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Start-up Industry Specific

I want to become an advertising entrepreneur. How do I start a business in the advertising, branding and design sector?

The ins and outs of the advertising industry.




Advertising Overview

What is advertising?

Advertising is bringing a product (or service) to the attention of potential and current customers. What is the best way to advertise in a saturated market?

How do I start an advertising agency?

To start out in this competitive industry you need to know it well so do your research and go into the industry with confidence. Be prepared to be innovative and work at a fast pace most of the time.

Showing clients that you know what you are doing and that you are able to take their branding and advertising needs into your own hands is key. Broadening your knowledge is never a bad start. There are so many resources to consult for further insight into the world of advertising.

You will find a number of great books at all leading book stores and taking a short course in advertising and media is another worthwhile option if you have the time. Take a look at the part time courses offered by Vega or Damelin.

Making the difference

You will need to decide whether you are going to specialise in a specific type of advertising or cater to a certain market before going any further. There are so many options to choose from when it comes to client brand delivery so take the time to decide which direction you would like to take.

If you are looking to cater to a specific market then ensure that you are specialising in an advertising medium that fits in with their needs and also their budgets. For instance you wouldn’t try and sell a large radio campaign to a small store down the road.

Advertising Terms

Above and Below the line advertising

What is the difference between above the line and below the line advertising? Below the line advertising methods are the techniques that tend to deal with direct communication such as email marketing while above the line methods promote brands to the masses such as television and billboards.

Once you have chosen your area of expertise, take the time to get to know the advertising medium and also what type of clients you will be appealing to. You will find that the needs of clients and their approach to advertising will differ greatly.

Many larger brands are more concerned with whether you understand their brand and where they are looking to take it while a smaller company might want to be more involved in the process. It might be a better idea to not cater to, too broad a market because you may be spreading out your focus and in the end not delivering as effectively as you could.

It is always advisable to start with one product until you manage to build up a sound client base as well as experience.

Building your Team & Offices

Hiring Help

As with many new businesses, you won’t always be able to hire too many staff members at once. Taking on a lot of the responsibility yourself is a reality and only once you start to see the company becoming busier can you then start building up your team.

By this time you will also know what kind of people you want in your company. If need be you also have the option of rather hiring a freelance employee instead of a full time person as this will allow you to better control your expenses.

Where to find the equipment and information to start an advertising agency

The best way to make an informed decision is to research the sector of interest. Start by contacting various associations that specialise in the industry of interest. Through their recommendations you will be able to find equipment suppliers.

Advertising Contacts

Advertising Media Association

The following associations fall under the Advertising Media Association (AMA) umbrella. Simply click on to source any of these associations:

  • Association for Communication and Advertising
  • Association of Collective Investments (ACI)
  • Cinemark (Pty) Ltd
  • Cosmetic Toiletry & Fragrance Association of South Africa
  • Franchise Association of Southern Africa
  • Furniture Traders’ Association of South Africa
  • Health Products Association of Southern Africa
  • Hospital Association of South Africa
  • Industry Association for Responsible Alcohol Use
  • Information Technology Association
  • Marketing Federation of Southern Africa
  • National Association of Broadcasters of South Africa
  • Outdoor Advertising Association of South Africa
  • Pet Food Institute of Southern Africa
  • Pharmaceutical Manufacturers’ Association of South Africa
  • Print Media SA
  • Printing Industries Federation of South Africa
  • Retail Motor Industry Organisation
  • Sales Promotion and Design Association
  • Self-Medication Manufacturers’ Association of South Africa
  • South African Optometric Association
  • Timeshare Institute of Southern Africa.


For more information on this industry you can take a look at what some of the other advertising companies are currently offering you can visit the Bizcommunity website and take a look through their business directory or you could visit the websites of a few industry resources:

  • Association of Communication and Advertising
  • Advertising Media Association of SA
  • Advertising Media Forum

Digital Advertising

Where do I begin when starting a digital advertising business?

Digital signage is a type of electronic display that shows electronic text information, images, animation, video with sound and messages. It can be a LCD or plasma screen, LED boards or projection screens. A computer with the help of electronic display software controls the content that appears on the screen.

Digital provides huge exposure

The aim of an indoor digital advertising business is to guarantee clients get lots of exposure for their products. If an ad is shown once every 45 minutes at six sites in a 12-hour day, the client is guaranteed their ad will be shown at least 96 times, depending on the operating hours of the business. That is a lot of exposure.

Good locations

One of the advantages of this type of advertising is that good locations are easy to source and there is a great deal of scope. Common venue choices are airports, stations, hospitals, restaurants, bars, sports complexes and arenas.

Equipment needs

The equipment that is required depends on the location or venue. Suppliers of LCD and plasma screens provide technical advice as well as all the extra bits and pieces you need to install and run the screens, such as cables, amps, speakers and so on.

Don’t mix up LCD and Plasma Screens. Outward appearances are definitely deceiving when it comes to LCD and Plasma screens. Although both types are flat and thin, they use different technology in an attempt to deliver the same result.

What is Plasma?

Plasma television technology is based loosely on the fluorescent light bulb. The display itself consists of cells. Within each cell, two glass panels are separated by a narrow gap in which neon-xenon gas is injected and sealed in plasma during the manufacturing process. Drawbacks include heat generation and screen-burn of static images.


LCD panels are made of two layers of transparent material, which are polarised, and are stuck together. One of the layers is coated with a special polymer that holds the individual liquid crystals. Current is passed through individual crystals, which allow the crystals to pass or block light to create images.

LCD or plasma?

“LCD screens are more reliable for long use. If you are running ads 24/7, LCD would probably be the best solution,” advises Screencom LCD specialist, Leonie De Vrye. Screencom is one of South Africa’s local distributors of LCD and Plasma Screens.

You can rent or buy screens

“Screens come in different sizes, 32, 40, 46, 50 or 65 inch screens. The most popular is the 40-inch screen. You can buy or rent. Rental costs about R800 per day including installation and cables for a 40-inch screen. To buy the same size screen would cost around R11 000 and installation and cables are quoted separately. As we are a visual communication solutions company, we provide technical assistance, amplifiers, mounting and control systems for both platforms,” explains De Vrye.

The Business Plan

When you prepare the business plan, calculate your costs carefully as you will have to pay the venue to use their space to install the LCD or Plasma Screen from which you are earning revenue.

Do as much research as you can

In your research, you need to speak to companies who develop their own digital signage software as they will be able to provide you with valuable information; you can also search the local sites of Sound Idea, Central Point Communications and Sign for more information.

  • Sound Idea
  • Central Point Communications
  • Sign

Manage your own digital signage

Create and manage your own compelling digital signage within the Microsoft PowerPoint® interface in a matter of minutes. Helius Media, a US based online portal helps you to create digital signage and rich-media presentations across a network of customer-facing digital signage screens.

Insurance is often forgotten

As these screens are located in public places they can easily be damaged or even stolen. Make sure you consult with a business insurance broker and arrange adequate cover.


The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) is the regulator for the South African communications, broadcasting and postal services sector. ICASA will be able to give you more information regarding broadcasting rights.

Permission is only required if you are using the screens for live feeds, such as a sports match. If you are purely running advertisements permission from ICASA is not required. It is recommended you join the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). As a member, you are required to adhere to a code.

Your membership will provide credibility, which is a strong tool in this industry. The Code of Advertising Practice is the guiding document of ASA and is based on the International Code of Advertising Practice.

Top Tips

What is the best way to deliver content to screens?

The benefit of digital signage over static signs is that the content can be changed quickly and easily. Signs can adapt to the context and audience. To deliver content to indoor digital screens requires a strong, robust content management system.

Choice depends on location and client

The distribution technology and platform infrastructure transmits the digital video and audio from the server to the appropriate screen. It is important to remember that the distribution technology is a significant part of the project budget.

That’s why choosing the correct distribution technology is vital. The decision in choosing internet access depends on the location, signal strength and the client’s needs. Because ads are usually large files, having a fast network and a fast Internet connection as well as plenty of storage space on servers is critical.

Speak to other operators

Talk to companies that are currently operating in this industry and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of wireless vs. broadband with them. There are many companies and consultants that you can contact. It is best that you do your own research, as you know the details of your business plan better than anyone does.

Contact the Advertising Media Association who will be able to give you specific information. Go to

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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:

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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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