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# I do IT support in the country area, Northern Natal and Mpumalanga. What would be the right way of calculating an hour tariff?

How to calculate an hourly tariff.

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### Pricing a Service

Definition: To establish a selling price for a service

1. Labour and material costs
3. Profit

These factors must be considered not only during start-up but also during growth.

### Labour and Materials

Labour costs are wages and benefits you pay to employees and/or subcontractors who perform, supervise, or manage your service business. If you as the owner are involved in a job, then include the cost of your labour in the total labour charge.

The cost of your labour will be quite significant during start-up, when most new business owners pour lots of time and energy into their businesses.

Labour costs are usually expressed as an hourly rate. Check in your library’s reference room for government publications giving national and state salary ranges for different occupations. The editors of trade publications also might have similar information.

Current rates are often cited in classified newspaper ads or available from your local chamber of commerce.

Labour can also be subcontracted–such workers are not on the payroll as employees. When labour is purchased for each job on a contract basis, the full cost is agreed upon in advance, which helps keep your costs fixed. The key is to carefully estimate the labour time it will take to accomplish each job on which you bid.

### Profit

Profit is the amount of income earned after all costs for providing the service have been met. When calculating the price of a service, profit is applied in the same number as markup on the cost of a product.

For instance, if your labour costs for a job are R840, and you plan to net 21 percent before taxes on your gross sales, you’ll need to apply a profit factor of about 25 percent to your labour and overhead to achieve your goal. For example, say you have an operating costs’ subtotal of R1 296 and you want a profit of R324, so you quote the customer a price of R1 620.

If you compare the price of R1 620 with the cost of labour (R840) already estimated, you’ll notice that one figure is more than double the other. Some contractors use this ratio as a basis for determining price: They estimate their labour costs and then double that figure to arrive at a bid price.

Pricing can be time-consuming, especially if you don’t have a knack for it. Some contractors seem to have a sixth sense when it comes to pricing and they “guesstimate” on what they need to quote to make a job profitable to them.

If you’re just starting out, you obviously won’t have the skill of a seasoned pro.

If your quote is too low, you’ll either rob yourself of profits or be forced to lower the quality of your work to meet the price.

If you estimate too high, you may lose a contract, especially if you’re in a competitive bidding situation. Make it your business to learn how to estimate labour time accurately and how to calculate your overhead properly so that when you quote a price, you can be competitive, profitable, and successful as a service business.

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.

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# What are the do’s and don’ts of securing an online domain name?

We asked Domains.co.za founder, Wayne Diamond, what the do’s and don’ts are when it comes to entrepreneurs registering domain names for their start-ups…

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### There’s that L-word again:

“Location, location, location”. It’s the make or break decision. Every estate agent and business owner cannot overemphasise the importance of this Critical Business Decision Number 2 (Number 1, of course, has to do with what you’re going to sell!).

Related: As a start-up, what are the most important areas I should be looking at?

Whatever business you’re in, being close to customers and convenient to business partners and suppliers is essential. That bricks-and-mortar wisdom is equally true in the world of online commerce. Having the right domain name and the right support for your online presence has emerged as a real driver of success.

Some figures put the scale of the opportunity into perspective: US e-commerce is predicted to reach \$440 billion by 2017, showing a compound annual growth of 13.8%[1]. While the Internet economy is in its infancy in South Africa and Africa, it is growing strongly: research by World Wide Worx showed that consumers, small and medium businesses and government were already purchasing products and services worth R59 billion on the web three years ago.[2]

So how to secure the best and most profitable Internet real estate to make sure your business can ride the e-commerce wave?

### It’s all in the name:

The first decision is what domain to use. One of the exciting developments is the launch of new Internet domain names, so it’s definitely no longer a choice of .com or .co.za. The proposed dotAfrica (.africa) geoTLD (geographic Top Level Domain) is one option that’s set to come online around the first quarter of next year, but what about the ZAdotCities domains of .joburg, .capetown or .durban? Domain names within these additional geoTLDs will be able to be snapped up by the public around November this year.

While .com remains a good choice for truly international businesses, choosing a domain name with some local flavour is probably going to work well for many companies.

The greater range of domain names also makes it more possible that you will be able to choose the right name for your business. When it comes to the more established domains, like .com or .co.za, chances are higher that the name you want has already been taken.

When it comes to that all-important name, received wisdom used to be that short was best, but the trend nowadays seems to have reversed—even phrases are now used. The key is to choose a name that is easily recognisable, that will stick in peoples’ minds and that describes the business well.

Perhaps a good example is the domain used by the writer of this article: www.domains.co.za is both a brand name and a name that perfectly describes the nature of the business. At just seven characters in length, “domains” is also an easy to spell, easy to remember word – keeping names under ten characters is guaranteed to help audience recall.

Something people will remember easily is absolutely vital.

Some companies use specific names for individual campaigns, but always make sure the business as a whole has its own web address.

Experience has shown that it’s probably worthwhile to register similar domain names to the one you choose, just to keep competitors from taking them in an effort to sow confusion.

My final advice: it’s always a good idea to use an ISPA (Internet Service Providers’ Association of SA) member to help you register the chosen address of your start-up. That way you’ll be sure that all the formalities are correct, and that the company you’re dealing with abides by ISPA’s code of conduct.

Finally, as there are already almost 950 000 .co.za domains registered, it’s a good idea to surf to www.domains.co.za and perform searches to see if the domain you would like is indeed available.

Related: Does the South African government award grants to franchisees?

[1] Chuck Jones, “Ecommerce is growing nicely while mcommerce is on a tear”, Forbes, 2 October 2013, available at http://mashable.com/2013/02/05/ecommerce-sales-top-1-trillion-worldwide/.

[2] “Internet 2% of SA economy”, 29 May 2012, available at http://www.worldwideworx.com/internet-2-of-sa-economy/.

# How to protect your business idea when sending them to financial instituitons?

Signing an NDA, is it necessary?

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How can I protect my business idea before I submit my business plan to financial institutions and other agencies for help?

You have a few options:

Firstly, you can include a disclaimer as an introductory clause, saying that any and all information contained in the business plan and related documents remain the Intellectual Property of xxx (your name) and may not be reproduced, copied or used in any manner without express written consent. This is not legally binding, but usually enough.

Secondly, you could ask them to sign a non-disclosure agreement, which is more binding from a legal perspective. The downside of this is that it can come across as arrogant, especially from someone who is approaching us for help. Personally I refuse to sign any NDA from clients who approach me for help, it just smacks of mistrust and arrogance.

On a final note, good ideas always get copied. If you are that worried that your idea will be stolen, you may need to re-look at it and find ways to make it difficult to replicate, or better yet, make sure you are first to market.

Related: As a start-up, what are the most important areas I should be looking at?

# Does the South African government award grants to franchisees?

In my experience, unless you as the entrepreneur have some ‘skin in the game’ and a reason to get up and make the business work every morning, it seldom will.

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I am considering purchasing a children’s education franchise and wanted to know if the government offers grants. The cost of the franchise is R 86 000. If so what are the criteria to qualify and how does one go about it?

Accessing grant funding for a franchise may prove challenging, unless that franchise is registered and accredited, in which case there is a fund that may consider it – see CNBC for more info.

Otherwise, you could look at www.investmentincentives.co.za and see if any of those sources of financing are of interest. It naturally depends on your own PDI (previously disadvantaged individual) status as many of these funds are focused on youth, women and PDI’s.

Finally, on an emotional level I would caution against going all out for grant funding and not loan finance. In my experience, unless you as the entrepreneur have some ‘skin in the game’ and a reason to get up and make the business work every morning, it seldom will.