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Digital Start-Ups Are Growing – And Quickly

Introduced in South Africa 24 months ago, Accelerator is a programme run through the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation and has been successfully operating globally for more than 12 years.

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Digital Start-Ups

These businesses have seen a gap in the market

Digital Start-Ups

Digital Start-Ups

The old adage goes that entrepreneurs are born not made, but this myth has been busted with a programme that is helping start-ups to take their fast-growing businesses to the next level.

Introduced in South Africa 24 months ago, Accelerator is a programme run through the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation and has been successfully operating globally for more than 12 years.

“While financial growth is important and one of the measures of success we have also seen the entrepreneurs grow personally,” explains Walter Penfold, EO Accelerator Chair.

“Personal growth and perspectives from other business owners enables entrepreneurs to think strategically about the future of their business; how to break into new markets; secure partnerships or funding that will take their businesses forward.”

Related: 5 Common Legal Mistakes Start-Ups Make – And How To Avoid Them

Successful entrepreneurs who have come through the programme are tech-based businesses that are using digital technologies to disrupt conventional business models.

In the fintech, health and education space. These businesses have seen a gap in the market and are deploying digital solutions to solve everyday issues.

Arlene Mulder and Camille Agon, co-founders of WeThinkCode

Arlene Mulder

Arlene Mulder

Trains and develops skilled and talented software engineers for corporates.

“Going through the Accelerator programme together as co-founders enabled us to work on our strategy together.  We learnt to have the confidence to scale our business and we will be opening a campus in Cape Town at the end of this year and have seen 240% revenue growth in the last year.”

Allison Martin, founder of UDoTest

Allison Martin

Allison Martin

Provides self-testing for STD’s, cervical cancer and colon cancer without doctor’s visits has seen a 30% growth since joining Accelerator.

“The most important thing I have learnt during the Accelerator programme is the powerful perspective you get when you surround yourself with entrepreneurs that share their insights and experiences. It has enabled me to manage my business better,” says Martin.

Related: 6 Resources For Start-Ups Looking For Alternative Funding

Ryan Canin, Co-Founder of DocFox

Ryan Canin DocFox

Ryan Canin

A web-application which automates compliance in FICA allowing financial services firms to seamlessly on-board clients in a matter of minutes attributes the success of the Accelerator programme to being incredibly focused.

“I realise that you can’t get distracted by opportunities which are not on your critical path. I have become ruthless with my time and only work on what drives value given our business direction,” he says.

Ryan Sauer, founder of Punk Media

ryan-sauer

Ryan Sauer

Which provides digital media buying services and has grown by more than 100% year on year for three years consecutively. “During the programme, I learnt many other entrepreneurs are going through very similar issues to my business regardless of what they do. Whether it is people, cash flow or positioning to name a few. Knowing you are not alone and have a core group of people to share business and personal events in your life makes the experience of being in EO Accelerator all the richer,” says Sauer.

Sven Reinersten, founder of Jawbone

Sven Reinersten

Sven Reinersten

Core to the programme is the peer-to-peer engagement which is set up through Accountability Groups and through which participants meet on a regular basis to share experiences and work on common business challenges.

Related: How Fintech Zoona Is Solving Customers’ Real Problems

While not in the digital space, a growth success story comes from Sven Reinersten. He has seen a 700% increase in profits in his experiential events business.

“The Accelerator programme enabled me to build a business around our culture and accountability, with a focus on innovation and clinical execution. I am now working on my business and not in my business,” says Reinersten.

EO is the only global network exclusively for entrepreneurs. EO helps leading entrepreneurs learn and grow through peer-to-peer learning, once-in-a-lifetime experiences, and connections to experts.

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South Africa Seeks Innovative Solutions to Payments Systems

How to bridge the divide and bring FinTech technology and a new infrastructure of POS systems to the masses.

Harald Merckel

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News has been circulating that high-level players in South Africa are working hard to introduce structural changes in payments solutions. Some of the biggest players in the industry, including the Payments Association of South Africa, and BankservAfrica have begun work in earnest on facilitating expedited transactions settlements, by adding new payments systems and features into the market.

Financial technology, a.k.a. FinTech is powering the payments gateway to cost-effective solutions for South African businesses, consumers, domestic and international stakeholders. According to industry pundits, the payment system that currently exists in South Africa was formulated in the 1980s. At the time, it was highly regarded by world standards. However, the rampant innovation that has taken place with the Internet of things since then necessitates updating.

Various solutions have been touted, to rethink the infrastructure framework that currently exists in South Africa. The economy is rapidly changing, and mobile technology is being embraced across the board. The South African payments system is long overdue for an upgrade, as shifting priorities and the widespread digitisation of the economy take place. For starters, payments solutions across South Africa must factor in the large underbanked and unbanked sectors of society.

Related: 6 Lessons The Founders Of iKhokha Used To Launch An African Fintech Start-up

A key industry player, Bankserv which is owned and operated by Standard Bank, ABSA, and Nedbank among others is ringing the changes. Back in 2017, this financial entity processed R188.2 billion worth of ATM transactions. The total number of transactions numbered 452.6 million additionally. It processed 52.5 billion POS transactions valued at R290.9 billion in credit card authorizations in the same year. Electronic funds transfers (EFTs) to the value of R9.4 trillion were also processed by Bankserv. These are significant figures, and they point to a shift in financial transactions processing in South Africa.

Groundbreaking POS Systems to Debut in SA

The widespread innovation currently taking place in POS systems is reshaping retail industry, the food and beverage service, and other merchant networks across the board. One of the industry leaders in this regard is revel systems POS. It is fully integrated with a robust selection of features, the likes of which include superior reporting features, full kiosk functionality, and a modern kitchen display system for the thriving restaurant industry in South Africa. The technology was created back in 2010 by Chris Ciabarra and Lisa Falzone as an innovative Apple iPad point-of-sale system. It was tested in the San Francisco Bay Area and became an instant hit.

Today, the Revel POS system sports 25,000+ terminals around the world, at high profile company such as Cinnabon, Goodwill, Smoothie King and others. South African restaurants and food industry businesses can enjoy monthly subscription fees, and the software license is included in the monthly subscription fee. Flexible pricing is another advantage of using this POS system. Plus, users get to enjoy industry-specific software and integrations that can be used by quick service businesses and restaurants.

It’s ideally suited to businesses that have 500,000 SKUs, although it’s equally adept at serving smaller SA businesses. In terms of ease-of-use, this POS is intuitive for front-end use, and training videos facilitate backend learning and integration. The backend management is particularly effective in terms of training regimens, navigation, and utilisation. All that’s required to get started is an Apple iOS device, and any standard barcode scanner is fully compatible with the system.

Related: How Fintech Zoona Is Solving Customers’ Real Problems

Among the many features include the following:

  • Fully Functional point-of-sale systems
  • Real-Time Inventory control of SKUs, including cost considerations, pricing, inventory, size, colour, style etc. Digital menu boards, kitchen display systems, and kiosk point-of-sale systems are also available
  • Purchase Order Management and QuickBooks integration
  • Customer Management in terms of purchases, details and personal data is also available.

What Are the Current FinTech Challenges in South Africa?

Contrary to widespread belief, South Africa has one of the most sophisticated payments infrastructures. This is certainly a feather in the cap for South Africa’s financial and FinTech sector. Given that Internet usage is widespread, and the telecom network that facilitates Internet functionality is highly developed, South Africa ranks on par with the best of them.

There are effectively 2 parallel economies operating in South Africa – the first world developed FinTech economy, and the informal economy which dominates the outlying areas. South Africa has a challenge on its hands: How to bridge the divide and bring FinTech technology and a new infrastructure of POS systems to the masses.

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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.

ACCA

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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.

Sage

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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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