In South Africa, small to medium sized businesses are acknowledged as being instrumental in driving the country’s market economy and employment rates. With unemployment figures reaching 27.7 per cent last year and the economy forecasted to grow just under two per cent, the SME sector is viewed as their growth vehicle.
According to Ravi Govender, Head of Small Enterprises at Standard Bank, on average about 50 per cent of all start-up businesses in South Africa fail within two years due to the inexperience of the owners, as well as a lack of resources to sustain.
SMEs can come with inherent risk — this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but SME companies with smaller resources must adopt risk management and loss prevention measures to build a sustainable enterprise by facilitating improved decision-making, as well as streamlined, efficient processes. There’s a plethora of technology and services available to give small businesses the upper hand.
Here, we’ll explore the tools available to ensure SMEs have a greater chance to succeed in South Africa.
A large proportion of start-ups are dependent on financial aid from family and friends. According to research of 500 successful entrepreneurs across numerous sectors, one of the biggest challenges that businesses are faced with is cash flow. At the core of all business, is financial access and planning.
Granted, many businesses owners have the drive to run a business, but they might not have the financial planning skills. Financial planning is the difference between you being able to invest in measures to expand your company’s growth as well as staff and resources. Incoming and outgoing funds can very easily become out of control with delayed payments, unexpected expenditures, and inaccurate growth predictions. Don’t fret — these issues are commonplace in the world of business, but you’ve got to be prepared to fight them at every turn.
Investing in small business accounting software such as QuickBooks will allow you to track your cash flow efficiently with pinpoint accuracy. QuickBooks provides bespoke solutions to help you keep on top of your expenses and daily transactions, such as invoicing customers, as well as generating reports and paying bills.
Streamlined storage and ‘the cloud’
Unless you’ve been living under a rock the last few years, you’ll have heard of ‘the cloud’. Storing it in the cloud, moving it to the cloud, finding it in the cloud. Put simply, instead of storing your data on one computer or one program, the cloud is online storage. Using flexible IT infrastructure helps staff access anything they need in one place, which is easy to find and organised.
The use of this technology has certainly surged in almost all industries, with more and more companies migrating their data online. You’ll have unlimited storage capacity, it’ll be automatically backed up and secure, regular software updates, ability for staff to collaborate online, and the ability to access your data and programs as long as you’re connected to the internet.
Not only does this make your business efficient but look a lot more professional and credible, but current with domineering yet essential technology.
Apps for productivity
Kudos to digital innovation, because again, it’s making business operations easier. As an SME business owner, you’ll be no stranger to the stress of managing different tasks and projects simultaneously. While you’re handling payroll, you’ll be making mental notes of the other day-to-day management tasks all the while wondering how and what your staff are doing.
Communication is key. Productivity apps have been created to help delegate tasks to employees, as well as track to-dos. Most importantly, they help to keep you in control and in the loop. There are a range of apps available in South Africa, however the relevance will depend on the nature of your business. Here are some suggestions:
- com — a unique and versatile program that focuses on the process of the task. With an advanced scheduling system, you can drag and drop building blocks to focus on different processes and departments.
- Toggl — useful if you work by billable hours, tracking how you spend yours and your team’s time, create time graphs to share with project management.
- Asana — efficient for keeping on top of your workload with checklists, users can assign and prioritise projects and tasks, upload content and add comments.
- Trello — a visual app that organises work into cards based on the nature of the task where users can add comments and communicate.
It’s important to remain competitive and relevant by integrating technology into your everyday operations as an SME business owner. You’ll certainly see a return of investment by investing in accounting software and productivity apps!