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Types of Businesses to Start

Vitology: Getting an Online Business Model Right

Whether you’re an established business looking for an additional revenue stream or a new market or you’re a start-up that is launching online, boost your chances of success by first finding the people who want what you’re offering. Here’s how co-founders Nicole Sherwin and Joseph Itzkin found and marketed a product that would be a hit with their online business Vitology

Monique Verduyn

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Vital Stats

  • Players: Nicole Sherwin and Joseph Itzkin
  • Contact: 086 127 6278
  • Visit: www.vitology.co.za

 

Launching an online business can offer advantages over other methods. There are none of the overheads associated with running a retail store, and you have more flexibility to do business at your own convenience. But many online businesses struggle to make money.

We asked Nicole Sherwin and Joseph Itzkin, founders of online vitamin, mineral and supplement company Vitology, how they are selling 500 bottles of product and clocking more than 1 200 unique visitors monthly just four months since launching.

Vitology-online-store_Types-of-businesses-to-startAsk yourself:

Does your business model lend itself to an online store as well?

1. Why did you choose an online business model?

There’s massive growth in online. Overseas, a big percentage of people are already doing most of their purchasing and transacting online. This is a trend that will continue based on the convenience and simplicity of the model. We are a bit behind the curve here, so we complement our online model with direct sales.

2. What did you do to ensure a successful launch?

It’s all about maximum exposure. We partnered with the right PR people to give us that. We also found the marketplace receptive to our business model and that helped us gain a lot of free editorial in traditional and online media. We embraced all forms of social media with great success.

3. How did you assess your market?

We both know a lot about health and wellness, and there’s a strong market for our products right now.

Also, before we launched we discussed our business model with many friends, family, business mentors and people whose business savvy we respect, and used this to gain insight and fine-tune our offering before we launched. As with any business, however, we’re still adapting and making changes as we go along.

4. What is unique about your products?

It’s a premium range that is only available online or from our brand ambassadors. We offer a lifestyle health solution.

On our website we have an ‘ask the doctor’ section where people can access expert health advice and we also have a health assessment which people can complete to enable us to recommend the best products for their needs. We want to partner with people in their quest for better health. This is not something that is offered in the retail environment. 

5. How has the monthly subscription offering helped?

Vitamins need to be taken daily, which is why the business lends itself to a subscription model. That’s been identified as one of the top ten worldwide trends for 2014 and we’re the only ones doing it in this market so far in South Africa.

The subscription model allows clients the convenience and ease of home delivery without the hassle of going to the shops and purchasing product every month, and it guarantees repeat business.

Monique Verduyn is a freelance writer. She has more than 12 years’ experience in writing for the corporate, SME, IT and entertainment sectors, and has interviewed many of South Africa’s most prominent business leaders and thinkers. Find her on Google+.

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Types of Businesses to Start

A 7-Step Guide To Starting Your Own Trade Business

With that sorted, it is time to get on with the more exciting operational stuff.

Morné Stoltz

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Skilled tradesmen are always in demand. Whether you are a plumber, electrician, cabinetmaker, refrigeration expert, tiler or builder, there is a ton of work out there. For many, the best way to make the most of the opportunity is to open your own business.

Where do you start? The first step is to register your business with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC). Look for a catchy name that is easy to spell and memorable – you do not want customers to struggle. The CIPC will tell you which names are taken. It is also a good idea to do a trademark search before deciding on a name. Register with SARS and make sure that all your tax affairs are in order.

It is a very good idea to get a good accountant right at the early stages of the game. They can also help you set up the legislative requirements for running a business. The National Small Business Chamber is a non-profit organisation that offers a range of services to its members that aim to help them grow faster, save money and receive the support they need.

With that sorted, it is time to get on with the more exciting operational stuff.

1. Finding customers

You want to find customers in order to grow your business beyond the ones you already have. These days, that means a website and some smart online marketing.

This can be as simple as setting up a Facebook page and any one of several other social media sites (like Instagram and LinkedIn). These services are at no-cost to you and allow you to quickly build up a following of loyal customers. You can share ‘jobs well done’, so prospective customers can see what you are capable of, while your contact details are easily accessible. In due course, consider some paid averts on relevant social media platforms and perhaps a website of your own. It is a good way to get potential customers on board.

At the same time, list your services in community newspapers, noticeboards and newsletters so everyone in the area can easily see that you are available and what it is you do. Also, keep your eye on social media community groups – and ask family, friends and existing clients to refer and/or recommend your services when an opportunity arises.

Finally, there are many government initiatives and non-profit organisations whose aim is to help small businesses succeed – with a particular emphasis on black-owned businesses. This help could range from facilitating access to finance, all the way to mentorship. Spend some time finding out what help is on offer. The SME Movement site also has this kind of information.

Related: How To Start Your Own Artisan Business

2. Stay focused

For those just starting out, there might be a temptation to take any job that crosses your path. Rather stick to your area of expertise to build a reputation based on proven skills. If you are an electrician with a little plumbing experience, for example, tackling a piping job could cause more trouble than it is worth. Every trade is different and you are an expert for a reason.

Leave the other work for experts in those fields – but build up relationships with them so that you can refer work to each other.

3. Ride on your qualifications and references

You have spent a lot of time getting certified. Let your customers know about your qualifications and experience by putting it on your Facebook page, your invoices, e-mails and other communications. The same goes for references; these are valuable and provide evidence of your ability to get the job done. Ask for a reference when the job is complete and then on to social media it goes. The good news with social media, by the way, is that these references do not ever go away.

4. Stay on top of the paperwork

The good old days of doing business on a handshake may be behind us. Providing quotes, contracts, invoices and records of payments electronically makes paperwork a whole lot easier by creating a digital archive where physical copies aren’t needed, but it serves the same purpose, when it is formally recorded, it is far easier to see what has been agreed to, done and paid for. Do not skimp here, even the best customer service provider relationships can go awry if verbal agreements are all you have to go on.

5. Register with your trade association (and invest in CPD)

Being a member of a trade association (like Master Builders, the Institute of Plumbing or other professional bodies) lends credibility to what you are doing. It also provides access to new customers should larger contractors need to sub-contract. Your trade association also formalises training and continuous professional development (CPD).

Related: 6 Tips For Launching Your Global Brand

6. Get business insurance

All too often, this crucial coverage is ignored by those starting out on their own. You want to protect tools and equipment on the one hand and you also want broadform public liability to safeguard yourself, your employees and your business against third party claims should something go wrong on the job. It provides cover in connection with your normal business activities and also your liability if any employees are injured in the course of work.

Putting the right insurance in place can mean the difference between staying in business for the long term or folding the minute the tools grow legs and disappear.

7. Deliver good service

Do not forget that every job is a potential reference and, at the very least, is your entry into that client’s network of friends or business associates. Concentrate on giving good service and actively request feedback so you can remedy any shortfalls. A take-it-or-leave it attitude may be relaxing, but it will prevent your business from growing to what it potentially can be.

MiWay is an Authorised Financial Services Provider (Licence no: 33970)

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Types of Businesses to Start

The Ultimate 101 List Of Business Ideas To Start Your Own Business In South Africa

Want to boost your income on a part-time basis? Looking for a new business to start and grow into an empire? You’ve come to the right place. This list of business ideas will help children, adults, men, women and even people in rural areas think about ways to become an entrepreneur.

Diana Albertyn

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Are you looking for that one idea to spark a business that will make you money? We have one hundred and one just for you!

Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom or dad looking to pursue your passion part-time, a nine-to-five employee seeking a side gig, a creative who’s keen on innovative and flexible moneymaking methods or a student at any level in your education, looking to start your entrepreneurial journey early…we’ve got the best ideas for you to choose from to kick-start your very own business, today.

This comprehensive slide show below is just what you’ve been waiting for to take your first step into financial independence. Read on to find your perfect fit and discover more about how to get started.

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Types of Businesses to Start

What You Need To Know When Starting A Tech Business

For the tech entrepreneur, the majority of your intellectual capital will reside in your software, code, databases, websites or mobile applications.

Damian Michael

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Protecting and managing your intellectual capital starts with finding, identifying and classifying your most important human and intellectual assets. Once you know what you are looking for, you can then determine whether you have the rights you need over those assets. If you don’t, you can then go about securing those rights and then select the best methods of protecting them.

Terminology

Intellectual capital, intellectual assets and intellectual property 

In the industrial and manufacturing industries, the conventional forms of capital needed to start and grow a business were real estate, factories, plant and equipment. But in today’s knowledge economy, these physical assets have largely been replaced by ideas, knowledge and creativity as the new drivers of value.

Related: High-Tech Marketing Sample Business Plan

This new type of information and knowledge-based capital is known as intellectual capital. Your intellectual capital is basically all the knowledge, skills, capabilities and work product that you and your team have to offer, together with the relationships, reputation and brand equity that your business is able to attract and maintain in the marketplace.

Intellectual capital is made up of the following:

  • Your ideas, insights, knowledge and creativity (intellectual assets)
  • The talent, skills and capabilities of your team (human capital)
  • Your contractual relationships and connections with investors, customers and other stakeholders (relationship assets)
  • Your unique brand and the reputation and goodwill you have built around it (brand assets)

In the same way as we as individuals have a whole lot of information and knowledge, some useful, some useless and trivial; your business’s intellectual capital can also be categorised according to its uniqueness, usefulness or value.

Where your intellectual capital displays these additional qualities, it may qualify for statutory legal protection. These special assets, commonly referred to as intellectual property, are bestowed with rights and protections which give the owner a period of time (limited) to commercialise or exploit them without any undue or unfair interference from others. The trade-off is that after that period of time expires, the asset becomes part of the public domain for anyone and everyone to use.

Discovering what intellectual capital you have and need

For the tech entrepreneur, the majority of your intellectual capital will reside in your software, code, databases, websites or mobile applications. Copyright law without the need to register rights or comply with any further formalities automatically protects most of these assets. However, it is still necessary to identify and categorise those assets because the ownership rights and the ways to protect them may differ between the different types of asset.

At the same time, there may also be a wealth of other intellectual assets tucked away in your filing cabinets and hard drives, waiting to be discovered. These may include valuable trade secrets, know-how, methodologies, customer learning, and market research.

Related: Tech Implementations In Africa – Staying Ahead Of The Game

Once you have linked the value drivers and competitive advantages in your business with the assets that produce them, list those assets and classify them according to the structure that they take.  Are they people-based or embedded in technology or documentation. Do any of them qualify for statutory protection?

The outcome should be an inventory of all your intellectual capital, classified according to the different levels of protection available as well as their importance to your business.  You probably don’t have the time, energy or budget to protect everything, so taking the time to do this exercise will ensure that you separate the wheat from the chaff which will save you in the long run.

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