out if you have to pay any fees to the crowdfunding website to join or maintain your campaign.
Run a pre-sale campaign
If you already have a product, you can run a pre-sale campaign to earn funds to finance your small business. This way, you can keep the entirety of the money you earn and use it to build your business and make more of your product for new and returning customers.
A pre-sale campaign means that you will sell prototypes or early versions of your product through a PR (public relations) campaign, attracting new customers and benefitting from the traffic that it will draw to your website. You might end up selling all of your prototype products, which is fantastic as this revenue will allow you to build more and improve your profits. Be sure that you have enough product for the sale or you could arrange an exclusive event for a select few customers before you the official release of your product.
Ask friends and family
This might not sound like the best idea, but asking friends and family to invest in your business can often lead to success. You could ask a close friend or a family member who supports your vision to provide a percentage of money to help fund your business, with strict plans in place to repay them with interest.
Before you approach anyone asking for a loan, you will need to have a sound business plan in place, as well as a legally drawn up contract stating how and when you plan to repay the loan. This will reduce the likelihood of unpleasant surprises and shows your investors that you take their money and trust seriously.
You will need to seriously consider how the arrangement will be structured. Are you offering them an investment in your small business or is it a loan? This will affect the repayment options as well as the risk involved for them.
Explore all options
As a small business, start by looking for small business funding online and for small business loans in South Africa, then move onto the more creative outlets. If you explore all of your options, you will soon find the perfect solution to build your small business.
The best way to start is with a small business loan, as this is the most reliable way to gain funding and use other ways as secondary sources when the time comes to grow your venture. Remember to have a business plan in place first before you apply for any loans, whether it is from friends, family or a financial institution.
How Small Businesses Can Give Back Without Breaking The Bank
If you are not sure how to start giving back, below are some top tips on how to do just that… without breaking the bank.
As a small business owner, you might think that charitable giving is impossible on your small budget. But, this is not true. You can donate to a charity or contribute to a fundraiser, even if you have a startup or small business budget. You just have to be creative about it.
In today’s world, more and more consumers care deeply about social causes, which means that you need to seek ways to incorporate giving back into your business strategy. If you are not sure how to start giving back, below are some top tips on how to do just that… without breaking the bank.
Encourage your team to volunteer
You will see many calls from charities, such as MSF, to donate time and resources. One way to give back without breaking the bank is by encouraging your team to volunteer and offering paid time off as an incentive for them to volunteer at a charity.
You can give your employees a specific amount of time each month or quarter for volunteer work, and you will soon notice morale improving. It will also increase your community involvement and visibility in your community. You will have to ask your team which days they would prefer to volunteer, as many people might prefer the weekend over a Monday or other weekday.
Use your talents
Giving back does not always have to mean making a monetary donation. You can use the talents of the people in your business to give back to clients, or you can offer your services pro bono to charities that could use them.
For example, if you are a marketing agency, you can offer to upgrade a charity’s website or write content for their social media pages. If you are a financial business, offer a free day of accounting services to a charity that desperately needs some bookkeeping help.
Using your talents costs you nothing but can help to make a significant impact on the cause that is closest to your heart.
Set up a collection jar in the office
If you have chosen a charity, such as MSF to donate to, it can be difficult to find the funds in a small business. A simple but effective way to collect some funds is to set up a collection jar in the office for employees to contribute to.
Be sure that your collection jar is placed in a high traffic area of the office, such as in the kitchen or on the way to the coffee machine. You can make it fun by running a competition of who can donate the most and offering a prize, or you could ask those who bring in their own lunches to donate what they would have spent on purchasing a lunch that day. Be sure that your staff never feel forced into giving a large amount of money, but remind them the jar is for a good cause.
Launch a charity drive
If money and time are in short supply in your small business, you can still give back by launching a charity drive. You can collect anything from books and clothes for children, tinned food and bedding for an animal shelter or even tinned goods for a soup kitchen.
Be sure to choose a charity that everyone in your office agrees with supporting, otherwise it will be difficult to encourage everyone to take part. Take it one step further and ask your local community to contribute to your charity drive. Set up a place in your office where people can drop items off and offer them a thank you card or note so that they feel appreciated. Make posts on your social media platforms before, during and after the drive, and ensure that you share photographs of your company donating the goods to your chosen charity.
Use your voice
If you know about a cause, such as the outbreak of Ebola in the DRC in 2017, then as a business you can use your voice to make people aware of it. You can create a social media campaign for a charity or join in their advocacy, lobbying, letter writing, and other efforts.
By adding your voice to theirs, their cause becomes louder and it is likely that more people will be interested in donating to them. For example, you could set up a Facebook page for your local animal shelter and create informative posts about pet health for their followers to share. Or you could post blogs to your company website detailing the needs of a local homeless shelter and how people can help them.
You do not have to stick with monetary donations when helping a charity, although these are much appreciated. You can look for creative ways to give back without breaking the bank. As a small business, it is important to build your presence with consumers, and helping a charity is an effective way to do so.
You can encourage your team to volunteer, use your skills to help your chosen cause or you could set up a collection jar in the office. Whatever you choose to do, make sure it is creative and in line with what your employees can achieve.
The Importance Of Training In A Small Business
Having happy and satisfied employees is great for business and will put you two steps ahead of your competition.
As a small business owner, you might not think that training your staff is as important as it would be in a larger company. This is where you are wrong. A small business is still a business and, in order to be successful, you will need to have staff that understand their roles and their responsibilities completely.
They should also be trained in other aspects that do not relate to their position, such as computer literacy and general administrative duties. Skills development facilitation is an effective way to ensure that your employees perform to their highest levels and feel appreciated and valued in your company.
It can help to address weaknesses
While you are not trying to make your employees feel bad about their performances, training programmes can help them (and yourself as the business owner) to address any weaknesses they might have.
By addressing these weaknesses, you can find ways to improve their skills, such as sending them on computer courses or communication courses. Training your staff also allows everyone to be elevated to the same level of competency, making for a more productive and proficient business. Any employees who feel they have weaknesses will be able to improve their skills and reach the same level as the other employees.
Employee performance will improve
If weaknesses and shortcomings are addressed during skills development facilitation courses, this will obviously help to improve your employees’ overall performance levels. You should be sure to send employees on relevant courses that are targeted to their roles and responsibilities so their departments can improve too.
Your staff might be feeling unmotivated or overwhelmed, and a training programme can help to improve their confidence and performance. Improved employee performance is a huge positive for a small business, as it will mean a faster turn-around time and projects being met on-time and within the client budget. Training your staff in their areas of expertise is a sure-fire way to boost their confidence and performance levels.
It can provide direction
If you have a department that is not operating at its full capacity, then a training programme might be the perfect tool to help this department reach its full potential and find direction. Having direction when working in a small business is vital to any employee, as it helps them to be productive and reach business goals.
You can choose from a range of skills to train your staff in, such as computer skills or office administration skills, targeting a certain department that might help with direction in their work. Skills development facilitation can also help those employees who are not sure of their roles or whose skills are too “general” to fit into one department.
If you only have a few employees, sending them on training courses can help to show them what roles and responsibilities in the company are.
Training provides consistency
Sending your employees on skills programmes will ensure that everyone who works in your business has the same level of experience and expertise. This consistency is particularly important when it comes to policies and procedures, as all employees need to be aware of the expectations and procedures within the company.
Putting all staff members through the same basic training will ensure that everyone has the same exposure to every department, which can help the office run smoothly and improve employee relations. Having consistency in your office means that everyone is operating at the same levels and that your business is able to finish projects at a much quicker rate than before the training. Be sure that you also look into more targeted courses for your different departments.
It gives you an edge on the competition
Human capital and skills can help a small business to get an edge on the competition. This is especially true if your entire workforce has been trained in their fields and has received the same training across the board.
Having an edge on the competition is not only beneficial to you as the business owner, but will help your staff to have a sense of pride in their work and can even help to retain your talented employees. Being able to outdo your competitors relies heavily on the abilities of your employees, which means that you should take your training programmes seriously. If you want to be a success, put the needs of your staff first and see how quickly your business improves.
Happy employees means better business
Sending your employees on training programmes can help immensely with job performance, employee retention, office consistency and addressing any weaknesses there might be. Your employees will feel valued and respected, which, in turn, will improve their loyalty to your company and help with quicker turnaround times.
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