Self-made industrialist and sales expertThomas Watson believed that good design is good business. It’s a principle thatAngela Driver, MD of Sainsbury Design, lives by.
Driver, a graphic designer by training, hadbeen working for Sainsbury for nine years when, in 2000, owner Joan Sainsburydecided that it was time to retire. “I enjoyed being at the company and I hadworked my way up to client management,” Driver recalls. “The next step wouldhave been to open my own business, so the timing was serendipitous. The factthat Sainsbury had been around since 1975 was a definite plus as it was a wellestablished business with a solid client base.” Driver secured a bank loan and bought theagency for several hundred thousand rands. Today its annual turnover is in theregion of R7 million and its 40-strong client base includes brands like Nestlé,Kellogg’s and Nampak Tissue. Her initial goals were to grow thebusiness, become more specialised in packaging design and point-of-sale, andintroduce a spirit of innovation and energy. When Driver took over she quicklystreamlined operations by implementing a realtime system that manages jobs,time, workflows, archiving and costing. Along the way, the company has built strongclient relationships, a factor that helped to pull it through a tough period in2003 when new business prospects were slow. “One of the biggest challenges for abusiness owner is to keep things going during good times and bad,” says Driver.“You cannot be lavish when it’s going well. You have to keep pushing for newopportunities every day.” What has differentiated the design businessfrom its competitors is its focus on packaging. “Because we are specialists inthis area, we have developed a thorough understanding of client requirementsand the technical aspects of packaging.”
When it comes to purchasing a product, thepackaging it comes in is a vital tool for communicating brand identity.Packaging and brand design play a key role in the marketing mix. Designers needthe ability to develop marketable ideas and translate design concepts intothree-dimensional packages of all shapes and sizes. They must also be in tunewith today’s market and knowledgeable about competitive strategies tocommunicate the essence of a consumer brand, product, or service over a widevariety of mediums. “It’s vital to understand consumerbehaviour, design trends, and evolving aesthetics. My team spends a greatamount of time researching the market.” Driver says she employs people on the basisof personality and attitude. “Skills are important, but they can be taught andenhanced. When you have a small business, you cannot afford to have people whoclash with the culture.” Driver is positive about the future,although she notes that design is a bloodthirsty industry. “Lots of one-manbands have popped up, but sustainability is always an issue, as is the factthat they cannot compete with an agency that offers client services, aproduction department and a full creative team. At the same time ad agencieshave started in-house design studios that are not specialised enough to reallybring value to the client.” Sainsbury’s focus has up to now been FMCGspecific, and the company has a weekly feature on Fastmoving.co.za as part ofits marketing drive. The retail and automotive sectors offer future potential. Driver says she would like to do forsomeone what Joan Sainsbury did for her. “It would give me a great sense ofachievement to be able to one day hand over a business that comes with a longand successful history.” Contact: +27 11 656 0991/2; www.sainsbury.co.za
Watch List: 50 Top SA Small Businesses To Watch
Keep your finger on the pulse of the start-up space by using our comprehensive list of SA small business to watch.
Entrepreneurship in South Africa is at an all-time high. According to Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), total early-stage entrepreneurial activity has increased by 4.1% to 11% in 2017/2018. This means numerous new, exciting and promising small businesses are launching and growing.
To ensure you know who the innovative trailblazers are in the start-up and small business space, here are 50 of South Africa’s top establishing companies to watch, in no particular order:
- Livestock Wealth
- The Lazy Makoti
- Mimi Women
- AfriTorch Digital
- Akili Labs
- Native Décor
- Quality Solutions
- EM Guidance
- Kahvé Road
- HSE Matters
- VA Virtual Assistant
- Famram Solutions and Famram Foundation
- BioTech Africa
- Brand LAIKI
- Plus Fab
- Lenoma Legal
- Benji + Moon
- Brett Naicker Wines
- Legal Legends
- The Power Woman Project
- Aviro Health
- AnaStellar Brands
- Data Innovator
- Oolala Collection Club
- Empty Trips
- Vula Mobile
- The Katy Valentine Collection
- Pimp my Book
- ART Technologies and ART Call Management
- The Sun Exchange
How 28-Year Old Entrepreneur Adam Fine Is Leveraging The Global Phenomenon Of Five-A-Side Football
Adam Fine of Fives Futbol discusses how he leverage a global phenomenon and the value of strategic partnerships in business.
- Player: Adam Fine
- Company: Fives Futbol
- Est: 2011
- Visit: www.fivesfutbol.co.za
Nothing about Adam Fine is by-the-book. The 28-year-old entrepreneur describes himself as a slightly big child. He’s the CEO of one of the most exciting start-ups in South Africa, having leveraged the global phenomenon of five-a-side football to start a business that has grown almost as fast as the game itself. Not bad for a venture that was launched with the princely sum of R85 000 — Fine’s life savings at the time.
He started it in 2011, with a strong focus on corporate social investment and making a positive social impact. It was by forming strategic partnerships that Adam really managed to grow Fives Futbol. He’s opened pitches in prime locations that serve both the school and corporate markets, while still being accessible for social impact interventions in local communities.
Pivoting at the right time is key to growth
In the last 18 months, Fives Futbol has trebled in size, and achieved some amazing milestones — it now employs 50 full-time staff, and 80 part-timers. It’s one of the factors that drives Adam, as many of his employees support up to eight family members. It’s now also represented in four provinces and 15 locations around the country. By September, there will be 18.
Quick growth means you have to be able to pivot quickly when things do not go according to plan, and mostly they don’t, Adam says. “If things are not working you should be able to ‘pivot’, to shift your focus. And do it fast. It’s not a sign that things have gone wrong by any means, on the contrary, it means you have the insight to recognise that there is a problem with the assumptions on which you have built your business model. The decision to pivot is a big one, and not something to be taken lightly. It requires you to take a hard look at your reallocation of resources, and to do it with an open mind.”
In Adam’s case, construction delays, councils taking their time to approve, or having to put money into rolling out sites as opposed to marketing, means the promotion of a new site will slow down, for example, because the business does not yet have a large marketing budget.
“When we run behind on the construction of a new site, R40 000 can suddenly become R100 000 — but here’s the thing: If a deal comes along that will probably harm your business in the short-term but enable significant long-term growth, sometimes you have to juggle what you have so you can make it work.”
The Lesson: Choose your investors carefully
Fine says he’s lucky to have a solid group of investors that he has cultivated over six years. “Their input is invaluable. They’ll say, ‘slow down’ or ‘have you thought of this?’, ‘have you factored in that?’ The ability to develop a good relationship with our investors has had a significant impact on the success of the company. Over and above money, they provide wisdom, guidance and connections.”
His relationship with his investors is key. While many entrepreneurs make it just about the money, Adam understood something else — he has a pretty cool brand with a great cause behind it. So, while investors are asked for money all the time, he was able to offer something more than just a business idea — alignment. He generated enthusiasm for the ‘why,’ behind the business. Like most of us, it makes investors happy to know that they are helping to make a positive difference.
And while it’s easy to bandy about the word ‘partnership’, Adam has worked hard to make that a reality. He set out to find like-minded people who are passionate about the business and the cause, which is why they are able to serve as great resources for advice and insight.
Related: Richard Branson’s ABCs Of Business
“The best way to ensure that you and your investors have a valuable and lengthy partnership is to make sure that everyone is aligned on the vision.”
This includes Adam’s team. The internal culture of an organisation is vital to its strength and growth. “Without our team we don’t have a business for investors to support — our people are critical to our success. They’re the executors of the vision at the end of the day.”
The Lesson: The value of strategic partnerships
Much of the growth of Fives Futbol has been fuelled by finding the right sponsorship partners in key industries. To overcome the challenge of a limited marketing budget, Adam has secured sponsorships with big brands like Adidas, Total Sports, Debonairs, and Klipdrift, allowing Fives Futbol to use their access to communities as a marketing platform to derive income as well as scale. And it works both ways.
“Because we have a national footprint and a team of people, we run activations for our partners, which also provides us with an ancillary revenue stream,” he says. “Knowing how to join forces with other businesses has been a key factor in making the business successful. Our strategic partners have enabled the business to leverage their brand to give us more exposure. When it works well, a strategic partnership can be just what you need to speed up the growth of your business.”
Watch List: 15 SA eCommerce Entrepreneurs Who Have Built Successful Online Businesses
The advent and advancement of the online marketplace has led these entrepreneurs to successfully build and grow their ecommerce empires.
South Africa’s ecommerce market is worth R10 billion per year. By 2021, the number of online shoppers is expected to have reached 24.79 million.
“Our recent research on SA shows people are browsing three hours or more on their mobile phones and 25% shop online. They trust local brands,” says Geraldine Mitchley, Visa senior director for digital solutions in sub-Sahara Africa.
These entrepreneurs have cashed in on ecommerce and launched successful online stores that have either established their dominance in the market, or are taking the e-tailing world by storm.
Here’s how these 15 ecommerce capitalists are making money using the Internet:
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