South Africa needs more small businesses to boost employment

 

South Africa is home to a worryingly low number of established small businesses and young people are urged to become entrepreneurs.

The most recent Global Entrepreneurship Monitor revealed the established business rate in Sub Saharan Africa is high at 13%, but South Africa trailed behind at 2.9%.

“This is extremely low as it is these businesses that provide employment,” said Dr Mike Herrington, co-author of the GEM for South Africa and founder of the UCT Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, at the publication’s launch at UCT last year. The figure has increased from 1.3% in 2005.

Herrington raised concerns about the number of established small businesses which had closed. The report found more established businesses were closing than were starting.

Reasons for closing businesses included: that the business was no longer profitable, the entrepreneur had problems getting finance, and various personal reasons.

 

Make your own opportunities

 

Young people were urged at the launch to create their own entrepreneurial opportunities.

“We need to let young people know that there are options out there,” said Jacqui Kew, the co-author of GEM’s South Africa report and senior lecturer in UCT’s Department of Accounting.

The report indicated that 25 percent of young South Africans, aged between 18 and 34, believed they had the skills and knowledge to start a business.

 

Tax relief for small businesses

 

Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene this week announced tax relief for small start-up ventures. This was seen as a positive move which will likely encourage more young people to open their own businesses.

Lizette Wiese and Thandi Sobhuza, assistant managers for tax at EY, told Fin24 that micro businesses with turnovers of less than R335 000 a year will not have to pay tax.

This threshold increased from R150 000 last year. In addition, the tax payable on turnover generated between R750 001 and R1 000 000 was reduced from R15 500 plus 6% to R6 550 plus 3%.

“This will provide relief to start-up entities and thus, in our view, will encourage more entrepreneurs to enter into business ventures,” they said.

 

Start a business
Now is the perfect time to start your own small business. That idea that keeps popping into your head – do something about it. Don’t hesitate. Make a decision about what you’ll need to get your business off the ground, apply for asset finance and get started. It is up to you to create opportunities for yourself, because no one else is going to help you get where you need to be.

Technology changing fleet management

 

Technology is changing the face of fleet management industry with new tools saving companies money on fuel and maintenance.

 

A pilot project has been underway in Washington DC on government vehicles. The system used can tell when drivers are showing bad driving behaviours – breaking hard, speeding and accelerating quickly.

A report on the project said: “Drivers went 5 miles per hour over the posted speed limit 5 000 times each month and went 10 miles per hour or more over the posted speed limit 2 000 times per month”.

“By applying these numbers to the state’s entire set of vehicles and drivers it is apparent that the state has a significant amount of potential liability in the driver’s behavior as well as a real opportunity to save on fuel,” the report said.

“With an active program of transparency, coaching and formal development of telematics data into a vehicle use policy we often see these drop by 90 percent or more for our customers.”

In Canada, a panel discussion was recently held where new technologies in fleet management were discussed.

“In this industry it’s not all about the shiny new piece of tin, it’s about what technology can really drive to your business metrics,” Mike Ham, the vice-president of Canadian sales with Fleet Complete, said at the discussion.

“Technology is an enabler. Technology provides information, data, details, metrics and it provides you information on how you actually run your company.”

New technologies are available which tell the driver about their bad habits as they happen rather than later.

In addition to saving on fuel and maintenance costs, these technologies make driving safer for drivers and others on the road, lowering the risk of accident liabilities.

The added bonus of improved technology in your fleet’s vehicles is less paperwork and improved time management.

“The technology validates when drivers stop and when drivers start,” explained Ham. “We all know that without technology we’re filling out pieces of paper, we’re doing time clocks…and we’re finding that there was anywhere between 30, and an hour to an hour-and-a-half per day, per driver that could be turned into powerful utilization and productivity.”

With all of these innovations being added the to fleet management sector, the only question is when your business will join the technological revolution.

What gives the first impression of your business?

finance

What is the first impression people have of your business? The first contact a potential client has with your brand could be a radio spot, a social media channel or your receptionist’s telephone etiquette. But we could say that it is your reception area that often gives the first solid impression of your business.

How do you use this to your advantage?

Communicate your brand

It’s not just about putting across a good impression. You also want the right impression to come across. If you are a quirky brand that prioritises creativity, you want your reception area to impart that idea. As soon as a potential client steps through the door they should realise this is a place where innovation happens. In other words, classic designs and cookie cutter decal wouldn’t give the right impression of your brand in that instance.

“Your store is an important advertising tool. It is so important that its elements, from signage to shopfitting, communicate your brand message,” says Eben Human from Assignment 3, a leading signage and printing company in South Africa. They work closely with advertising and branding agencies and directly with business owners to determine the right look and feel for their stores. Not sure what your brand image is? Then your first job should be to pinpoint and define your brand.

Be hospitable

If someone walks in but has to wait for whatever reason, make sure that their time is spent as comfortably as possible. Have reading material on offer that suits the setting. For instance, customers waiting to have their hair cut will probably appreciate hair or lifestyle magazines. If you have a consultation firm, on the other hand, you could provide trade publications relevant to your industry.

Have the right host

People underestimate the role of the receptionist or secretary in creating a good first impression. Remember that in many situations he or she will be the first human point of contact someone has with your business. If your receptionist is slouched at the desk, impolite and unprofessionally dressed, that is the impression received of your entire operation. Make sure you have the right receptionist representing your business.

Provide atmosphere

When walking into your reception area, what kind of atmosphere greets your customer? Does it give off a calm and relaxed feel or an energetic one? Either could be appropriate, as long as it ties into your overall brand as mentioned above. You could imagine an advertising agency having an upbeat atmosphere with a lot of hustle and bustle, but you would prefer tranquillity in a dentist’s office.

If the atmosphere isn’t what you would want it to be there are ways to remedy this, such as with background music or decal. If you’re really serious you might even want to change your office layout. This is where having the help of professional shopfitters will help you, like Assignment 3 in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression so make sure you get it right the first time. That could be the difference you need to get referrals and repeat business.

 

Should we lend to a friend?

We all want our friends to be happy and, by virtue of them being friends, we would do almost anything to help them be happy. We’ve all chipped in to help when a friend needed a quick buck here and there, but what happens when a friend needs a significant amount we have access to? What happens when become a bank to them? Should we let that happen?

Money Crashers quotes Shakespeare to answer this question:

“Polonius [from Hamlet] answers that in his next line: ‘For loan oft loses both itself and friend.’ Polonius knew that a loan to a friend or family member often results in the loss of both the money and the relationship.”

The article highlights that one of the issues is a refusal to put in place boundaries and details about how the loan will work.

“Loans to family and friends tend to be open-ended. The parties don’t reach an agreement for a timeline for repayments, and don’t include interest on the loan. Lenders don’t know when their money will be returned, and borrowers don’t know when to repay the loans.”

This is then compounded by figuring out how to ask for your money back, putting strain on an otherwise good friendship or relationship. It can create tension at events which should be merely social.

Of course a consistent and outright refusal to lend money can itself be detrimental to a relationship.

Lifehacker highlights: “You never know when you may be on the other end of the spectrum, and when a friend is in need, you want to reach out and help them the best way you can.” We don’t want to say no, when we have the means to help a friend – after all, part of friendship is helping one another.

There’s also nothing stopping us from asking our friend why they don’t consider options from neutral parties – after all, they’d be taken money away from you.

Have they tried for a business loan or maybe a personal loan? Finance plans vary and one can be found that can help cater to your needs. What exactly is the money for? For example, if it’s for a business equipment to upgrade the business itself? You can get asset finance for that. Consolidation loans can be used to sort out other loans.

While going to a friend might seem like an easy solution, it doesn’t mean there aren’t caveats or repercussions: it’s not without consequences.

We should be careful about lending – or borrowing – money, but that doesn’t mean we should never help friends. Only that we should be strict about parameters, like interest or payback timeline.

 

Car of the year: Which will it be?

In just a few weeks, the Car Of The Year 2015 winner will be announced. Excitement is mounting as the car industry wonders which of the finalists will be awarded the honour.

The winner is to announced at a gala banquet on March 18, hosted by Wesbank.

 

Last year’s winning car was the Porsche Cayman S. It was said to reflect value for money, safety, dynamics, technology, aesthetics, innovation and ingenuity, and evoke automotive passion and excitement.

 

Of all the available cars for sale in South Africa, 11 cars have been shortlisted as the finalists. The 11 cars were announced last year after a vote by a 29-member jury from the South African Guild of Motoring Journalists (SAGMJ), of an original list of 40 Semi-finalists.

The finalists are:

  • Audi A3 Sedan 1.4T Se S Tronic
  • Bmw M4 Coupe Auto
  • CitroëN C4 Picasso E-Hdi 115 Intensive
  • Honda Accord 3.5 V6 Exclusive
  • Lexus Es 250 Ex
  • Mercedes Benz C-Class C 200 Auto
  • Nissan Qashqai 1.6Dci Acenta Auto
  • Porsche Macan S Diesel
  • Renault Duster 1.5Dci Dynamique 4Wd
  • Subaru Wrx Premium
  • Toyota Corolla 1.4 D-4D Prestige

 

Writing for Business Day, motoring journalist and jury member Lerato Matebese says members of the jury will have their work cut out for them.

 

“To clarify how the dynamics of the competition work, the vehicles assembled here are not pitted against each other, but rather others within their segments. For instance, the Toyota Corolla will be compared to the Ford Focus sedan, Kia Cerato sedan and the Hyundai Elantra, to name a few, while the Mercedes C-Class will duke it out with the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and even the Infiniti Q50.”

 

He stresses the importance of jury member having driven as many of the vehicles as possible in order to make informed decisions about each vehicle.

 

“Porsche with its Macan will undoubtedly be the topic of much discussion as to whether it will treble the company’s success in the competition, following in the tracks of the 2013 and 2014 winners in the form of the Boxster and Cayman respectively. That said, many of the models here are class acts and it will be interesting to see which ones stand out when each one is put through its paces.”

 

Rev your engines, petrol heads, in just a few short weeks we’ll know which is the best.

Loadshedding and security

Loadshedding has taken a significant toll on South Africans, since Eskom started implementing it in a bid to combat problems the power distributor is facing. Loadshedding was done, writes Bill Corcoran, “to reduce the pressure on the national power grid so that essential maintenance can be carried out on its aging power generators.” There has been numerous unfortunate effects, including to the economy and health.

But another area has been security. HRFuture writes:

“Eskom’s load shedding is enabling thieves to have a field day in businesses – with business and store employees stealing the most by far – a whopping 48%. Some estimate losses to be closer to 75% of sales.”

IOL reports on a major response from big players in South Africa’s security industry.

“In a letter to Eskom, the SA Intruder Detection Services Association said load shedding was creating “a major security risk”.

And Institute for Security Studies senior researcher Johan Burger said recent cases indicated that criminals knew load-shedding schedules. He predicted an increase in crime when the power was off.

Lionel Strong, an executive member of the Security Association of SA, said: “Many of our members are reporting more robberies during power cuts than before. Criminals are targeting vulnerable areas hit by power cuts.”

It’s no wonder that security jobs in Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg and other major centres are now needing to be filled more than ever. ADT also offers tips in terms of responses to security, during loadshedding.

They note that alarms operate on batteries and, if it’s more than a year old, it could be time to have the alarm or batteries replaced. Without it, you are left vulnerable and without assistance from your security operator. This is related to electric-fencing: you want your security perimeter to still be activated, even – or, rather, especially – when the power goes down. Find a way to have it operate to switch to battery when the power goes down.

Entering and exiting your home is also a tense moment of vulnerability, as intruders can use shadows of the street to enter your home. Make sure you are ultra aware and move slowly, checking that everything is locked up.

Also, it’s advisable to keep several flashlights at different parts of the house – as well as knowing locations of candles and lighters.

Though some of these are merely enhancements on what we should be doing anyway – being careful when we exit, checking up on our alarm system, etc. – some are unique kinds of measures, such as using flashlights. Nonetheless, they remain essential while we face an extended period of time in darkness – especially when criminals are using this opportunity to do more crime.

The 5 things to look at in a used car (besides the price)

Looking to buy a second hand car? A previously owned car could be a great deal, being much more affordable than a new model but still in good working condition. Or it could be a serious disappointment. To avoid the latter don’t just look at the asking price. Here are the five things you should be looking at in a used car.

  1. The condition

Of course the first thing you would naturally look at is the condition of the motor vehicle. This includes the condition of the body work, interior, boot and seats. If you notice something needs to be replaced or repaired you can either ask the seller to remedy it before the sale, request a reduction in price or simply not purchase the vehicle.

Bear in mind though that a minor thing like a tear in the interior isn’t such a big deal, but if the overall condition is bad then it is a sign the vehicle wasn’t looked after properly. No matter how good the asking price is then it could lead to disappointment.

  1. The service and repair history

It is very, very important when considering used cars for sale that you see the service and repair history of a car before you agree to buy it. If it isn’t offered to you, then you must request to see it. The condition of a car might look near-perfect from the outset, but a good paint job could be covering all sorts of issues. For instance, if the vehicle had previously been in a major collision, even after repaired it could still give recurring problems.

You also want to make sure that the vehicle has been regularly taken in for a service and has been well-maintained all along.

  1. How it feels

Besides what you see with your eyes, you also have to think about how the vehicle feels while driving. Take the car for a test drive so you can hear the motor, feel the brakes and ensure that the car is fully functioning. If you aren’t clued up on vehicles, have your local mechanic or a friend come with to give their opinion.

  1. The make and model

The simple fact of the matter is that not all cars are created equally. Some makes and models have a better reputation than others. This could be due to just to the popularity of a brand, but often times it is also because a certain make and model has proven itself to be a good option as a second hand car. This will require you to do a little research on your own. For instance, you can start by reading up on consumer reports.

  1. Paperwork

Once you have a car in mind that has scored well in all the above mentioned points, the next thing to look at is the paperwork to make sure you aren’t being taken for a ride. This is more relevant if you are buying from a private seller than if you are buying from an established car dealer though. Buying from a dealer comes with a certain amount of safety, but in a private situation you have to be extra careful of fraud. Paperwork includes things like making sure the vehicle is not stolen and that it is in fact fully paid off (otherwise you would have to continue the payments yourself!).

If you make sure the above five elements are in place and you do your homework, put in the time and research and consult experts, you can be quite sure that you will end up with a second hand car you can be very happy with for years to come.

 

 

 

How to spot a dodgy auction

We all want to spend our money as wisely as possible, in an effort to retain as much as possible without spending frivolously. It might be strange then to see that auctions are so popular they’ve become digitised on spaces like eBay.

The advantages to a seller are obvious: You can probably get a better deal, if your item is worth it, since people will be fighting one another with increasingly higher amounts. You also get to thoroughly show off why an item is worth a high amount, since you’re not frozen to a static page.

As one house seller indicated to Domain:

”Some people might sell by private treaty only after an unsuccessful auction but that doesn’t send out a good message… I go to private treaty first. But if the market improves and there are more buyers, then I’ll go back to auctions.”

Of course, as a buyer there are obvious worries. Whether you’re looking at houses or cars on auction, you need to spot details which could reveal that what you’re looking at, really is too good to be true.

Consider the fact that, in 2008, eBay was fined €38.6 million by a French court for selling fake goods on its site. That’s a lot of money, but it also means it’s a very big problem. But, eBay can do what it can to curb scams but it’s still up to us to be aware of what’s happening.

The Telegraph has several suggestions to help combat this.

First, they suggest you acquire the purchase in person. Anyone can fake pictures of a product, without you actually seeing the product in person. Another important sign is to gauge a seller’s reaction to questions.

“Reputable sellers will be only too happy to answer questions you might have about a product, be it more detailed photos, proof of provenance, or more information about the condition and quality of the item. Any reluctance to provide this information should set alarm bells ringing in buyers’ minds.”

It’s also in your interest to assume items are stolen or fake until proven otherwise, rather than holding the opposite view. We must remember sellers aren’t a charity, they’re a business looking for a profit.

“Sellers are running businesses, not charities, so heavily discounted goods that normally retail for a far higher price should be treated with suspicion and assumed to be counterfeit, unless the seller can provide compelling and irrefutable evidence to the contrary.”

And, of course, one of the best ways is to examine what other buyers have said about the seller. Consistently positive reviews and feeback is an excellent sign this is a seller worth giving your money too, if they’ve passed all the other tests.

Consider these and other care-taking tips before digging into your wallet for what might be a big mistake.

 

How building design influences behaviour

The idea that we are influenced by various things outside of our control is quite terrifying: knowing that what you think, what you do, what you believe can change or be established through factors you have no influence on makes you feel helpless. Yet, being made aware of what some of those factors are, and how they work, not only makes it easier for us to have control over, but also furthers our understanding of our thinking in general.

One key way is to examine what buildings do in terms of our actions.

This might seem outlandish, until you think of a minor example: If you need to get to a floor in a building, but the building has no lift, you will no doubt use the stairs. This seems obvious. And that obvious nature of that decision shows that a building’s design has directly influenced your decision and action.

There’s little doubt among researchers that environment influences behaviour. Jan Golembiewski notes that: “In 2008, researchers in the UK found that a ten-minute walk down a South London main street increased psychotic symptoms significantly.”

Scientific American discusses this same rise in research focusing on design’s influence.

“behavioral scien­­tists are giving these hunches an empirical basis. They are unearthing tantalizing clues about how to design spaces that promote creativity, keep students focused and alert, and lead to relaxation and social intimacy.”

There are all sorts of obvious examples of such reactions and behaviours. For example, everyone stops for boom gates; we all stay away from No Entry signs; it makes no sense to think we are not influenced by designs when everyday we demonstrate examples of just this fact.

A wildly known area where this is utilised is in shopping malls and shops in general. The Association for Consumer Research notes research on this topic.

“Store environment also influences various stages of shoppers’ cognitive process inside a store, including attention, perception, categorization and information processing. For example, it has been shown that perceived waiting time varies with the valence of music and consumers’ categorization of a restaurant as a fast food outlet depends largely on the external appearance of the store … The influence of store environment on these cognitive stages would subsequently affect evaluations of the store, its merchandise and service, and hence on the shopping behaviors or outcomes … Furthermore, store environment may influence these evaluations directly by providing consumers with a peripheral cue or a tangible evidence for assessing the service and merchandise quality of a store, or by transfer of meanings from the environment…”

There’s no reason to think such extensive influence only affects shoppers and only in shopping. If it happens there, it happens everywhere.

 

 

 

Cars of the rich and famous

 

Lifestyles of the rich and famous, oh, how we envy you. We love to see what celebrities are wearing, who they’re dating and where they go on holiday. We also want to know what cars they’re driving in the hope we can one day be like them and drive something similar. We’ve rounded up the cars driven by the local rich and famous.

 

Rapper Cassper Nyovest, well known for last year’s hit Doc Shebeleza, drives a BMW 4 Series. These normally sell for upwards of R500 000.

 

BMWs are popular among this crowd of local stars. Kwaito singer Chomee was lucky enough to receive a black BMW for a recent birthday.

 

Dance choreographer and brand new Idols SA judge Somizi Mhlongo can be spotted cruising around town in a hot red BMW convertible.

 

TV presenter, actress and model Boitumelo “Boity” Thulo was the very lucky recipient of a Jeep Cherokee – which sells for between  R500 000 and R600 000 – recently. She has also been spotted on a reality TV show tooling around in her Citroen DS3. These usually retail for between R200 000 and R300 000.

 

Award winning DJ and record producer, DJ Black Coffee was seen with a Bentley, which sells for more than R3 million. He also has a Mercedes Benz G wagon in his collection of cars.

 

Another local celeb who drives a Mercedes is TV and radio personality Minnie Dlamini. She drives a CLS 500 adorned with the personalised number plate, Minnie 23.

 

Yet another famous face spotted in a Mercedes is soul singer Thandiswa Mazwai who showed off her Mercedes Benz C Class not too long ago.

 

Bonang Matheba showed off her black Range Rover when she uploaded an image to her Instagram account. Queen B said she was pictured with her ride for a photo shoot.

 

DJ, music producer and radio presenter Themba Mbongeni Nkosi, better known as Euphonik, showed off a new toy on Instagram – a Rolls Royce Phantom.
You and I won’t be able to buy these cars and drive them off the showroom floor. But perhaps we could get lucky and find one hidden among other used cars for sale.