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Power Players: Dynamic Women Building Business In SA

Whether it’s out of necessity or just because women’s time has come, women entrepreneurs are driving a change in the face of small business in SA and across the continent.

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Dynamic Women Building Business In SA
 Dynamic Women Building Business In SA

This is according to dynamic South African women who now run their own successful businesses and will be speaking Small Business Expo and #BuyaBusiness Expo in Johannesburg this month, where the Standard Bank Women in Business Workshop will be staged.

While the 2014 SME Survey by World Wide Worx found that just 8% of South African SMEs are female-owned businesses, a recent Seed Academy Real State of Entrepreneurship in South Africa 2017 survey said the gap between male and female entrepreneurs was starting to narrow as women represented 47% of entrepreneurs surveyed.

With informal businesses thought to account for a large number of the SMEs owned by women, the actual number of women-owned businesses in South Africa is difficult to determine. But leading women entrepreneurs believe the number of women launching their own businesses is rising fast.

Shirley Anthony, speaker, author and Marketing Consultant at Marketing Breakthroughs, has owned her own business for 23 years. Among her many achievements, she has carried out over 100 projects in 25 different sectors, designing a marketing formula soon to be launched online and releasing her practical marketing guide for entrepreneurs as a free download at www.marbreak.com.

She believes the ‘glass ceiling’ that held women back in the past is disappearing. “Within major corporates, gender mainstreaming is starting to take place but the upper echelon is still male dominated; so we find that women who are serious about business tend to start their own,” she says. For many women, family responsibilities are a major consideration, so the flexibility offered by owning a business is also a compelling reason for them to take the plunge, says Anthony.

Kathryn Main, CEO of Main Multimedia and Money Savvy Kids, believes women entrepreneurship is a hot topic across Africa: “Women are starting to take the reins in entrepreneurship. It’s a movement that is gaining momentum, possibly because we’re often forced to start our own businesses.”

Main, who launched her first business in 2010, did so for the flexibility it gave her to spend time with her children. “I may get up at four in the morning and work over weekends, but I make my own hours and I enjoy that flexibility.”

Her businesses may be very successful now, but Main says she once suffered from the same lack of confidence many other women still experience.

“For many women, fear of failure gets in the way. We’re always self-flagellating – we seem to have been conditioned to believe we don’t have the capacity to own our own businesses.  We have to learn to have faith in ourselves,” she says.

Up against the patriarchy

Dynamic and successful entrepreneur Marang Marekimane, founder of Business Process Mechanics, believes women still face challenges in business: “We are still a patriarchal society as a whole, particularly in rural areas. There are some instances where men will still see me as the ‘pretty face’ in the room and not as the brain in the room. But I’m comfortable in my experience and credentials, and I’m very unapologetic about who I am, so there’s little that can be done to deter me in business,” she says.

In addition to running her own successful business, Marekimane also offers consulting to business accelerator programmes. “I deal with a lot of women in business, and I have noticed younger entrepreneurs are coming into the market with a lot of fire; with their sense of self intact, and probably more willing to take risks than women who are older. But she believes that no matter what their age, any time is a good time for a woman to start a business.”

“>There are highs and lows in business ownership, she concedes, but nonetheless she would not want to go back to working for a large corporate. “I like to say I am unemployable now – my mindset is very different from what it was when I was an employee. Now, I have found my internal drivers and the work I do validates me. I get to change lives, and this keeps me motivated,” she says.

Starting successfully

“>Getting started in business demands careful planning and preparation, they say.

Anthony notes that early corporate experience is an excellent base on which to build your own business. “I learnt my own marketing skills within major FMCG firms before launching my own business,” she says. With a solid background in the industry and a personal dedication to ‘doing the homework’ before meeting with clients, Anthony says she has never encountered business challenges that arose as a result of her being a woman.

Marekimane also believes her early start in a corporate environment helped her build the skills she now uses as a business owner. In addition, it was crucial for her to discover what motivated her, to help her decide to make the leap to business ownership.

Main says whether you’re driven to launch a new business because of circumstances or opportunity, it’s important to plan thoroughly.

“I planned and prepared for two years before actually leaving my full-time job and going on my own,” she says. She also recommends having 3 to 6 months’ salary saved, to cover costs while the business is finding its feet.

“My personal business ‘power secrets’ are networking and ongoing learning,” she says.

“I go to all the business events and accelerator programmes I can, and I am continually educating myself. Events such as the Small Business Expo, with networking opportunities and free workshops are a must for business owners, because you have to stay on top of trends and network every chance you get.”

“Passion sells and runs your business,” adds entrepreneur and MD of Reed Exhibitions Carol Weaving. “We’ve seen this time and again among the thousands of businesses that have participated in exhibition and its workshops over the years.”

The Small Business Expo and co-located #BuyaBusiness Expo will be held at the Ticketpro Dome in Northriding from 31 August to 2 September, when up to 10,000 entrepreneurs will network and learn from business experts in 90 presentations over three days.

The event, the premier hub for small business development presented by Reed Exhibitions in partnership with Eskom, showcasing 190 small businesses, business opportunities and service providers, as well as training and insight for South Africa’s small businesses and would-be entrepreneurs.


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Use The December Shutdown Period To Do Just That: Shut Down

by Greg Morris, CEO, Sebata Holdings

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Most businesses – retail and entertainment excluded – resemble ghost towns during the first and last weeks of the year. Energy levels are low in December, and employees daydream about cocktails on the beach. Come January, it takes a few days to get back into the swing of things. Before we know it, South Africa takes another extended holiday in April.

We’re accused of having a “holiday culture” in South Africa. That’s a fair comment. We get 12 public holidays a year, which is more than most countries. And many people use their annual leave strategically in April and December to maximise their time off. As a result, we only really work for 10 months of the year, while other countries work for 11 months.

There’s no doubt that public holidays affect the economy. One extra public holiday in 2011 resulted in an estimated R7 billion loss in turnover. But there’s also a lot to be said for taking time off. And when we know the holidays are coming, we can prepare for them, so employees make the most of their downtime and start the new year on a strong footing.

Burnout is not good for business…

Productivity and motivation are like fuel tanks. While driving, the fuel dries up. At some point, we need to fill up, otherwise we’ll break down. People are the same; we can’t run on empty. Weekends are one thing, but in our culture of always-connected busyness, we don’t get a chance to recharge over weekends. That’s why we need the longer break in December.

A Pulse Institute study found that, when employees are not rested, they experience:

  • 23% reduced concentration
  • 18% reduced memory function
  • 9% increased difficulty in performing tasks

Fatigue-related productivity losses amount to R26,000 per employee per year. Sleeplessness can also result in mistakes and increased absenteeism, accidents, or injury.

Well-rested employees, however, are happier and more creative, engaged, and productive. They get more done in less time than their sleep-deprived, low-energy colleagues.

Related: Year-End Doesn’t Have To Be A Pain For Your Business

… but if you’re going to burn the midnight oil…

Businesses often think of December as a slow period that will harm the bottom line. Yes, it can be disruptive and there will be financial impacts. But if you’re going to keep the doors open til the end, this is the perfect time for internal housekeeping. Even the most efficient and streamlined businesses can improve some internal projects or processes.

Allow teams to be inwardly focused during this time, so that you start the new year with less to worry about. Whether that’s planning for 2019, reflecting on what worked and what didn’t in 2018, cleaning up databases, servicing air cons and office machines, connecting with customers over coffee, updating your website, or creating new marketing campaigns, employees can achieve a lot when they’re not focused on the day-to-day grind.

Our best ideas come to us when we’re relaxed and not thinking about them. (If you’ve ever scrawled on the steamed-up shower door, you’ve experienced downtime creativity.)

Make the most of skeleton staff time in December. Host fun creativity sessions that have nothing to do with work. Pay for your people to complete short online courses that will give them skills and motivation boosts. When they do go on holiday, perhaps their new knowledge will result in a major ‘a-ha moment’ around the family braai.

Gone fishing

My best advice for businesses that are shutting down in a few weeks is this: shut down. Since the business is not generating income, everything that’s left running – that one employee watching the phone that never rings; that one light left on – hurts the bottom line.

Encourage teams to disconnect. Don’t expect them to answer mails and don’t contact them about work while they’re on holiday – unless it’s an emergency. Block access to mails if you have to, Volkswagen style. Give your people time to think, reflect, and sleep.

When we respect employees’ time and give them freedom to work when they’re most productive, we develop motivated, positive workforces who are enthusiastic about achieving the business’s goals. They work harder to get the job done and, in our experience, actually finish projects ahead of deadline because they want to be able to switch off and go fishing.

Related: Year-End Reviews Are Not Always A Positive Experience

Power down

Downtime is often seen as wasted time. We don’t take breaks, we eat lunch at our desks, and we work when we’re sick and should be at home. But working longer hours doesn’t mean that we’ll get more done. In fact, it can be enormously counter-productive.

Neuroscientist David Levitin cautions against the “false break”, when we feel guilty for taking time off and compulsively check emails. Napping, daydreaming, and “taking true vacations without work”, he says, is biologically restorative and essential for rebooting cognitive energy. So, if you’re going to shut down, do it properly. The same business challenges will be there when you get back. But you could solve some of them while you’re sleeping.

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Seasonal SMEs: Don’t Spend Your Extra Cash All At Once

Save a portion of festive season profits for an emergency fund.

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The festive season is a time when many seasonal small and medium enterprises (SMEs) reap the rewards of increased consumer spending, such as additional sales and accommodation bookings from the influx of holiday makers and festive season shoppers. This spike in earnings offers the ideal opportunity for these businesses to save some of the extra money that they make for an emergency fund.

This is according to Jeremy Lang, regional general manager at Business Partners Limited (BUSINESS/PARTNERS), who says that a major risk faced by many businesses is their vulnerability to an unexpected financially-draining mishap such as a big client loss, a lawsuit, or any accident that is not covered by insurance.

“Despite this, few SME owners have an emergency fund in place to deal with such unforeseen events,” he says.

“This is understandable since a growing business tends to require a lot of cash to move forward. Another likely reason for this is because most SME owners are more focused on the immediate practicalities of building their business, rather than on vague risk assessments and planning. By nature, entrepreneurs also tend to be chronically optimistic about the future good luck of their business,” adds Lang.

“However, considering South Africa’s underperforming economy and rising consumer price inflation, it is essential that all SME owners save for a rainy day. Those that have boosted seasonal business have an advantage and should capitalise on this by putting aside a portion of their seasonal profits,” he explains.

Related: 5 Small Business Money-Saving Myths

When saving towards an emergency fund, it is key to set a goal, Lang points out. “A good rule of thumb is to have three to six months’ worth of overheads set aside, but even just one month’s expenses are better than nothing.”

The next step is to decide what constitutes an emergency, he says. “If an emergency fund can be dipped into every time you want to avoid an awkward phone call to the landlord to say that the rent will be slightly late this month, it won’t last long. A true emergency is one that threatens the survival of the business.”

With this in mind, thinking through and writing down a list of possible emergencies that would justify the use of the fund is a good risk-assessment exercise for any business, suggests Lang.

Finally, some thought needs to be given to where an emergency fund should be kept, he says.

“Gambling with the money on the stock exchange defeats the purpose. A money-market account is a better option, but it may be worth considering an account where the funds aren’t too easily accessible, so there’s no temptation to dip into it on a whim. On the other hand, it should not be so inaccessible that you cannot access it fairly soon when an emergency does strike.”

As such, Lang recommends a set of notice deposit accounts with varying notice periods so that a limited amount can be accessed immediately, and some a little later, which allows for some interest to accrue while the money, hopefully, will not be used any time soon.

“However, ultimately the will on the part of the business owner to attain these savings is critically important. The cash demands in a business are so constant that any vague or half-hearted attempt to establish an emergency fund will fail. It will have to be a conscious and disciplined effort by the business owner,” Lang concludes.

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Documentary Filmmaking As A Career Is On The Up In South Africa

The Wavescape Surf and Ocean Festival will offer a free Filmmakers’ Masterclass this Wednesday, 5 December to boost several initiatives to position Cape Town as a key film destination and location.

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Wavescape Filmmakers Masterclass

  • Date: 5th December 2018
  • Time:  6:00pm for 6:30pm
  • Venue: Invest SA One Stop Shop, Western Cape
  • Address: Cape Sun Corner, 46 St. George’s Mall, Cape Town
  • Parking: Picbel Parkade, 58 Strand Street, Cape Town Centre (For own account)

The Masterclass, which is presented by Wesgro and aimed at aspiring filmmakers, producers, film students and those in the film industry, will focus on what it takes secure funding, produce and distribute a documentary film.

The documentary genre has seen a resurgence in popularity, owing in part to increased accessibility via the growth of Video On Demand platforms like Netflix, and an audience response to ‘Block-buster fatigue’ which has seen renewed interest in the documentary format and meaningful stories that reflect the nature and reality of our present lives.

The recent launch of F/LM Cape Town – a joint initiative between the City of Cape Town and the local film industry to promote the City’s amazing locations, diverse talent and world-class infrastructure – solidifies Cape Town as a world-class centre for filmmaking.

Besides its raw natural beauty, the city is rich in culture, diversity and heritage, which offers filmmakers an abundance of content. Curator of the Wavescape Masterclass Christopher Mason, who is co-director of Mason Brothers’ Films, said that you were halfway there if you had a good concept: “These days anyone with a unique idea, a DSLR camera and a laptop, and enough desire can be a filmmaker. The trick, of course, is understanding how to get your foot in the door in a very competitive industry.”

“What makes a good documentary and how does one become a good documentary filmmaker? How has the genre evolved and what are the possibilities for young South Africans interested in the genre? The Masterclass aims to give aspiring filmmakers the answers to these and other questions,” Mason said.

Related: How Netflix Is Now Disrupting The Film Industry By Embracing Short-Term Chaos

From developing a good idea into an award-winning film; to funding and distribution models; and case studies on the best this genre has to offer, this year’s masterclass aims to provide filmmakers with an immersive roadmap to success.

Steve Pike, co-founder of the Wavescape Surf and Ocean Festival said that the platform laid by F/LM Cape Town and initiatives such as the Wavescape Masterclass could help boost the already booming film industry, and thus reduce the 27.5% of South Africans who remain unemployed. The Wavescape festival, and in particular the Masterclass spoke directly to the F/LM initiative, Pike said.

“Cape Town has it all: Amazing scenery and epic locations for adventure sport. Our festival is a key platform to showcase Cape Town as the Adventure Capital of the World while also celebrating the wild ocean and raw beauty around us.”

The CEO of Wesgro, Tim Harris, said that in the 2017/18 financial year, Wesgro’s Film and Media Promotion Unit “managed to secure nine declarations to creating 2,499 full time equivalent jobs – this shows the potential for job creation in this sector”.

“There are many job opportunities in the film and media industry due to the breadth and depth of skills required across the value chain of this fourth industrial revolutionary industry,” he said, also highlighting massive potential for the cutting edge gaming industry.

Several top speakers will talk at the Masterclass, including Jolynn Minnaar, an acclaimed documentary director; Cliff Bestall, who made16th Man for ESPN 30 for 30 (produced by Morgan Freeman); Karen Slater, a Director / DOP in Sisters of the Wilderness that is eligible for an Oscar;  Khalid Shamis, editor of Strike A Rock; Liezel Vermeulen, producer and film finance expert; Izzette Mostert from the Documentary Filmmakers Association; and Monica Rorvik, Head of Wesgro Film and Media Promotion Unit.

Parking at Picbel Parkade, 58 Strand Street, Cape Town (For own account), refreshments will be served.

Please visit http://www.wavescapefestival.com/wesgro-blue-ocean-master-class/ for more information.

Related: How to Bootstrap a Movie: Seven Entrepreneurs; 11 Days; R10 000… And a Whole Lot of Passion

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