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Reinventing Your Small Business: Digital Disruption Unleashes New Opportunities

When people talk about ‘digital disruption’, they tend to focus on disruptive opportunities for technology start-ups and the threats they pose to established banks, retailers and media companies.

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As we celebrate the annual Small Business Friday, Small & Medium Businesses should also be carefully thinking about what a wave of unprecedented technology change could mean for their companies in the years to come.

That’s according to Anton van Heerden, Executive Vice-President and Managing Director, Sage South & Southern Africa, who says that smaller businesses are as exposed to the risks and opportunities of new technology as larger companies – if not more. Savvy small business owners should thus be looking at their own markets to anticipate how technology will change their operations and the ways their customers behave in the years to come.

Van Heerden says that disruption occurs when a new player comes into an established market with an innovative way of doing things that changes the game for everyone else – usually driven by clever use of technology. For example, the entertainment industry was disrupted when music and movies turned into digital products (downloads) and then into services (streaming).

Related: Education As A Business Opportunity At SA’s Small Business And Franchise Show

“This trend has already had a major impact on many smaller businesses – for example, family-owned bookshops and video rental stores have needed to create new opportunities for themselves,” says Van Heerden.

“Overall, digital technology creates some wonderful new ways for Small & Medium Businesses to reduce costs, reach new markets and grow revenues.”

Here are some ideas about how Small & Medium Businesses can use disruptive technology:

1. Fintech revolution – new solutions for small companies

Financial technology (fintech) companies use technology to make financial services more efficient. For example, companies like Sage Pay make it easier and more affordable for Small & Medium Businesses to transact securely online. This, in turn, means that it is simpler and more convenient for small businesses to trade nationally and internationally.

2. Entrepreneurial opportunities built on other organisations’ platforms

One exciting trend is the way that companies like Uber and Airbnb help people to create new businesses opportunities for themselves, often with little investment than some of assets that they already own.

For example, you can become a driver for a ride-hailing company or rent out a spare room in your house via the Internet. If you’re pursuing another dream business idea, this can help you bring some revenues in while you are still busy building your company. It can also become a business in its own right.

The platform companies do the marketing, provide the website and transactional system, vet customers and suppliers, and connect entrepreneurs with people who need their services. The barriers to entry are quite low and the profits can be attractive.

Related: Two Things I Wish I Had Known When I Started A Small Business

3. Low-cost, high-impact technology

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Cloud (online) applications make software like accounting systems, CRM packages and payroll solutions more affordable to Small & Medium Businesses. Essentially, they turn what used to be a large upfront capital cost into a small monthly expense and give smaller businesses access to secure, world-class software.

But the cloud also makes it faster to put great technology in place for your business and gives you more flexibility to add users and functionality as your business grows.

Cloud computing allows you to work anytime and anywhere – just so long as you have an Internet connection and a device with a modern web browser. It also promotes collaboration.

4. Ways to shave expenses

In a tight economy, Small & Medium Business owners welcome any way to reduce costs without compromising on quality and service. Many technology services allow them to meet this goal.

For example, fintech can make it cheaper to take and process payments, ride-hailing services are an affordable alternative to taxis, and even accommodation sharing sites have more affordable properties that are suitable for business travel.

5. Driving down marketing budgets while keeping the personal touch

Social media and search are changing the ways that big brands do their marketing, and entrepreneurs are also starting to catch on. Twitter, Facebook, Google and other online services offer a range of affordable and even free ways to promote your goods and services. They also offer you easy-to-use analytics tools so that you can track your performance.

We’ve seen many small businesses, such as restaurants use Instagram to show their delicious dishes to potential customers. A DIY store can shoot some simple videos with a digital camera or even a smartphone to show people how to install a shelf.

The beauty of this is that you’ll get instant feedback and find new ways to create customer relationships by interacting with people online.

Related: Small Business Should Be Higher On The Local Government Election Agenda

Closing words

“In a time of seismic technological change and digital invention, our smart people are using the smartest technology to reinvent and simplify business accounting,” says Van Heerden.

“Our research teams are working on making concepts like the Internet of Things, machine learning, blockchain and data sciences into a reality for African businesses, accountants and partners.”

“Small & Medium Businesses that see these technologies as an opportunity to create new services, markets and processes will position themselves for strong growth in the future.”

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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The Start-up Hatchery And Greater Tygerberg Partnership Launch Innovative Pitch Competition For Bellville Solutions

Entrants are required to submit their ideas in a 30-second WhatsApp video to 082 936 7544 before 24 May 2018.

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The Greater Tygerberg Partnership (GTP) and start-up incubator The Startup Hatchery are launching a pitching competition to surface innovative ideas that, when implemented, could lead to the improvement of Bellville in Cape Town’s northern suburbs. The winning idea will receive a package of business incubation, mentorship, business development support, marketing and branding collateral, legal and intellectual property advice and other prizes, including R5 000 cash.

Launching on 14 May 2018, Innovate Bellville 2.0 is open to new businesses that have been operating for six months or less, who are developing new innovative ideas that could improve public transport, create jobs, create inclusive public spaces, address homelessness, improve health and wellbeing, manage waste, facilitate mobility, attract and retain investment and regenerate the Bellville urban centre.

Related: 3 Actionable Insights To Make Your Investment Pitch Perfect

Innovate Bellville 2.0 forms part of the GTP’s living lab approach to the regeneration of the Bellville CBD, says Warren Hewitt, CEO of the GTP: “We want Bellville to be a test-bed for new ideas that can help us to build a vibrant, prosperous, inclusive city region. Innovate Bellville 2.0 falls directly into that approach. We’re looking forward to seeing the ideas that emerge, and seeing the winning idea implemented in a part of our city that stands on the edge of an exciting future.”

“Innovation starts anywhere,” says Tania Cunningham, Chief Digital and Marketing Officer for The Startup Hatchery, “but we were very excited at the prospect of focusing on finding innovative ideas that could bring about real change to a defined geographical area. Innovate Bellville 2.0 will offer the winning business a solid start in life, with a chance to see their idea become a reality in Bellville.”

Entrants are required to submit their ideas in a 30-second WhatsApp video to 082 936 7544 before 24 May 2018. Twenty semi-finalists will be selected from the WhatsApp pitches, who will each receive training and a pitch deck. From that group, a group of eight finalists will then be selected and invited to pitch their ideas to judges during a pitch event on 7 June.

For more information, contact pitchtank@thestartuphatchery.co.za

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Silulo Business Incubation Is Changing The Future Of Entrepreneurs

Silulo Business Incubation is a unique incubation aimed at empowering and assisting upcoming entrepreneurs.

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Launched in April 2018, the Silulo Business Incubation is a unique incubation aimed at empowering and assisting upcoming entrepreneurs to grow not only their businesses but also their confidence in the business space. The Incubation offers office space, boardrooms, training and conference rooms as well as eighteen shared office space for entrepreneurs in and around Cape Town.

Founder and Director, Mr Luvuyo Rani says: “We have always had a vision for this type of centre – a one-stop-shop where all entrepreneurial needs are catered for but our problem was always funding. With hard-work and dedication, we were able to make our vision a reality, which is exactly what we want to teach and instil for our entrepreneurs.”

The incubation will also offer networking sessions for aspiring entrepreneurs twice a month for two hours. This idea is to offer business insights as well as networking opportunities for entrepreneurs in and around Cape Town. Entrepreneurs will have the option to become members of the SBI Network where they are able to attend networking sessions of their choice. All networking sessions will cover different topics and training manuals will be offered after each session.

Related: Silulo Ulutho Technologies: Luvuyo Rani

Rani continues:

“The main challenge when it comes to this type of business is infrastructure and funding. Silulo is a pioneer and it can go anywhere, there are no boundaries in business. This is a flagship store. We want to replicate this in every province. Silulo’s success lies in partnerships and our business has a passion for empowering.”

Rani, a former teacher, together with his brother Lonwabo Rani started selling computers from the boot of a car more than ten years ago. Silulo Technologies now has 42 branches in three provinces: the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Kwa-Zulu Natal and 22 franchise stores, some of which are owned by former Silulo employees.

Director and Co-founder, Lonwabo Rani says: “My brother always tells us to think about the bigger picture. It was that bigger picture that kept us going. Back in 2006, what you see today is exactly how it was when we envisioned it.”

About Silulo:

In 2017 Silulo reached a total of 35 000 students trained since inception. It trained 65 students through MIC SETA in both the Eastern and Western Cape.

Related: 10 Young Entrepreneurs Under 30 Share Their Start-Up Secrets

Rani and his two directors remodelled the business in 2017 by offering a walk in cellphone repair service (including the service of leading brands such as Apple, Samsung and Huawei) at one of the Silulo branches in Khayelitsha.

Rani, who was part of the Team South Africa to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland in 2018, has received numerous accolades for his social impact business.

He was also awarded a Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2016 among his many accolades.

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DJ Sbu Opens Academy To Develop Hustlers

DJ Sbu also known as Sbusiso Leope has partnered with the 3Sixty Financial Services Group (360 FSG) to positively impact thousands of young lives and families in South Africa with his own school, a learning academy. Aptly titled The Hustlers Academy.

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DJ Sbu also known as Sbusiso Leope has partnered with the 3Sixty Financial Services Group (360 FSG) to positively impact thousands of young lives and families in South Africa with his own school, a learning academy. Aptly titled The Hustlers Academy. Leope intends to develop the minds and the ability of thousands of young hustlers in the country and change lives.

The Hustlers Academy is an independent privately funded economic empowerment project spearheaded by Leope to address the overwhelming lack of jobs and incumbent graduates into the system on an annual basis. The 360 FSG is a well-established financial services company with a disruptive strategy that offers clients more benefits for their rand. The partnership represents a meeting of the minds and the hearts for the development of opportunities for young South Africans.

“We will train and educate young hustlers to either be entrepreneurs or corporate hustlers. Our training programme and academy curriculum will produce the best sales force this country has seen and develop the minds of Hustlers to understand how the world works and how to stand out. In partnership with 360 FSG we will develop entrepreneurs who start businesses and employ teams of hustlers within an 18-month period. ‘The Hustlers Academy’ will take in Hustlers for training nationally in multiple provinces providing a practical and theoretical intervention in the lives of those who are skilled and restless.” Said Leope.

Group CEO and Chairman of 360 FSG, Mr. Khandani Msibi is confident that ‘The Hustlers Academy’ will play a game-changing role in developing and changing the way corporates are structured in providing a ceiling for employees as far as earnings are concerned.

Related: 3 Start-up Funding Tips To Help Launch Your Company

“Our approach to empowerment is based on sustainability for the Hustlers who make it through the academy. We will develop people mentally as well as financially and make a serious change in their socio economic position. DJ Sbu has the potential to influence a generation and he shows this on a daily basis with his determination to succeed. We are matching his determination and passion for economic empowerment with our backing of the ‘The Hustlers Academy’project. We look forward to changing thousands of lives with a long term impact.” Said Mr. Msibi

‘The Hustlers Academy’ is active and running a pilot group of Hustlers through its programme in Johannesburg. The academy welcomes registrations on its webapp www.hustlersacademy.co.za. Starting from 1st June 2018 The Hustlers Academy will be taking in 50 – 100 hustlers per month.

Leope goes on to say. “In 2013 we started an educational company called Leadership 2020 which was designed to develop Africa’s richest asset – its people. I’m excited that we are able to realise our vision before the year 2020 with the launch of this initiative. ‘The Hustlers Academy’ will grow to add multiple courses, mentorship, and accreditations and even lead people to formal education if they so wish. This academy will make a tangible socio – economic difference in young South African lives. ‘The Hustlers Academy’ has no registration fees and requires no learning fees. It requires you, your time, your commitment and there’s #NOVILAPHING  – Lazy people will not make it.”

Registrations are online at: www.hustlersacademy.co.za

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