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SMALL BUSINESS CAN FLOURISH IN A DOWNWARD ECONOMY

Many countries across the world but specifically in Africa are diversifying from traditional sources of income and entrepreneurship is increasingly seen as a key to economic growth. Pretoria-based IT Group, Osidon, says entrepreneurship is a
“necessity” at a time of high unemployment. Chief Executive Officer, Hennie Ferreira.

 “Entrepreneurship is seen as one of the most sustainable job generation tools in South Africa as well as the rest of the continent. When unemployment is high and the economy is weaker, people are forced to start small businesses to provide for themselves and their families.”

Hennie Ferreira

However, during an economic recession or downturn, small businesses are often hit the hardest. Ferreira says during these conditions, consumers will continue to have their earning power eroded and will spend less.

“A recession, which brings with it flailing consumer confidence and declining disposable incomes, is likely the toughest of challenges a small-to-medium enterprise will ever face.’ he says.

Earlier this month, international ratings agency, Moody’s, lowered South Africa’s GDP growth prospects for 2019, cutting it to 1.0% from a forecast of 1.3% previously. This comes amid suggestions that South Africa could move into another recession. In his State of the Nation Address on Thursday night, 20 June, President Cyril Ramaposa announced a 7 tier plan to amongst others, revive the economy and create jobs. He promised the creation of 155,000 jobs in the next five years based on the private sector’s commitment to invest R840 billion in 43 projects across 19 sectors. Ferreira says many companies are struggling due to the current economic climate.

‘A recession or downturn is especially tough on small and medium enterprises. They struggle with issues such as reduced cash flow, loss of demand if customers reduce their purchase amounts and marketing constraints. At the moment many companies are closing down and in some instances, staff is being retrenched as part of measures to weather the storm,’ he explains.

Ferreira has tabled a number of strategies small and medium businesses can follow to weather the economic storm:

  • Back to Basics: when an economic crisis is looming, business should maintain a ‘back to basics’ approach. By implementing business basics SMME’s will not only survive but flourish. The first step might sound like a cliché but it is full proof. You need to distinguish yourself from your competitors and the way you stand out from the crowd is through value add. You need to determine how you can add more value to your service offering and customer service. This will attract far more clientele than spending time on a fancy logo or office space.

  • Focus on Sales: Business people are sometimes too focussed on branding and marketing and they fail to pay enough attention on the sales aspect of the company. The fact is, you can have the best product in the world but if you are not selling it, there is no revenue and you don’t have a business. If you have the worst product in the world but you are selling it, then you are still generating revenue. If you are still fine tuning your product, you will be able to generate sales that you can use to improve your service offering. There needs to be a definite sales strategy in place.

  • Do not stagnate: A feature of a flourishing business is the fact that they are growing. During an economic crisis the growth will be slower but there will be systematic progress. It is therefore important not to remain in your comfort zone, you need to actively ensure that your business grows with continuous momentum. Continuous improvement is a mind-set and needs to filter through the entire structure of the company. Being able to adapt to changing circumstances is critical. We live in a society where technology is infiltrating all areas of society including business. If you don’t adapt or adjust to the ever changing environment and customer demands, you will run into further challenges. Take time to analyse changes such as technology and how it impacts your business so that you can adapt and thrive.

    Ferreira established his own company, Osidon, in 2017, however he has been an entrepreneur for almost two decades. Osidon has recently launched the world’s first online digital accountant, revolutionising the accounting industry, by pushing the boundaries and rethinking traditional methods at a third of the industry price.

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Business

THE EMOTIONAL AND FINANCIAL COST OF WORKING WITH OUTDATED TECHNOLOGY

technology

Slow Tech Could Waste 24 Hours of Worktime a Year

In this digital age, businesses are hugely reliant on technology to get work done. And this is especially the case for one-man-bands and small home-based businesses who may count on a single computer to keep things running smoothly from their home office space.

This said, if the technology at hand is slow or outdated, it could become more of a hinderance than a help. Investing in upgraded tech may seem like a steep expense, however, delays cost time and time is money. In fact, recent research looking at the impact of tech troubles in the workplace found that delays caused by slow technology could add up to a hefty 24 days’ worth of worktime a year per person.

Here’s why keeping hold of outdated tech when its past its best could cost your business in the long run.

 

The biggest tech hold-ups

Delving deeper into the research, it’s evident that the most time can be lost on some of the smallest of tasks. Simply waiting for your computer to boot up, for example, can add up to 8.8 days of lost time over the space of a year (17 minutes a day), while 8.5 days can be lost to opening emails (16.5 minutes a day).  Slow software has the most to answer for, however, contributing 10.4 days’ worth of wasted worktime (20 minutes a day). When you think about your own day rate or that of an employee’s, this lost time all adds up to some serious money, right? Probably more than it would cost to upgrade your tech.

Productivity can suffer too

Glitchy tech may not only cost your business time and money; productivity can take a serious hit too. According to the study, a third of workers admit losing motivation when they have to wait on tech to respond. And this comes as no surprise. When faced with freezing programmes and buffering browsers every day, frustration can build up. And when someone’s suffering frustration, productivity and motivation can drop. As a result, it may turn out it’s not just the tech that is slowing down tasks, but a reduction in employee efficiency too.

Tech expert and anti-futurist, Theo Priestley, argues that the issues caused by outdated tech at work can even have a negative effect on someone’s work-life balance and wellbeing. He explains, “not being able to complete work or feel productive or have a sense of accomplishment in a task can be a stressful experience. And depending on the nature of the work, more often than not, employees will need to work additional hours to compensate for the wasted time, which has a knock-on impact on personal and family life.”

 

Outdated tech can put your business at risk

Beyond the costs to your business, outdated tech can also put it at increased risk of cybercrime. The older the technology, the easier it is for hackers to exploit it. What’s more, if you don’t update your security software regularly, it won’t be equipped to address the latest security threats.

Priestley explains “outdated technology and software means easy exploitation from inside and outside the organisation. If you’re not using the latest versions of operating systems, or software that you’ve invested in, then there’s greater chance for someone to exploit known weaknesses in that system and expose or steal data or valuable company information from them.”

 

What is the solution?

Regularly assess what condition your hardware and software are in and where delays are occurring. If you find yourself waiting on the same problem day in day out, it’s probably time to do something about it. But how often should you be upgrading your IT equipment?

In general, a computer being used for business could do with being upgraded every two to three years for optimal performance. Alternatively, sometimes simply upgrading the memory or hard drive can help applications run more quickly. Any other equipment such as printers, keyboards, etc. only really need to be replaced when they break.

As for software, upgrade it regularly. While it can be a temptation to stick with older versions that you’ve grown accustomed to, the newer versions will offer improved capabilities, efficiency and security.

While computers slowing down over time seems inevitable and something that we’ve accepted will happen, it’s important for businesses to recognise the problem can have a bigger knock-on effect than you may think. By investing in updated, efficient technology, the savings experienced via productivity are likely to vastly outweigh the price of the tech itself. So, next time your computer freezes, perhaps consider whether it’s time for an upgrade.

 

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Business

OFFSHORE COMPANY FORMATION TACTICS FOR SMEs

Company

James Turner, Director at company formation specialists, Turner Little

 

Starting a business brings with it its own set of challenges, as well as opportunities. But when setting up a business, the where is often as important as the how, and knowing what to expect in terms of company formation regulations and requirements is key, so you can start your entrepreneurial journey on the right foot.

 

James Turner, Director at company formation specialists, Turner Little, takes us through what we need to consider when it comes to offshore company formation, and the benefits it can offer start-ups and SMEs.

 

“Despite what the media will have you believe, there are numerous legitimate reasons to use an offshore company. Offshore companies can often provide SMEs with access to better infrastructure and legal frameworks. Regulations in different parts of the world could prove to be restrictive for businesses by preventing foreign entities from launching factories, buying property or investing in local companies. In this instance, setting up an offshore company can help in completing transactions and provide you with the ability to hold any local assets necessary,” says James.

 

“However, one of the fundamental reasons for setting up an offshore company is often privacy. Moving assets or setting up a business is often done in a country that offers more tightly protected data security, has a robust legal framework and a network of service providers that streamline the setting up process. Switzerland is often the country of choice when it comes to privacy, as it’s synonymous with security and data privacy. Another reason SMEs should consider setting up an offshore company is tax efficiency. Tax advantages are offered by different jurisdictions. For example, Singapore has one of the lowest corporate tax rates, while the Cayman Islands might be more ideal for freelancers who are looking to minimise the effective tax rate on their businesses,” adds James.

 

“Offshore companies provide SMEs with the ability to mitigate risks that arise from political instability or currency volatility. We have already seen businesses starting to register European entities in order to limit their exposure to the fallout that may result from Brexit. Whatever the reason, spreading your operations across jurisdictions may be the best long-term business strategy SMEs can adopt to secure future growth,” adds James.

 

Turner Little specialises in creating bespoke solutions for individuals and businesses of all sizes. The knowledge and expertise of their specialists will be able to assist with any enquires, no matter how complex.

 

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