Some 60% of the South African labour force is currently employed by small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs). Contributing 50% of the country’s GDP, South Africa’s SME sector currently comprises some 1,5 million small, micro and medium-sized enterprises, with approximately 140 000 businesses with a turnover of more than R1 million per annum.
Despite these successful drivers, and the impact of SMEs on the growth of the South African economy, there is still an 80% failure rate among start-ups within the first two years of operation. Cash flow and access to finance, complicated regulatory challenges and restrictive labour practices are some of the factors that hamper opportunities for SMEs, and contribute to non-competitiveness.
“In a demanding economy that continues to battle unemployment, it is vital to recognise the contribution of SMEs to our economy, but also the challenges they face,” says Jannie Rossouw, head of Sanlam Business Markets.
Surviving a crisis
Regardless of what the reasons are for businesses going through hardship, turning around a declining business is challenging and complex. “It is not only external factors, but also the attributes, needs and motivation of the entrepreneur that hampers his ability to reach out in the time of a crisis,” Rossouw says.
“Business failure is a demoralising event in anyone’s life because it impacts both your professional and personal self-esteem,” But,” he says, “critical to the survival of your business, is your ability to reach out and get help – from the right source.”
Many owners of struggling businesses are often too proud to acknowledge failure, or are reluctant to invite external scrutiny into a business that has been driven by passion and personal ambition. The good news is that most businesses in distress can be saved if the necessary corrective actions are implemented within a clear and defined business turnaround plan.
“A turnaround plan identifies and corrects your business’ operational and financial challenges,” Rossouw explains. “It formulates the steps you must take to help your business survive in the short term so that you can turn it around and grow it into the future.”
In September this year Sanlam launched the Business Turnaround Book as part of the client value proposition of Cobalt Solutions for Business Owners, Sanlam’s portfolio of financial solutions for business owner.
This Business Turnaround Book has been designed as a workbook that empowers the business owner through a DIY, step-by-step process to accurately identify challenges facing his business, and implementing corrective strategies to help salvage the business.
“It is true that no independent outsider will understand your business better than yourself, but your passion for your business may leave you blind for some glaring, fundamental oversights that may be at the root of the challenge,” Rossouw says. “The processes outlined in the Turnaround book will force you to think through those critical challenges you may never have considered otherwise.”
“Most importantly, it provides useful guidelines on how to manage the stakeholders in a business in time of a crisis – from customers, suppliers, employees, banks, and creditors, to family and friends. Very few business owners realise the importance of the co-operation of these stakeholders, and the essential role they play in the success of your business turnaround,” Rossouw says.
Rossouw explains the rationale for the development of this workbook. “Most small business owners facing a business crisis are caught in a classic Catch-22 situation,” he says. “On the one hand, they require specialised business turnaround expertise to save their business. On the other hand, their financial crisis prohibits them from hiring the turnaround specialists who offer the expertise.”
He says this typically leaves the owner with one of three choices: walk away at great personal financial ruin; hope for someone to bail the business out of trouble, or simply battle on.
“Most battle on, often trying to work their way out of the crisis using the exact same strategies which led to the business’ failure in the first place. They change little or nothing about the business, hoping it will work this time – and it rarely does.
“Worse, far too many small business owners think that a cash injection is all that is needed to save any business. They plough the last of their life’s savings into the ailing business, and end up losing everything, the business included.
Rossouw says, given the challenges facing the SME market, and the current start-up failure rate in South Africa, a critical element of any business plan should be a turnaround solution. “It is important to remember that all is not lost when a business goes through a phase of hardship,” he says. “All too often business owners give up the fight too early due to the lack of turnaround know-how – the Sanlam Business Turnaround Book will empower you with both the knowledge and the courage to help steer your business back onto the growth path,” Rossouw concluded.
The Sanlam Business Turnaround Book is available to all business owners free of charge, and can be downloaded here. Please contact Sanlam at 0860100 539 for further information regarding the Business Turnaround Book.
Win 1 Of 50 Free Tickets To This Exclusive Event With Entrepreneur And Matt Brown Media
Calling start-up business owners or aspiring entrepreneurs 25 years old and under. Win a free ticket to this life-changing event with Entrepreneur Magazine, Matt Brown Media and South African entrepreneur Max Lichaba.
Are you a young, start-up or aspiring entrepreneur looking for inspiration from someone who started with nothing and built a R120 million business?
You could be one of 50 lucky, young start-ups and aspiring entrepreneurs to join Lichaba Creations, Kwa Lichaba, Lichaba Custom Rides and Lichaba Refinery owner Max Lichaba on Tuesday 20 March 2018 for an exclusive two-hour lunch and in-person interview brimming with entrepreneurial insights.
Enter to win this once in a lifetime opportunity
If you’re 25 years old and under, and looking for business advice to help you build a successful start-up, then don’t miss this opportunity to receive access to the event, which will be held at Kwa Lichaba in Soweto.
50 exclusive seats up for grabs!
Your prize will include:
1. First-hand insights from successful South African entrepreneur Max Lichaba.
2. A free Brand ID workshop with Vega on ‘How to Develop and Launch Your Brand’.
The workshop focuses on the importance of reflection and self-belief when offering your own personal brand and products to the world. You will be encouraged to explore your own values, meaning and purpose, and guided as to how to create an identity that will capture the unique individual that is “brand YOU”. The workshop will be hosted in Soweto or at Vega’s campus in Randburg, and the date is still to be determined
AS WELL AS
- FREE access to the premier Kwa Lichaba venue.
- FREE lunch included in the event.
How to enter the competition
You must be under 25 years old to enter the competition:
- Send an email to Entrepreneur Magazine at email@example.com
- Give us your full name and ID number.
- Tell us in your email why you should win a free ticket to this premier event.
What you will learn from Max Lichaba
Max finished school with a Grade 10 education, and was expected to become a miner like most of the men in his community. Instead, he focused on becoming a business owner. It’s been a long, hard road, full of challenges, but today he heads up a R120 million business. Share in his journey as Matt Brown interviews him in person, and unpacks his journey, the hardships he’s faced, and the lessons his learnt in overcoming those obstacles, including:
- Wanting more out of life than being a miner in his hometown, like his peers and seeking alternative opportunities to make money and uplift his community.
- The power of persevering even in the face of closed doors – they eventually opened up because he pushed through for long enough.
- The importance of starting, even if you start small, by initially focusing on breaking even before buying into the fancy additions to presumably make business faster and easier.
- Banking on a new business and losing it all, with the added responsibility of paying employees’ salaries and pension packages with money he didn’t have
Max will join a list of some of South Africa’s most successful billionaires, entrepreneurs and the CEOs hosted on The Matt Brown Show, on Tuesday morning. Matt’s 20 years’ experience in business strategy, technology and marketing communications and over a dozen local and international awards make this a discussion worth participating in.
Don’t miss out – enter the competition to win your ticket
- Send an email to Entrepreneur Magazine at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Give us your full name and ID number.
- Tell us why you should win a free ticket to this premier event.
Franchising Sector Ready To Lend A Hand
How business can use franchising to improve jobs and support entrepreneurship throughout South Africa.
“We are at a moment in the history of our nation when the people, through their determination, have started to turn the country around.
Now is the time to lend a hand…
Now is the time for each of us to say ‘send me’…
Now is the time for all of us to work together, in honour of Nelson Mandela, to build a new, better South Africa for all.”
Cyril Ramaphosa, SONA 2018
The Presidents commitment to small business
The SONA speech by President Cyril Ramaphosa and his commitment to supporting small business and entrepreneurship has been welcomed by Tony Da Fonseca, the Franchise Association of South Africa’s Chairman, who in 2017 had already met with the chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee for Trade & Industry to pave the way for greater co-operation between government and the franchise sector.
“We are encouraged by the President’s promise to increase co-operation with business and look at ways to encourage entrepreneurship, youth training and job creation” says Tony Da Fonseca.
“We are confident that the franchise sector can play a pivotal role through innovations like the development of social and micro franchising which hold enormous and largely untapped potential for the development of the economy and improve service delivery.”
Confirming that the growth of the economy will be sustained by small businesses, “as is the case in many countries”, President Ramaphosa confirmed that government would honour its undertaking to set aside at least 30 percent of public procurement to SMMEs, co-operatives and township and rural enterprises and would continue to invest in small business incubation. “It is our shared responsibility to grow this vital sector of the economy.”
Franchising is ready to play a larger role
As a sector that already contributes 13, 3% to the country’s GDP generating an estimated R587 billion through its 845 franchise systems, 40 528 franchisees and employing 343 319 people, franchising is perfectly poised to play an even bigger role in furthering small business development, skills transfer and job creation.
“As a successful businessman and former franchise owner himself, Cyril Ramaphosa is familiar with the far-reaching potential that franchising has in small business development, skills development and job creation, says FASA Chairman Tony Da Fonseca.
“We are hopeful that he will look to us in the franchise sector to assist in building that ‘small business support ecosystem that assists, nourishes and promotes entrepreneurs’ that he referred to in his SONA speech.”
That, together with the welcome measures by government to reduce the regulatory barriers for small business and the introduction of an innovation fund targeted at start-ups and small suppliers that could become supply chains to the franchise sector, will go a long way to opening the doors to small business expansion and the benefits to the economy that will flow from that.
The Franchise Association of South Africa (FASA) has always been a proponent of small business incubation and has, over the years, embarked on various public/private initiatives to grow the franchise sector. Their efforts have included youth cadet schemes through the Jobs Fund, developing micro businesses to become franchise-ready through the Department of Small Business Development’s Micro Franchisor Development Project and through various private initiatives with funders and franchise members.
The franchise sector to stimulate entrepreneurship and jobs
According to Tony Da Fonseca, much more can be done in the public/private development space. “The opportunities to transform government services, such as health care, water delivery, education and in many other areas, through the social franchise format, are enormous. Both locally and internationally, pilot projects in social franchising that operate on commercial principles, making enough profit to sustain operations and re-investing surplus profits into the community they serve, have proved to be viable.”
According to Tony Da Fonseca, the franchise sector is well-positioned to come together in a concerted effort to stimulate entrepreneurship and create much-needed jobs.
Franchising in South Africa currently services around 17 business sectors – way behind countries such as Australia, Europe, Canada and the USA who boast between 25 and over 70 business categories.
“The opportunities to expand into many more sectors and particularly in the social and services sectors of the economy are endless. We welcome the opportunity to work with government in creating an entrepreneurial environment that will grow investment confidence, introduce new small business concepts via the franchise system, accelerate BEE and enterprise opportunities, giving training to the youth and above all create those much needed jobs.”
Mr President, the franchising sector is ready and able to take on the opportunities for ‘renewal and revitalisation, and for progress to build the fair, just and decent society to which Nelson Mandela dedicated his life.’
How To Pick The Business Model That Works For You
So, you’ve picked your lane. You’ve decided what you want to do and why you want to do it. You’ve picked something you’re good at. You’re convinced the world needs and values it. You now need to decide how to make money. That’s where business model design comes in.
There are plenty of business model options for the same idea. For example, let’s say your idea is to offer historic tours of Cape Town. You could either do it yourself or hire professional guides to do it. Or you could use mobile technology to provide DIY walking tours. You could charge per tour or you could charge a membership fee. There are so many options. How do you pick the model that works for you?
The Lean Canvas is a great tool for entrepreneurs who are faced with this question. Adapted from The Business Model Canvas, it provides a simple, one page framework for brainstorming possible business models, prioritising where to start, and tracking ongoing learning. It walks the entrepreneur through the business model process logically and ensures the key elements of a successful business are considered.
My co-founders and I have used the Canvas extensively at Simply – for designing our business model, and for communicating it to partners and investors. The only thing you know with certainty when you start a business is that it’s not going to turn out as you expect it to. The Canvas evolves as you go – it was, and continues to be, a very useful guide in our journey.
Recognising an opportunity for disruption
We figured there was an opportunity to do something disruptive in the SA life insurance space. It was clear to us that lots of people were either not covered or getting a rough deal. Guided by the Canvas, we defined our first Customer Segment as adult South Africans, aged between 25 and 45 and earning between R5k and R30k monthly.
We then identified the 3 big Problems – specific to that segment – that needed solving:
- Most of the people in our segment have some form of funeral cover, but very few have life or disability cover.
- The cover they do have is often expensive relative to the benefits provided (i.e. a very small % of the premium goes towards the risk costs).
- There is no simple, intuitive way to buy good value life, disability and funeral cover online.
Developing a value proposition
Next came the Value Proposition. We believed we could use technology, digital marketing and human-centred product design to deliver simple, online life, disability and funeral insurance at a great price. We felt we could be for life insurance in South Africa what Takealot has been for retail.
We thought the world was moving far faster than incumbents realised; that millennials were ready to buy life insurance online; that we could build for the digital world and be in the right place at the right time.
And the rest flowed from there. I don’t have the time or the space to walk you through the other elements of the Canvas here, but you can probably fill in the blanks. Suffice to say, the process was invaluable and enabled us to build our business around a clearly considered business model. It’s early days, but the signs are good – we’re making a positive impact, having fun and keeping our investors happy.
Creating a Lean Canvas
So, how should you go about sketching your own Lean Canvas? The team at www.leanstack.com suggest the following approach:
- Sketch a canvas in one sitting. While a business plan can take weeks or months to write, your initial canvas should be sketched quickly.
- It’s okay to leave sections blank. Rather than trying to research or debate the “right” answers, put something down quickly or leave it blank and come back to it later.
- Think in the present. Business plans try too hard to predict the future which is impossible. Instead, write your canvas with a ‘getting things done’ attitude.
- Use a customer-centric approach. You may need to sketch one Canvas per customer segment. Start with the Customer Segment and go in sequence.
The Canvas has brought clarity and a common language to our business model design process. It’s enabled us to agree upon and communicate our business model effectively – both internally and externally. It’s also allowed us to tune and adjust our model as our story has unfolded – an inevitability for entrepreneurs. I highly recommend the Lean Canvas as a tool for designing your business model. Give it a try – I think you’ll like it.
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