Category Archives: Entrepreneurship

Main challenges faced by SA entrepreneurs revealed

A recent survey released by Seed Academy, the school of entrepreneurship, has revealed the challenges faced by many South African entrepreneurs. Polling more than 900 startup entrepreneurs, the study found that amongst other issues, finding customers, raising startup capital and a lack of guidance, are the main challenges faced by entrepreneurs.

In addition, many entrepreneurs take on many roles within their businesses, which further escalates the problem as some individuals end up spreading themselves too thin.

Hands holding sapling in soil

Many people start their own businesses after identifying gaps in their respective markets. However, a small percentage of entrepreneurs are forced into the industry as they’re unable to find secure jobs.

What solutions should be offered to resolve these problems?

Insufficient funding has been identified as one of the prominent issues. As a solution to raising enough capital, suggestions including tax incentives for individuals who can provide capital for startups, and online platforms where these individuals can connect, have been raised. Another solution is the improvement of marketing and services provided by Development Financial Institutions (DFIs). To further support entrepreneurs, another suggestion is for DFIs to mentor these entrepreneurs and provide post investment management.

Female entrepreneurship is another element lacking in South Africa, and which requires attention in order to develop the industry. In this regard, female mentors are needed to provide support to their fellow female entrepreneurs.

Teaching entrepreneurial skills as early as primary school will also go along way in cultivating entrepreneurs and ensuring that they have the skills required later in life.

Read why government has a significant role to play in supporting entrepreneurs.

5 Tips for building your business’ website

If by now your business isn’t online, you run the risk of going out of business.  Customers and investors are searching for businesses such as yours on the internet. Therefore, having an online presence  makes it easier for them to find you, which is vital for the success of your business.

Below we share a few tips to get you started on your online venture:

Building your business' online presenceGet a domain name

Websites such as YolaWordPress and Wix allow you to use their services and create a basic website for free. But numerous services, including GoDaddy and Namecheap enable you to purchase your own domain name which is beneficial in that:

  • You can take your traffic wherever you go
  • If the platform suddenly closes, you don’t lose your address and traffic

List your business on local search engines

Local search engines list your business enabling people to find information about your business and leave comments.

Therefore, to stay up-to-date and improve the information available about you, it is vital that you own your company listings. In addition, owning your company listings allows you to interact with your customers, ensuring that you respond to any bad reviews and thank those giving good reviews.

Claiming your Who’s Who company page will allow you to enhance your company profile by adding a description, logo and marketing image and contact details.

Start a blog

Customers want more than just information about your product offering, and a blog gives you the perfect opportunity to create relevant content for them. Giving your personal opinion about topics of interest will help to establish you as an expert in your field, and make your customers appreciate you even more. Plus, they may share your expertise to new potential customers – a direct benefit to your business.

Have a social presence

We all know that social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and Google+ all have a huge audience following. These audiences may be seeking businesses such as yours or may offer benefits that will help you rank higher in web search results. Also, if relevant to your business consider Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr.

You will be doing your business a disservice by  ignoring social media, as it is such a powerful and growing channel.

Learn about SEO

SEO is an essential marketing tool for any business. It plays a pivotal role in increasing the visibility of your website. Once you understand how you can boost the ranking and frequency of which your business appears in search results, you will be able to bring business and customers to your site. Google offers some basic guidelines to get you started.

While it is important to ensure your business is visible online, it is just as vital to make sure that your personal online presence is presentable too.

How to support women in tech

People in meeting_big

South African women account for 50% of the country’s national population. It should come as no surprise then that the number of women entrepreneurs in South Africa is on the rise. According to FNB Business, between 2012 and 2014, the growth rate in women heading their own businesses had grown to approximately 11%.

However, there is still a significant shortage of women in the information and communication technologies sector – an industry that is evidently contributing to the country’s economic growth. So the question is: How can women in ICT make a success of their business ventures?

Tackling the problem

“Listen to the women in [ICT],” 20 year old IT student and Memeburn contributor, Tatiana Chin exclaimed. In order to tackle problems such as IT skills shortage, it is important to encourage more girls to consider careers in the field, Managing Director of Anglo African Events, Thuli Sibeko said. “In a country where there are millions of unemployed young people, it’s important to break the existing stereotypes that technology careers are ‘to hard’ for girls, or ‘unfeminine’ or even ‘boring’,” Sibeko told ITWeb.

ThuliS_big

After managing many tech events, Sibeko observed that the events were mainly attended by males with little to no women attendees. Following her own advice, she set out to change this ‘norm’ by establishing Girls Invent Tomorrow. The initiative works in conjunction with International Girls in ICT to “empower and encourage girls and young women to consider careers in the growing field of ICT”, Sibeko explained.

Through educational workshops, networking functions and mentorship programmes, Girls Invent Tomorrow builds confidence in young females to follow careers in ICT.

Understand the value women bring to the field

It is important to realize that compared to their male counterparts, women bring in a different aspect to the world of technology. In the largely male dominated sector, women are finding gaps and are changing the norm to set new standards.

Tech company founders Barbara Mallison and Annette Muller are the epitome of this trend. The two South African women made their mark as leading tech powerhouses when they were counted among Forbes 10 Female Tech Founders to Watch in Africa, earlier this year. Mallison and Muller were featured in the list after they successfully spearheaded their own innovative companies that set a new standard on both the local and global stage.

Optimistic about the future of technology

“Africa is slowly giving rise to entrepreneurs and that’s a good thing,” Sibeko told Who’s Who SA. “The only thing that can improve our growth is more support from the government and corporates.” Sanjeev Orie of FNB Business Value-Adds shared Sibeko’s sentiments and promised to support start-ups.

“Within our client base, we have observed that businesses, which have been operating for less than two years, tend to succumb to tough economic or operating conditions. Therefore, our objective is to offer increased support and cost-effective solutions to enable businesses to be sustainable.”

The reality is entrepreneurs play a significant role in job creation and growing South Africa’s economy. With some support from the government and private sector, organisations that are actively working towards empowering women and girls to pursue careers in information technology could potentially reduce the challenges currently faced by the country.

“It would be awesome if the next Zuckerberg was a woman,” said Sibeko.