Starting your own business

Motsatse, of Boksburg, was working at a gym when she came up with the idea to start her own cleaning business.

She realised many people wanted to hire somebody else to do their cleaning and laundry, but were apprehensive to employ domestic workers because of security concerns and they wanted privacy in their own homes.

Motsatse started Lamasha Cleaning and Projects in 2009 with just three cleaners, offering services to residential homeowners in Gauteng.

“Between June 2009 and April 2010, while I was busy making presentations to property owners, I got my breakthrough at the Parkland Estate,” she said.

Soon after that Motsatse secured her first long-term contract with a church in Pomona, Kempton Park.

Motsatse said she attributed her business success to having attended a Nedbank Small Business seminar.

“I used to throw all my receipts and other documents at our bookkeeper without worrying about the details of my company’s performance,” Motsatse said.

After attending one of Nedbank’s small business seminars in Gauteng she has never looked back, she says.

In 2004 Nedbank decided on a strategy to make make a difference in the small business sector.

Sibongiseni Ngundze, managing executive of retail relationship banking at Nedbank, said the bank went through an extensive process to determine what it knew about the market and the intervention it would make in the small business sector.

Ngundze said a lack of funding was the biggest threat facing more than 30% of entrepreneurs.

“One of the biggest challenges faced by entrepreneurs is the access to new markets and their ability to be competitive,” he said.

The seminars are free of charge and provide a variety of skills to entrepreneurs, including, among others, writing business plans, human resources management, marketing and cash flow management.

An estimated 15000 entrepreneurs have attended the seminars since 2004.

Entrepreneurs also get the opportunity to be mentored and coached by experts in various business sectors. Dates and venues for the seminars are advertised in the media.

Ngundze said most Nedbank branches across the country offered small business support services to help entrepreneurs.

via Business skills key to her success – Sowetan LIVE.

The cost of accounting services

AMONG of the biggest challenges facing small businesses are access to markets and the cost of accounting services, says Lwazi Bam, head of corporate finance and chief executive-designate of accounting firm Deloitte.

Bam is expected to assume his new role in June next year.

He said small and medium enterprises needed cooperatives to operate, guaranteed sources and procurement and government support in a highly regulated arena.

Bam said small businesses needed services offered by chartered accountants but such services were not affordable. He said there was a need for accountants to be trained in order for them to focus on small and medium enterprises.

Bam said one of the most important elements in business today was to improve client services and make sure that the organisation constantly keeps up with the times.

“Deloitte is very passionate about training and developing its employees. We focus a lot on talent management and have structures and programmes in place to do that because we believe that it’s very strategic to the long-term interests of the organisation,” Bam said.

Having been in the accounting profession for more than 17 years, Bam still believes there is a serious lack of skills in the country, not only in the accounting profession but in all sectors crucial to the growth of the economy.

“If you haven’t contributed to society, you have not done much,” he said.

Bam is currently president of the Association of Black Accountants of Southern Africa.

He said one of the reasons for accreditation by the SA Institute of Chartered Accountants was to get accountants qualified to serve in other parts of the country.

via ‘Accounting a problem’ – Sowetan LIVE

See our reasonable fees here: FirstOne

Consumer Protection Act explained

There’s always one. One schoolkid – it’s usually a boy – who will direct what he thinks is a terribly clever, brazen question to a visiting speaker.

Last week was no exception. I was talking to a group of high school kids about the Consumer Protection Act at the invitation of their business studies teacher.

They were a lively bunch, flinging up their hands to ask mostly very intelligent questions. Then it came, delivered with a straight face: “So what happens if someone goes to an escort agency, and they aren’t happy with the service…?”

Well, he’d have redress, of course, as long as that service wasn’t illegal.

When the act becomes effective on April 1, it will give consumers the right to demand quality service and to full disclosure of the price of goods and services, and protection against false, misleading or deceptive representations.

Predictably, the section of the act which is shaking up the marketplace most is Section 56: “Implied warranty of quality”.

For decades, many retailers have adopted a “sorry for you” attitude when their customers return problem goods.

Either they refuse to accept that the goods were defective in any way, or they begrudgingly take the goods back and issue a credit note, valid for a short period of time.

In short, they’ve assumed total power to decide how to respond when problematic goods are returned.

Actually, common law has for many years protected consumers against defective goods – though few realise this – but it doesn’t give consumers the right to decide how they’d like to be compensated, leaving suppliers to decide what to do, if anything.

And manufacturer or store warranties limit recourse to repairs, because it’s obviously much cheaper for a company to repair an item than replace it or refund a customer’s money in full.

But the act has turned that status quo on its head, giving the consumer the power to decide on the remedy – and he or she is backed up by a Consumer Commission and Consumer Tribunal which have the power to impose hefty penalties on companies which fail to comply with the terms of the act.

If goods bought by consumers fail in some way, the consumers get to decide which of the three Rs – a refund, replacement or repair – they want.

via Consumer Protection Act explained – South Africa

Business in Population Management

Global population numbers are on track to reach 7 billion in 2011, just 12 years after reaching 6 billion in 1999. Virtually all of the growth is in developing countries.

And the growth of the world’s youth population (ages 15 to 24) is shifting into the poorest of those countries.

The new Population Reference Bureau’s 2009 World Population Data Sheet, offers detailed information about country, regional, and global population patterns.

In the context of CSR, I find it interesting that we talk a lot about the environment and its connections with growth and we discuss at length the use (and abuse) of natural resources and links to climate change.

Yet, one of the major challenges that businesses could play a role in relates to birth control and population management.

via A Role for Business in Population Management | Use Celsias.com

Banking association and Khula in deal to help small business

SMALL-scale enterprises could now enjoy better access to financial services and low financing costs following the signing of a co-operation agreement between state-owned developmental funding agency Khula Enterprise Finance and the Banking Association of SA (Basa).

Small businesses in the country are regarded as the main contributors to job creation, something that SA — with an unemployment rate of 25% by some measures — is working hard to encourage.

Khula and Basa said they would endeavour to facilitate the formation of a credit bureau for small and medium enterprises, the first of its kind in Africa, and would provide access to an information portal for small businesses.

They would also conduct research, facilitate skills transfer, assist in the development of a national mentorship programme and promote financial literacy.

In April, Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel told Parliament Khula was to become a wholly owned subsidiary of the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) with a budget of R2,8bn this year. It would incorporate the South African Micro Finance Apex Fund as well as the IDC’s small business loan book.

Khula is SA’s main small business financing vehicle but has been hampered by underfunding and, until recently, its restriction to wholesale financing. Its agreement with Basa comes at a time when banks are often seen as doing too little to finance small business development.

Basa MD Cas Coovadia, however, said statistics showed that the sector provided 95% of funding for small businesses. The proposed credit bureau could change how the banks look at risk in the market, he said.

“The (small business) credit bureau initiative will assist banks to access reliable information on the day-to-day transactions of the business and not just the individual.”

The role and mandate of the publicly funded Khula should be to develop markets, allowing the private sector to come in with funding, Mr Coovadia said.

He said there was a need to develop more risk-appropriate evaluation models and products tailored to small business development.

“Here we are talking about a very focused, on-the-ground, issues-based collaboration. The first thing we need to do is to sit down and have an assessment of what we have been doing independently and agree on what we see as each other’s role,” Mr Coovadia said.

via BusinessDay – Banking association, Khula in deal to help small businesses

SMEs also need CPA

According to GRAEME VICTOR, CEO of Du Pont Telecom, the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act should be extended to provide small and medium businesses some defence against being ripped off by unscrupulous providers of goods and services.

It’s not unusual for SMEs to be fleeced by providers of essential business goods and services such as PBXs because they don’t know what they are being charged for.

Du Pont has come across PBX lease agreements entered into by a small business in which the cost of a basic unit has been inflated by 100 percent or more.

I believe that with CPA-type regulations in place, businesses would be less vulnerable to this kind of overcharging. The supplier would have to specify the make, model and specifications of the PBX and also itemise all other charges included in the lease agreement.

Businesses would then know exactly what they were paying for. Armed with this information, they would be able to shop around for the best deal from a position of strength.

Another common rip-off in the business telephony arena occurs when the PBX unit needs to be upgraded to accommodate more lines and extensions. The SME is told that upgrading is “impossible” because the unit is too old, or too small, or too “basic”.

However, all that may be required is the insertion of an upgrade card that costs in the region of R5 000. Replacing a PBX can cost 10 times that.

 

This incorrect advice from the PBX supplier may not always be malicious.

What often happens is that the business’s original PBX provider is no longer around. The new provider may not be familiar with the SME’s existing PBX brand so recommending switching to a brand he does supply is the obvious alternative.

By the time the SME finds out that the old PBX could have been upgraded, it is too late. Extending the protection afforded by the CPA to businesses would make suppliers less cavalier about offering misleading and inaccurate advice.

via Gadget Web Site – SMEs also need CPA