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Types of Businesses to Start

Want to Run a Funeral Business? Then You Must Know This

Learn more about operating within the funeral industry.

Tracy Lee Nicol

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In South Africa, the funeral industry operates through two channels – independent companies and franchises. The two franchise players are Martins Funerals with a footprint of 167 nationwide and Franchise Association of South Africa member, 21st Century Funerals with a footprint of 25 nationwide and no longer recruiting franchisees. The largest independent funeral service provider is Doves with around 156 branches around the country.

A Martins Funerals franchise costs from R700 000 with a hearse costing around R300 000. This includes start-up stock. Royalties are paid on gross monthly turnover at 7%, working on a sliding scale. The franchise contract is renewable after ten years and full training and ongoing support is included.

Related: Want to Start a Business but Questioning Your Passion? Try This

The cost of running a fully functional private funeral home

“Most people think that the funeral business is an easy way to make money, but it isn’t,” says Theo Rix, MD of Independent Crematoriums of SA.

He says the cost to set up a fully functional crematorium in South Africa is around R7 million.

A cremation furnace costs around R1,5 million and you need at least two to run a profitable business. Other costs include smoke extractors and their installation, protective clothing for radiant heat, and so on.

The business opportunities around death 

Sub-contracting

“A funeral director is in fact an events manager, but one who doesn’t have as much time to organise an event,” says Dr Chris Molynex, past president, National Funeral Directors Association Southern Africa.

Funeral directors sub-contract services such as catering, fresh flower arrangements, rental of tents and chairs, transport for mourners, tombstones, coffin name plates and wreaths, music, tributes, casket lining, trimmings and customised handles.

Coffin making

In South Africa a coffin should be manufactured to SABS standards. Coffins are generally made from wood, while caskets are produced from wood or metal. Most importantly, a coffin must be sturdily constructed in order to protect the dead and safeguard the health of the living, which is why the SABS has set strict standards.

There is a growing demand for coffins and training centres where coffin making is taught. Courses are available throughout South Africa and they provide the necessary practical knowledge to start a coffin and casket manufacturing business. Online business, coffins.co.za, was formed eight years ago due to the huge demand for affordable funeral products.

Emerging Trends

Eco-burials: Dust to dust

For more than 20 years around the UK, natural burial grounds have been springing up across the country. People are buried in biodegradable containers, without formaldehyde-based embalming fluid or synthetic ingredients, and returned to the earth to compost into soil nutrients with a forest of trees marking the spot. It’s an idea that’s taking off in Australia, New Zealand, the US, Europe and South Africa too.

It is estimated that in the US alone more than 60 000 tons of steel and 4,8 million gallons of embalming fluid are buried each year. That is enough steel to build eight Eiffel Towers and fluid to fill eight Olympic size swimming pools, according to researchers from Cornell University.

The environmental impact of ‘full-service’ burial, including a casket, vault, tombstone, and flower wreaths, is considerable. Most cemeteries now have little space for native plant or animal life. The danger of mercury and particulate emissions from crematoriums is also a concern.

People who choose green burials don’t use concrete vaults, traditional coffins with metalwork or any embalming chemicals. Instead, the body is wrapped in biodegradable shrouds or placed in a pine coffin and laid to rest where it can decompose and become part of the earth.

Other options are available for green caskets, often called ecoffins. These can be made of bamboo, pine, woven willow, recycled cardboard and even cord from dried banana plants.

Green burials can be less expensive than conventional funerals because they don’t incur the costs of embalming, metal or expensive wooden caskets.

Related: 4 Things No One Tells You About Entrepreneurship

A typical start-up

Consider a typical existing upmarket funeral home based in Johannesburg:

  • Sales revenue: R4 million
  • Cash flow: R1,2 million
  • Employees: Seven
  • Hearses: Three
  • Leasehold rent: R108 000 p/a
  • Size of the premises: 300m2

Are you the right person for the job?

Starting a funeral home is not for everyone. Here are some points to consider:

  • Funeral directors must be able to work at odd times of the day
  • A person running a funeral home should be an excellent communicator and a good listener
  • You need a good understanding of and respect for various cultures, traditions and religions
  • You must be emotionally strong and not shaken by other people’s distress.

Tracy-Lee Nicol is an experienced business writer and magazine editor. She was awarded a Masters degree with distinction from Rhodes university in 2010, and in the time since has honed her business acumen and writing skills profiling some of South Africa's most successful entrepreneurs, CEOs, franchisees and franchisors.Find her on Google+.

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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Types of Businesses to Start

10 Cheap Businesses You Can Start In South Africa That Offer Uniquely Local Relevance

There are a few businesses that are more likely to thrive in South Africa than others. Here’s a list of 10 that meet the needs of the country’s people.

Pritesh Ruthun

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Brand South Africa believes that despite a slowing global economy, South Africa remains one of the most promising emerging markets in the world. It is also Africa’s most sophisticated and diverse economy, according to the organisation.

This diverse composition of the South African market and consumers discerning tastes, which vary from region to region and province, represents a good opportunity for the entrepreneurially-minded to capitalise on.

So, why not start a business that caters to the particular needs of South African clientele? Here are a few business ideas that can be started with relatively low capital input:

  1. Bunny Chow and Kota Food Retail Business
  2. Uniquely South African Clothing Business
  3. Ready-to-Eat Baby Food Business
  4. Mathematics Upskilling Business
  5. Low Sugar Refreshment Business
  6. Aerial Drone Photography Business
  7. Small Batch Beer Brewing Business
  8. Niche Project management Business
  9. Tax Consulting Specialist for Start-Up Businesses
  10. Mobile Hair and Beauty Specialist Business
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Types of Businesses to Start

A Step-By-Step Guide To Selling Consulting Services

Do people often ask for your professional advice? It’s time to start charging for your consulting sessions.

Alex Berman

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Ever since I launched my YouTube channel where I talk about different strategies regarding B2B selling and inbound marketing, I’ve gotten a lot of requests from my audience to hop on a call with them and help them out.

This is how I got started offering consulting services to different companies and entrepreneurs. Based on what I’ve learned, here’s how to structure these consulting calls so you can start selling them on your own.

1. Selling

I usually use a pretty simple email whenever I’m asked a detailed question that requires a decent amount of my time.

Email correspondence

This email includes the price for the consulting call, which can vary, but generally starts at $300. Usually, that email is enough to get viewers to buy in.

Related: 5 Secrets Of Communicating Effectively With Your Customers

You want to price your consulting services in a way that it makes you want to work for that amount (even if you’re not in the mood). By charging a certain amount for the consulting call, you make sure that you’re adding value and the other person is also taking your notes more seriously.

2. Mindset

For those who are just getting into coaching and consulting, the best way to start is to assume that the person on the other end is going to get good information out of your session.

People usually join a coaching session either because they have a burning problem or they are so close to a solution that only few words are enough to solve it for them.

In some cases, people paying for a consulting session already have an idea or solution to a specific problem, but they want to have your ideas or expertise.

It is important to remember that the person won’t reach out to you for coaching if she didn’t like something about what you’re doing.

3. Scheduling

To get this meeting on the calendar, I use a tool called Calendly. There are a bunch of alternatives out there, but Calendly is a pretty popular solution.

Related: What Really Drives Sales Growth And Repeat Business?

The tool is free, but I use a version that charges about $10-$15 a month and plugs directly into my Google calendar. There are a lot of similar tools out there that you can choose from if you don’t like Calendly.

4. Payment

I recently discovered and started using Google Wallet. It is a free tool from Google and its pretty similar to Venmo. It allows you to input your credit card info and the amount billed is directly transferred to your account on the same day.

Related: How To Seal The Deal By Understanding The 3 Phases Of The Customer Buying Cycle

I’ve previously also used Venmo and Paypal, and as a company (Experiment 27) we used Chargebee for a while. With Chargebee, we had a problem where it would mess up our revenue numbers and our churn rate.

A lot of these coaching sessions are one- or two-time purchases for a very small amount of money compared to our main service offerings, so it would mess up our purchase rates.

Setting up a Google Wallet account is pretty simple and it also provides invoices. The last coaching session I did, an invoice was paid within two hours.

5. Process

It is important to know whether the person purchasing a coaching session is getting value out of it.

Related: Why Customers Don’t Respond To Disruption

I picked up this idea from someone with whom I used to do a bunch of coaching sessions who runs his coaching session using Google docs.

He opens up a blank Google doc at the start of a coaching session and adds notes there. Using that model, my clients and I go over different goals and questions by writing them in a Google doc and I also assign homework.

Here’s an example of a document like that.

Sales Coaching

And because all of it was done in a Google doc, everyone has easy access to it. At the end of each coaching session, I think it’s necessary to have a homework assignment that would set up the attendees on something to work for the next week.

Bonus: Should your consulting landing page have short or long copy?

There’s been a long debate among the copywriting community about whether short copy or long copy is the best. Some say that you need long landing pages outlining data point after data point in order to make someone take action and buy your services.

But, there’s another group of copywriters who believe that the short copy is more effective because of its to-the-point approach and easier click and buy operation. There are always two sides to all advice, but for us, short copy didn’t work.

Our coaching funnel normally consists of our clients watching a YouTube video and then booking a consulting call directly.

Related: 3 Strategies For Closing Sales Without Picking Up The Phone

The clients would usually find the consulting page and would be welcomed by the headline, “Want me to help you double, triple or maybe even quadruple your revenue for the next quarter?”

Our landing page was converting about two clients a week who wanted consulting services on how to improve their agency business.Being a fan of testing, I thought we could do better.

My favorite coaching page of all time is one that is literally a picture of the coach’s face along with a description that says “Did you know Neville takes on four different private consulting clients?” along with one paragraph of copy and a “buy now” button – that’s it.

So, we wrote a version of our consulting page based on Neville’s, but we saw our conversions drop from where they were before down to almost zero. We had just one conversion for the entire month that we had this landing page.

Since this approach clearly wasn’t working for us, we changed back to our previous landing page. We kept a few items from the other approach.

For example, we changed the pricing section and began offering consulting packages. Having packages on the copy page increased the revenue dramatically.

Related: What Really Drives Sales Growth And Repeat Business?

The other thing that this experiment taught us is that we needed a more intense email drip to sell people on coaching. We rewrote our email sequence, which is now a five-day drip in which we basically hard sell people on coaching as they sign up for any of our lead magnets on our YouTube channel.

Even though the short copy approach wasn’t right for us, we did gain some valuable insights from the experiment.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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