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Start-up Industry Specific

How do I start a publishing business?

A guide to starting out in publishing.




The Basics

Starting a book publishing business is fairly straightforward. However, to start a publishing business you need more than a computer, software and the ability to edit copy. Assess your entrepreneurial abilities. Determine whether you have business and financial skills and the entrepreneurial mindset to run your own business.

Decide what you are going to offer your clients

There are numerous services to choose from in both print and electronic formats. Publishing includes many stages such as copy editing, graphic design, production, marketing, selling and distribution. As a publisher, you can work in a number of mediums – newspapers, magazines, books, software, music publishing, and the fast changing world of electronic media.

Types of Publishing

Within the world of print there are different kinds of publishing:

1. Consumer publishing:

This is related with publishing books for general consumers. These are the books that you see and buy in bookshops.

2. Trade publishing:

Also know as business-to-business publishing, This type of publishing is targeted to specific industries.

3. Educational Publishing:

Books and guides that schools, colleges and universities require.

4. Independent Publishing:

Independent publishers publish all types of books, catalogues, brochures and magazines. They also deal with authors and writers in specialised fields who produce publications that have a narrower appeal .These options often include “print on demand” and even “eBook” formats.

Find a niche

You have to ensure that you have researched the market and have found a niche in the market for your enterprise.

Write a business plan

You have to sit down and write a business plan. It is something that has to be done as it maps out your business and puts the process of starting the business into action. When you are preparing the plan, keep in mind that the competition among publishers is cut-throat. In addition, you have to make sure that the business model you put together ensures that it can stand competition from big publishing houses.

What must a business plan include?

A business plan conveys your vision to possible investors. A good business plan must include key components:

  • Executive summary
  • Business description
  • Marketing plan
  • Competitive analysis
  • Operations and management plan
  • Financial plan

Choose a business entity

The next thing to do is to choose a business entity, which can be a sole proprietorship, closed corporation or private company. When you have decided on the entity and selected a name for the business register your business with Cipro.

Set a price for your services

In order to make money you have to charge for your time, your expertise, and your supplies.

Hardware and software

Select a software program in which to lay out your books. Microsoft Word, WordPerfect or Microsoft Publisher work well. If you are working within the electronic media, you would need to select suitable software and hardware to support the electronic media of choice.

A good marketing plan

The publishing business is all about marketing. Clients don’t come knocking on your door just because you say you’re open for business. You have to go out and bring them in whether it’s through cold calling, advertising, networking, or sending out press releases.

Tie up good contracts

Companies negotiate and enter into contracts fairly frequently in the course of business. Small business need to negotiate the best terms for their business and create a well-drafted agreement that will avoid any dispute or potential litigation. It is important to go to a negotiation having done your research. Know relevant law, facts, and figures.

Publishing is changing

The publishing world is changing fast. Authors around the world can now self-publish a Kindle version of their books. A Kindle is an electronic book reader. This digital text platform enables writers to publish without a publisher simply by up loading a PDF, text, Word or HTML version of their book. Authors then set their own price for the book and get paid 35% of the sales.


These are the steps to take when starting a publishing company or for that matter any company:

  • Reserve a company name with the registrar of companies
  • Lodge formation documentation with Cipro – register the business entity of choice
  • Open a business bank account
  • Register with the local receiver of revenue
  • Register with the department of labour
  • Register with the Commissioner according to the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act.

Audit Bureau of Circulations of South Africa (ABC)

Besides registering your company as a business entity, registering with SARS and for VAT,  any printed newspaper or magazine that you intend to publish should be registered with The Audit Bureau of Circulations of South Africa (ABC).

Is joining the ABC useful?

There is a very good reason why you should join the Audit Bureau. The primary function of this Section 21 Company is to provide accurate and comparable circulation figures to help advertisers, marketers and publishers in the buying and selling of advertising and promotional material regarding your publication.

How to join

Prospective members may only apply for membership once they have published at least one issue. The registration process isn’t difficult. All that is required is that the application form is completed and the non-refundable administration fee is paid.

After the fee is received an ABC auditor will e-mail an auditability questionnaire which must be completed. Once the ABC auditor is satisfied with all the information, The ABC will send you a letter granting you provisional membership and when your initial certificate is required to be submitted to the ABC.

South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF)

SANEF was founded in 1996 and is a voluntary organisation representing senior journalists, editors and journalism trainers, from all areas of the media industry. They promote quality and ethics of journalism and defend and promote media freedom and independence. Membership forms can be downloaded.

The World Association of Newspaper Publishing (WAN)

Need advice or inspiration? WAN is an “idea forum” for publishing companies and suppliers to the publishing industry. WAN’s website supplies conference information, recent publications and newsletters.

Starting a Magazine

How to start an electronic magazine or “ezine”?

Once you have decided on a topic, you need to establish who the target market is. It is very important not to make the target market too broad or too narrow.

Research your competition

You can do this by doing a Google search and look at how many “ezine’s” there are on the topic you are interested in. Try to work out how to be different or how you can offer more value. It’s important to understand the competition as well as who advertises on various ezines. You need to decide how often you are going to publish the ezine and if it will be emailed automatically to your subscribers. Monthly is a good starting point.

Plan the ezine

Prepare a dummy copy. Decide whether or not you are going to write the ezine yourself, or if you are going to employ freelance writers to help you. Also, unlike traditional authors, “zinesters” are free from editors or publishers that would regulate the content of their work.  Remember if you are employing staff you have to pay them. So, it would probably better if you do it all yourself until the ezine is generating income.


Register the business and the domain name. Design a template with a masthead.

Join a matching making service

You are now ready to sign up with an organization like “Ezeine” or “Zinester” who are what could be described as a “matching service”. Their function is to connect your ezine with a suitable mailing database and to bring real-world experts and ezine publishers together.

Expert authors and writers are able to post their articles to be featured within the site. They offer searchable databases of hundreds of thousands of quality original articles for ezine publishers hungry for fresh content to find articles that they can use for inclusion within online publication

Publishing online can be lucrative

Online publishing for profit is one of the fastest growing areas on the web. An online publication will generate revenue in a similar way to a printed magazine – by selling advertisements and selling subscriptions for the online magazine or “ezine” as they are often referred to.

As it is paperless, you save a huge amount on printing costs. It is easy to collect payments when operating an online publication. After choosing an electronic payment service such as PayPal or Google Checkout, you are set to go. They are easy to use and to set up.

What are the pros and cons of launching a printed magazine vs. an online ezine?

Unit sales mean that the publication is sold at a price per issue. If you sell 1 000 copies at R10 a unit through retail outlets you will make R10 000 in revenue. You increase the revenue stream further by selling subscriptions at a cheaper rate.

Bear in mind though that your may pay up to 50% of revenue generated through unit sales to your distributor. The other big revenue stream is advertising which generates most of the money required to produce a publication. You need a large amount of revenue to fund a printed magazine as printing and paper costs are high, as are staff and contributor bills.

Advantages of launching an online magazine

  1. An online magazine includes functionality that is impossible to deliver in print. This will give you an immediate and sustainable advantage over your print competitors because you can stream audio and video. It is simple and cheap to produce professional audio and video clips that can be streamed from the website.
  2. Discussion forums provide tools that build a community that in turn creates loyalty, and loyalty creates strong recurring revenues. Digital opportunities such as podcasts, e-books, reports and software can be part of your daily content that will encourage people to subscribe, or they can be sold as an extra revenue stream.
  3. Other wonderful option is user created content that encourages users to provide content and other contributions. This can be comments about articles, ratings and forums. These are all excellent ways to get to know and understand users.

Disadvantages of launching an online magazine

  1. It is extremely important however to bear in mind that when you launch an online publication you will quite literally have millions of competitors.
  2. Publishers find it very difficult to generate revenue from charging a subscription fee. Most websites that charge fees give away the majority of their content for free.
  3. If you wish to generate revenue from selling banner ads and sponsorships you will need to build significant traffic – hundreds of thousands of page impressions per month may just enable you to break even.
  4. It will take a lot of time and energy split between marketing and optimisation activities to just achieve those hundreds of thousands of page impressions.
  5. Running a successful online ezine will require that you are not only a masterful publisher who is able to provide good content, but you will also need to have the technical savvy when it comes to online business.
  6. Building an effective website can be done on the cheap if you have enough know-how, however ignorance of the industry and poor planning can result in high costs and an ineffective site.

Creating Content

How to find authors/photographers to write and photograph content?


First consider what type of writer and/or photographer you are looking for and providing a brief of what you want to achieve on websites that cater for freelance writers and photographers.

Finding Freelancers

Then look for talent on these sites:

  • Post an advertisement in Bizcommunity – in the recruitment section of the site.
  • Freelancentral is a good place to find freelancers. The site features comprehensive portfolios, posted on line, which include writers, photographers and designers looking for work.
  • You can contact The Write Company, a Johannesburg based company, who teach and train writers, journalists and PR writers. They would have a database that may be of help.

Buying syndictaed content

When looking to buy syndicated articles, where you source stories, would depend largely on the subject matter of the publication you intend to publish. The are a lot a websites which offer free use of articles; however, it is very important to check and understand their terms and conditions. Articlesource offer a variety of articles covering a comprehensive range of topics from business to health matters.

Publishing a Book

How to self-publish a book

Publishing online costs very little while printing a book requires a lot of capital investment.

The traditional route

If you would like a book to appear on the shelves of local bookstores, it is best to send your manuscript to a traditional publisher. If they deem the book good enough to publish, they will take care of everything on your behalf. Local publishing houses include Penguin Books, Van Schaik Publishers and Macmillan, South Africa.

The Publishers Association of South Africa will be able to offer more information with regard to traditional publishing; however, it recommends contacting local digital publisher Crink, which deals extensively with the self-publishing market.

Self-publishing options

There are various companies in South Africa that provide self-publishing options both online and as a printed book. One of South Africa’s better known online publishers is Crink. “Crink is a digital publishing space, where authors can publish, sell, market and distribute their work in an online customised environment.

The best part is that you can interact and engage with the reading public on your own terms. You control your own content in an online community of authors and buyers,” advises Mari Beukes, online editor for Crink. “Crink offers a second alternative where the author hires a publishing consultant to get the book published and distributed through online platforms and in retail outlets. The fees are charged according to the scope and depth of the book,” continues Beukes. “We also offer various marketing packages designed to increase sales.”

Another local self-publishing company that you can contact is Just Done Productions – Publishing, which offers a service that allows authors to publish their work without having to speculate about its commercial viability.


Another company option is New Voices Publishing, which offers technology that gives the author the opportunity of getting their work published through alternative methods using Print-On-Demand (POD) technology. POD takes care of layout, typesetting, design and can publish a book in under six weeks.

The benefit of digital ready-to-publish files for books and covers is being able to print when the demand is there and not warehousing masses of books that may or may not sell.

For more information on local self-publishers go to:

  • New Voices
  • Just Done
  • Crink

For traditional publishing visit:

  • Publish SA
  • Penguin Books
  • Pan Macmillan

For more information

Contact the Publishing Association of South Africa (PASA) who promote and protect the rights and responsibilities of the independent publishing sector in South Africa. They will be able to help with regard to further legal steps you need to take, depending on the kind of publications you intend to publish.

Entrepreneur Magazine is South Africa's top read business publication with the highest readership per month according to AMPS. The title has won seven major publishing excellence awards since it's launch in 2006. Entrepreneur Magazine is the "how-to" handbook for growing companies. Find us on Google+ here.

Start-up Industry Specific

How Do I Start A Transport Or Logistics Business?

An all in one guide to starting a transport and logistics business.




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Thinking about starting a transport business?

Forecasts indicate that the demand for freight transport will grow in South Africa by between 200% and 250% over the 15 to 20 years.

Some corridors, (high volume transport routes that connect major centres), such as the corridors between Gauteng and Cape Town (which amount to 50% of all corridor transport) will increase even faster.

The scope in the transport and logistics industry is varied – from a one-man show using a small truck to transport goods and offer services, to a fleet of transport vehicles which travel the length and breadth of South Africa’s roads.

Road transportation includes commuter transport from taxis to bus transportation.

It can be a tough industry and there are many threats facing transport businesses but if you get it right, you can build a successful business.

What is covered in this guide:

  1. How to start your transport and logistics business
  2. How to get funding for your transport business
  3. What are the costs involved
  4. Finding customers and getting transport contracts
  5. Getting onto suppliers lists
  6. Buying trucks and employing drivers
  7. What are the regulations and risks
  8. Where to find guidance to start your business.

Ready to get going? Click the arrow button to learn how to start your own transport business.

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Start-up Industry Specific

How Do I Start A Security Company In South Africa?

There are two kinds of security companies, one that sells products and one that sells services or you can combine both.





To start a security service company in South Africa you must register with the Private Security Regulatory Authority (SIRA). There are two kinds of security companies, one that sells products and one that sells services or you can combine both. It is estimated that the private security industry in South Africa employs over 400 000 individuals.

If you’re looking at starting a security guard company in South Africa, the following guide will be able to assist you in the deciding if it’s the right decision for you.

You need a lot of capital

Starting a security business requires a good deal of capital outlay and it’s highly recommended that one should have a background in this field.

Decide what kind of company you want to start

There are two kinds of security companies, one that sells products and one that sells services or you can combine both. Each sector falls under its own regulatory body.

What about area competition?

Greg Margolis is the CEO of NYPD Security, a niche security company that has operated for the last five years in the leafy northern suburbs of Johannesburg.

“To run your own security service company I think that you have to be well rounded in terms of not just being a good business person, but you also have to be a people person, a marketing person and know a good deal about the business.

“There’s tough competition, but I love what I do and wouldn’t sell my business even if I was offered triple what its worth. I am passionate about what I do”, says Margolis.

Starting a Security Services Business

To start a security service company in South Africa you must register with the Private Security Regulatory Authority (PSIRA). This includes paying a registration fee of R2 280 and writing an exam. Once you have passed the exam, proved that you do not have a criminal record, SIRA will conduct an inspection to establish whether or not your business meets the infrastructure requirements. A further fee of R1 710 is charged for the assessment. Each year the business is re-accessed which costs a further R500 plus the annual renewal fee or R520.

The following documentation is required for registration:

  1. An authenticated copy of the CM1, CM2, CM27, CM29, CM31 and CM 46 (apply at Registrar of Companies or Attorneys), if the applicant is a company;
  2. An authenticated copy of the Partnership Agreement if the applicant is a partnership;
  3. An authenticated copy of the trust deed and the letter of authorisation to the trustees from the Master of the High Court if the applicant is a business trust

Related:Steps for Setting the Right Prices for Your Security Business

Also required:

  1. The Suretyship form (SIRA 4) to be signed by the natural person who has taken full responsibility of the security business
  2. Every director, member, partner (as the case may be) applying for registration as a security business must have successfully completed, at a training establishment accredited in terms of law, at least, the training courses Grade E to B
  3. An authenticated copy of the Tax Clearance Certificate from the South African Revenue Service (SARS)
  4. An authenticated copy of the VAT Registration Number from SARS.
  5. An authenticated copy of the PAYE number from SARS
  6. An authenticated copy of the COID number (Compensation for Occupational Injuries & Diseases) from the Department of Labour
  7. Sufficient information in writing to enable the Authority to ascertain that the applicant security business meets the requirements with regard to the infrastructure and capacity necessary to render a security service;

This include, inter alia, the following:

  1. Submit a business plan to the Authority including the location and activities
  2. A resolution by the applicant security business stating that it will be able to operate for the next year
  3. The applicant proves that it has an administrative office that is accessible to the inspectors of the SIRA
  4. The applicant must have equipment which is necessary for the management and administration of the security business, e.g. fixed telephone, fax machine, a hard copy or electronic filing system for the orderly keeping of all records and documentation
  5. Show that the affairs of the applicant security business are managed and controlled by appropriately experienced, trained and skilled persons
  6. The applicant security business has at its disposal a sufficient number of registered and appropriately trained and skilled security officers for the rendering of a security service for which it has contracted or is likely to contract
  7. The security officers must be properly controlled and supervised
  8. The applicant security officer has at its disposal sufficient and adequately skilled administrative staff members for the administration of the affairs of the applicant
  9. The business must have has all the necessary equipment, including vehicles,  uniforms, clothing and equipment that must be issued to its security officers
  10. The applicant security business is in lawful possession of the firearms and other weapons that are necessary offer security services in respect of which it has contracted.

Related: Get going with a One Page Business Plan

Landing contracts


The most important thing you can do to start and operate your own business is to develop a good business plan.

It’s invaluable because the business plan forces you to come to terms with your business. Selling the business concept seems to the problem, said Margolis. These are his five tips that will help to get the business going.

“The security industry in South Africa is very competitive. You have to get out there and you have to keep knocking on doors, there isn’t an easy solution”, explains Margolis.

Top Tips

1. Look at your business plan and decide if you have a competitive advantage. If not, work out how you can make the market understand the unique value your small business has to offer.

2. It is important to make yourself known. It isn’t difficult or expensive to increase awareness about the business. Attend ratepayer meetings, spend time at the local police stations, and attend meetings the police have with residents and businesses in the area. This way people get to know you and respect you and half the battle is won. Networking is the way to go.

3. It’s my experience that bigger companies are reluctant to give security contracts to a company that is a one-man show. Make sure that you have a structure in place. Clients need to know if something happens to you, the business will not fall apart, and the services they have paid for and you have agreed to supply, will not cease. Clients need to understand that besides experience, that you are credible and that all the checks and balances are in place. This must be one of the key selling points.

4. Consider taking on a partner. Choose a partner who has the attributes that you lack. The ideal partner would be one with strong links and contacts in the community that you want to work with. Let your partner control the selling side while you handle areas you’re strong in, such as expertise and service delivery. The other option is to employ sales staff.

5. Stay abreast of new trends in the field, and update your skills. This is something that I strongly believe in. You have to be well rounded in terms of not just being a good businessperson, but you also have to be a people person, a marketing and sales manager and know a good deal about the neighbourhoods you work.


Are you new to starting a business? Read 15 Things Every Newbie Needs to Know About Starting a Business

Security products

What are the requirements to start a security product supplier business?

If you are starting a security company that sells electronic alarm systems and other security products it’s wise to become a member of SAIDSA in order to provide your business with the credibility it needs to be taken seriously by the public and security service providers.

The objective of SAIDSA is to upgrade the quality and standards of electronic security and to protect the public from unscrupulous, “fly-by-night” operators. When a security system is purchased, an ongoing relationship is entered into between the purchaser and the security service company concerned.

The security service product supplier must have the infrastructure and the required expertise to support the relationship continuously.

Security Sector Regulatory Bodies

The security industry has established a number of bodies to regulate itself. Membership in these bodies is voluntary. They include:

Ready to get going? Here’s 10 Steps to Start Your Business For Free (Almost)

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