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Keeping Your Business Connected – Landline Or VoIP?

While significant voice traffic has moved onto mobile networks, customers still want to know they can contact a business on a landline. It’s about credibility – traditional telephones imply offices, systems, and real people offering real products and services. Innovative digital technology today means that small businesses benefit from ‘landlines’ at a fraction of past costs.

Tony Koutakis

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Ever-improving broadband Internet access means internet-based voice services are becoming cheaper, more reliable and easier to manage. It’s no wonder that penetration of South Africa’s traditional fixed line connections has fallen to its lowest level since 1992.

A small business has a variety of options when setting up a voice service, ranging from a simple Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) application to an integrated Private Branch Exchange (PBX): 

All about VoIP

Using a variety of devices and software, a business can make and receive phone calls by sending voice data in packets using Internet Protocol, rather than traditional circuit transmissions of the public switched telephone network.

Related: 6 Ways To Make Your Business Look Big While You’re Still Growing It

The same medium that sends emails, photos and videos is used to make voice and video calls.

internet-connection-and-wireless-services

VOIP benefits

  • Easy to set up – A VoIP system only needs an Internet connection, VoIP software and the calling device (such as a VoIP handset on the premises linked to the computer system).
  • Cheaper – There are no installation costs, and data prices are falling thanks to new broadband infrastructure (fibre and mobile) coming into the market. Free (and unlimited) broadband is a growing reality in South Africa.
  • Less red tape – the Internet in South Africa is still largely unregulated and businesses can install VoIP services without onerous compliance obligations, if a good internet connection is available.
  • More choice – services such as Whatsapp Calling, Skype and FaceTime are only a few examples of VoIP services. Developers continue to bring new VoIP software packages onto the market, with the only requirement being a fast and reliable Internet connection.

VOIP considerations

  • Internet-dependent – Businesses with high call and internet traffic volumes may experience network issues if their Internet connection is not fast enough or if the power is out.
  • Software issues – If an unstable operating system or VoIP is used to host calls, the quality and reliability is compromised.

All about PBX

Traditional, analogue PBX telephone systems provide physical line-to-line connections. Once dependent on physical hardware that made this a costly option, modern PBX systems host software and data in the cloud but still make use of installed landlines. Consider your PBX system a private telephone exchange in your office, allowing internal and external calls. 

Related: Beware VoIP Hacking

PBX benefits

  • Voice quality – Outside of urban centres where it is easy to obtain a high bandwidth Internet connection, it is possible that a PBX system will deliver better voice quality than VOIP.
  • Cuts costs – A PBX system can work out cheaper than subscribing for multiple connections with a traditional fixed line operator. In other words, you don’t need 10 telephone numbers for 10 employees. Cloud-based options mean that less hardware is necessary than before.

PBX considerations

  • More complex – A good PBX system must be installed by an outside service provider, but this is still cheaper (and often faster) than a traditional fixed line service.
  • Scale – Rapid business growth may require additional equipment to supplement an existing PBX system.

Whatever the chosen solution, it should be considered not just with the company’s immediate needs in mind, but with a view for future growth.

Tony Koutakis is the Executive Head of Ignite – an internet and communication technology services provider specifically focused on South African SMEs. He is convinced that with the correct business and technical support to connect, run and grow their businesses, South African SMEs have the potential to transform the economy. Ignite offers fast, easy, and affordable access to services and digital tools in four areas essential for SME growth - Communication, Connectivity, Cloud and Business Applications.

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Company Posts

Investing In Value Creation Tools Can Help Your Business Grow

ACCA on attracting new clients, establishing and strengthening commercial partnerships and accessing external finance to help your business expand.

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The business journey of many SMEs is often characterised by a gradual change in internal management practices which develop as the business operations grow. The subsequent recognition of the business’s value creation, across all its operations – tends to emerge slowly but surely alongside this process.

Gaining an understanding of ongoing value creation can be challenging. This is because smaller companies tend to not have access to simple and understandable data sets on everything, which is and isn’t contributing to value across the business.

For example, customer and supplier relationships, human capital and intellectual property are all common examples of activities where SMEs regularly experience difficulties in determining the real contribution to the businesses’ overall value. These are areas that are not picked up by financial reports that are a focal point of many growing businesses, hence the importance of these areas in business is not given the proper attention it deserves.

Related: Achieving Business Success: How Walter Muwandi Gained The Edge

However, by improving trust and relationships between customers and those along your supply chain, this information can be used to attract new clients, establish and strengthen commercial partnerships and access external finance to help your business expand.

Key actions to consider when capturing the value within your business include the following:

  1. Use cloud and data analytics technology to support growth;
  2. Create a business strategy which incorporates everything;
  3. Allow staff to use new technologies to innovate; and
  4. Appreciate the importance of technology in attracting external finance.

These actions will help you succeed in developing a successful business strategy.

Use cloud and data analytics technology to support growth

Purchasing relevant software packages could help you access the data you need to understand where and when value is being created. Cloud and data analytics technology can provide a real-time flow of information, offering detailed measures across workflows, whilst also complementing existing reporting processes.

More long term, this technology can provide you with greater flexibility when anticipating future periods of growth.

For example, when the time comes to up-scale your business operations, it could help your finance function adapt more easily to any additional demands being placed upon it and mitigate the risk of disruption towards ongoing operations.

At the same time investing in this technology doesn’t have to happen overnight. Software packages can be purchased in stages and tailored to meet the specific needs of your business.

Create a business strategy which incorporates everything

Business success will often be determined by how effectively you can combine the value of ongoing operations into the development of a single, overarching business strategy. Understanding of the key strategic themes by employees is critical in aiding future business expansion plans and growth. This integration can support planning processes.

By taking a short, medium and long-term view on how value creation might change across the business, you will be in a much better place to identify upcoming risks and opportunities related to your growth ambitions.

The practical delivery of this might involve regular integrated reporting across your business’s operations. The more data that is involved in this process, the more helpful it will be towards informing your management decisions.

Allow work teams to use new technologies to innovate

Companies might also want to consider supporting work teams in certain areas to come up with new ideas to enhance plans for business growth and learn from possible failures, without the personal risks that entrepreneurship entails.

Allowing employees to use new technologies could help to reduce costs and offer new revenue opportunities as your business expands. It could also help to stimulate a high growth business and to fully communicate business’s value to potential clients and commercial partners.

Related: The Rise Of Digital In Shaping Business Terrains

Appreciate the importance of technology in attracting external finance

Investing in technology at an early stage can help attract external investors, as well as reducing the cost of raising growth finance. Such investors need to be able to understand the broader strategy of your business.

Lenders are increasingly using data to build up a broad perspective on the growth potential of SMEs. If you can provide real-time information – rather than just historical data – of your business’s performance, this could greatly increase the chances of obtaining the finance you need to grow.

However, there remains a gap and potential to co-create new approaches of raising capital amongst growing businesses and in creating agreed terms of sharing risks. This could bolster the advancement of entrepreneurial houses toward creating real economic equity in long term.

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Accounting & Payroll

Save Your SME Money With A Good Payroll Management System

Not only does an efficient payroll system enhance staff morale and boosts your reputation, it can also save your business significant costs.

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Payroll solutions are designed to help hone the strategic focus of your business’ HR department, by shifting HR and payroll managers’ from paperwork to developing and motivating employees.

“The biggest potential saving comes from full compliance with tax and labour laws and regulations,” says Ania Strydom, Compliance Specialist at Sage. “Avoiding the massive costs of fines, interest and penalties that a company risks if it doesn’t comply.”

Here are her tips for conducting payroll, saving money on a good system, and pitfalls to avoid that most SMEs don’t see coming:

Choosing a viable payroll management solution

  • Look for a scalable product that can grow alongside the business
  • Find a solution with full local support that is kept up to date with relevant labour and tax laws for the markets where the business operates
  • Make sure the vendor has a proven track record and local reference sites
  • Ensure that the solution is built on flexible modern technology that accommodates today’s trends — mobility and the cloud, for example
  • Consider a solution with integrated employee self-service functionality.

Related: Brand And Marketing: Finding The Balance For SMEs

Vital considerations when conducting payroll

  • Ensure that the payroll department consists of people with a good knowledge of payroll and the required skills set to ensure success and compliance with payroll
  • Instil a payroll environment that does not need regular review
  • Conduct regular payroll compliance audits to ensure compliance minimises the risk of exposure.

How a good payroll management system actually save you money

  • Using automated payroll software with employee self-service functions can help organisations save time as it diminishes the need for manual data capture, calculations, reporting or returns
  • Rest easy knowing that automation reduces the possibility of human error, allowing businesses to focus on strategy, customers, and employee engagement rather than on red tape
  • Payroll can help businesses understand how employees are contributing to profitability, what resources are needed, the cost for major projects, and identifying gaps or surpluses in their human capacity
  • The risks of payroll fraud and incorrect payments are reduced by giving managers better visibility into transactions, providing an audit trail, and providing a set of controls, checks and balances
  • The biggest potential saving comes from full compliance with tax and labour laws and regulations – avoiding the massive costs of fines, interest and penalties that a company risks if it doesn’t comply.

Related: SME Leaders: How You Can Manage Growth

Avoid payroll errors SMEs typically make

  • The use of manual solutions due to tight budgets. They should instead, look at affordable, cloud-based solutions that are priced per payslip per month instead
  • Failing to enforce separation of duties. Different people should have responsibility for capturing payroll data and for managing access to the system as well as adding and removing employees from the payroll. Another person checking that the numbers add up could reduce risks of fraud and error
  • Not keeping abreast of changes to tax and labour laws such as the Employment Tax Incentive.

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Company Posts

Why Grit Is The True Determining Factor Of Success

How grit and determination helped Bertus Albertse take control of his destiny and build an award-winning franchise brand.

Body20 franchise

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Vital Stats

  • Player:Bertus Albertse
  • Company: Body20
  • Established:2014
  • Contact:+27 (0)872310359
  • Visit: body20.co.za

What does it take to open a successful business, franchise it, and then take it global? In many instances, the answer is grit, determination and the ability to get back up when life knocks you down.

In fact, Angela Lee Duckworth, an academic and psychologist based at the University of Pennsylvania, where she studies concepts such as self-control and grit to determine how they might predict academic and professional success, believes that the single biggest predictor of success isn’t social intelligence, good looks, physical health or even IQ.

The single biggest predictor of success is grit.

According to Duckworth, grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. It’s having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week or the month, but for

Years. It’s about working hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Related: The Wolf Within Bertus Albertse: Body20’s CEO

Finding self-worth

To find the epitome of grit, we need look no further than Bertus Albertse, the founder and CEO of Body20 Global, a local franchise that is now making international waves.

As a youngster, Bertus was used to living in the unpredictable. His parents divorced when he was just nine months old and his mother, walking with both him and his sister on her hips, moved from house to house whenever his alcoholic grandfather took to the rod.

He realised early in his life that material things come and go as his mother had to return worn clothes and used toys not long after they have been purchased.

In fact, it happened so often that at some point even Bertus and his sister had to return items at retail stores at a young age in order to have money for food or petrol.

“To this day I’ve never forgotten where I come from and how retailers looked at me and my sister with pity and shame in their eyes,” he recalls.

Going the distance

Instead of letting the experience bow him down, Bertus learnt to be comfortable with the uncomfortable, taking control and responsibility over his own life. As an excelling young sportsman, he soon realised how he could control his own destiny by consistently putting in huge effort.

One of his favourite quotes is “You are what you repeatedly do, therefore excellence is not an act but rather a habit.”

It’s a mantra he lives by. Through pure grit and determination, he went from a small, skinny kid from the ‘platteland’ in the West Coast to be the first Head Boy of both the school and boy’s residents at the prestigious high school, Jan van Riebeeck, situated in the heart of Cape Town.

Related: From Body20 Member To Franchisee Of The Year 2017

Stay hungry and make a real impact

Bertus also has numerous sports achievements, including national and international Body Building and Fitness titles. With his passionate and optimistic outlook on life, he soon realised that people are drawn to the ideas and things that inspire him and this has given him a flair for business, enabling him to share that passion with his community.

He started his first business in his second year of University in Stellenbosch with a R20 000 loan from his father, which he subsequently paid back three months later.

Today, Bertus is the founder and CEO of the award-winning global fitness franchise network, Body20. He strives to impact those around him by inspiring them to take control of their lives and encourages people to believe in the impossible, but to always remember to take consistent, daily actions to make it possible.

“A rabbit will always outrun the fox, because while the fox runs for its lunch the rabbit runs for its life.” He likes to be reminded of how hungry you have to be to truly make an impact in the world.

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