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Start-up Guide

Choosing a Business Partner and Making the Partnership Work

Here is what you need to know before taking on a business partner.

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Business partnerships come in two varieties:

  1. General partnerships
  2. Limited partnerships.

In a general partnership, the partners manage the company and assume responsibility for the partnership’s debts and other obligations. A limited partnership has both general and limited partners. The general partners own and operate the business and assume liability for the partnership, while the limited partners serve as investors only; they have no control over the company and are not subject to the same liabilities as the general partners.

Unless you expect to have many passive investors, limited partnerships are generally not the best choice for a new business because of all the required filings and administrative complexities. If you have two or more partners who want to be actively involved, a general partnership would be much easier to form.

Keep in mind that business partnerships are also more expensive to establish than sole proprietorships because they require more legal and accounting services.

If you decide to organise your business as a partnership, be sure you draft a partnership agreement that details how business decisions are made, how disputes are resolved and how to handle a buyout. You’ll be glad you have this agreement if for some reason you run into difficulties with one of the partners or if someone wants out of the arrangement.

Do You Need a Partner in Business?

Business partners, like parents and spouses, are rarely perfect. The acid test of a good business partnership is whether each partner feels better off with the partnership than without it. That requires each partner to perceive the business as a success and to regard the contributions of his or her partners as critical to that success. Only embark on a business partnership that promises to pass the test.

Deciding on whether to take on a business partner or go it alone is a crucial question when first launching a business. Before you ask someone to join forces with you, there are some questions you should ask yourself:

1. Is this the type of person I could work with every day who complements my skill set?

Deciding whether or not to partner up isn’t unlike dating vs marriage – there’s a big difference between going out for an occasional dinner and waking up next to that person day in and day out. The bar is a lot higher when you’re signing someone up for the long haul. Think about the person you’ve got in mind and ask whether they’ll make the highs even better and the lows more tolerable. Will they bring out your strengths and compensate for your weaknesses? This is not a time to clone yourself. You already know what you know, so where are you weak?

2. What are my core values, and is there someone who shares the things that are most important to me who can help me grow my business?

Choose a  business partner who is completely in sync on issues like integrity, authenticity, passion and drive. If you have a strong work ethic you will feel slighted by a partner who didn’t work as hard, even if they were a good person. Be honest and realistic about your expectations you can’t compromise on things like core values.

3. Do all partners have to be equal?

This is a tough one. Should there be an odd number of partners so you can break ties? Does it make sense to be classified as a minority or a woman-owned business if you qualify? And how would that change the dynamics? Two equal partners have to have a lot of issues ironed out in advance to be successful. The corollary here is, will everyone feel like an owner if they have some equity stake in the business?

4. If I don’t have a partner, who will I turn to for advice or input?

Making an important decision in a vacuum can be dangerous. If you don’t take on a partner, then you’ll need to consider who knows more about certain issues than you do. And what’s in it for them to help you make the right call? Can they be an objective third opinion? Which decisions of yours should be vetted with an outside party as a reality check?

5. Will the business be stronger with more heads at the top?

You’d need to decide how to divide responsibilities. It can be split by inside person/outside person and also by function. And when it comes to titles, will you be co-CEOs or will one of you be the president and the other the CEO/chairman?

6. Do you want to have to consult someone every time you want to make a major decision?

Bachelor(ette)hood has its privileges. There are days when you really don’t want to consult with anyone else or invest the time it takes to sell others on your ideas. You just know in your gut or through prior experiences that your decision is the right one. And without a business partner around, you can solely decide to take on that new client, pursue a new market, or not go to the trade show this year without getting any attitude from a partner.

7. If I try it solo, could I bring in a partner later?

When times are good, everyone wants to be your partner. When things get tough, will they still be around? In the early years when a company is in investment mode, few people offer to write cheques to keep the train moving. Do you need outside capital to grow? As your customer base grows and revenues build, you’ll find plenty of people who are interested. When deciding whether to take on a partner, there are a lot of considerations, none of which should be taken lightly. These are important decisions because the health of your business is at stake.

Making Partnerships Work

In the spirit of improving what often becomes a flawed process, here are tips for the art of partnering.

1. Partner for spreadsheet reasons

The right reason to form a business partnership is to increase sales or decrease costs. Here’s a quick test: Will you recalculate the spreadsheet model of your financial projections if the partnership happens? If not, the partnership is doomed. You can wave your hands all you like about “visibility” and “credibility”, but if you can’t quantify the partnership, you don’t have one.

2. Define deliverables and objectives

If the primary goal of a partnership is to deliver “spreadsheet reasons,” then execution is dependent on setting deliverables and objectives, including additional revenue, lower costs, penetration of new markets, and new products and services. The only way to determine whether a partnership is working is to answer quantifiable questions, such as “How many more sales occurred because our websites are now linked?”

3. Ensure that the middles and bottoms like the deal

Some people believe the key to successful business partnerships is that top management thought of the idea. They’re wrong. The key is that the middles and bottoms of both organisations like the partnership. After all, they’re the ones who’ll be implementing it. The best partnerships occur when the middles and bottoms work together and wake up one day with a de facto partnership that didn’t involve top management until it was done.

4. Designate internal champions

One person inside each organisation must be the champion of the partnership. “A bunch of different people contributing to the partnership when they can” doesn’t cut it.

5. Cut win-win deals

A partnership seldom takes place between equals. The more powerful side will be tempted to squeeze the other party, while the weaker side will begrudgingly accept such deals and try to get whatever it can. Bad idea. Bad karma. Bad practicality. If the partnership is a win-lose deal, it will blow up because concrete walls and barbed wire can’t hold a partnership together. Only mutually beneficial results can.

6. Include an out clause

This might seem counter-intuitive, but if one company in the business partnership knows the other side can terminate the relationship easily, they’ll work harder to make it successful. Frankly, if all that’s holding the partnership together is a legal document, then it’s probably not going to work anyway.

7. Ask women

Men have a fundamental genetic flaw: the desire to partner with anything that moves. They don’t care about practicalities and long-term implications. Don’t bother asking men for their opinions about a partnership because they’ll almost always think it’s a good idea. Instead, ask women. You’ll gain real insight as to whether the partnership makes sense.

8. Wait to legislate

After you and your new partner have reached a conclusion on the deal terms, you will then draft an agreement. This happens at the end of the process because you want all parties to be psychologically committed to the partnership first. If you start the drafting process too early, you’re automatically asking for nitpicking, delays and blow-ups. Incidentally, if you ask for legal advice too early, you’ll kill the process. The best way to deal with the lawyers is to simply say, “This is what I want to do. Just keep us out of jail while we do it.”

The Partnership Agreement

When taking on a partner, it is critical to have a formal, written partnership agreement. While this is not a legal requirement, it does provide a framework for the partnership in terms of everyone’s obligations, settling conflicts, disagreements and other issues that could occur. The agreement is needed for the wellbeing of the business.

Create your written partnership agreement with the assumption that anything that can go wrong with your partnership will. Friction between partners over things such as money, power or ego frequently undoes business relationships. Your partnership agreement should prepare you for all possible “what-if” situations, and set methods for resolving them.

You can save money by drafting your own version of the key parts of your agreement, then taking it to your firm’s attorney to be reviewed, clarified, modified and finalised. It is important to have an attorney review the contract.

These are some of the key areas you should include in your written partnership agreement:

Partnership Basics

  • What is the name of the partnership?
  • What is the purpose of the partnership?
  • What is the duration of the partnership?

Responsibilities, performance and remuneration

  • What is each partner’s role?
  • What are each partner’s responsibilities within the company, and what level of performance is expected?
  • Are partners expected to make a full-time commitment to the venture, or are business activities permitted?
  • What will be the income of each partner, and how will profits or losses be distributed?

Contributions

  • What will each partner be contributing to the partnership in terms of cash, assets, loans, investments, and/or labor?
  • If a partner loans the company money, what will be the terms or repayment?
  • Will the partners be expected to make additional contributions to the partnership, and if so, how will that be handled?
  • Withdrawal of partners/admission of new partners
  • What guidelines should be followed if one partner wants to leave the partnership?
  • Will partners be allowed to sell their interests in the business to outsiders?
  • On what grounds can a partner be expelled from the partnership (misconduct, non-performance of duties)?
  • How will new partners be admitted to the partnership?

Buy-out procedures

  • What guidelines should be followed if one partner wants to retire or leave the partnership?
  • What happens if a partner is incapacitated or dies?
  • Will the partnership take out “key man” life insurance to ensure the surviving partner is able to buy the deceased partner’s shares from his/her heirs?
  • Will partners who leave have to sign a non-compete agreement?

Dispute resolution

  • What methods will be used to settle disputes that can’t be otherwise resolved?
  • What procedures should be used in the event of a tie vote between partners on crucial partnership decisions?
  • Will you use mediation or binding arbitration?
  • If disputes can’t be resolved, is there a mechanism in place for dissolving the partnership?

Financial arrangements

  • What banking arrangements will be made for the partnership?
  • Which partners will have check signing privileges?
  • Who will be authorized to draw on the partnership’s accounts?
  • How will the books be kept?

Method for dissolving the partnership

  • When can the partnership be dissolved?
  • What happens to the partnership if the partners decide they can’t work together?

Valuation

  • What methods will be used to determine the value of the business in the event of a sale, dissolution, death, disability or withdrawal of a partner?

Useful resources

Entrepreneur Magazine is South Africa's top read business publication with the highest readership per month according to AMPS. The title has won seven major publishing excellence awards since it's launch in 2006. Entrepreneur Magazine is the "how-to" handbook for growing companies. Find us on Google+ here.

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Start-up Guide

Understanding Your Responsibility As An Employer

Now that you have your own employees, here is what you should know about your new responsibilities.

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Hiring employees requires more work from you as the employer than simply placing a job ad, hiring the right person and training them on their role.

You need to be aware of the Labour Law requirements in terms of the various funds and other stipulated registrations.

Related: 5 Factors That Make a Great Boss

The law does not differentiate between different size organisations, and therefore it is imperative that SME’s fully understand the implications of all aspects of Labour legislation.

Salary deductions

Employers may only deduct money from a worker’s salary if the worker agrees or if they are required to do so. The provisions for deductions do not apply to workers who work less than 24 hours a month.

Employers may not deduct money from a worker’s pay unless –

  • the worker agrees in writing to the deduction of a debt, or
  • the deduction is made in terms of a collective agreement, law (e.g. UIF contributions), court order or arbitration award.

Deductions for damage or loss caused by the worker may only be made if –

  • the employer has followed a fair procedure and given the worker a chance to show why the deduction should not be made,
  • the worker agrees in writing, and
  • the total deduction is not more than 25% of the worker’s net pay.

Employers must pay deductions and employer contributions to benefit funds (pension, provident, retirement, medical aid, etc.) to the fund within 7 days.

What is UIF

UIF-Logo

UIF stands for Unemployment Insurance Fund and you need to register for it, whether or not you employ staff.

It applies to all employers and workers (except those working less than 24 hours a month), learners, public servants, foreigners working on contract, workers who get a monthly State (old age) pension and workers who only earn commission.

The fund makes short-term provision for individuals who become unemployed, or are unable to work because of illness, maternity or adoption leave. It also provides financial relief to the dependants of deceased contributors.

As an employer it is your responsibility to register with UIF and make the monthly payments. These include a 1% payment from you (based on your employees’ individual salaries).

Each individual employee needs to make a further 1% payment, but it is your duty to deduct this amount from their salary and pay it to UIF, together with your contribution, on a monthly basis to SARS if you are registered for PAYE or directly to the UIF if you are not.

Related: Why Your Business Needs Employment Contracts

You can register your business by completing a UF8 form and each new employee needs to be registered using a UI-19 form. These can be obtained from the Department of Labour.

What is COIDA

disability-south-africa

COIDA stands for the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act and being registered for it works in your favour. It is based on a no-fault system which means employees are entitled to compensation regardless of who caused the injury or illness.

Related: Stormers’ Siya Kolisi: On Being An Entrepreneur And Employer In SA

But it also exempts you from liability for injuries or diseases contracted by your employees in the course of their work. In other words, employees can’t claim damages from you in those events. Instead, COIDA allows them to claim compensation for total or permanent disablement and death as well as reasonable medical expenses arising out of injury for two years.

You are required to pay the employee 75% of their normal salary for three months during the time that they are injured or ill but the fund pays you back this entire amount and covers all the relevant medical expenses.

If you are not registered, however, you are not indemnified. Getting registered involves submitting a WAs2 form, together with a copy of the registration certificate from the Registrar of Companies, or your ID document, if you are a sole proprietor.

Every year before 31 March you will need to submit a statement of earnings paid to your employees. You will also be required to pay an assessment tariff, which is fixed according to your class of industry.

If an employee gets injured during the course of their work or falls ill as a result of their work, they can claim from the Worker’s Compensation fund. Dependants of employees can claim if a family member dies from an accident or disease.

Related: Breaching the Trust Relationship

Employees wishing to claim will need to be furnished with one of the WG30, WAs2 or WAc1(E) forms, which they need to submit to the Compensation Commissioner for compensation.

How Does Maternity Leave Work?

maternity-leave

The law protects women against unfair discrimination arising from any form of prejudice. An employer may not ask a candidate who applies for a job if she is pregnant, nor if she is planning to start a family at any stage.

If you do, she could argue that you are discriminating against her. Equally, she is in no way obliged to disclose her pregnancy when applying for a position.

The bottom line is that it has nothing to do with the candidate’s ability to meet the requirements of the position. And nothing stops her from resigning once she has returned to work after taking maternity leave. She has rights regardless.

The Basic Conditions of Employment Act stipulates that an employee is entitled to four months unpaid maternity leave. All that is required is a notification by the employee that she is pregnant, accompanied by a doctor’s certificate.

Related: Maternity Leave – The Rights of Your Employees

This leave should start four weeks before the expected date of birth, or when a doctor or midwife certifies that leave is necessary for the health of the mother or child.

An employee must notify her employer in writing of the date on which she wants to start maternity leave.

She may not work for six weeks after delivery, unless she is declared fit to do so.

Related: Richard Branson on Why Hiring Should Be Your No. 1 Job

An employee who has a miscarriage during the last three months of pregnancy or who bears a stillborn child is also entitled to six weeks maternity leave, whether or not she has started maternity leave at the time.

Companies in South Africa are not obliged by law to provide paid maternity leave. A female employee who works for a company that does not offer maternity benefits can claim from the Maternity Benefit Fund if she has been contributing to the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF).

An employer who pays maternity leave does have some rights, however. Paid maternity leave is a benefit, and the company is within its rights to conclude a contract with the employee stating that if she does not return to work for at least one year following her confinement, she will be obliged to return the salary she earned during her maternity leave.

South Africa has no paternity leave provisions in place, but workers who have been employed at a company for longer than four months may take three days’ paid family responsibility leave during each year of employment.

Family Responsibility Leave

Workers may take up to three days of paid leave a year to attend to certain family responsibilities. The provisions for family responsibility leave do not apply to workers who work less than:

  • Four months for their employer
  • Four days a week for one employer
  • 24 hours a month.

Related: What Young People Want From Work

Family responsibility leave expires at the end of the annual cycle. Employees may take family responsibility leave:

  • when their child is born
  • when their child is sick
  • in the event of the death of a:
    • spouse or life partner
    • parent or adoptive parent
    • grandparent
    • child or adopted child
    • grandchild
    • sibling.

Employers may require reasonable proof of the birth, illness or death for which a worker requests leave.

Overtime

The amount of overtime a worker may work is limited. Workers must get 1,5 times their normal hourly pay or paid time off in exchange for overtime. Alternatively, a worker may agree to receive paid time off or a combination of pay and time off.

The section of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act that regulate working hours does not apply to:

  • workers in senior management
  • sales staff who travel and regulate their own working hours
  • workers who work less than 24 hours in a month
  • workers who earn more than R115 572 per year
  • workers engaged in emergency work are excluded from certain provisions.

Workers may not work:

  • overtime, unless by agreement
  • more than 10 hours’ overtime a week (collective agreement may increase this to 15 hours per week for up to two months a year)
  • more than 12 hours on any day.

Employee Pay Slips

Employee-pay-slip

Each time workers are paid, employers must give them a pay slip containing certain details.

Related: Understanding Restraints of Trade

Employers must give workers the following information in writing when they are paid:

  • Employer’s name and address
  • Worker’s name and occupation
  • Period for which payment is made
  • Total salary or wages
  • Any deductions
  • The actual amount paid
  • If relevant to the calculation of pay:
    • Employee’s pay and overtime rates
    • Number of ordinary and overtime hours worked
    • Number of hours worked on a Sunday or public holiday.

The total number of ordinary and overtime hours worked in the period of averaging, if a collective agreement to average working time has been concluded

Public Holidays

Workers must get paid time off for public holidays, but if they agree to work, they must be paid double their normal daily wage. The provisions for public holidays do not apply to –

  • senior management
  • sales staff who travel
  • workers who work less than 24 hours a month.

Workers must get paid time off for any public holiday that falls on a working day. Working on a public holiday is by agreement only.

Related: Sick and Tired of Employees being Sick and Tired?

A public holiday can be exchanged with another day by agreement. A public holiday cannot be counted as annual leave.

Employee Sick Leave

Workers may take the number of days they would normally work in a six-week period for sick leave on full pay in a three-year period. Employers may insist on proof of illness before paying a worker for sick leave. The provisions for sick leave do not apply to:

  • workers who work less than 24 hours a month
  • workers who receive compensation for an occupational injury or disease
  • leave over and above that provided for by the Act.

During the first 6 months of employment, workers are only entitled to one day of paid sick leave for every 26 days worked.

Related: SA Employers Cautioned Against Promoting Employees Without Proper Training

An employer may require a medical certificate before paying workers who are absent for more than two consecutive days, or who are often absent (more than twice in an eight-week period).

Staff Working Hours

overtime

Basic Conditions of Employment laws set maximum working hours and minimum rest and break periods for workers.

Related: Master The Ins And Outs Of South Africa’s Labour Laws

The section of the Act that regulate working hours does not apply to:

  • workers in senior management
  • sales staff who travel and regulate their own working hours
  • workers who work less than 24 hours in a month
  • workers who earn more than R115 572 per year
  • workers engaged in emergency work are excluded from certain provisions.

The maximum ordinary hours per day for someone who works one to five days per week is nine, the maximum amount of hours per week is 45.

For those who work more than five day per week should work a maximum of eight hours per day and 45 hours per week. Workers may agree, in writing, to work up to 12 hours a day without getting overtime pay.

However, these workers may not work more than:

  • 45 ordinary hours a week
  • 10 hours’ overtime a week
  • five days a week

Workers must have a meal break of 60 minutes after five hours’ work. A written agreement may:

  • reduce meal intervals to 30 minutes
  • eliminate meal intervals for workers who work less than 6 hours a day

Workers must have a rest period of 12 hours each day; and 36 consecutive hours each week (must include Sunday, unless otherwise agreed).

Workers working between 18h00 and 06h00 must:

  • get an allowance, or
  • work reduced hours, and
  • have transport available to them.

Skills Development Levies

Employers must pay 1% of their workers’ pay to the skills development levy. The money goes to Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) and the Skills Development Fund to pay for training. The Skills Development Levies Act applies to all employers except–

  • the public service;
  • religious or charity organisations;
  • public entities that get more than 80% of their money from Parliament; and
  • employers:
    • whose total pay to all its workers is less than R 250 000 per year; and
    • who do not have to register according to the Income Tax Act

Employers who are required to pay the skills development levy must register with the South African Revenue Services (SARS). Employers must pay 1% of all their workers’ pay to the skills development levy every month.

Related: How to Survive The SARS Season

Employers must pay the levy to the South African Revenue Services (SARS) by the seventh day of each month. Employers who do not pay will have to pay interest on the money they owe and may also have to pay a penalty.

What is PAYE

All employers are required to deduct Employees’ Tax from their salaries. The amounts deducted must be paid by the employer to SARS on a monthly basis.

Related: SARS PAYE Criteria

The process of deducting or withholding tax from remuneration as it is earned by an employee is referred to as Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE).

Employers are required to:

  1. Deduct the correct amount of tax from employees’ remuneration.
  2. Pay this amount to SARS monthly, ensuring SARS receives a Monthly Employer Declaration (EMP201).
  3. Reconcile these deductions and payments with the completion of the interim and annual Employer Reconciliation Declarations. During the reconciliation periods, employers are required to submit an Employer Reconciliation Declaration (EMP501) confirming or correcting the PAYE, SDL and UIF declarations per EMP201s submitted, the payments made and the tax values of the Employee Tax Certificates [IRP5/IT3(a)].
  4. Issue tax certificates to employees
  5. An employer must issue an employee with an IRP5/IT3(a) where remuneration is paid or has become payable and from which Employees’ Tax was deducted. The IRP5/IT3(a) discloses the total employment remuneration earned for the year of assessment and the total deductions. IRP5/IT3(a) certificates must be issued to employees during the annual Employers tax season.

Seek professional advice

There is a lot to keep track of once you become and employer. It is advisable to call in an expert.

Related: 5 Ways to Make Your Payroll & HR Solution Pay for Itself

You can use the services of a suitable experienced and qualified HR consultant who can help to set up the principles and processes of the above, and then work on an ad hoc basis only as and when needed reducing the cost of a full-time HR manager.

Useful resources


Related: 10 Ways to Pump Up Your Employees

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Start-up Guide

Zoning and Permits

If you are thinking about setting up a business in a residential area you will need to know about zoning.

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Have you considered the legal ins and outs of starting a business in a residential area? You will need to know about zoning.

The Home Office

You want to open a simple consultancy, for example. You start out on your own, as so many entrepreneurs do, at home in your spare room. No inconvenient trading licences to worry about. As you take on some support staff, you hire your first few square meters of office space. Times are good and suddenly your new business is legit and firing on all cylinders.

Clients are happy, word of mouth has taken care of your marketing and you’ve had to take on more staff to cope with the increased workload.

All of a sudden you no longer fit into the modest office space you hired for your fledgling business and you have to think about expanding. But you’ve been paying rent for over two years and it seems such a waste. And now that you think of it, you were considering selling your substantial home and moving into a lock-up-and-go townhouse.

Related: Why You Shouldn’t Quit Your Job To Start A Business

It occurs to you that perhaps you should keep the house (it’s an asset after all) and convert it into business premises. That way you’ll save on rent.

On the surface it all seems to make perfectly good business sense. Except for one thing. Your house is in a residential area and therefore not zoned for business purposes. In order to trade as a business on those premises, you will have to apply for the property to be rezoned – and the time and energy needed to achieve that may make another year’s worth of paying rent not seem so onerous after all.

If you are operating a one-person business, don’t employ staff and don’t have clients calling regularly at your premises, you don’t have to apply for business rezoning. But if you need to put up signage, expect clients, suppliers and staff, and if the property is used solely for business purposes then, in all likelihood, you’re in for a rezoning application.


Choosing a Business Premises: Dealing with Landlords and Leases

If you are searching for a business premises, here is what you need to know about leases and landlords.


The Rezoning Battle

But here’s the catch – applying for a property to be rezoned as a business in no way means that it will automatically happen. As South African cities boom with business growth and congestion becomes an ever-increasing cause of frustration and wasted time, businesses are moving out of the CBD and into what were previously residential areas.

This is a natural phenomenon of urban geography and over time, as residents realise the potential value of selling up their homes to businesses that want to move in, areas are rezoned for business. However, if an area is not yet zoned for business, the residents usually have fairly strong objections to it becoming so.

Businesses generate traffic and parking problems. Local councils typically take the concerns of residents seriously and are reluctant to rezone an area for business on the strength of one application.

Add this to the fact that every local authority has a different set of parameters which guides rezoning decisions – and that each application is taken on its individual merits – and the process becomes extremely complicated.

Ultimately, if you want to avoid the daily horrors of traffic and purchase your own business premises in a residential neighbourhood, your best bet is to set up shop in an area in which other businesses are already established. After all, there is strength in numbers and this greatly improves your chances of getting the area rezoned.

Related: Register A Company In South Africa

To apply for rezoning in an area that is not zoned for business, you have to secure a zoning scheme departure or special consent from the City Council. Getting this can take a while – in some cases up to three months. You may need to advertise your business’s intention to conduct a particular business activity in the local newspapers.

Residents and other stakeholders will have the chance to respond with any complaints, which are heard by a board, before you will be granted or denied the departure. Being granted a departure usually paves the way for successful zoning approval but, once again, there are no guarantees. And all the while, you can’t operate legally as a business in that particular area.

When it comes to the legal side of setting up a business, it pays to do your homework and get professional assistance where appropriate. The cost of mistakes and bad judgement calls in this area can be severe.

Trading licences

Trading licences are governed by the Business Act of 1991, No. 71, which states that certain businesses require licences. These include:

  • Those that sell or supply meals or perishable foodstuffs
  • Those that provide certain types of health facilities or entertainment. These are defined as Turkish baths, saunas or other health baths; massage or infrared treatment; escort services (male and female); games halls that have coin- or token-operated mechanical or electrical devices or three or more snooker or billiard tables; night clubs and discothèques; cinemas and theatres, and “adult premises” as referred to in section 24 of the Films and Publications Act, 1996
  • Those that hawk meals or perishable foodstuffs

Before you open your doors, you had better check whether your business needs a special permit or licence. Certain types of businesses, namely those that sell, hawk or supply meals or perishable foodstuffs and those that provide certain types of health facilities or entertainment, require a licence to trade. In addition, purveyors of liquor need to apply for a liquor licence.

Related: Entrepreneurship Is All About Overcoming Obstacles

To obtain a trading licence for your business, you need to apply to the Licensing Department, which in turn requires reports from the health and fire department and town planning. The latter two departments will check that your business meets health and fire regulations and that your proposed premises are in an area zoned for business.

Useful resources


Related: Why Optimism Isn’t Enough – You Need To Also Accept The Brutal Facts

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Start-up Guide

The Basics Of Registering A New Company

A guide to registering your company with CIPC.

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Since 1 May 2011, the Companies and Intellectual Property Registration Office (CIPRO) ceased to exist and was replaced by the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC). The New Companies Act came into being at the same time, changing the way business owners register a company.

The Act stipulates that no new close corporations (CC) can be registered, but those registered prior to 1 May can continue to operate as CCs.

Registering your company

The Companies Act provides for two categories of companies, namely non-profit and profit companies. Each of the different business entities under these categories has specific requirements in terms of the documentation that is required for company registration.

Learn from Entrepreneurs who built successful businesses: 10 Entrepreneurs On Advice That’s Helped Them Build Their Business


1. Types of entities

different-types-of-businesses

Non-profit companies:

  • A company incorporated for public benefit or another object relating to one or more cultural or social activities, or communal or group interests.
  • The income and property are not distributable to its incorporators, members, directors, officers or persons related to any of them.

Profit companies:

  • Profit companies are categorised as companies without restrictions on the transferability of their shares and that do not prohibit offers to the public (larger public companies), and companies that do contain restrictions on the transferability of their shares and that prohibit offers to the public (smaller private companies).
  • They may take one of four different forms: a personal liability company, a state-owned company, a public company and a private company.

Personal liability companies:

  • The directors and past directors are jointly liable with the company for any debts and liabilities arising during their periods in office.
  • The company name ends with the word ‘incorporated’.

State-owned companies:

  • This is a company defined as a ‘state-owned enterprise’ or a company owned by a municipality.
  • The names of a state-owned company must end with the expression ‘SOE Ltd’

Public companies:

  • The definition of a public company is largely unchanged.
  • The only difference is that a public company now only requires one member for incorporation compared to seven members in the past.

Private companies:

  • While comparable to private companies under the old Act, these are similar to previous close corporations.
  • Some of the changes made to private companies include fewer disclosure and transparency requirements, no longer being limited to 50 shareholders, and a board that must comprise at least one director.
  • The name of a private company must end with the expression ‘Proprietary Limited’ or ‘(Pty) Ltd’.

Government Funding and Grants for Small Businesses

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2. Documentation

filing-cabinet

A company is incorporated by the lodging of a Notice of Incorporation (CoR 14.1) and Memorandum of Incorporation (CoR 15.1 A-E). These forms are available for download from the CIPC’s website.

Memorandum of Incorporation:

The Memorandum of Incorporation (MoI) contains the following information:

  1. Details of incorporators
  2. Number of directors or alternate directors
  3. Share capital (maximum issued)

Notice of Incorporation:

The Notice of Incorporation, which is lodged with the MoI, contains the following information:

  1. Type of company
  2. Incorporation date
  3. Financial year-end
  4. Registered address (main office)
  5. Number of directors
  6. Company name
  7. Whether the company name will be the registration number
  8. The reserved name and reservation number
  9. List of four names to be checked by the Commission

Supporting Documents:

To register a private company you will complete either a CoR 15.1A (for a standard private company) or a CoR 15.1B (for a customised private company) and a CoR 14.1. The supporting documents required include:

  • Certified ID copies of all indicated initial directors and incorporators
  • Certified ID copy of applicant if not the same as one of the indicated initial directors or incorporators
  • If an incorporator is a juristic person, a power of attorney is required for the representative authorised to incorporate the company and sign all related documents
  • If another person incorporates the company and signs all related documents on behalf of any of the incorporators and initial directors, a power of attorney and certified ID copy of the person is required
  • If a name was reserved before filing of incorporation documents, a valid name reservation document is necessary

Fees: The basic filing fee is R175. According to Elsabie Conradie, head: Communication, marketing and stakeholder relations for CIPC, a private company can be registered within one day if the company registers without reserving a name first.

Do you know what business taxes you will have to pay? This handy guide will walk you through your business tax basics.


3. Register online

The CIPC’s website allows business owners to register their companies online. Once you are ± registered as a CIPC customer you will be able to access the transactional website. After you have logged in, look for the ‘New Companies’ link under the ‘Companies’ tab.

Ready to take the Next Step? Here’s How To Develop a Business Plan

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