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Types of Businesses to Start

The 8 Steps To Opening Your Own ISP

These are the steps that prospective entrepreneurs can follow to set up their own ISP.

Edward Lawrence

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A very exciting space in which to create a new business is in the field of providing internet services.

In terms of scope for development, the (Internet Service Provider) ISP environment in South Africa, and the rest of the African continent, is practically still in its infancy and there are numerous opportunities for new entrants to carve a niche and be competitive.

Especially in the more established ISP markets across Africa, new entrants are mushrooming. This has created a market that is hungry for alternatives and competition, opening the door for new players.

There are so many different aspects to Internet service provision, that one can create an ISP focused on a specific segment of the market to discern oneself from the competition. While there is scope for the entry of more big players in the market, there are also opportunities for smaller service providers to enter the fray.

Related: 5 First Technology Buys For Your Brand New Business

These operations require neither a large company infrastructure nor millions of USD in finance to get off the ground. For example, in the US two brothers started their own ISP, Brooklyn Fiber, on the roof of their grocery store to bring faster and more reliable Internet to their neighbourhood.

1. Market research

Once you believe that you have identified a need in the market, it is time to carry out comprehensive market research and ensure that there is sufficient interest in your service, and that you will be able to provide it profitably.

Predominantly, regulatory restrictions and getting access to the larger global networks will determine whether you are able to set up the ISP in the first place.

Should this be the case, then it is necessary to create a long-term business plan that sets out the plan for the business. This should focus specifically on how the business will expand its reach, and how it will differentiate itself against current players, but also new entrants into the market.

2. Legal considerations

Before getting started, you have to ensure that all the legal boxes have been ticked.

First and foremost, you need to ensure that you have a license to operate in your chosen country. Getting these licenses in place may take some time, or not be possible at all.

I would always suggest consulting regulatory specialists aware of the nuances in the market you are planning to build in.

3. Get your IP addresses and ASN

The next step is to get resources, such as Internet protocol (IP) addresses and an Autonomous System Number (ASN) from the local regional Internet registry (RIR).

Related: 8 Entrepreneurs Share Their Best Advice For When The Going Gets Tough

An RIR manages the distribution of IP addresses and ASN resources in a specific region on behalf of IANA. There are five RIRs, each covering a continent; AfriNIC in the case of Africa.

4. Decide on your transits and peering

Transits connect the ISP to the larger Internet. Because there is no single provider that connects directly to all other networks on the Internet, transits deliver traffic through multiple other transit networks.

IP transit is purchased through transit providers, such as Workonline Communications. Transit providers have geographically different areas of strength depending on how their network is built.

Deciding on the topology of your network is vital to its success, and usually requires expert advice. Most ISPs purchase transit from multiple providers, with different prices and service level agreements in place. Peering at Internet Exchanges (IXs) to reduce costs or improve performance is also an important consideration.

internet-data

5. Find a carrier neutral facility

Carrier neutral data centres allow interconnection between the parties collocated within the facility. By using a carrier neutral data centre, you are able to switch providers, or connect to multiple providers, without having to physically move or deploy more infrastructure in another location.

This is important in South Africa, because since Telkom’s monopoly ended in 2007, over 300 companies have been licensed to build networks. This creates increasing competition and opens the market for new entrants.

A truly carrier neutral data centre allows an ISP to react to a developing market, keeping options open in terms of carriers and service providers.

6. Engineering skills

Many smaller ISPs opt to employ outsourced network management services, which assist in reducing risks and lowering costs from the start, as opposed to employing high-end skills on a day-to-day basis.

7. Acquire infrastructure

The next step, is to then invest in your own physical infrastructure, such as routers and switches. The choice of equipment will be decided by the design and topology of your network.

Related: Internet Solutions: Ronnie Apteker

It is always a good idea to thoroughly research what routing and switching infrastructure will grow with you, and meet your specific needs depending on what services you intend to offer.

8. Final set-up

Now that everything is in place, only the final setup remains. This means running your interconnects to your transits and peers and configuring the routers and switches.. After months of planning, you are now ready to open your doors as a fully-fledged ISP.


Related: The Definitive List Of South African Business Incubators For Start-Ups

Edward Lawrence is the co-founder and Director of Business Development at Workonline Communications. Edward is an entrepreneur with over 10 years of experience in the Information Communication and Technology (ICT) sector. Edward has held directorships of several companies across various industries, including the telecommunications, information technology, marketing, automotive and music industries. Workonline Communications was co-founded by Edward in 2006. The company is a Network Service Provider (NSP) offering wholesale connectivity solutions in sub-Saharan Africa.

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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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