Every Small & Medium Business should be aiming to have some savings in the bank as a buffer for difficult months when sales are slow or debtors miss payments. If your business has some cash in reserve, you’ll be able to fund your growth in the future, avoid taking loans at punitive interest rates and meet your creditors’ payment deadlines.
Today is World Savings Day, an event created to increase the public’s awareness of the importance of savings for modern economies.
Anton van Heerden, Executive Vice-President, Africa & Middle East at Sage gives you a few ideas about how you can shave down some costs to create savings that you can bank for that rainy day:
Too much cash is just as bad as too little
As an entrepreneur you’ll hear a number of opinions about how much cash you should have on hand — for example, many people will advise you to have enough to cover six months of operating expenses. But this will vary between businesses, according to their cash flow, maturity, burn rate and other factors. If you are not a financial person, ask an accountant for advice.
Bear in mind that in an ideal world you want to strike a balance between the risk of running out of cash and the danger of having too much dormant cash in your bank account.
With today’s relatively low interest rates, it might be better to invest excessive money in productive capacity for your business or to pay it out to shareholders and owners than to leave it lying in your bank account unless of course, you have a financial advisor that handles the business’s money.
Having excess money and no plan for it can lead to unnecessary spending which can be dangerous especially if your business has just started out and the future of the business is still uncertain.
Use free and affordable cloud applications
Rather than spending your cash on servers and expensive software licences, rather sign up for online software subscriptions. Companies such as Microsoft and Google offer affordable, cloud-based email and productivity software, allowing you to pay a modest subscription rather than paying upfront.
In some cases, you might want to make do with free options such as Dropbox or Google Drive until you have enough savings to invest in long term software.
Embrace the gig economy
One of the biggest costs and risks for small businesses is absorbing too many employees too early. Today, you can source reliable freelancers for many of the tasks you need to do in your business – saving you money because you can tap the skills you need on demand. Why not hire freelance marketing consultants, graphic designers, digital marketers or writers when you need them rather than a full-time marketing manager?
Ask your friends to help if they have the skills — they might be more willing to do barter deals or agree to flexible payment terms compared to strangers. For example, if you run a restaurant, you could host your lawyer friend’s year-end partner in exchange for some informal legal advice.
Another way to ensure your business stays afloat without hiring someone is to outsource your daily tasks such as HR and payroll – this will allow for the smooth running of your business while getting the daily admin done with ease.
Ditch the plush offices
If you’re running a smaller business and have only one or two employees, have a good look at your office costs. Is it really worth having an expensive base in the CBD if you and your team spend most of your time at client sites or if you do most of your work on a computer? Today’s technology makes it easy to work wherever you are, including a home office.
The future is mobile and even for us, we believe in giving business owners the power to control businesses from the palm of your hand allowing for easy access and mobile working. There are many co-location and virtual office spaces that you can use for a modest fee for the times you want the buzz of an office or need to host a meeting. The savings can amount to a hefty amount each month.
One good way to save on your salary bills is to make tactical use of interns who are fresh from school and university. They are eager to learn and to strengthen their CVs, so hiring them can be a win-win. You’re helping them earn valuable experience while reducing your business costs. Don’t expect them to work for free – pay them at least enough to cover living and working costs such as transport and accommodation.
You will need to give them plenty of support and choose carefully what you delegate to them. An intern programme can be a great way of identifying potential future hires for your business. Also, keep an eye on the Employment Tax Incentive (ETI), currently scheduled to end on 31 December 2016. If government chooses to renew it, you might benefit from tax breaks for hiring young people.
In the current state of the country, it is imperative that Small & Medium Business owners gear up for the tough times ahead. Matters affecting the nation such as an electricity crises and water restrictions will take massive strain on businesses.
Be prepared with small tasks such as keeping your data backed up, installing the latest software and investing in generators can save time and money during power outages when they happen.
Water restrictions have now become the norm and we, as a country need to accept this as a way of life. To ease the frustration and still be comfortable, some of the things that businesses can do to save water are installing water efficient fittings, detecting and fixing leaks as and when you see them.
A more affordable option to saving water is installing a greywater system to water gardens. Some of the options out there are more costly but will be worth the investment of saving over time.
Empowering Township Entrepreneurs
Big drive to bring ideas to life in the townships this Global Entrepreneurship Week.
As part of Global Entrepreneurship Week, Experian teamed up with Rhiza Babuyile and Township Fleva – two organisations responsible for supporting township communities – to assist entrepreneurs in transforming their innovative ideas into thriving businesses.
The annual event ‘Tshogo’, which took place in Tembisa yesterday (Thursday, 15 November), is the culmination of roadshows in Gauteng’s populated townships, such as Diepsloot and Orange Farm. These involved up-and-coming start-ups pitching their business ideas to a panel of experienced judges, including Simon Rudman, Social Innovation Lead at Experian SA.
Twenty winners received funding to the combined value of R280 000 to kickstart their business venture, while our others received marketing packages to equip them – and their ventures – further.
“Throughout the competition we were greatly inspired by each and every one of the entrants. There is definitely no scarcity of bright ideas,” says Rudman. “By keeping our entrepreneurs top of mind and providing continuing support, we can grow the township economy for the greater good of the country.”
Experian is pleased to support Rhiza Babuyile, by providing the JoZi Business Hub participants with career counselling as well as credit and financial education aimed at empowering and equipping entrepreneurs with the financial know-how to manage and grow their business and to make smart credit decisions.
“We believe data has the power to transform lives and societies for the better and our corporate social responsibility programmes pioneer how we use our business skills, products and services to promote financial education, financial inclusion and support small business entrepreneurs.
“These engagements also provide a great opportunity for us to include the entrepreneurs in our solution development process. Their feedback is invaluable in helping to shape products which will hopefully contribute to their success”, adds Rudman.
Global Entrepreneurship Week is a celebration of innovators and job creators who launch start-ups that bring ideas to live and drive economic growth. The JoZI Business Hub’s Tshogo roadshow could not be a better example of this in action.
Call For Applications: Young Entrepreneurs Global Exposure Trips
Closing Date: 30 November 2018
Investec CSI’s Young Entrepreneurs Programme provides South African entrepreneurs from various sectors with global exposure.
Every year Investec, in partnership with En-novate, sends a group of young entrepreneurs from various sectors to specifically selected countries in order to gain global exposure. Each itinerary provides them with opportunities to network and engage with venture capitalists, funders and captains of their specific industry. The aim is for them to gain learning and exposure to innovation, technology and process advancements. The programme also offers networking with subject and sector experts.
Applications for the Global Exposure trips are now open to ALL entrepreneurs – regardless of sector – who meet the criteria. Closing date is Friday 30 November 2018.
The programme itinerary and each trip is customised according to the profiles of the candidates, stage of business and specific sector.
By way of example, Investec recently sent 14 entrepreneurs from South Africa to Berlin to meet people doing Out of the Ordinary things in textiles: https://www.investec.com/en_za/focus/young-entrepreneurs/sa-entrepreneurs-return-inspired.html
Business Lessons From Women For Women: If You Have To Fail, Fail Forwards
Lessons from three young black South African women on how they have turned an idea into a profitable business.
Just 70 years ago, black women in SA were largely regarded as legal minors with no power to open bank accounts, lease property or conduct legal transactions without their husbands’ permission. Some remnants of this legacy remain, but, increasingly, traditional roles are being subverted and women are building businesses. However, women entrepreneurs still remain part of a small minority of thriving business success stories.
The Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs found women in early-stage entrepreneurship decreased by 15.7% in 2018 and only 18.8% of all business owners in SA are women. Suffice to say there’s more to be done, and a lot of it starts with support. When Lebogang Ndlovu, owner of Amare Beauty Hub, announced her intention to start a small business shortly after matric, her parents weren’t happy. She forged ahead despite the lack of support and tenaciously founded three different ventures, which all, unfortunately, failed. She then decided to attend consumer financial training offered by Santam through Mzansi Financial Education. From this training, she learned to ‘fail forwards’ and started her current company – a highly successful Soweto-based spa. She credits the support and mentorship she received as imperative to this success.
That says Tersia Mdunge, Santam’s Corporate Social Investment Manager, is what Santam’s Consumer Financial Education (CFE) is all about, “To grow entrepreneurship, South Africa needs to provide enabling conditions, opportunity and support. As the cornerstone of our economy, it’s pivotal we do so. At Santam, our Consumer Financial Education and Mentorship programme helps young, black entrepreneurs from previously disadvantaged backgrounds to turn their ideas into tangible businesses. We’ve assisted 1 595 individuals so far, and we’re absolutely committed to continuing to do so.”
Although Africa has the highest growth rate of female-run businesses globally, according to the World Bank, South Africa lags behind countries like Ghana.
Here, three women entrepreneurs from Johannesburg share their entrepreneurial journeys and the difference mentorship made:
1. Lebogang Ndlovu, owner: Amare Beauty Hub
Although young, Ndlovu knew she wanted to be an entrepreneur after matric. It was tough convincing her parents to get on-board. “I come from a typical black family background where the norm is to be employed and not create employment.”
After getting her parents on-side, she used the allowance they provided to start a home executive concierge service. That, unfortunately, failed, and she tried two other ventures, which also didn’t last. It was then that she decided to attend Santam’s training. She did thorough research before jumping into yet another business. She realised that, “It does not matter how many times you fail, learn from your mistakes and move along.”
Ndlovu finally found her passion in beauty. She currently runs Amare Beauty Hub in Soweto; a fully-fledged beauty and health spa that focuses on “beauty on a budget”. With her business partner, she’s already considering expanding the business into micro-franchises to empower other women who are interesting in the beauty industry.
2. Nthabeleng Nhlapho, owner: Afro Kids Salon
Before 2016, running her own business was just a dream for Nhlapho, even though she always knew that she was an entrepreneur at heart, because of her family background.
“Getting into business has always been an idea I have toyed with, and after many years of procrastination, I finally decided to take that leap of faith. My dad’s side of the family is quite entrepreneurial as a number of my brothers have started and are sustaining their own businesses. So, in a sense, I think I was born to be an entrepreneur.”
After doing research, Nhlapho saw a gap in the market for an ethnic hair salon for kids. Having a daughter with ethnic hair herself, Nhlapho says, “It became apparent that many mothers like me are uncomfortable with having to take their young daughters to adult hair salons where the environment is not conducive for little budding minds, and stylists do not have the patience with children.”
Nhlapho’s Afro Kids salon is based in Sandton. She opened her door in September 2016 soon after she attended Santam’s training sessions. She gives credit to the mentorship she received and to support from friends and family for her success.
3. Phumzile Nala, owner: Pumzi’s Pretty Petals
Phumzile Nala’s grandmother inspired her love for flowers. “My grandmother loved flowers and used to do flower arrangements at friends’ and family events, which is where I was introduced to flower arrangements.”
Nala attended the Santam CFE workshops in Vilakazi Street in April this year. Her mentor, Martine Solomon, says, “Phumzile started the training with the hope that she would go into public speaking and training and development, however, that changed when she realised her passion for flowers. Phumzile was very helpful during her time in the programme, assisted with the roll-out of the CFE programme as well as CFE training and development.”
Now, Nala is a proud owner of a beautiful flower shop in Roodepoort called Pumzi’s Pretty Petals. In just six months, the business is showing steady growth. Nala’s other mentor, businessman Donnie Koetzee, played an instrumental role in this growth, helping Nala buy stock and get through start-up hurdles. Nala says, “At the beginning, I went through a lot of teething problems and had to take credit in order to keep the shop open.”
Even though Nala cannot compete with big retailers in terms of pricing, she gives her clients a far more personalised and meaningful experience. “We take time to teach our clients about our different offerings, and that is something they will not find in bigger stores.”
Nala found her unique value proposition, which is something that all entrepreneurs need to identify in order to compete. She also gives credit to social media as she makes use of it to advertise her flowers. Her dream is to open four stores in the four major cities of South Africa.
This programme is a direct response from the Department of Treasury for financial services companies like Santam to educate their clients and prospective clients on financial knowledge.
“We went above and beyond what is required of us and turned this into a successful initiative that empowers many to fulfil their dreams. Our programme has been dedicated to empowering our people to becoming financial savvy consumers and entrepreneurs. We have also made it our mandate to focus on risk management and understanding business insurance. Many small businesses do not consider the risks that come with running a business and how they would bounce back if they would be faced by a law-suite for instance;” concluded Mdunge.
For those who would like attend Santam’s Consumer Financial Education, please look out for an invitation on Santam’s website, the requirements are that as a consumer you need earn less than R250 000 and as a business owner, your business need to have a threshold less than R10 million.
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