Getting the most out of a mid-year review

Research compiled by the University of Applied Sciences in Germany in 2016 has shown that only 20% – 30% of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in South Africa survive longer than five years. In addition, the research found that the common trait distinguishing a successful business from a failing business is its owner’s ability to adopt a proactive approach to running the business and to accurately execute plans.

A lot of successful small business owners understand the importance of conducting a detailed annual review, which includes reviewing past performance and potential opportunities for the business, setting expansion goals, identifying financial targets and assessing the overall health of the business. It must be said though, that one of the biggest mistakes that an entrepreneur can make is to believe that one review is enough to keep a business on course for an entire year.

With the middle of the year around the corner it is the ideal time for business owners to conduct a mid-year review.

The primary function of the mid-year review is to assess the business’s progress against its annual goals, as no good comes from waiting until year end to determine whether the business has managed to reach its targets.

Examining provisional sales figures, evaluating recent successes and failures and measuring staff performance during a mid-year review will help the entrepreneur to intercept problems early on as well as identify opportunities that may disappear by the time that the annual review arrives.

Lastly, there is no better way to boost employee motivation than a mid-year revision of their personal goals, performance assessment and recognition of their successes over the previous six months.

To ensure that the maximum value is extracted from a mid-year review a top-to-bottom examination of the business is necessary while following a detailed checklist to help stay on course.

The checklist of the ideal mid-year review

In order to get the most out of mid-year reviews, the business owner should ensure that five vital bases are covered:

  1. The first thing to review should always be finances. Organising financial documents both digitally and physically as part of a mid-year review prevents surprises, losing information and many wasted man-hours in last minute filing when the end of the year arrives.

    Naturally, this is also the time to review the business’s financial goals, specifically whether targets are being met and identifying how losses can be recovered as quickly as possible.

  1. Next on the list is an in-depth evaluation of the entity’s legal and tax positions. Ignorance is not a viable defence against legal or tax non-compliance, which is why the business owner needs to make sure that the business is still in the best possible position.

    Ensure that taxes are up to date, the necessary paperwork is in order and that there have been no regulatory changes that could impact the business in future. This is also the time to review client and service provider contracts to make sure that the agreements are still enforceable and up to date.

  1. A mid-year audit of the company’s marketing strategy can help the entrepreneur to keep business numbers up throughout the year. It is important to conduct a website audit to ensure that all the information on the various pages are still in order and up to date. This step should also include customer check-ins and quick social media audits.

    Being proactive in this regard also requires the business owner to conduct a formal update on what the competition is currently doing. A new disrupting product or service launch by a rival business can hurt both market share and revenue. In addition to identifying upcoming challenges, business owners may come across good ideas to incorporate into the business.

  1. The fourth item on the list is an examination of the company’s risk management measures and to check that the company’s disaster recovery plan is still relevant. If the risk of protest actions or weather related perils seem to have increased in recent months, the business interruption and recovery plan should be revisited as a point of priority.

Fostering creativity through entrepreneurship

A successful entrepreneurial journey begins with a gap in the market, some creativity and passion, and ensuring that you are equipped with the right team and resources. This is according to Nicolette Tilley, owner of Wild and Free (Pty) LTD, and entrant in the 2018 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS, who began her entrepreneurial journey importing wedding dresses and selling them locally on a part-time basis.

This was short-lived, however, as Nicolette soon discovered that selling someone else’s creations was not what she was passionate about.

Being a firm believer in expressing her creativity, Tilley (35) bought a sewing machine during her time as a stay-at-home mom in 2013 and began experimenting with design, making items such as pencil cases and blankets. The entrepreneurial light-bulb moment arrived in 2016 when Tilly was searching for a good quality diaper bag that was durable enough for long-term use. “After fruitless searching, I realised I could design my own bag. I’ve never been afraid to be bold and try to make things work – which is exactly what I did. I found a local leather maker, and together we drew out a pattern and he stitched it together for me. I loved walking around with my own creation on my arm, and before I knew it I had friends asking me to make them bags.”

Before long, bag orders were arriving in their numbers, and with this, Wild & Free was born. “I chose the company name because I wanted it to represent the type of person who would own one of my creations – a free-spirited but driven individual who isn’t afraid of failure,” she says.

Being a self-taught entrepreneur with no formal industry qualifications, Tilley turned to technology and the internet to help her achieve her goals of running a successful business. She strongly encourages self-development as well as using social media to promote and grow a business. “We live in an era where starting your own business is completely achievable, thanks to social media platforms and easy-to-use online business support tools,” says Tilley.  “I often wonder how people advertised and promoted their business before Facebook. There’s a lot of competition out there but we’re fortunate to have knowledge and access to customers at our fingertips,” she adds.

Tilley recalls that one of her biggest challenges since starting the business was keeping up with demand following the launch of one of her bag designs. Within 24 hours of The Business Bags Facebook launch, the product had been viewed online over 1 million times with hundreds of e-mails and orders received. At that point, Tilley was doing all of the marketing, production design and business administration on her own. “I wanted to delete my Facebook page and put my head in the sand – but I knew I had created something that was special, unique and something that women needed. I was fortunate enough to have an old school friend, Josie Piers, jump on board and help me get through the masses of emails and messages. She did a fantastic job of getting processes into place, which was a big weakness of mine. Josie took over all the admin, and today we have a functioning website, one-of-a-kind products and a full team of incredible people in place,” says Tilley.

When asked what her greatest achievement has been thus far, Tilley said that selling over 3000 units of one of her designs is among her biggest achievements on paper but her proudest accomplishment is having created a brand that is able to employ 9 full-time staff members.

When asked what her top tips for other aspiring entrepreneurs would be, Tilley said the following:

  1. There are hundreds of free websites offering short courses. Entrepreneurs starting out who cannot afford to go to university or college should make use of free online tools to educate themselves about their industry.
  2. Set targets for your team and your business before the year begins. This makes your goals a lot more tangible. If you start out knowing what you want to achieve, you will find that you surpass your own expectations.

Closing the funding gap for women entrepreneurs

Globally, women experience many barriers to equal economic participation. The Establishing a baseline for lending to women-owned SMEs 2013 report by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) points to low levels of access to finance for women entrepreneurs with 15-25 percent of loans issued to women across 34 IFC client financial institutions in 25 countries. This presents a significant stumbling block to economic growth for the country.

The 2018 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS aims to build on the entrepreneurial successes celebrated for the last 30 years by encouraging and rewarding women making waves in their communities through business. Over the last five years, for example, we have seen 35 female entrepreneurs named finalists in the annual competition which accounts for 47 percent of all finalists, and 13 named winners accounting for 43 percent of all winners.

While we remain encouraged by the increasing number of female entrepreneurs entering the competition – we need to uncover and celebrate many more women who, to a large extent, remain unsung heroes of their communities through such business competitions.

According to the African Development Bank, in Sub-Saharan Africa, the financing gap for women is estimated at over $20 billion. This amount is made up by gender-specific challenges that women face, including lower access to quality business training and education, lesser funding opportunities for women-owned small businesses, and cultural beliefs discouraging women from participating in business.

Since our economic growth as a country largely depends on the success of entrepreneurship – it is crucial to ensure that both male and female, existing and aspiring, entrepreneurs have equal opportunities when it comes to accessing funding, training and business opportunities.

These are a few practical steps women can take to proactively close the finance gap for themselves and increase their access to growth opportunities:

Invest in knowing your industry

One of the general rules of thumb when it comes to entrepreneurship is to know more than what directly impacts your own business. It is important for entrepreneurs to be aware of the economic macro and micro environments affecting their businesses, and also the political and legislative landscape within which they operate. For women especially, it is also key to know the points of exclusion of a particular industry, if any. You have to be aware of the general biases and stereotypes in your industry in order to disrupt them.

Collaborate with other women

The old adage of ‘two heads are better than one’ is a powerful mantra for women in business to remember. A group of women-owned organisations standing together and calling for equal funding and business opportunities stands to make a bigger difference than any one organisation doing this work in silo. The work done by organisations and chambers such as the Businesswomen’s Association is therefore important in facilitating this collaboration and women entrepreneurs are advised to participate in similar organisations.

Look for opportunities with like-minded funders

There are many organisations that provide funding and who are passionate about creating equal opportunities for all – some of whom have funds specifically aimed at assisting female entrepreneurs. It is important to find out about these financiers and align your business finance applications with their criteria.

We hope to see the biggest number of female entrants in this year’s competition since our launch in 1988. We must continue to encourage women to embrace entrepreneurship and disrupt staid industries and to participate in competitions that highlight their success.

If you haven’t entered yet, be sure to visit the entry form page, and complete the entry form before 31 May 2018.

Report reveals that 2017 entrepreneurial activity in SA 4.1% higher than 2016

The recently released 2017-18 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) report for South Africa revealed that entrepreneurial activity in the country is at its highest level since 2013. The report also shows that total early-stage entrepreneurial activity (TEA) is at 11.0% – 4.1 percentage points above the 2016 score of 6.9%.

Kobus Engelbrecht, spokesperson for the 2018 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS says that it is particularly encouraging to see that entrepreneurial intentions in the country have increased in the last few years, currently sitting at 11.7% (up from 10.1% in 2016-17).

Engelbrecht says that with these statistics, it is ever important to keep up the momentum by celebrating local entrepreneurs for the work they do in building the local economy, creating jobs and developing their communities with the view to inspire others to follow in their footsteps.

“We often casually refer to entrepreneurs being the backbone of the economy, but when the economy is still trying to recover from a number of macro-economic stumbling blocks, entrepreneurs show their invaluable worth.” He adds that job creation is one of the key aspects identified as areas which will help grow the economy – and this is one specific area that entrepreneurs can make tangible contributions.

Engelbrecht adds that in celebrating the work of entrepreneurs, business competitions do well to motivate and inspire business owners. He points to the recent launch of the 2018 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS which is now open for entries. “In our 30th year of celebrating and rewarding entrepreneurs, we want to encourage established entrepreneurs to enter this year’s competition – not only for the cash prize money at stake, but for the value received through the stringent judging process, business mentorship prizes as we as the resultant exposure.”

Engelbrecht adds that entrepreneurs have until 31 May 2018 to enter the competition and can do so by visiting www.eoy.co.za. Prizes are valued at over R 2 million, which includes cash prizes of R 70 000 for each main category winner, and R200 000 for the overall winner. Competition winners will also receive valuable mentorship support, networking opportunities and national media exposure.

SA’s premier entrepreneurial competition marks 30 years of celebrating entrepreneurial excellence

Amid the current political optimism, entrepreneurs should be especially inspired by the continued commitment to SME support which emerged as a consistent theme in both the 2018 State of the Nation Address and the National Budget Speech. This is according to Christo Botes, spokesperson for the 2018 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS, who believes that this continued focus evidences Government’s recognition of the vital role played by entrepreneurs in enabling economic growth.

Speaking in light of the launch of the 2018 competition, Botes says that this long-deserved recognition of the SME sector only further validates the competition’s unwavering commitment to celebrating excellence in entrepreneurship and fostering future economic growth.

“Now in our 30th year, this renowned competition continues to pay homage to the fearless South African entrepreneurs who dedicate themselves to their enterprises and businesses: driving growth, combatting unemployment and contributing towards the country’s economic development. It is therefore wonderful to see the public sector taking the required steps to improving the environment in which these entrepreneurs operate in order to promote further growth in the sector.”

Botes, who is also executive director at Business Partners Limited (BUSINESS/PARTNERS) has been involved in the competition since its inception in 1988, “Looking back over the last 30 years, this competition has evolved from an internal competition that recognized BUSINESS/PARTNERS’ clients only, to a nation-wide search for outstanding South African-based entrepreneurs, with Sanlam as our valued partner.”

He says that the competition continues to reward successful local business owners for the valuable contributions they make to grow their local communities and economies, and aims to inspire others to do the same. “As our 30th- anniversary year, we’re hoping to see even more entrepreneurs enter. The competition is open to all South African-based businesses and prizes are awarded for the following categories: Overall Entrepreneur of the Year®, Emerging Business Entrepreneur of the Year®, Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year®, Medium Business Entrepreneur of the Year®, Job Creator of the Year and Innovator of the Year,” says Botes.

Botes adds that this year, the 2018 competition will also recognize a South African entrepreneur for a Lifetime Achievement award. “The purpose of this specially nominated award is to recognize an entrepreneur who has made a significant contribution to the South Africa economy and has grown their business from start-up to large-scale, perhaps even multi-national corporation. We want to reward the individuals who have dedicated their lives to building our economy and inspiring others to do the same.”

The 2018 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition, sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS, offers prizes valued at over R 2 million, which includes cash prizes of R 70 000 for each main category winner, and R200 000 for the overall winner. Competition winners will also receive valuable mentorship support, networking opportunities and national media exposure.

Botes says that in celebrating 30 years of searching for entrepreneurial talent in all sectors of the economy, the competition remains fiercely committed to its cause in 2018. “The judges are looking for entrepreneurs that have succeeded against the odds, either by carving out a niche market for their product or service offering, or by succeeding in a very competitive environment. Perseverance and endurance, innovation and agility are some of the qualities we look for in the entrepreneur.”

He adds that there are also a number of quantitative competition measures, such as turnover growth, profitability, owners’ equity growth, positive cash flows and job creation that play a part in the competition’s judging process.

To enter, complete the entry form online at www.eoy.co.za and feel free to interact with fellow entrepreneurs, past winners and entrants on our social media platforms www.twitter.com/@EOY_SA and www.facebook.com/EOY.SA. The closing date for the competition is 31 May 2018.

SA’s premier entrepreneurial competition marks 30 years of celebrating entrepreneurial excellence in Cape Town

Amid the current political optimism, entrepreneurs should be especially inspired by the continued commitment to SME support which emerged as a consistent theme in both the 2018 State of the Nation Address and the National Budget Speech. This is according to Kobus Engelbrecht, spokesperson for the 2018 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS, who believes that this continued focus evidences Government’s recognition of the vital role played by entrepreneurs in enabling economic growth.

Speaking in light of the launch of the 2018 competition in Cape Town today, Engelbrecht says that this long-deserved recognition of the SME sector only further validates the competition’s unwavering commitment to celebrating excellence in entrepreneurship and fostering future economic growth.

“Now in our 30th year, this renowned competition continues to pay homage to the fearless South African entrepreneurs who dedicate themselves to their enterprises and businesses: driving growth, combatting unemployment and contributing towards the country’s economic development. It is therefore wonderful to see the public sector taking the required steps to improving the environment in which these entrepreneurs operate in order to promote further growth in the sector.”

Christo Botes, executive director at Business Partners Limited (BUSINESS/PARTNERS) has been involved in the competition since its inception in 1988, “Looking back over the last 30 years, this competition has evolved from an internal competition that recognized BUSINESS/PARTNERS’ clients only, to a nation-wide search for outstanding South African-based entrepreneurs, with Sanlam as our valued partner.”

He says that the competition continues to reward successful local business owners for the valuable contributions they make to grow their local communities and economies, and aims to inspire others to do the same. “As our 30th- anniversary year, we’re hoping to see even more entrepreneurs enter. The competition is open to all South African-based businesses and prizes are awarded for the following categories: Overall Entrepreneur of the Year®, Emerging Business Entrepreneur of the Year®, Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year®, Medium Business Entrepreneur of the Year®, Job Creator of the Year and Innovator of the Year,” says Botes.

Engelbrecht adds that this year, the 2018 competition will also recognize a South African entrepreneur for a Lifetime Achievement award. “The purpose of this specially nominated award is to recognize an entrepreneur who has made a significant contribution to the South Africa economy and has grown their business from start-up to large-scale, perhaps even multi-national corporation. We want to reward the individuals who have dedicated their lives to building our economy and inspiring others to do the same.”

The 2018 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition, sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS, offers prizes valued at over R 2 million, which includes cash prizes of R 70 000 for each main category winner, and R200 000 for the overall winner. Competition winners will also receive valuable mentorship support, networking opportunities and national media exposure.

Engelbrecht says that in celebrating 30 years of searching for entrepreneurial talent in all sectors of the economy, the competition remains fiercely committed to its cause in 2018. “The judges are looking for entrepreneurs that have succeeded against the odds, either by carving out a niche market for their product or service offering, or by succeeding in a very competitive environment. Perseverance and endurance, innovation and agility are some of the qualities we look for in the entrepreneur.”

Engelbrecht adds that there are also a number of quantitative competition measures, such as turnover growth, profitability, owners’ equity growth, positive cash flows and job creation that play a part in the competition’s judging process.

Entrepreneurs are encouraged to enter the competition and can do so by downloading the entry form online at www.eoy.co.za. They can also interact with fellow entrepreneurs, past winners and entrants on the competition’s social media platforms www.twitter.com/@EOY_SA and www.facebook.com/EOY.SA. The closing date for the competition is 31 May 2018. 

SA’s premier entrepreneurial competition marks 30 years of celebrating entrepreneurial excellence in Johannesburg

Amid the current political optimism, entrepreneurs should be especially inspired by the continued commitment to SME support which emerged as a consistent theme in both the 2018 State of the Nation Address and the National Budget Speech. This is according to Christo Botes, spokesperson for the 2018 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS, who believes that this continued focus evidences Government’s recognition of the vital role played by entrepreneurs in enabling economic growth.

Speaking in light of the launch of the 2018 competition in Johannesburg today, Botes says that this long-deserved recognition of the SME sector only further validates the competition’s unwavering commitment to celebrating excellence in entrepreneurship and fostering future economic growth.

“Now in our 30th year, this renowned competition continues to pay homage to the fearless South African entrepreneurs who dedicate themselves to their enterprises and businesses: driving growth, combatting unemployment and contributing towards the country’s economic development. It is therefore wonderful to see the public sector taking the required steps to improving the environment in which these entrepreneurs operate in order to promote further growth in the sector.”

Botes, who is also executive director at Business Partners Limited (BUSINESS/PARTNERS) has been involved in the competition since its inception in 1988, “Looking back over the last 30 years, this competition has evolved from an internal competition that recognized BUSINESS/PARTNERS’ clients only, to a nation-wide search for outstanding South African-based entrepreneurs, with Sanlam as our valued partner.”

He says that the competition continues to reward successful local business owners for the valuable contributions they make to grow their local communities and economies, and aims to inspire others to do the same. “As our 30th- anniversary year, we’re hoping to see even more entrepreneurs enter. The competition is open to all South African-based businesses and prizes are awarded for the following categories: Overall Entrepreneur of the Year®, Emerging Business Entrepreneur of the Year®, Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year®, Medium Business Entrepreneur of the Year®, Job Creator of the Year and Innovator of the Year,” says Botes.

Botes adds that this year, the 2018 competition will also recognize a South African entrepreneur for a Lifetime Achievement award. “The purpose of this specially nominated award is to recognize an entrepreneur who has made a significant contribution to the South Africa economy and has grown their business from start-up to large-scale, perhaps even multi-national corporation. We want to reward the individuals who have dedicated their lives to building our economy and inspiring others to do the same.”

The 2018 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition, sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS, offers prizes valued at over R 2 million, which includes cash prizes of R 70 000 for each main category winner, and R200 000 for the overall winner. Competition winners will also receive valuable mentorship support, networking opportunities and national media exposure.

Botes says that in celebrating 30 years of searching for entrepreneurial talent in all sectors of the economy, the competition remains fiercely committed to its cause in 2018. “The judges are looking for entrepreneurs that have succeeded against the odds, either by carving out a niche market for their product or service offering, or by succeeding in a very competitive environment. Perseverance and endurance, innovation and agility are some of the qualities we look for in the entrepreneur.”

Botes adds that there are also a number of quantitative competition measures, such as turnover growth, profitability, owners’ equity growth, positive cash flows and job creation that play a part in the competition’s judging process.

Entrepreneurs are encouraged to enter the competition and can do so by downloading the entry form online at www.eoy.co.za. They can also interact with fellow entrepreneurs, past winners and entrants on the competition’s social media platforms www.twitter.com/@EOY_SA and www.facebook.com/EOY.SA. The closing date for the competition is 31 May 2018. 

Independent research firm carves a niche in the investment industry

After having worked as an Investment Analyst for large institutions for 12 years, Shamil Ismail – who was voted the 2014 ABSIP (Association of Black Securities and Investment Professionals) Analyst of the Year – founded Primaresearch in late 2015 as an independent, sell-side, equity research firm based in Cape Town. Since then, Primaresearch has grown to six analysts, and developed a reputation for crafting innovative and insightful research which combines traditional fundamental analysis with industry insights. Primaresearch was voted First in the Innovative Research category of the 2017 Financial Mail Analyst Rankings.

Offering some insight from inside the industry, Ismail explains that the investment sector can be broadly split into two parts – the “buy side” (fund managers) and the “sell side” (stockbrokers). “In recent years, the stockbroking sector has faced multiple challenges, including margin compression, growth in a low-touch, low commission, and more stringent regulations which will ultimately split research and dealing costs.”

Added to these challenges, Ismail says there is growing pressure on South African fund managers to increase their brokerage allocations to black-owned stock broking firms. “So while revenue for the overall brokerage market is under pressure, there is a segment of the market that is growing – the black-owned stockbroker segment.

“There are only a handful of black-owned stock broking firms in South Africa and not all of these brokers have a strong research product offering at present. This is the opportunity that Primaresearch has tapped into: To provide high-quality, niche research by a firm that is owned and majority staffed by black analysts.”

Ismail adds that the business focuses its research on consumer-facing companies. “We have developed a reputation as the ‘go-to’ specialists in the niche of consumer companies and, over the past 18 months, have built a formidable client base which includes all the major asset managers in South Africa, as well as four foreign fund managers.”

In a short space of time, Primaresearch has managed to redefine what sell-side investment research could be. “We have identified a niche, and tapped into the opportunity, with plans in place to grow further in the future. These plans include the launch of ‘PrimaPlatform’, which allows independent analysts to plug into our portal, and service the investment community.”

Shamil Ismail is a finalist in the 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS. For more information on his business, please visit the Primaresearch website: primaresearch.co.za.

Local entrepreneur takes on ICT sector giants

Being a serial entrepreneur requires dedication and perseverance, as well as the ability to spot a good opportunity when one comes knocking. This is precisely what entrepreneur and 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition entrant, Damian Michael of Innovo Networks did.

Starting his career in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry in 2008, initially at MTN before moving to lead the roll out of Neotel in South Africa, Damian quickly developed an eye for identifying market gaps. While working with Neotel, he saw the opportunity to register an authorised installer business with the launch of TOP TV, a business which his wife led for two years until they sold it. When Neotel announced its acquisition by ICT giant Vodacom, Damian realised this was the push he needed to start his own venture.

In 2013, he launched Innovo Networks, a high-touch, business focussed voice, data and cloud provider aimed specifically at helping small and medium enterprises (SMEs) grow and expand their operations by providing the best technologies, at a better price than larger corporates in the industry. “I wanted to use my expertise in the ICT industry and provide guidance and best of breed products to SMEs in South Africa so that they could sustain themselves and contribute toward growing the local economy in terms of job creation,” he says.

It hasn’t all been smooth sailing for Damian’s journey into full-time entrepreneurship though – during Innovo Networks’ second year of business, the company lost R500 000 on a fraudulent order and as a leader, Damian realised that his response to the situation was critical to the business’ future success: “I had to be strong, and show leadership to my team that business could and would bounce back from this setback.”

Another great lesson Damian has learnt along his journey is the importance of retaining top talent. “For a small business to compete with salaries offered by larger telecommunication corporates is very difficult, but it is crucial to hire top talent and reward them appropriately, or risk losing them to the giants in industry.”

Since inception, Innovo Networks has grown from strength to strength, racking up a number of awards and accolades along the way. Due to the business’ success and ability to main a positive cash flow, the business also recently purchased its own premises in Century City, Cape Town – a big milestone for the business.
Damian accredits his entrepreneurial success to his attention to detail and ability to spot gaps in the market. “My passion for helping others and being customer-centric in all my businesses has always been a big part of my journey too,” he says.

Looking to the future, Damian has big dreams for the business and plans to innovate across Innovo Networks’ entire product portfolio, and build its own cloud platform and security products. “We want to dominate and disrupt the cloud space, with the goal to gain attention for a multinational buyout,” he says.

Damian believes he’s got what it takes to take the 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year® title home, he shares three key tips for his fellow entrepreneurs:

  1. Have a clear and concise vision for your business. It is also important you are able to articulate this vision clearly and regularly to your team.
  2. Hire top talent and pay well, or to the best of your ability – this will pay off.
  3. Make the effort. No one succeeds immediately, but the long hours of grafting and hard work will pay off in the end.

2017 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition now open for entries

The instrumental value that entrepreneurs add to the South African economy is undisputable – they are an important cog in the creation of the much needed jobs in the country. It is therefore encouraging that the challenges and obstacles which impede this valuable sector are receiving some much-needed attention from both the public and private sectors – with the inclusion of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the State of the Nation Address (SONA) and National Budget Speech – beckoning for a more focused approach to entrepreneurial development in the country.

This is according to Ben Bierman, Managing Director at Business Partners Limited (BUSINESS/PARTNERS), who was speaking at the launch of the 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS, in Johannesburg today.

He adds that just as important as government’s efforts of building an inclusive, supportive and thriving entrepreneurial eco system, is the need for society to encourage and support entrepreneurs in starting and growing businesses which positively contribute towards the country’s growth. “We need to be creating more platforms that stimulate and support entrepreneurship, we should work to promote and celebrate the successes of entrepreneurs – those individuals that tirelessly, often without recognition, contribute to growing the local GDP and improving employment figures.”

Celebrating its 29th year, the Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS competition seeks to promote entrepreneurship in South Africa as a viable career path, by honouring dedicated entrepreneurs who have made great strides in their businesses and whose passion for growing their businesses and communities inspires and stimulates the nation.

Also speaking at the competition launch was esteemed entrepreneur, Sisa Ngebulana, CEO of Rebosis and Billion Group who spoke about his entrepreneurial journey including listing Rebosis on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) in 2011 for R3, 6 billion.

Bierman adds that as 73% of the country’s adult population sees entrepreneurship as a good career choice (2017 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) report), industry leaders should be leveraging this to drive entrepreneurial participation in South Africa. “If we can create more entrepreneurs as a country, we can boost the economy which then in turn has various positive knock-on effects, such as creating jobs, introducing innovation and having a larger tax pool to fund all the key government projects including educating our young people.”

The Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS, is a platform to reward and acknowledge the ongoing hard work of these entrepreneurs. With five categories, entrepreneurs from emerging to small and medium businesses can enter.

Prizes valued at over R 2 million can be won, which include cash prizes of R60 000 for each main category winner, and R160 000 for the overall winner. Competition winners will also receive valuable mentorship support, networking opportunities and national media exposure.

“Entrepreneurship can be a lonely endeavour, but also one of the most rewarding. Through the competition, we want to share the successes of these inspirational individuals who are making a difference, as well as create an environment in which entrepreneurs can engage, network and learn from each other.”

Entrepreneurs interested in entering the competition can download entry forms online at www.eoy.co.za as well as interact with fellow entrepreneurs and entrants on the competition’s social media platforms www.twitter.com/@EOY_SA and www.facebook.com/EOY.SA. The closing date for the competition is 31 May 2017.