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Tax Talk: Janine Connor

Specialist tax publication demystifies a technical subject

Monique Verduyn

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Janine Connors of Tax Talk

Janine Connor began her professional lifeas a secondary school English teacher. Today she heads Tax Talk, one of thecountry’s top providers of tax-related information. The leap from teaching tothe world of finance was not such a great one, however, because her focusremains on education and the role it plays in empowering people. Her experiencein adult basic education and training has also stood her in good stead, as hasher eight-year stint in corporate sales, marketing and business development.

Connor launched Tax Talk as a website in2002 after realising that there was a gap in the market for a specialist taxpublication aimed at demystifying a subject that is often people’s worstnightmare.“The world of tax is shrouded in jargon andtechnical language,” says Connor. “My aim in launching Tax Talk was to removepeople’s fears and apprehensions, and to simplify South African tax laws andregulations as much as possible so that any business owner can understand andeven benefit from them.”Two years ago, Tax Talk had around 30subscribers; today it has 600, as well as a circulation of 4 000. The magazinestarted off as a quarterly publication, but demand for information has been sohigh that Connor is publishing it every second month this year. The responsefrom the SME sector has been particularly good.

Connor funded the business herself byrunning educational tax seminars and talks, and eventually brought shareholderson board to help her grow it. Today, the multimedia business is a comprehensivetax forum that provides easily digestible and interesting information andinsights into the world of tax. Other services offered include tax symposiums,sponsoring television talk shows and arranging in-house tax education workshopson specialised tax topics.“We approach well known speakers and taxspecialists and ask them to host events on our behalf,” says Connor. “With thetax amnesty deadline coming up at the end of May 2007, for example, we will behosting an event to educate people about the amnesty and provide them with theinformation they need to take advantage of it.”

The toughest part of start-up, she says,was establishing Tax Talk’s position as a neutral information provider. “We donot take sides. Tax Talk is a platform for the discussion of topics that impactpeople’s understanding of the South Africa Revenue Service. It took some monthsfor people to realise that we were not a mouthpiece for the Government, or fortax consultancies.” Connor says she set her audience right byensuring that the publication answers every tax question that people putforward. “When one person has a question about apiece of legislation, you can be sure that 100 others have the same query. Byproviding direct and practical answers to the questions we receive, we havebeen able to carve a solid reputation for the magazine and the website.”

Tax Talk sources its information fromindustry professionals and experts with whom Connor has establishedpartnerships. The publication prides itself on the reliability of its sources,and has been embraced by the industry.Connor and her team of journalists ensurethat they keep abreast of any developments in the tax world by conductingongoing research, networking with specialists in the field and basicallykeeping an ear to the ground. She stresses, however, that while all theinformation is reliable, the onus is on individuals to ensure they obtainprofessional advice on more complex tax questions that affect them directly.Tax Talk sponsors Tax Issues, presented bytax law expert Daniel Erasmus on Summit TV every Monday night. The businessuses this channel to market its services. In addition, a monthly newslettergoes out to its entire subscriber base. Connor also engineered the introductionof Tax Talk magazine into the online FNB and RMB Private Bank eBucks loyaltyrewards programme. She is planning to take the magazine into retail outlets inthe future, and to establish an online tax chat forum that leverages Tax Talk’spopular website.Asked what single discipline has stood herin good stead in business, Connor replies: “Persistence and self-motivationhave been key, as well as my ability to interact with people. These are skillsI learnt in my teaching days.” Contact: +27 11 476 5095, www.extaxes.co.za

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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25 Of The Most Successful Business Ideas In South Africa

Find out who’s making waves in numerous industries and how they managed to differentiate themselves in local and international industries.

Nicole Crampton

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“Disruption is all about risk-taking, trusting your intuition, and rejecting the way things are supposed to be. Disruption goes way beyond advertising, it forces you to think about where you want your brand to go and how to get there,” says Richard Branson.

South Africa has its fair share of innovative and disruptive businesses taking both local and international industries by storm. From cutting edge space technology to reimagined logistics, and innovative business models, here are 25 of the most successful business ideas in South Africa:

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Colin Timmis Says ‘Position Yourself For Success By Starting With The Numbers’

People pay first who they feel pressure from, so people will pay you when they feel pressure from you.

CEOwise

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Entrepreneur Colin Timmis founded South Africa’s first cloud accounting practice in 2011, Real Time Accounting. Then, a few years after being appointed as South Africa’s first Xero partner Colin became Xero Country Manager South Africa. Xero is the emerging global leader of online accounting software that connects small businesses to their advisors and other services.

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Two 20 Year Olds Reshape Entrepreneur Landscape With New Social Investment Platform

The Merge vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

Merge Connect

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It’s no secret that finding the right investor for your venture is a challenge that most entrepreneurs face. The current process of finding investment is one that is outdated, and limits entrepreneurs due to a lack of time, and network that is needed to find the right investor. But, this doesn’t have to be the case in today’s digital society, says Zander Matthee and Brandon Bate, co-founders of Merge.

“By making the Internet the middleman, we are able to connect with each other much simpler and faster than before” was Zander’s response. “We have taken advantage of this, and have created a digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors” added Brandon.

Merge is a social platform that connects entrepreneurs and investors. It aims to simplify, refine and accelerate the process of finding investment for entrepreneurs, and the process of finding investment opportunities for investors. From idea to developed, the platform allows entrepreneurs to present a brief outline of their venture to a network of all investor types. While doing this, entrepreneurs are able to browse through, and connect with investor profiles that suit their requirements.

Related: 8 Codes Of Success That Helped Priven Reddy of Kagiso Interactive Media Achieve A Networth Of Over R4 Billion

From Private Investors to Venture Capital, and everything in between, Merge allows all investor types to join. Investors have the opportunity to personalise their feed to suit their investment preferences, and will be able to connect with innovative businesses – that are looking for investment – at their fingertips. Only once there is a mutual interest in each other, are users able to enter a secure private chat where they can discuss further and share documents under the protection of a digital NDA.

The two boys became good friends during their time in high school at St Stithians Boys College. However, it was only in their last year, 2016, that they decided to pursue their dreams and create the platform. They didn’t know how to code, so rather ironically, they needed some form of investment to get the platform off the ground.

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“We knew we had a mountain to climb, but we believed in our vision and that we were really trying to make a difference, and if we could get others to see that, they would be onboard.” said Zander.

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Chris Peters is one of these individuals that bought into their vision, and became Merge’s first investor. As a successful entrepreneur and part time investor , Chris saw how much value the platform could bring to all entrepreneurs and investors alike. His marketing and strategic background gave him insight into how Merge could play a vital role in a lucrative space, Brand involvement.

“Entrepreneurship and SME development are two key factors that drive economic growth in developing countries like South Africa. That is why brands are currently getting involved, and looking to support entrepreneurs through various means. We have built a platform that allows these brands to successfully market, and execute on the programmes they have created to assist entrepreneurs.” said Chris

Merge was created to assist all entrepreneurs and investors in finding exactly what they are looking for, regardless of age, race, sex, financial position or social status. That is why anybody can sign-up as an entrepreneur. As long as you are determined and willing to work for your dreams. For too long has the investor space been seen as an “elite club for the select few”, and Merge is here to change that. Whether you’ve gotten your bonus at the end of the year and looking for new investment opportunities, or are an active investor, you can sign-up. Whether you’re currently working, or a retired industry leader, you can join as a mentor.

Their vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

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