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Start-up Industry Specific

How would I go about starting a marketing business and what are the types of services or marketing options that I can offer?

A guide to offering marketing services to other businesses.




How to start a marketing company

The first step to take is to decide under what kind of business entity you want to operate the business. Registering a company might seem like an administrative headache but it’s an important step in the birth of your new venture, and one that can have a significant impact to the future of your business.

To start a business you must decide if you are going to operate as a Sole Proprietor or Private Company. If you are going to register a PTY then you have to register the business through Companies Intellectual Property Registration Office (Cipro). Once this is done, register the business with the South African revenue Services (SARS).


Mentorship and support is a crucial element in setting up a new business and there is plenty of support out there for starts-up. Some mentorship and support programmes are offered free and others charge a fee for their expertise.

What is a business mentor?

A mentor is someone with entrepreneurial business experience who serves as a trusted confidante over an extended period.

How to choose the right mentor

Choosing the best mentor is a personal decision. You must feel comfortable with the mentor and have a good rapport with that person, who must also have the best interests of your company as his or her goal. Because of their expertise, they have the knowledge to implement a series of proven systems and strategies designed to help your business grow.

Associations to join

By joining associations, you will give your business credibility. Clients will feel more comfortable doing business with you as there is an industry watchdog that they can turn to if something goes wrong.

The Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa

The advertising and marketing industry is self-regulated in South Africa. The marketing and communication industry voluntarily regulates the content of advertising. The advertisers who pay for the advertising, the advertising agencies responsible for its form and content, and the media, which carry it – work together, to agree advertising standards.

The ASASA has set up a system to ensure that advertisements, which fail to meet those standards, are corrected or removed.

The Marketing Association of South Africa

MASA protects the credibility of marketing by improving the way marketing is perceived and practiced in South Africa. MASA is a Section 21 company that works as an ‘anchor’ in the industry.

The Digital Media and Marketing Association (DMMA)

The DMMA is a voluntary, non-profit association focused on growing and sustaining a profitable digital industry within South Africa. The DMMA currently represents over 70 local online publishers and over 25 creative, media and digital agencies, between them accounting for more than 10 million local unique browsers and 330 million page impressions.

For more information

What to Specialise In

How to start an outdoor marketing company

The first thing that you have to do is to sign up contracts for potential sites. This is done through meeting with landlords and coming to an arrangement. Once the contract is signed between yourselves, you need to obtain permission to advertise at the sites you have selected. This permission is provided through the town planning department of local municipalities’.


Ensure that you comply with all relevant legislation regarding billboards, posters and any other form of outdoor advertising that you are planning to use with the local municipality. You must obtain written approval from the council.

Take note of the address, stand, street name and crossroad that you would like to utilise. Click here for a complete list of local municipalities where you can apply for permission. Permission can take anything from three to six months and in some cases it can take up to five years.

Outdoor advertising methods

Billboards are the most common method used by outdoor marketers and they continue to be one of the worthiest techniques to mark a branding imprint to hundreds or millions of targeted minds.

Other outdoor mediums

Do not limit yourself to thinking that outdoor media, is only billboards. There are a myriad of alternative outdoor mediums. These include vehicle and building wraps, posters, moving billboards and digital signage.

Hit the right target

Outdoor media is a robust form of advertising. There are many reasons for this. Traffic is slow along certain routes, allowing time to read.  If a pedestrian wants to read an ad, he or she can simply stop walking and take notice. You can also better target your message to consumers who will be most receptive to it because everyone goes somewhere at sometime.

Networking can be most useful

By joining the Marketing Association of South Africa they can provide access to a network of credible business and marketing professionals as well as enhanced personal credibility to your business as a marketing professional.

How much capital is needed to start a digital billboard business?

The capital required to start a business should be determined through the preparation of a business plan.


One of the biggest suppliers of this kind of equipment is Polycomp. They offer over 700 products ranging from R2 500 for the smallest sign which measures 650mm x 115mm while the biggest billboard ranges in price from R856 000 and measures 44.2 square meters. This is the type of billboard seen in soccer stadiums.


Ensure that you comply with all relevant legislation regarding billboards. Legislation and by laws differ from municipality to municipality. If you intend broadcast on a digital billboard you will need to obtain broadcast rights as well. The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) will be able to give you more information regarding broadcasting rights.

More Information:

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 To Start A Farming Business

Keep these nine points in mind when launching your new farming business.




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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 does one go about starting a distribution business? Or how do you become a seller for an international company locally (SA)?

How to register an international product nationally.





If you already have a particular product you are thinking of distributing, your best option would be to contact that company and find out what the requirements are to distribute their products. Each company will have different criteria.

Here is some advice however on starting a wholesale distribution business:

So you want to start a wholesale distributorship. Whether you’re currently a white-collar professional, a manager worried about being downsized, or bored with your current job, this may be the right business for you. Much like the merchant traders of the 18th century, you’ll be trading goods for profit.

And while the romantic notion of standing on a dock in the dead of night haggling over a tea shipment may be a bit far-fetched, the modern-day wholesale distributor evolved from those hardy traders who bought and sold goods hundreds of years ago.

The Distributor’s Role

As you probably know, manufacturers produce products and retailers sell them to end users. A can of motor oil, for example, is manufactured and packaged, then sold to automobile owners through retail outlets and/or repair shops.

In between, however, there are a few key operators-also known as distributors-that serve to move the product from manufacturer to market. Some are retail distributors, the kind that sell directly to consumers (end users).

Others are known as merchant wholesale distributors; they buy products from the manufacturer or other source, then move them from their warehouses to companies that either want to resell the products to end users or use them in their own operations.

Three types of operations can perform the functions of wholesale trade: wholesale distributors; manufacturers’ sales branches and offices; and agents, brokers and commission agents. As a wholesale distributor, you will probably run an independently owned and operated firm that buys and sells products of which you have taken ownership.

Generally, such operations are run from one or more warehouses where inventory goods are received and later shipped to customers.

Put simply, as the owner of a wholesale distributorship, you will be buying goods to sell at a profit, much like a retailer would. The only difference is that you’ll be working in a business-to-business realm by selling to retail companies and other wholesale firms like your own, and not to the buying public.

This is, however, somewhat of a traditional definition. The traditional wholesale distributor is still the one who buys “from the source” and sells to a reseller.

Getting Into the Game

The field of wholesale distribution is a true buying and selling game-one that requires good negotiation skills, a nose for sniffing out the next “hot” item in your particular category, and keen salesmanship. The idea is to buy the product at a low price, then make a profit by tacking on an amount that still makes the deal attractive to your customer.

Experts agree that to succeed in the wholesale distribution business, an individual should possess a varied job background. Most experts feel a sales background is necessary, as are the “people skills” that go with being an outside salesperson who hits the streets and/or picks up the phone and goes on a cold-calling spree to search for new customers.

In addition to sales skills, the owner of a new wholesale distribution company will need the operational skills necessary for running such a company. For example, finance and business management skills and experience are necessary, as is the ability to handle the “back end” (those activities that go on behind the scenes, like warehouse setup and organization, shipping and receiving, customer service, etc.).

Of course, these back-end functions can also be handled by employees with experience in these areas if your budget allows.

Setting Up Shop

When it comes to setting up shop, your needs will vary according to what type of product you choose to specialize in. Someone could conceivably run a successful wholesale distribution business from their home, but storage needs would eventually hamper the company’s success.

Starting Out

For entrepreneurs looking to start their own wholesale distributorship, there are basically three avenues to choose from: buy an existing business, start from scratch or buy into a business opportunity. Buying an existing business can be costly and may even be risky, depending on the level of success and reputation of the distributorship you want to buy.

The positive side of buying a business is that you can probably tap into the seller’s knowledge bank, and you may even inherit his or her existing client base, which could prove extremely valuable.

The second option, starting from scratch, can also be costly, but it allows for a true “make or break it yourself” scenario that is guaranteed not to be preceded by an existing owner’s reputation. On the downside, you will be building a reputation from scratch, which means lots of sales and marketing for at least the first two years or until your client base is large enough to reach critical mass.

The last option is perhaps the most risky, as all business opportunities must be thoroughly explored before any money or precious time is invested. However, the right opportunity can mean support, training and quick success if the originating company has already proven itself to be profitable, reputable and durable.

During the startup process, you’ll also need to assess your own financial situation and decide if you’re going to start your business on a full- or part-time basis. A full-time commitment probably means quicker success, mainly because you will be devoting all your time to the new company’s success.

Like most startups, the average wholesale distributor will need to be in business two to five years to be profitable. There are exceptions, of course. Take, for example, the ambitious entrepreneur who sets up his garage as a warehouse to stock full of small hand tools.

Using his own vehicle and relying on the low overhead that his home provides, he could conceivably start making money within six to 12 months.


A wholesale distributor’s initial steps when venturing into the entrepreneurial landscape include defining a customer base and locating reliable sources of product. The latter will soon become commonly known as your “vendors” or “suppliers.”

The cornerstone of every distribution cycle, however, is the basic flow of product from manufacturer to distributor to customer. As a wholesale distributor, your position on that supply chain (a supply chain is a set of resources and processes that begins with the sourcing of raw material and extends through the delivery of items to the final consumer) will involve matching up the manufacturer and customer by obtaining quality products at a reasonable price and then selling them to the companies that need them.

In its simplest form, distribution means purchasing a product from a source-usually a manufacturer, but sometimes another distributor-and selling it to your customer. As a wholesale distributor, you will specialize in selling to customers-and even other distributors-who are in the business of selling to end users (usually the general public).

It’s one of the purest examples of the business-to-business function, as opposed to a business-to-consumer function, in which companies sell to the general public.

Weighing It Out: Operating Costs

No two distribution companies are alike, and each has its own unique needs. The entrepreneur who is selling closeout T-shirts from his basement, for example, has very different startup financial needs than the one selling power tools from a warehouse in the middle of an industrial park.

Regardless of where a distributor sets up shop, some basic operating costs apply across the board. For starters, necessities like office space, a telephone, fax machine and personal computer will make up the core of your business. This means an office rental fee if you’re working from anywhere but home, a telephone bill and ISP fees for getting on the internet.

No matter what type of products you plan to carry, you’ll need some type of warehouse or storage space in which to store them; this means a leasing fee. Remember that if you lease a warehouse that has room for office space, you can combine both on one bill. If you’re delivering locally, you’ll also need an adequate vehicle to get around in.

The Day-to-Day Routine

Like many other businesses, wholesale distributors perform sales and marketing, accounting, shipping and receiving, and customer service functions on a daily basis.

They also handle tasks like contacting existing and prospective customers, processing orders, supporting customers who need help with problems that may crop up, and doing market research (for example, who better than the “in the trenches” distributor to find out if a manufacturer’s new product will be viable in a particular market?).

To handle all these tasks and whatever else may come their way during the course of the day, most distributors rely on specialized software packages that tackle such functions as inventory control, shipping and receiving, accounting, client management, and bar-coding.

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