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Financial Management

I would like to know more about dividends and how I can go about paying myself?

Get a better understanding of dividends with this guide.




What is a dividend? It’s a portion of a company’s profit paid to common and preferred shareholders.

What is return on investment (ROI)?

Return on investment, or ROI, is the most common profitability ratio. There are several ways to determine ROI, but the most frequently used method is to divide net profit by total assets. So if your net profit is R100 000 and your total assets are R300 000, your ROI would be 33 or 33 %

Return on investment isn’t necessarily the same as profit

ROI deals with the money you invest in the company and the return you realise on that money based on the net profit of the business. Profit, on the other hand, measures the performance of the business.

Don’t confuse ROI with the return on the owner’s equity. This is an entirely different item as well. Only in sole proprietorships does equity equal the total investment or assets of the business.

Use ROIs in several different ways to gauge the profitability of your business

For instance, you can measure the performance of your pricing policies, inventory investment, capital equipment investment, and so forth. Some other ways to use ROI within your company are by:

  • Dividing net income, interest and taxes by total liabilities to measure rate of earnings of total capital employed.
  • Dividing net income and income taxes by proprietary equity and fixed liabilities to produce a rate of earnings on invested capital.
  • Dividing net income by total capital plus reserves to calculate the rate of earnings on proprietary equity and stock equity.

How to distribute profit as a sole proprietor?

Scenario 1

Workout the tax you would pay if you worked on the basis of a salary paying PAYE monthly. The amount of tax (percentage to be deducted) that you would pay would be determined by your monthly salary.

Scenario 2

Do a second calculation declaring a dividend. The tax on a dividend is 10%, but you must also include tax on any profit in the CC which is calculated at 28%. Compare the two answers and you would then be able to decide which route would work best for you. Without details with regard to turnover and profit it isn’t possible to provide a more accurate answer. There are many solutions which can be applied to this situation.

How are dividends paid to partners in a CC and what are the tax implications?

Cash dividends are the most common method of sharing company profits and are paid directly to shareholders.

As a partner of a Closed Corporation it is necessary for you to sign a copy of the financials at the end of each financial year.  You are entitled to keep a copy. If you feel that something is not correct, take the copy of the financials to an independent professional to investigate and confirm exactly what transactions took place.

As there are partners in the business there should also be a partnership agreement. This agreement spells out how the owners will decide when and how to pay out profits. Check your agreement for details. If there aren’t any, then you may once again have to seek professional assistance.

This is why it is so important to understand the terms of a partnership agreement before signing it. Partnership agreements can cover many issues, such as how profits are paid out, when and how the agreement can be changed, the ownership split, job descriptions, what happens in the event of the death of a partner and it should also contain an exit strategy if any of the partners who may wish to move on.

Dividend Payments

Dividend payments are considered part of your ordinary income and are taxed as such, the same as if the taxpayer had earned the income working at a salaried job. These dividends are usually taxable to the recipient in the year they are paid.

There are three difference tax formulas which apply to Closed Corporations:

How much tax you would be liable for depends largely on how the CC has chosen to deal with tax. There are three ways in which tax can be paid:

What is an Assessed Loss?

Assessed loss can be a valuable asset. If a CC makes a tax loss in a single tax year, the tax payer is allowed to carry the loss into the following tax year and the years that follow until the loss has been absorbed. But, if the CC is dormant the assessed loss is totally forfeited. It is highly recommended that you seek the services of a tax professional, or accounting officer who can assess your tax situation and make the most cost effective recommendations based on your actual circumstances.

What is Dividend Tax?

Dividend tax is paid when a company or close corporation transfers any amount to its shareholders or members. Any distribution from a company to its shareholders must be either a dividend, or repayment of capital. When Dividend Tax is implemented the tax burden shifts from the company paying out the dividend to the shareholder who receives it. The rate is 10% for both STC (Secondary Tax on Companies) and Dividend Tax.

For information

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Financial Management

What do I keep in mind for financial planning in a business?

In the startup phase of any new business, the profits will usually be quite low. It is therefore important to be wise with every cent in these early stages.

Peter Gossman



When doing financial planning for the first few months of my new business, what sort of things should I bear in mind?

Below are some financial considerations for the first few months of your new business.

1. Your Personal Salary

In this startup phase, the owner’s personal salary and the business viability will be strongly related. If you are solely reliant on your business to meet your needs, then you may need to reduce your lifestyle to ensure that your business will still break-even, while paying you enough to meet your essential needs.

Related: 6 Steps Of Financial Planning

Don’t start your business hoping to draw a large salary. This may come later, but seldom in the startup phase. Initially, you may have to personally contribute money to the business just to keep it afloat. If possible, work and save up as much as you can before starting your business. The startup phase will often require personal sacrifice.

Consider working a second job in the early months of your business. Your goal in the startup phase should be to take as little as possible from the profits, so that your business can grow as quickly as possible.

Reduce your personal lifestyle and expenses as much as you can. Carefully develop a personal monthly budget. Monitor this budget regularly and ensure that you adhere to it.

2. Separate business finances from personal finances

It is important to have a very clear separation between business transactions and personal expenses. Some owners use business funds for personal costs, often using cash from business sales to buy personal items, then declaring these as business expenses.

Any money taken from business profits for personal use cannot be expended to the business, nor should personal transactions be done through your business accounts. Also avoid business trading using your personal bank account. The only personal cost through your business accounts should be the salary that is paid to you.

3. Startup capital

In most businesses, you will need to invest money, (for stock, machinery, equipment, etc.) before you can trade. When determining your required startup capital, it is wise to start small and gradually scale up.

Avoid debt as much as possible. Focus on sales and begin selling as soon as you can. You don’t need a fancy office with billboards and business cards to start trading. Avoid large rental costs – initially try to work from home. Should you need a loan, try to get low-interest loans from friends and family before approaching institutions.

4. Cash flow forecast for your business

Plan a cash flow forecast for at least 12 months. Take time to realistically list the anticipated monthly cash flowing into your business (Sales, Loans, Investments), and out from your business (Salaries, Suppliers, Loan repayments, Rent, etc.).  Regularly review this forecast.

5. Accurately record all income and expenditure – personal and business

In order to draw up a realistic Personal Budget and Business Cash Flow Forecast you will need accurate historical information of all your business and personal transactions for the previous months. Start today: record all income and expenditure, especially cash transactions that do not leave a document trail.

Remember to keep personal records separate from your business records. Develop an effective filing system for all source documents.

6. Don’t give up

Starting a new business is tough, and the financial rewards are seldom seen in the startup phase. You may be tempted many times to just give up. Remember, every large tree started as a small seed and took a long time to grow.

If you give your small “business seed” the care and attention it needs, it will eventually grow and develop into a great tree and bear much fruit.

Related: How to Become a Millionaire by Age 30

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Financial Management

How should I calculate if a project is worth it?

Our turnover is great, but our profits are not. How do I calculate if a project is worth it? We excited by the deal, but I think they end up costing us more than they’re worth.

Louw Barnardt



How should I calculate if a project is worth it?

If you’re an entrepreneur without a strong financial background, one of the biggest business challenges you might face is the evaluation of a project’s financial implication. Often new projects are enthusiastically undertaken without proper consideration of the real profit the company stands to make.

A new project or contract always means more revenue, but often it does not end up being profitable in total.

If your business has been growing its revenue, but profit has been going sideways or down, your company is actually only spinning its wheels in terms of bottom line profit.

It might be time to implement a basic financial analysis before a project or contract is accepted.

Considering net present value

Before you roll out that new line of business or accept that project, take the time to consider its net present value. Sure, it generates income and keeps your team busy, but after prudently taking into account all costs and the effect of your cost of capital over time, is it still making you money?

The process to undertake can be broken down as follows:

  • First, understand your company’s cost of capital
  • Plot your project’s cash flows over its life span
  • Calculate the project’s net present value using your cost of capital.

Cost of capital

Cost of capital means the cost of the equity (the owners’ own money) and debt (borrowed funds) of the company. It is calculated as the cost of equity times the weighting of equity in the capital structure, plus the cost of debt times the weight of debt in the capital structure.

Cost of Capital = (cost of debt x weight of debt) + (cost of equity x weight of equity)

A basic example to simplify this mouth-full:

Financial decision making

Peter’s company is half-funded by himself, and half by a loan. The weight of equity is therefore 50%, and so is the weight of debt.

The interest on the borrowed funds is 12% per annum. Because the interest is tax deductible, we use the after tax cost of interest. The cost of debt is therefore 12% x 0.72 = 8.64%.

Peter’s expected return on the money that he put in is 30% to compensate for the risk that he is taking in putting money into his business.

Let’s keep it as simple as this for our example. Applying our formula, Peter’s cost of capital can be calculated as:

Cost of Capital = (cost of debt x weight of debt) + (cost of equity x weight of equity)

= (8.64%x50%) + (30%x50%)

= 19.32%

Peter now knows that his company will need to generate returns of at least 19.32% in order for him to adequately cover his cost of capital.

Plotting your project’s cash flows

Peter’s financial decision is whether or not to purchase a new line of software with a five year licence for his design company. The new software will enable a new stream of income, as well as add to existing income streams and will cost him R200 000. He has plotted the project income and expenses over five years as follows:

Basic NPV model

On face value, it looks like the total net inflow for the project over five years coming in at a positive R328 400 is a definite must. But in order to properly analyse this, we need to compute the project’s net present value.

Net present value

The net present value of a project is the current value of all the project’s future cash flows, discounted at the company’s cost of capital.

In basic terms, the R21 200 profit of year one, discounted at the cost of capital rate of 19.32%, is worth only R17 767 at the beginning of that year. Likewise we discount each year’s profit back to its current (year zero) value to get the present value thereof.

The sum of these discounted amounts then make up the net present value:

Net Present Value

The project’s NPV comes out negative at -R14 407. As the NPV is smaller than zero, Peter should not accept the project as it will generate less present value profit than the cost of the funds employed in making that profit. Not the same answer as that of the first look at the project’s profit.

Likewise, doing a basic cost of capital calculation for your company and a NPV calculation for each new project, entrepreneurs can make better financial decisions that will drive bottom line profits instead of just spinning the wheels in one place.

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Financial Management

Which comes first, accounting software or HR software?

Start with accounting software and grow from there.

Peter S. Cohan



Which do I need more for my small business – accounting software or payroll software? I can’t afford to buy both. And how do I choose between the plethora of options available?

Generally you should start with an accounting package and then add on others as you need them. That said, businesses are like fingerprints: Each one is unique, and has its own set of needs. You may need accounting or payroll or both.

It depends on details like how many staff you employ, how complex your finances are, and how many companies you’re running.

Choose the right software for your business

In my opinion this is one of the most important choices you will make because your accounting software is one of the most important business management tools you will invest in.

If you’re choosing professional software from a reputable software developer, the particular brand name shouldn’t really matter if they are trustworthy and have a strong local presence.

Goedkoop is indeed duurkoop

Too often I hear horror stories of small businesses buying the cheapest product on the shelf which is fine… until things go wrong.

The package doesn’t work properly, they can’t get support, the phones go unanswered and the company they bought the software from doesn’t have the resources to service its customers.

Take advice from your friends, your accountant, your bank, and then make sure you choose a brand with an established reputation and a local office that provides training, support and after-sales service.  Above all, understand that you are making an investment, not a purchase.

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