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.
New Fund For Small Businesses To Be Developed
Government has allocated R2.1-billion toward the development of small- and medium-sized businesses.
Driven by the Departments of Small Business, Science and Technology and the National Treasury, it was announced during the 2018 budget speech that entrepreneurs could unlocking funding for their businesses through a new funding initiative.
What is the new Fund?
Minister of Small Business Development, Lindiwe Zulu, explains where the fund stands and how it will work:
“The Fund will be operational during 2018/19 financial year but the planned disbursement of the funding will be the beginning of 2019/2020 financial year.”
She says R1 billion has already been transferred to the Department of Small Business Development from the national fiscus.
“The Department of Small Business Development together with National Treasury and Department of Science and Technology are working with the Government Technical Advisory Centre (GTAC) to develop the architecture of the Fund where issues around the management of the Fund will be considered,” she explains.
Who will the Fund be for?
“The Fund is targeting high growth businesses as our research on the ecosystem shows that there is a lack of funding of enterprises that are at an ideation and early start-up phase,” Zulu explains.
Her department together with the other participating arms of government, will identify areas of collaboration across research, mentorship and training of enterprises on financial management.
“The work that is being undertaken now will assist government to decide on how the fund will operate, but the government is conscious of the economic environment and would not look at setting up a completely new structure that will add to operational costs,” she says.
Addressing parliament on the fund, the minister said the financial mandate of the fund will be informed by the exercise that is being conducted through GTAC.
“Government is looking at having this fund as a soft loan which will provide affordable finance to small businesses and the emphasis will be more on ensuring that the Fund is sustainable rather than profit maximisation,” she explains.
How to apply for funding
Contact the following departments if you would like to access a portion of R2.1 billion:
Department of Small Business Development
- Address: 77 Meintjies Street, Sunnyside, Pretoria
- Tel: (+27) 861 843 384
- Email: email@example.com for information on the department and its services.
Department of Science & Technology
- Address: DST Building (Building no. 53) (CSIR South Gate Entrance) Meiring Naude Road, Brummeria
- Tel: (+27) 12 843 6300
- Email: Isaac.Ramovha@dst.gov.za or firstname.lastname@example.org for information and brochures about the department’s scope and funding.
National Treasury (GTAC unit)
- Address: 40 Church Square, Pretoria
- Tel: (+27) 012 315 5944 or (+27) 012 315 5645
- Email: email@example.com for information from the Government Technical Advisory Centre who will manage the small business fund for National Treasury.
7 Ingredients Of Small Business Success Online
Building your future requires equal measures of passion and hard work.
Building a small business online is scary. Big businesses can easily outspend you with PPC, SEO, SMM and inbound marketing campaigns.
However, smart startup founders grimly pass around business battles on the blogosphere, charging low prices for quality product, reversing their vision, failing to voice their opinion on their podcasts, showing contempt for our product, and disrespect for our craft.
And yet, look around at the World Wide Web jungle. It’s watered by the services offered by small businesses. The technology to produce product and convert customers exists because we create codes, design services, and write web pages, blog posts, and marketing materials that generate leads and close sales. And every 350-pound gorilla company uses our products or services to thrive.
If you’re a small online business owner, you can chicken out and quit when you face your competitor in the marketing arena, or you can choose something better. Because there is something better.
In the time since I began building my content marketing business online, I’ve noticed some mindsets, traits, and abilities that make the difference between businesses that want to accelerate their sales, make a profit, and survive, and businesses that want to sell more and increase their ROI but don’t seem to have the ability to do so.
Based on my observations, here are the seven most important things small businesses need to succeed online.
This might sound too simple, but if you’re a small business owner, you know what I mean.
There’s no substitute for the love you have for your products or services. There’s no substitute for the commitment of showing up every day. There’s no substitute for the excitement of receiving an order or for the burning desire to work extra hours, to reach your prospect, to ship an order, and to make more money.
If you don’t love entrepreneurship, your product or service, and the process of getting things done, none of the rest of this really means anything.
I could have just as easily dreamed of building another Moz, Kissmetrics, or Shopify, but I chose what I loved most. Whichever business idea you dream of, it’s about refusing to do it just for the money. It’s not only about making money; it’s about changing your customer’s life for the better.
If you want to achieve that, you have to dominate your industry. You have to be the go-to person for your products or services. Be super professional at your offerings so that your customers won’t want to leave you for your competitor.
2. Attitude of service
Making money can be a tempting proposition, pursued for the sake of your own interest of becoming rich and dominating the headlines.
However, as soon as the customer clicks to order your product – the vitamin C pills, the Smartphone cover, the SEO or PR services you sell – the product becomes the focus.
Professional founders work with an attitude of serving their customers great value, yes, serving them with beautiful, durable, quality products. They also work to provide excellent customer experiences that exceed their expectations, that gratify rather than aggravate, and that are born out of the genuine attitude of serving the buyer.
Successful consultants, bloggers, and content marketers all live in service to our clients. No matter how stunning or super sexy we may find an idea, if it doesn’t serve our client, out it goes.
Why? Because we have deep love and obsession for our customers.
3. Obsession for the customer
It has always struck me as odd that many of the most serious startup founders pay more attention to selling than to their customers.
It shouldn’t be that way. Customer obsession comes first. It’s like the engine that pumps cash into your corporate account. It comes from your company’s culture, value proposition, mission, and overall vision to change your customer’s world with your product or service.
Serious visionaries are obsessed with their customers. “If you’re truly obsessed about your customers,” Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO says. “It will cover a lot of your other mistakes.”
You can’t just sell your products. You can’t just sell your services. You can’t just advertise your brand.
You need to appeal to your customers first, because they are your buyers. And you can’t see a spike in your revenue unless you’re obsessive about charming them with your brand and building quality products that will ease their lives.
4. Obsession for quality
Many small-business owners imagine that if you have a great business idea and a great vision, you’re qualified to be called an entrepreneur.
Not so fast.
Successful CEOs and entrepreneurs are not just creative; they’re producers of quality products. They understand what type of products to create in the first place, based on the feedback they get from their customers.
They also understand that their products must solve their customers’ pain points. Their products must add value to their customers’ lives and must provide great experiences for them. You can learn more about how to build a solid product by looking at how great companies like Apple, Amazon, and Starbucks did it.
If you are obsessed with quality, you can incorporate what you learn from these companies into your business culture. Beyond your product or service, you can internalise quality packaging, simple usability, prompt responsiveness to customer queries, and even quality, compelling content on your company blog.
Because in today’s digitally driven marketing world, quality blog content is king. It’s crucial for your traffic, sales, and revenue.
5. Compelling content
You may have a brilliant idea. You may have gotten the perfect product/market fit. But, if you don’t devote yourself to the butt-in-chair time needed to produce a significant quantity of compelling content on your company blog, you won’t get where you want to go.
To a great degree, writing compelling content is a skill that can be cultivated. As a small business owner, you can devote some time to practice the art, ingrain writing into your schedule, and write every day to master the craft, or dig deep into freelance marketplaces to find a superb content creator.
Compelling content does more than just amuse your clients. Compelling content can change your life. After writing this viral post on this amazing platform, I received a dozen praises from readers across the globe. I also got a couple of writing gigs.
The blog post went viral not only because the story appealed to its intended audience, but also because the conversational tone and writing style are so engaging and entertaining … the reader feels compelled to share it.
Writing compelling posts has nothing to do with your degree, your experience, or whether or not you’re a native English speaker. It’s about how you make readers feel. That’s why every writer – just like every entrepreneur – must be creative, imaginative, and innovative.
Innovation is critical for your business growth for a number of reasons.
First, innovation develops customer value. Your customers are always in need of a product that will ease their lives, and once they get it, they move on to something else – something easier, newer, or simpler. As Steve Jobs put it, “You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them,” the Apple founder opined. “By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.”
Second, innovation is vital for your traffic, sales, and revenue. New ideas, new products, and new stories are what always get the most attention. “The arrogance of success,” according to William Pollard, “is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.”
Third, innovation-active businesses are more productive and generate more jobs than non-innovation-active businesses, according to a recent data by Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
But, building new products from your new ideas is risky. There’s a good chance that you’ll fail. Still, you must do it. You must double up on your experimentation. Bezos says, “If you double the number of experiments you do per year, you’re going to double your inventiveness.”
You’ll see wonders if you consistently innovate.
One of the tough things about growing a startup is that the path you walk is one you make yourself.
There’s no one to tell you how you should work, no one to tell you which direction to go, no one to tell you when to go for a break, no one to tell you when to work extra hours, and no one to tell you when to say no and when you need to be where.
That’s one of the fantastic things about running your own business. But, sometimes Fantastic is also Difficult. You might open your e-commerce shop today, work for an hour, check your email, and retreat for the day.
But, can you come back to do exactly the same thing tomorrow? Can you do it again the day after tomorrow, and again the day after that, and again, and again? Consistently?
That’s the difficult part. And that’s where many entrepreneurs are getting it all wrong. Building a thriving business is not about working for extra hours today and not working the next day.
It’s about doing the work that matters consistently. It’s about showing up every day. It’s about minimalism, not complexity.
So roll up your sleeves and keep working. “For the future,” as Paul Wellstone puts it, “belongs to those who are passionate and work hard.”
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
Capitalising On (Ad)venture – A Look At Section 12J
Due to a multitude of factors, such as slow economic growth coupled with a some-what uncertain political climate, small and medium-sized enterprises (“SMEs”) often face challenges with regard to obtaining equity funding.
In an attempt to encourage investment of equity into SMEs and junior mining companies, the Venture Capital Company (“VCC”) tax regime was introduced into the Income Tax Act 58 of 1962 (“Act”) in 2009.
Section 12J of the Act encompasses the relevant legislation governing VCCs and provides for the formation of an investment holding company, described as a VCC, through which investors can provide equity funding to a portfolio of SMEs. More specifically, investors subscribe for shares in the VCC and claim an income tax deduction for the subscription price incurred. The VCC, in turn, invests in “qualifying companies”.
Various legislative amendments to section 12J have given rise to an increased participation in the asset class, evidenced by the increasing number of approved VCCs. As at 24 January 2018, the South African Revenue Service (“SARS”) website indicates that 90 companies have been approved as VCCs, while 2 have had their VCC status withdrawn.
Related: Is Venture Capital Right For You?
This article provides a high-level overview of specific aspects of section 12J. It is advisable for SMEs and investors to obtain independent tax advice when considering utilising this investment vehicle.
Requirements for qualifying companies
The sole object of an approved VCC must be the management of investments in “qualifying companies”. The question of whether a potential investee company constitutes a “qualifying company” is a factual one and must be considered in light of the specific circumstances of that entity.
A “qualifying company” must comply with several requirements, some of which include:
- the company must not be a “controlled group company” in relation to a group of companies; and
- the company must not carry on an “impermissible trade”.
A “controlled group company” is a company that has a corporate shareholder that holds, directly or indirectly, at least 70% of the shares in that company. Accordingly, this requirement limits the share investment that a VCC can make in a “qualifying company” to a maximum of 69%. This means that at least 31% of the shares in a “qualifying company” must be held by persons other than the VCC.
The definition of “impermissible trade” encompasses a number of trades, such as trades in respect of immovable property (other than hotel keeping), financial or advisory services, gambling and trades carried on mainly outside of South Africa. It must be noted that a number of these trades are defined with reference to other pieces of legislation and due consideration should be given to those Acts. Again, the question of whether a “qualifying company” conducts an “impermissible trade” is a factual one which should be determined on a case-by-case basis.
Tax benefit for investors
The upfront income tax deduction, which lessens some of the investment risk for investors, is available for share subscriptions only. The deduction is only available in the year of assessment during which it is incurred and no deduction will be allowed in respect of shares acquired after 30 June 2021.
Any South African taxpayer (i.e. natural persons, companies, trusts and partnerships) can benefit from the tax deduction, however, the deduction is subject to anti-avoidance provisions, such as:
- where an investor has used any loan or credit to finance the expenditure incurred to acquire shares in the VCC, the amount of the deduction is limited to the amount for which the investor is deemed to be at risk on the last day of the year of assessment; and
- no investor can be a “connected person”  in relation to the VCC after the expiry of a period of 36 months commencing on the first date of the issue of the venture capital shares.
In addition to the above anti-avoidance provisions, investors need to be aware of the restrictive framework offered by section 12J. For example, to the extent that the investment is realised (i.e. disposal of shares in the VCC or a return of capital) before the end of a five-year period, the deduction previously allowed must be included in the income of the investor in the year of assessment during which the investment was realised.
In addition, there are some shortcomings in the VCC regime, which National Treasury will hopefully address in due course. For example, it is more tax efficient for a natural person to subscribe for shares directly in a “qualifying company” rather than the VCC, for the following reasons:
- capital gains tax (“CGT”), at the effective rate of 22.4%, is paid by a VCC on gains realised upon the sale of shares in a “qualifying company”. In addition, dividends tax at the rate of 20% is incurred when the VCC declares a dividend to a shareholder who is a natural person.
- should the natural person
- subscribe for the shares in the qualifying company directly, the natural person will only incur CGT at the rate of 18%. The benefit of the upfront deduction may therefore be ‘tainted’ by this ‘double tax’.
National Treasury has acknowledged the need to make further changes to section 12J which will assist SMEs in achieving profitable growth.
 Please note that there are other requirements which have not been addressed in this article.
 As a rule, natural persons are “connected persons” in relation to a company to the extent that they individually or together with any “connected person” in relation to themselves, hold at least 20% of the equity shares or voting rights in the company. A corporate investor will be a “connected person” to the extent that –
- it holds at least 50% of the equity shares or voting rights in the VCC;
- it holds at least 20% of the equity shares or voting rights and no other person holds the majority of the voting rights; or
- any other company is managed or controlled by any person who is a “connected person” to the corporate investor.
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