Tips for small business websites in Africa

Making it as a small business is hard work, regardless of where you are. But, in Africa, the stakes are somewhat higher, especially if you hope to make an impact in the digital sphere. Remarkably, Africa has become an increasingly connected region. This is not true of the entire continent of course. As the Mail and Guardian pointed out: “The level of connectivity on the continent is low and highly unequal and, while potential access through mobile-phone subscriptions are higher, as of November 2015, 71.4% of Africa’s population did not have access to the internet.” Of course, the modern business is global. Just because Africa is such a small market doesn’t mean you should only be looking at Africa. What’s made African small businesses successful has been expanding their appeal to other areas, within the African region, but also overseas. To that end, it’s important to take stock and consider what will make an African company’s website successful, especially in 2017.  

User-friendly

One of the most important properties to your website is making it easy to use. People don’t want to fuss with trying to get information or contact details for example. One of the worst things you can do is making it hard for people to find such details. As Jeff Bullas points out:

“When UsabilityTools published the results of a case study that analyzed and tested the websites of 8 universities, it became clear that the people preferred websites with clear menu labels and transparent information. We have all come across a website or blog that simply does not work, or takes forever to find the right thing, and it is honestly a hassle. This either makes us, consumers, want to quit in frustration or swear we will never come back. The official website for the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia, for example, is not user-friendly at all. That’s one of the greatest reasons for bad reviews this impressive destination gets from tourists.”

Making a website user-friendly isn’t a science, so much as art. However, experts do recommend a number of options. As indicated, you need to make your website such that people can find what they need easily. This points to making navigation an essential part of your user-friendly focus. Have easily noticeable markers, leading to relevant parts of the site. Always have your contact details or shortcuts available, so customers aren’t struggling for ways to reach you. And depending on your business, you might want to put your prices up front and easily available – allowing for listing options. For example, you can allow customers to change their listing options, so they rank from high to low in terms of prices.

Also, when customers arrive on your homepage, you should let them know about the latest deals that can benefit them.

Content

Your site needs content. This has increasingly been seen as highly essential to keep a website relevant and noticeable to Google. As SEO Site Checkup notes: “the more frequently you update your website with articles, downloads, and new web pages, the more frequently a search engine will stop by to visit your website.  When search engines look at your site more frequently, you have the opportunity to achieve higher rankings based on the content you provide.”

Creating good content requires good writing and creative thinking. Tapping into topical issues, pointing to interesting ideas and highlighting your site as a thought leader in your relevant field helps to elevate the site to relevant spaces so that it can be noticed by Google, and therefore new customers. More customers of course means more profit. All this stems from writing and creating good content that can be hosted on your site.

Hosting

As a small business in a growing country, even considering what hosting means in South Africa is important. As Studio 5 Innovation points out:

“The performance and security of your new small business website largely depends on your website host. You must make sure that your hosting company is reliable, and your data is safe. Performance (speed) is also a key consideration. Here are the different types of business website hosting you should consider.”

All of these factors are often forgotten when you create a website for your business.

Mobile

Africa is known as the mobile continent. Therefore it is important for you to focus on making your website able to work properly and responsively on mobile screens. This is not the same as working on a computer, for reasons beyond merely the screen resolution. Mobile screens are responsive to different kinds of inputs, such as touchscreen. This must be kept in mind as you go about creating the site, keeping it consistent across the board with logos, colours and so on.  

By focusing on all of these kinds of interventions on your site, you can make the best small business site for your local company.

What types of healthcare will exist in future

Healthcare will always be an issue people concern themselves with. It’s been a concern for society since people realised there were methods to treat themselves. Today, we are far more sophisticated than ever before, in prevention, cure and treatment. Healthcare, unfortunately, is still dominated more by policy than pills. Nonetheless, policy is still influenced by technology and what we’ve achieved as a society. To that end, it’s worth considering what healthcare will mean in future.

Outlining healthcare

As The Medical Dictionary defines it, there are many types of health care services.  

“The term [health care system] usually is used to refer to the system or program by which health care is made available to the population and financed by government, private enterprise, or both.”

Broadly speaking, there are a number of elements within a health care system: Personal health care services focus on individuals and families, located at hospitals, clinics, GP’s private offices and so on; Public health services focus on service delivery for the wider population, meaning everything from water and food supplies to drug and safety regulation; Education related to prevention and treatment of disease; Finally, coverage of these services.

All this indicates how complex the system is which focuses on keeping people alive. Naturally, it is important to consider what goes into these. As should be obvious, technology plays a major role in maintaining all these systems. From doctors being able to record and consult, using the internet and the latest devices, alerting necessary services and issues individual patients might be experiencing – all of this tells us that technology matters within a health care system.

What will the future hold?

As with so much of technology, it’s hard to know precisely what effect something will have on particular systems. Nonetheless, there are some clues as to what awaits us if we consider what people are working on to try help patients around the world.

  1. Improved sensors with nanotech

As Medical News Today notes:

“Constructing a sensor using nanotechnology to mimic human immune cells that circulate around the body, indicating when something is wrong and responding positively to any problems that surface may be possible one day in the future, but for now, it remains a big step to take.
Instead, [researchers] have chosen to transform conventional medical devices that are implanted into the body by giving them sensors – nanosensors – that can determine a problem and respond to it if and when it arises.”

In this way, there is less pressure on individual doctors to see more patients. People themselves are provided more options to help themselves.

  1. 3D-printing

A major issue with a lot of medical care is the price of medical products. One way to help curb this could be with 3D-printing. Due to it being incredibly complex, 3D-printed products can be created to specific requirements, benefitting patients who have various complications. After all, it’s being considered for everything from skin to hearts, in terms of what can be designed. This will aid the healthcare system in terms of reducing costs of production and waste.

  1. Telemedicine

By combining smartphones, trackers and a range of devices, patients can use telemedicine. This lets data livestream to specific health centres, negating geography and therefore travel. As Forbes notes:

“Telemedicine may alleviate some of the struggles currently facing the health-care industry. We have an aging population, a shortage of physicians and an increasing need to manage chronic diseases. We also need to keep burgeoning health-care costs in check. Thanks to ‘constant technological innovation, increasing remote patient monitoring and rising use of treatments that require long follow-ups,’ Mordor Intelligence predicts that the global telemedicine market will reach more than $34 billion by 2020.”

  1. The internet

The internet has transformed the world in ways no one could’ve predicted. While doctors dislike patients self-diagnosing thanks to looking up ailments on Google, it does provide more knowledge. Patients can be informed about their condition more than ever before. This means they can find out if the treatment they receive really is up-to-date and scientifically sound.

The internet allows people to find nearby hospitals, specialists and so on, helping them recover from whatever ailment they happen to suffer from. This reduces the amount of time medical professionals have to spend explaining issues to patients, since patients can now see firsthand and at their own pace what the particular problems of their case (if any) they need to concern themselves with.

The internet has also allowed collaboration, since doctors from all over the world can work together. For example, surgeons can work in collaboration with others from around the world, even operating in different cities on specific operations. The tool of the internet has opened up many opportunities for greater health success.

Business trends in insurance for 2017

Everything is affected by business. No matter how people would like to look at important institutions, many operate on business standards and according to operations that result in their continuing to exist. As much as you’d like to think of a university as a pure place of learning, people still need to pay for it and educators still have bills to pay. Similarly, the insurance industry itself is one of the biggest business industries in the world. Considering how people are affected by what their insurance covers, it may be important to think about the trends affecting insurance.

Technology disruption

As in all areas of industry, technology will disrupt the insurance industry. As startups from all over the world have already devoted themselves to revolutionising everything from medicine to finance, it makes sense to think this would affect insurance.

The sharing economy is a prime example of progress and tech disrupting everything. The poster child, Uber, has radically changed how people transport themselves and the entire taxi industry, to the point where fights have broken out around the world. Indeed, so much has changed because of a simple app, that economists are wondering what this means for other industries. By leveraging an always online consumer, with easy-to-use technology that operates with a click of a button, innovators can create everything from deliveries of food to cars. People are no longer restricted by geography, since they can simply pay others to do the heavy lifting for them.

Unfortunately, this idea of opening up an industry to the sharing economy isn’t finding foothold in the insurance industry, as Investopedia points out:

“The emergence of the sharing economy has disrupted almost every industry, from hotels to maid services to education. The insurance industry, which usually protects all other commercial exchanges; however, has been slow to adjust to such massive and widespread change. The static nature of the insurance industry has left many sharing economy workers in the dark concerning coverage. Thus, an opportunity presents itself for newcomers to take the place of traditional insurance companies, or for the traditional insurance companies to adjust.”

In 2017, the insurance industry can expect to see technology change how they engage with their policies. For example, the massive rise in Uber use has meant that people won’t be themselves driving as much. How then should an insurance company calculate or estimate its risk and attached expenses?

Medicine

As noted, technology has disrupted medicine. But medicine has always been improving and changing how people live. This means it affects how insurance operates, since diseases and conditions which were fatal before have become liveable – if not curable – today. That means, for insurance companies, they have to rethink what risk means in terms of different conditions and medical insurance plans for individuals.

As Benefits Pro points out:

“With the rise of the on-demand, social media-driven world, companies of all sizes want tools and technology that will enable them to better serve a workforce accustomed to simplicity and anytime, anywhere access to information. For health benefits brokers, this means their role must evolve. Quickly. To remain competitive, brokers may have to move beyond selling traditional health insurance and become both a technology consultant and strategic counselor to their clients on a range of related regulatory compliance issues and voluntary benefits.”

This means, just as tech directly affects insurance, it’s influence on other sectors will have a by-product of affecting insurance. Deloitte has highlighted its own issues, which it predicts will be deeply affecting of the industry in 2017.

“Life sciences sector growth is closely tied to global health care expenditures which, in 2017 and successive years, are expected to be fueled by increasing demand from an aging population and the burgeoning prevalence of chronic and communicable diseases.”

There’s no way to predict just what will happen in 2017 that can change the world. However, given how radically the world has changed within the last few years, it’s reasonable to expect that businesses are better served by being prepared to change, too. There’s no good reason to get comfortable with policies even if they’ve worked in the past.

Businesses that are willing to not only change but use the changes occurring will benefit from forward thinking. In this way, they not only stay “alive” as a business but relevant. This puts them in a better position for customers who need to stay up-to-date with their own lives.

Start 2017 debt free (or almost)

debt-freeThis year has been difficult to say the least. Globally things have unfolded in surprising ways. Brexit shook foreign relationships between the United Kingdom and the rest of the world while Trump’s election has somewhat sullied America’s reputation as a global leader. In South Africa we’ve had a turbulent year too and currently we’re all struggling with the cost of necessities. For instance, fruit and vegetables were 18.7 percent more expensive in March 2016 than in March 2015. This means that we’re all trying to tighten our belts. Which might feel impossible during the festive season but starting the new year with a financial plan that diminishes debt is the best idea for all of us.

 

Knowing where to start can be difficult

 

Becoming debt free requires immense discipline. You have to look carefully at where you’re spending and cut back. You need to pay the most you can afford in to current debt and spend only the cash you have. To many people this feels impossible. Afterall, daily life is expensive. Just keeping a roof over your head is a challenge for many.

 

Find the best starting point and tackle it head on

 

Knowing which debt to work on first is difficult because altogether it appears too big a mountain to climb. But you must start somewhere. You need to list your debts and have a look carefully at which ones are costing you the most in interest. These are likely to be retail or clothing accounts. And, this is where you begin. Getting rid of debt that costs you in high interest is immediately going to save you money. And if you’re someone who makes use of the six month interest free accounts then make sure to read the fine print. It might not be as “interest-free” as you’d hoped. Watch out for administration fees and so on. Essentially, get rid of your retail accounts altogether. Stop your account immediately so that you can’t make use of them and make as many large payments as possible to clear any outstanding amounts.

 

Start saving even if you feel you can’t

 

It’s always advisable that you’re saving some money every month, even if it’s a small amount. Again, another seemingly impossible feat but it’s so necessary. If you’re not saving anything at the moment and can’t seem to find the cash to put away then make a commitment that once one of your debts are paid in full you take the additional cash and put it in an interest-bearing account. These savings you accumulate are essentially your emergency fund. And, emergencies happen, medical, home, car and so on. That’s life. Having the money to get yourself the help and assistance you need when something untoward occurs prevents you from getting into even more debt because of an unforeseen circumstance.

 

Create a strict but manageable budget

 

Once you have a handle on what you need to pay urgently, what accounts you need to close and you’re managing your long term commitments such as a bond or vehicle repayments you should create a new budget. A strict one that eliminates all unnecessary expenses. Create a budget that you can stick to. Even if you reach out to an accountant or financial expert to assist you, make sure that you create something that’ll see you out of all your bad debt as soon as possible. To assist you, download an app that’ll indicate exactly how you spend and where. This will take commitment too but if you log how you spend you’ll soon be able to see exactly where you’re wasting.

 

Learn the value of every cent

 

Because everything is so expensive some of us have forgotten the value of a rand. But every ten rand or 100 rand counts. Yes of course, 100 rand won’t get you very far nowadays but every 100 rand adds up and they shouldn’t be wasted. A good way to learn this lesson is to look around your house and start gathering things that you don’t use or need anymore and sell them. Private sales sites abound online. Social media platforms such as Facebook are being used for private sales too. Which means you’re dealing with a group of people who you can somewhat vett before making any monetary deals. This exercise will show you just how much money is lying around your home that can be used to pay off your existing debt and it’ll show you just how recklessly you’re spending.

 

Get an education

 

If you want to remain out of debt then stay informed. Make an effort to gain an education about money and what’s happening to it globally as well as locally. The latest financial news might read like Greek in the beginning but the more you read the more you’ll learn. Ask questions about everything and with the internet at your fingertips you can really find out everything. Get a handle of the financial situation in our country and then begin managing your money appropriately so that your financial future is safe and secure.

 

How to be a good boss

bossWell known author, pastor and public speaker John Maxwell said “Leaders become great, not because of the power, but because of their ability to empower others.” Many new leaders might find this a difficult concept to wrap their head around. Those who’ve never been in a managerial or leadership position before might find that they don’t know how to create boundaries and inspire effective, efficient and productive work ethic. But they’re thinking about it all wrong. Being a boss doesn’t mean that you think about how you can do all the right things but rather you think about how you can inspire and support your team to be the best possible versions of themselves. In fact, when you’re in a leadership role you have to become selfless. You have to focus on your team and through inspiring them to be great you’ll by default become great.

 

This is no easy feat. You’ll certainly have your own goals and ambitions that you’ll want to focus on but your key performance indicators and job review will be judged on your team’s performance. If they fail you’re failing. No pressure.

 

Unfortunately, bad bosses abound. Even movies have been made about bad bosses and while they’re of course embellished for the laughs they’re not necessarily untrue scenarios. If you want to hear about some real-life horror stories all you need to do is listen to one of S. Chris Edmonds talks. Edmonds is the founder and CEO of The Purposeful Culture Group. He is passionate about the subject of good vs. bad bosses and he has the experience to back his opinions. His stories are hair raising and his presentations are extremely insightful. In speaking about the best boss he ever had, Jerry Nutter, Edmonds says, “he held us to high standards, praised progress, and called us on our crap. He set up clear ground rules for how we’d work together and he held us accountable. I felt supported.”

 

Being a good boss has everything to do with your leadership ability. To succeed you need to possess or work on various aspects of leadership that’ll ensure your team succeeds. You simply cannot afford to have a bad attitude. Any unkind or negative behaviour can dramatically affect your team. Leaving them feeling insecure or at best, leaving them distracted. Ultimately, a boss having a negative outlook creates a toxic environment for your team. A good boss follows some very key principles to ensure that they constantly deliver on what their team needs. While every person is different and has their own unique style of managing there are some specific things every manager must bear in mind at all times.

 

With correct communication all problems can be resolved

 

Open communication channels mean that all issues can be easily resolved because your team will feel comfortable enough to alert you to their concerns. And, in turn, you can be proactive in your problem-solving. This will help you lead your team in the long run. This means you listen well and talk less until it’s time to delegate. By listening intently to your team you’ll learn more about them and this will assist you with understanding how to deal with them in the future.

 

Know who your team is

 

By knowing your employees you’ll be able to recognise their strengths and weaknesses. This means you can make use of their strengths correctly and assist with their weaknesses. This will also assist you  in celebrating their strengths and successes and if you want a responsive team then positive affirmations are the way forward.

 

Understand the generation

 

Often times you’re placed in a position of authority because you have extensive experience in your industry. You team however, won’t have that level of experience. Now this doesn’t always mean that they’re younger than you but this is often the case. And, when this is the case you need to pay attention to the possible generation gap that might present. This means that it is up to you to bridge this gap by understanding the team. Similarly, if you happen to have an older member on your team or someone on board who used to be in a more senior position than you. You must learn how to be sensitive to your team’s needs.    

 

There are lots of things to consider when fulfilling a leadership role. An excellent way to ready yourself is to consider looking into available human resource (HR) management courses.  Finding out what HR management courses entail and what you’ll learn about will give you a good idea as to whether or not you need the skills in your new position.