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Start-up Advice

3 Business Misdemeanours That’ll Land You In Hot Water

Here are three of the biggest mistakes new business owners make.

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Starting your own business is the most exciting decision to make. Your mind is likely overwhelmed with all the things you need to consider and all the success you hope to have.

The path towards entrepreneurial success is marred with obstacles though, and sometimes you can feel very alone.

In the start-up phase you’ll find yourself working 20 hour days and sacrificing many a personal commitment in order to just keep on working. You see, the end result can be so worth it.

Managing to lift a business off the ground single-handedly is an incredible feat. Having the entity turn into a burgeoning business growing from strength to strength is the next level of success. And in order to achieve this you can be certain you will mess up along the way.

You’re bound to face obstacles and sometimes how you choose to overcome them will be wrong. At best you’ll have egg on your face, at worst you’ll call failure and give up. But most entrepreneurs make mistakes and land themselves in precarious situations that they have to navigate out of.

The fallout is often in the loss of money or investors and sometimes reputations come undone. But most times, entrepreneurs are small fry enough to make some mistakes and get up, dust off and try again.

But there are some business misdemeanours that can land you in such hot water you may struggle to recover. Usually these mistakes are born out of the business owner’s actual ignorance or misunderstanding of what is needed for success.

Related: 6 Costly Mistakes People Make When Starting a Business

Often times these mistakes have to do with the foundation needed to ensure a business keeps standing, even through turbulence.

These are mistakes you should steer clear of and it can be difficult to know about these heinous business blunders unless you educate yourself beforehand.

The onus is on the entrepreneur to learn about how to start a business the right way. Reading business blogs and books is a good way to find out what the possible entrepreneurial pitfalls are.

Here are three of the biggest mistakes new business owners make. 

1They remain a lone ranger

lone ranger

You’re about to become more self-absorbed than you have ever been. Because starting your own business will overwhelm you and it will be all you ever think of.

Your new business will take priority over everything else and while that might be necessary for it to launch, it cannot be how you continue. And yet, many entrepreneurs end up remaining a one-man-show for a long while after they’ve launched and sustained a successful business.

This is a surefire way of having your business stop growing or worse, fail altogether. You need to create a team who can handle various tasks and who you can delegate to. This will free up your time to focus on new business development, which is how you grow.

If you spend your days bogged down by admin tasks, you’re going to lose out on networking opportunities that push growth.

As a new business owner you should be aware of when you’re going to make you first hire and ensure you’re mentally prepared for this change. 

Related: Exporting Mistakes That Businesses Should Avoid

2Being money conscious to the point of stupidity

You need things when you start a business. You need to spend some money. Even if you’re going the bootstrapped route and you’re only willing to spend once there’s some money in the bank, once the cash is there you should invest in some business things you need.

For instance, not having business insurance leaves you open to risk. At worst, it leaves you open to risk that you cannot afford and will leave you financially sinking. Business insurance is important and the minute you have employees it becomes even more crucial to cover yourself.

Consider if someone happens to hurt themselves on your premises, you need insurance to cover the costs involved in sorting that issue out. What’s more, you should consider investing in business process automation products.

A fine example is accounting software. Doing your books every month might be manageable in the beginning but soon it will become an administrative task you might find less and less time to do. Also, automating administrative processes in your daily operation frees up your time to focus on developing and growing your business. 

3Delaying the hiring process and choosing wrong

You need to be able to recognise when it’s necessary to employ staff. For most entrepreneurs, this is a big and scary step. After all, who will love and nurture your business like you do? Well, actually there are many people out there who enjoy the start-up scene and get a kick out of working for a business that’s still a fledgling.

You can start small but by not hiring anyone you are only increasing your workload and your already growing stress levels. Finding the right staff to hire can also be difficult. The recruitment process is a long one and you will find that it may take months before you settle on a candidate you can see yourself working with on the daily.

Related: 5 Mistakes To Avoid When Building A Website For Your Business

You should also know where to look. You’ll be surprised at the amount of opportunity seekers you’ll find at networking events, corporate launches and the like. You should attend events with like-minded individuals.

The chances of there being a person who knows someone, who’ll be interested in either buying your product or working for your company, are great.

These three faux pas can end your business if you’re not aware of them and you don’t include them in your plan. Be wary of becoming too involved in your daily grind to notice when you need to up your game.

Some entrepreneurs are so caught up in managing their business day-to-day that they don’t give enough time to realising how much they’ve grown and how much they need in order to continue on a positive trajectory.

Megan only discovered her love for writing at the age of 28. Before that she spent her time in the theatre world and then in the magazine industry, where she realised the sweet reward that writing can deliver. After building up her portfolio Megan ventured into the digital realm to try her hand at the online game. Now she is the editor of The Cradle, an African entrepreneurial website that advises entrepreneurs and small business owners across the continent.

Company Posts

Register A Company In South Africa

With over 120 Start-up Services, Company Partners is the perfect Partner for Company, Tender and Contract compliance.

Company Partners

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Company Partners is the leading Company Registration Service Provider in South Africa, offering a One-Stop-Shop for all the Company Registration and Tender Compliance Documents.

With over 120 Start-up Services, Company Partners is the perfect Partner for Company, Tender and Contract compliance.

Established in 2006, Company Partners guarantees that the services they offer meet the standards of the best in the industry. Over 30 full-time Consultants offer services and standards of the highest quality.

Company Registration Benefits

Your Company Structure is the first consideration you need to make when you want to register a new Company at the CIPC. The preferred choice of a legal entity for most Businesses is a Pty Company.

Related: Business Model Design – Picking The Business Model That Works For You

Here’s why:

  1. You protect your personal life and assets from your business when you register a company. If one runs a business, it is necessary to operate in a safe legal structure where your business assets and risks are separated from your personal ones.
  2. You look more professional when you operate under a registered company name. If you want to obtain a large contract or a tender, it appears more professional to trade in a Pty Company capacity than in your own name.
  3. Most Suppliers and Government Departments require businesses to be registered as a Company to apply for their Tenders and Contracts.

How to Register a Company

Step 1: Complete and submit the easy online sign-up form here.

Step 2: Your dedicated Consultant will call you to assist you with any questions you may have.

Step 3: Email your ID and easy supported documents – which your Consultant will explain.

Step 4: Within a few days you will receive your brand new Company ready to use for Tenders and Contracts, via email. You can contact your Consultant at any time on a toll-free number.

Related: New Fund For Small Businesses To Be Developed

Need a Company fast? Perhaps consider a Shelf Company

Company Partners offer a variety of Shelf Company Options to suit your needs, including 2016- year Registration Number Shelf Companies. Within 24 hours after purchase, you will receive the registered Shelf Company.

You can start using your Company Registration Number and Bank Account (for income) immediately.

Each Shelf Company includes a 2016 Year Registration Number, Free Share Certificates, a Free ‘Tax Number’ and a Free ‘Official BEE Affidavit’.

You can also make use of a Nedbank Business Bank Account that’s active for your Shelf Company.

Luckily, getting your own Shelf Company is easy in terms of compliance. All that’s required is that you are at least 18 years of age, an ID document / Passport and a South African Business Address.

Why use Company Partners to Register a Company?

Fast timeframes: Your Company will be registered fast and effectively online. Your documentation is set-up in less than 24 hours, after which CIPC will process it.

Simple requirements: The only requirement for Company Registration is an ID / Passport. Everything gets done online, so you can be based anywhere in South Africa or the World.

Dedicated Consultant: Your own dedicated professional Consultant takes care of the entire process – he or she is available on his / her email and also on a toll-free number.

Professional Service: With years of experience of representing our Clients in Government, the entire process runs smoothly over the Internet. No lost documents and no frustration.

Company Partners completes all necessary applications correctly and reviews all the paperwork for you. You simply have to wait for your company documents via e-mail, confirming when you may start trading using your registration detail.

Related: Beauty Of Failure: The Art Of Embracing Rejection

After Company Registration

Any new Business needs guidance to prepare for Tenders and Contracts. After Company Partners gets you registered for your Company, Company Partners can assist you through the entire Company start-up process (optional).

That means they will ensure you have everything you need for a Tender or Contract application like a new PTY Company, BEE, Tax Clearance, VAT Registration, Logo Design, Website, Business Plan, COID, Letter of Good Standing, NHBRC, Accounting, Payroll and more.

Get Started

To start, just complete and submit the easy application form here and a friendly Consultant will contact you. Alternatively contact Company Partners toll-free on 0800 007 269 (toll-free from landlines and cell phones).

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Start-up Advice

Alan Knott-Craig Answers Your Questions On Money And Partners

From starting the right business, to managing business partners and finding your magic number, there is a secret to happiness.

Alan Knott-Craig

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If I get rich will I be happy? — JC Lately

Does money equal happiness? Mostly, yes. Research in the US shows that your happiness is proportionate to your earnings up until you earn $80 000 per annum. Thereafter, incremental income gains have a negligible effect on your happiness.

In other words: More money will make you happy as long as you’re poor. Once you break out of poverty and enter a comfortable middle-class existence, more money will not make you happier.

These are the top three for old folks:

  • I wish I’d spent more time with family.
  • I wish I’d taken more risks.
  • I wish I’d travelled more.

Therein lies the secret to happiness. Spend time with your family. Take risks. Travel.

But first, make money. Don’t do any of the above until you’re making enough money not be stressed about money.

Related: Your Questions Answered With Alan Knott-Craig

What is the magic number? — Mushti

The magic number is the amount of money you need to not worry about money ever again. If you don’t need toys like Ferraris, yachts and jets, the magic number is R130 million. Here’s the math: R130 million will earn R9,1 million in interest annually (assuming 7% interest). After tax that is R5,46 million.

Assuming you need 50% to maintain a good lifestyle, that leaves approximately R2,7 million for reinvestment, which is enough to keep your capital amount in touch with inflation for 50 years. The balance of R2,7 million (after tax) is for your living costs. In South Africa, R2,7 million will afford you a lifestyle that allows you to send your kids to a great school and university, to travel overseas a couple of times a year, and to live in a comfortable house.

Over time your living costs (and inflation) will eat into your capital amount. After 50 years you should be down to nil, assuming you earn zero other income in that time.

In 50 years, you will probably be dead. If you’re not dead, your kids will be able to support you (because they love you and they have a great university education).

I am the sole director of a company (the others still have full-time jobs and don’t want to be conflicted) and there is pro-rata shareholding based on our initial shareholder loans. However, I am putting in most of the hard work, together with one of the other actuaries. How best do I manage the director/shareholder dynamic? I obviously want to make as much progress as possible but there are times when I need the input from the others (and their responses aren’t always as quick as I would like). — Mike

If you have any perception of unfairness regarding effort/risk vs reward, deal with it NOW! You can’t do so later. The best approach is honesty. Call your partners together. Explain your thinking. Perhaps argue for 25% ‘sweat equity’ for yourself. Everyone dilutes accordingly. Ideally cut a deal whereby you have an option to pay back all their loans, plus interest, within six months, and you get 100% of equity (unless they quit their jobs and join full-time).

Equity dissent must be resolved long before the business makes money, otherwise it will never be resolved.

Related: Alan Knott-Craig’s Answers On Selling Internationally And Researching Your Idea

What do you think of WiFi in taxis?— Ntembeko

It’s a good idea, but not original. Before embarking on a start-up, you should survey the landscape for competitors. Just because there are none doesn’t mean no one has tried your idea.

It just means that everyone that tried has failed. You need to be 100% sure that you have some ‘edge’ that makes you different from everyone who came before you (and failed). Otherwise you will fail. What is your advantage that is different to everyone who came before?


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Start-up Advice

What You Need To Know About The Lean Start-up Model

The Lean Start-up philosophy was developed by Eric Ries, a Silicon Valley-based entrepreneur who also sat on venture capital advisory boards. He published The Lean Startup in 2011, igniting a movement around a new way of doing business.

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The model follows key precepts that include:

Taking untested products to market

The fact that too many start-ups begin with an idea for a product that they think people want, spending months (or even years) perfecting that product without ever testing it in the market with prospective customers.

When they fail to reach broad uptake from customers, it’s often because they never spoke to prospective customers and determined whether or not the product was interesting. The earlier you can determine customer feedback, the quicker you can adjust your model to suit market needs.

The ‘build-measure-learn’ feedback loop is a core component of lean start-up methodology

The first step is figuring out the problem that needs to be solved and then developing a minimum viable product (MVP) to begin the process of learning as quickly as possible. Once the MVP is established, a start-up can work on tuning the engine. This will involve measurement and learning and must include actionable metrics that can demonstrate cause and effect.

Utilising an investigative development method called the ‘Five Whys’

This involves asking simple questions to study and solve problems across the business journey. When this process of measuring and learning is done correctly, it will be clear that a company is either moving the drivers of the business model or not. If not, it is a sign that it is time to pivot or make a structural course correction to test a new fundamental hypothesis about the product, strategy and engine of growth.

Lean isn’t only about spending less money

It’s also not only about failing fast and as cheaply as possible. It’s about putting a process in place, and following a methodology around product development that allows the business to course correct.

Progress in manufacturing is measured by the production of high quality goods

The unit of progress for lean start-ups is validated learning. This is a rigorous method for demonstrating progress when an entrepreneur is embedded in the soil of extreme uncertainty. Once entrepreneurs embrace validated learning, the development process can shrink substantially. When you focus on figuring the right thing to build — the thing customers want and will pay for, rather than an idea you think is good — you need not spend months waiting for a product beta launch to change the company’s direction. Instead, entrepreneurs can adapt their plans incrementally, inch by inch, minute by minute.

Source: theleanstartup.com

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