Past winner catch-up – where are they now?

2018 marks our 30th year in honouring entrepreneurs and the contributions they make toward growing the South African economy. We’re celebrating this milestone by catching up with some of the past winners of the competition.

Catching up with: Kim Whitaker

Winning year: Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year® – 2015

Winning business: Once in Cape Town is a combined product of two different accommodation types – a backpackers’ lodge and a luxury hotel – globally dubbed as a ‘poshtel’.

It’s been almost 3 years since you won the Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year® title in 2015, how has business been since then?

Business has been very good – we’ve grown year-on-year and even achieved some goals that we had set out back when we started our journey.

Shortly after winning the title in 2015, we were fortunate enough to realise one of our big dreams – expansion into Gauteng with “Once in Jo’Burg” in 2016. It has been incredibly exciting to watch the new branch grow from strength to strength.

Since the 2015 competition, I also became a parent and being a working-mom has now brought a few new challenges to my life – such as needing to travel and attend business meetings with my child (even to Germany for a trade show!).

Have you made any new developments within your business since winning?

We very recently launched a tourism academy for young women in the tourism industry. The academy will begin in May 2018 with 20 students initially – taking them through the basics of tourism management. We hope this will empower these young women to forge long and successful careers within the local tourism industry.

Eventually we hope to grow the academy to host up to 100 students per year. We want to be a driver of growth in our sector and contribute toward bolstering youth employment in our country.
We were also recently awarded our Fair Trade stamp after a thorough audit – achieving a 100% pass rate which we’re very proud of.

What was the biggest lesson you learnt from your stint in the EOY competition?

The competition was an eye-opener. Bearing witness to the innovative things others are doing reminded me to always put my best foot forward, and to be proud of our achievements.

The entire experience was exceptionally inspirational. I was able to meet and learn from so many like-minded entrepreneurs who have amazing businesses. In turn, this has led me to discover a personal passion for networking with other local entrepreneurs and for investigating the entrepreneurial landscape in South Africa. I am eager to be more involved in helping others discover their entrepreneurial talents and seeing how we, collectively, can grow our country.

What would your top piece of advice be for anyone looking to enter this year’s competition?

I think the biggest, and possibly the most important piece of advice I could offer other entrepreneurs looking to enter the competition would be to be themselves completely. Don’t be something you’re not – you should be proud of your business, and your uniqueness. Be proud to fit outside the box. Most importantly – know your business inside and out – and don’t be shy to show it off.

Most attractive sectors for entrepreneurs in 2017

2016 was a tough year for many South Africans – and small businesses took a hard knock as the local economy experienced many challenges to overcome. Despite this testing environment, there are certain sectors that are ripe with opportunity for astute entrepreneurs to capitalise on in 2017.

In addition to the sectors that traditionally perform well in South Africa, such as tourism, there are definite opportunities being identified in other, less traditional sectors which show ample entrepreneurial potential. These include:

Telecommunications

Currently, there is a lot happening in the telecoms sector, with the expanding national rollout of fibre driven by the growing uptake of bandwidth-intensive applications. This has opened up a host of opportunities, ranging from the implementation of cables to technical support services. As bandwidth speeds increase, we’re seeing the integration of technology, communication and entertainment to form a whole new industry that has really taken off in South Africa and represents a major growth sector.

Private education

Internationally, statistics show that around 10% of all schools are privately run. As there are about 26 000 schools across South Africa, and only around 1 600 of those are private, there is currently a market capacity for about 1 000 private schools to be opened in the next few years.

Locally the demand for private education is on the rise, and there is an increase in the number of entrepreneurs moving into this space. In addition to being an area that exhibits great potential for profitability, the education sector is also attractive in terms of its social and economic factors. South Africa has a major skills shortage which can only be effectively tackled by the increased accessibility of quality education.

Mining

2017 will likely see some recovery in the struggling mining sector. At the end of 2016, there was already some indication that the mining sector was making a comeback, as commodity prices stabilised and, in some instances, even increased.

Agriculture

It is predicted that there will be more rainfall in the coming summer season which will be welcomed by the agricultural sector, having suffered some of the most severe drought conditions ever in 2016. This expected break in the drought will not only benefit farmers directly as they resume their operations, but also those in the supply chain supporting the sector,  such as packaging or logistical suppliers, who can also expect an uptick in business operations.

How can entrepreneurs capitalise on the new year’s opportunities and make their entrepreneurial dreams a reality in 2017?

  1. Remain positive and avoid getting despondent. Don’t allow your dream to go wasted because of challenging factors.
  2. Seek guidance from seasoned entrepreneurs who have already made their way around the block to avoid repeating their mistakes.
  3. Do your due diligence, but don’t wait around for someone else to make the first move – business conditions will likely get tougher as the industry becomes more crowded.

Most attractive sectors for entrepreneurs in 2017

2016 was a tough year for many South Africans – and small businesses took a hard knock as the local economy experienced many challenges to overcome. Despite this testing environment, there are certain sectors that are ripe with opportunity for astute entrepreneurs to capitalise on in 2017.

This is according to Christo Botes, spokesperson for the 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS, who identifies technology, communication and education as some of the sectors that are set to grow in 2017. “In addition to the sectors that traditionally perform well in South Africa, such as tourism, there are definite opportunities being identified in other, less traditional sectors which show ample entrepreneurial potential.”

Botes says that the first of these thriving sectors is telecommunications. “Currently, there is a lot happening in the telecoms sector, with the expanding national rollout of fibre driven by the growing uptake of bandwidth-intensive applications. This has opened up a host of opportunities, ranging from the implementation of cables to technical support services. As bandwidth speeds increase, we’re seeing the integration of technology, communication and entertainment to form a whole new industry that has really taken off in South Africa and represents a major growth sector.”

Another industry that Botes says shows great potential for South African entrepreneurs is the private education sector. “Internationally, statistics show that around 10% of all schools are privately run. As there are about 26 000 schools across South Africa, and only around 1 600 of those are private, there is currently a market capacity for about 1 000 private schools to be opened in the next few years.”

He adds that locally the demand for private education is on the rise, and that there is an increase in the number of entrepreneurs moving into this space. “In addition to being an area that exhibits great potential for profitability, the education sector is also attractive in terms of its social and economic factors. Our country has a major skills shortage which can only be effectively tackled by the increased accessibility of quality education.”

Botes goes on to say that 2017 will also likely see some recovery in the struggling sectors of mining and agriculture. “At the end of 2016, there was already some indication that the mining sector was making a comeback, as commodity prices stabilised and, in some instances, even increased. It is also predicted that there will be more rainfall in the coming summer season which will be welcomed by the agricultural sector, having suffered some of the most severe drought conditions ever in 2016.”

For entrepreneurs looking to make their dreams a reality in 2017, Botes offers the following advice: “Firstly, remain positive and don’t get despondent. Don’t allow your dream to go wasted because of challenging factors. Secondly, seek guidance from seasoned entrepreneurs who have already made their way around the block to avoid repeating their mistakes. And finally, do your due diligence, but don’t wait around for someone else to make the first move – business conditions will likely get tougher as the industry becomes more crowded.”

Emalahleni woman awarded Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year® award

Meisie Nkosi, owner of the 100% black woman-owned Bella Bonni Guest House, has been awarded the Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year® title at the annual 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS awards ceremony, held in Johannesburg this morning.

Established in 2006 in eMalahleni (Witbank) and catering for discerning private and corporate guests, Bella Bonni Guest House, has managed to stand the test of time, despite challenging economic conditions since opening its doors.

The judges were extremely impressed by Meisie’s ability to establish and grow a thriving business in the hospitality industry in an area that is not typically a tourist hotspot. “Meisie’s challenge is that, being based in Witbank, she is not able to rely on seasonal tourists like a business in Cape Town may do. However, she continues to grow her brand and satisfy a demand for accommodation in the area and has successfully adapted to her surroundings in order to do this,” commented the judges.

Originally focusing on only serving clients from the mines and power stations, South Africa’s economic downturn had an effect on Bella Bonni Guest House’s business as this clientele declined. This immediately prompted Meisie to research other areas of the market that the guest house could focus on in order to expand. By actively targeting the widespread tourism offices, Meisie has successfully opened the guest house’s reach to more commercial clients, while still maintaining original corporate relationships.

A former teacher, Meisie has been involved in informal businesses from a very young age and never imagined one day owning a thriving formal business. It was only when she was discovered and acknowledged for her passion for service through various business awards, that she realised she was, in fact, an entrepreneur.

Meisie says being selected as a winner in the national competition affirms that the business is on the right path. “This award will provide us with exposure, boosting our brand, and prove that we stand out from the crowd amongst our peers, clients and investors. Additionally, winning this award will be a big motivator internally, making staff proud to be part of the business, which is worth more than any cash reward and makes the whole experience incredibly rewarding.”

For more information please visit www.bellabonni.co.za.

Finding the silver lining in the dark economic cloud

While the country and the world may be facing economic woes, it doesn’t mean it is all doom and gloom for South Africa’s local entrepreneurs. This is the sentiment of Christo Botes, spokesperson for the 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS.

“South Africa faced a number of challenges over the past 12 months, including a weakening rand, ongoing power shortages, student protests, and growing water crisis. This year also began with its own trials as we saw the rand weakening further plummeting to an all-time low, and the enduring water shortages remain a major threat to various industries,” says Botes.

Botes says that this signifies that each year has its own set of challenges, yet at the same time, also brings new opportunities and business prospects for entrepreneurs to capitalise on. “Now more than ever, entrepreneurs should take charge and carve out their own futures by seizing the opportunities available to them.”

Given the current tough economic conditions facing South Africa, Botes provides a few considerations for local entrepreneurs to keep top of mind:

Entrepreneurs should prioritise refining their product and service offerings. As consumer spending power declines due to the various economic woes, businesses ought to be conscious that spending is stretched due to the increased costs of living and consumer debt. One method to retain clients in tough times is to provide unbeatable levels of customer service. Implementing activities and measures that create a greater customer experience and improve service levels will dazzle clients and ensure they remain loyal.

Re-evaluate the business’ financial standing by reviewing your pricing strategies, and, where possible, cut prices to attract more customers and increase profits. If a specific product or service offering is resulting in a loss, it might be time to forgo this aspect of your business. A key trait of a successful entrepreneur is knowing when to walk away from deals that are not beneficial to the future growth of the business.

As the cost of debt is likely to increase in 2016 we encourage entrepreneurs to consolidate existing debt and to avoid accumulating further debt to expand the business. Given the tough trading conditions, it is important to conduct business within your means, and tighten your cost management systems.

Involving your employees in the business’ outlook is key during challenging times. Be transparent regarding industry developments and any changes within the business, such as the unlikeliness of revenue growth during such a time. This is also an ideal period to encourage your employees to be more innovative with strategies that will increase turnover, cut costs, and propose new product offerings that are complementary to your offering.

Be conscious of market shifts. We have witnessed devastating effects as a result of the ongoing water shortages in various rural areas, with mining and agri-processing activity and profitability taking a knock. This has resulted in little to no economic activity within these sectors, and as such consumer spending is extremely low in these areas. Entrepreneurs should therefore opt for opportunities in urban cities where spending is not as reliant on mining and farming activities.

Explore the industries that are presenting entrepreneurs with growth opportunities. South Africa’s weakening currency is increasingly attracting foreign tourists due to the favourable exchange rate albeit the sector experienced some challenges in 2015 due to travel policies which have since been revised. Entrepreneurs who operate in the tourism sector, and related industries – such as retail – ought to re-engine their offerings to target foreign tourists. Given the exchange rate, businesses operating in the manufacturing sector should also research opportunities to develop products for export markets, as well as investigate developing products that have previously been popular in offshore markets.

Implement cost-cutting strategies by making use of energy efficient resources in your business.  Going green within your business processes can also prove to be a great cost-cutting strategy. While there is an initial cost for implementation, this will save the business money in the medium and long term. Such initiatives include low energy equipment that makes use of the sun or wind to operate and rechargeable batteries. Better waste management is another opportunity to not only cut costs, but generate revenue. Sorting waste, such as paper and bottles, in your business is a reality, and instead of paying for waste removal, business will be paid for their waste.

“While the year may have started on a gloomy note given the headlines in the media, we encourage entrepreneurs to remain positive and continue working towards achieving their dreams and aspirations, remembering that one can still find opportunities to build on, even at a time when things seem dire,” concludes Botes.

Welcome to 2016

Finding the silver lining in the dark economic cloud

By Christo Botes, spokesperson for the 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS

The 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition team would like to welcome all entrepreneurs to the start of a new and exciting chapter in their entrepreneurial journey. While the country and the world may be facing economic woes, it doesn’t mean it is all doom and gloom for our local entrepreneurs.

South Africa faced a number of challenges over the past 12 months, including a weakening rand, ongoing power shortages, student protests, and growing water crisis. This year also began with its own trials as we saw the rand plummet to an all-time low, and the enduring water shortages remain a major threat to various industries.

This signifies that each year has its own set of challenges, yet at the same time, also brings new opportunities and business prospects for entrepreneurs to capitalise on. Now more than ever, entrepreneurs should take charge and carve out their own futures by seizing the opportunities available to them.

Given the current tough economic conditions facing South Africa, here are a few considerations for local entrepreneurs to keep top of mind:

Entrepreneurs should prioritise refining their product and service offerings. As consumer spending power declines due to the various economic woes, businesses ought to be conscious that spending is stretched due to the increased costs of living and consumer debt. One method to retain clients in tough times is to provide unbeatable levels of customer service. Implementing activities and measures that create a greater customer experience and improve service levels will dazzle clients and ensure they remain loyal.

Re-evaluate the business’ financial standing by reviewing your pricing strategies, and, where possible, cut prices to attract more customers and increase profits. If a specific product or service offering is resulting in a loss, it might be time to forgo this aspect of your business. A key trait of a successful entrepreneur is knowing when to walk away from deals that are not beneficial to the future growth of the business.

As the cost of debt is likely to increase in 2016 we encourage entrepreneurs to consolidate existing debt and to avoid accumulating further debt to expand the business. Given the tough trading conditions, it is important to conduct business within your means, and tighten your cost management systems.

Involving your employees in the business’ outlook is key during challenging times. Be transparent regarding industry developments and any changes within the business, such as the unlikeliness of revenue growth during such a time. This is also an ideal period to encourage your employees to be more innovative with strategies that will increase turnover, cut costs, and propose new product offerings that are complementary to your offering.

Be conscious of market shifts. We have witnessed devastating effects as a result of the ongoing water shortages in various rural areas, with mining and agri-processing activity and profitability taking a knock. This has resulted in little to no economic activity within these sectors, and as such consumer spending is extremely low in these areas. Entrepreneurs should therefore opt for opportunities in urban cities where spending is not as reliant on mining and farming activities.

Explore the industries that are presenting entrepreneurs with growth opportunities. South Africa’s weakening currency is increasingly attracting foreign tourists due to the favourable exchange rate. Entrepreneurs who operate in the tourism sector, and related industries – such as retail – ought to re-engine their offerings to target foreign tourists. Given the exchange rate, businesses operating in the manufacturing sector should also research opportunities to develop products for export markets, as well as investigate developing products that have previously been popular in offshore markets.

Implement cost-cutting strategies by making use of energy efficient resources in your business.  Going green within your business processes can also prove to be a great cost-cutting strategy. While there is an initial cost for implementation, this will save the business money in the medium and long term. Such initiatives include low energy equipment that makes use of the sun or wind to operate and rechargeable batteries. Better waste management is another opportunity to not only cut costs, but generate revenue. Sorting waste, such as paper and bottles, in your business is a reality, and instead of paying for waste removal, business will be paid for their waste.

While the year may have started on a gloomy note given the headlines in the media, we encourage entrepreneurs to remain positive and continue working towards achieving their dreams and aspirations, remembering that one can still find opportunities to build on, even at a time when things seem dire.

The 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition will be launched on 25 February, and all entrepreneurs are encouraged to keep in touch via our various channels for updates. We encourage all entrepreneurs to partake in this prestigious competition and spread the word to fellow entrepreneurs. Now in its 28th year, the competition has provided many business owners with a platform to further expand their operations due to the positive media exposure and awareness the competition has created. For further information, please click here.

Here is to wishing you a successful 2016!

Top sectors for SA entrepreneurs to capitalise on in 2015

A new year brings with it new opportunities and 2015 offers both established and aspiring entrepreneurs multiple business prospects to capitalise on due to the various challenges South Africa has had to overcome in 2014, or continues to battle in 2015.

This is according to Christo Botes, spokesperson for the 2015 Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year® competition, who says that the challenges the country currently faces, such as the weakened rand and poor infrastructure, has provided gaps in various sectors for entrepreneurs to capitalise upon. “While the problems the country has had to face over the last year, from water and power shortages, are negative, these issues also provide opportunities in the market for entrepreneurs to take advantage of.

“Entrepreneurs don’t fit into a structure. They are agile, versatile and quick decision makers. They are the first movers and have the ability to quickly capitalise on new opportunities, or market gaps, and turn a bad situation into a positive outcome,” says Botes.

Botes points to a few sectors that he views as providing significant opportunities for entrepreneurs in 2015:

Education

Both Government and the private sector have allocated large budgets to improve this sector. More franchises are increasingly being established, especially Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges (formerly known as Further Education and Training (FET) colleges), due to the demand for such facilities and skills in the country. One of the known listed groups in the education and training arena, ADvTECH, recently announced their acquisition of the Maravest Group, and as a result is now expected to grow their student base by 70% in 2015. This business, together with the Curro model, an Independent Education company that provides affordable private schooling from pre-schools through to tertiary education level, are proving that there is a dire need and still some further niche markets to be serviced in the marketplace.

Manufacturing

While the sector will continue to offer opportunities in 2015, entrepreneurs should be exploring export orientated manufacturing. Government offers attractive incentives, such as rebates and tax deductions, for component manufacturing, as well as an entrepreneur’s ability to develop overseas markets for such products.

As an example, in the automotive industry, vehicle brands, such as Mercedes, Toyota, VW, BMW and Ford, are being exported in greater quantities from South Africa, and this has led to a growing supply chain that can offer new opportunities. Local businesses are also increasing the manufacturing of vehicle components for brands manufactured elsewhere in the world, and thus becoming part of these countries’ supply chains. There are many other industries also offering such opportunities which entrepreneurs can explore.

Tourism

While manufacturing should be export orientated due to the weak rand, entrepreneurs should take advantage of this in the tourism sector due to foreign tourists benefiting from the favourable exchange rate.

Business tourism is increasingly growing in attractiveness due to South Africa being recognised as the gateway to Africa, and due to the weak rand, savvy entrepreneurs can capitalise on the country being a fairly cheap destination to host international conferences, when compared to some of the more established / traditional conference destinations. In terms of vocation tourism, there is a growing opportunity to market the region as a destination and offer attractive all-inclusive deals with various airlines, hotel groups and different cities and resorts around South Africa, as well as the Southern African Development Community region.

Mining

While at a low base due to the labour disputes encountered over the last 18 months, the sector has recently experienced an increase in expenditure on capital programmes, especially in coal mines as older mines’ reserves are shrinking and coming increasingly under pressure to supply more coal to our mainly coal fired electricity generating power stations. This offers a myriad of opportunities for entrepreneurs in primary and secondary supply chains, such as shops and other infrastructure that is needed in the area where the mines are being developed and/or redeveloped.

Infrastructure at large

Government, at all levels, is investing in upgrading services and facilities and smaller contractors should seek ways to get involved in the various scheduled projects. Apart from low-cost housing, basic services, such as water, electricity, sewage plants, as well as repairs and upgrades to Government buildings and recreation sites, are needed in cities and towns across the country.

It is reported that the country’s next big crisis is water and much is needed to not only conserve water, but also to upgrade the existing poor infrastructure, which is under severe pressure due to old pipes bursting underground.

Botes encourages entrepreneurs across the country to explore these opportunities. “Established entrepreneurs may be drawn to a new opportunity due to his or her very nature of continually seeking new opportunities, or a hunger to be the ‘first mover’. These shifts in the economy however also offer aspiring entrepreneurs an opportunity to enter the market by identifying these gaps and then capitalising on the idea.

“Those entrepreneurs that take initiative will not only create wealth for themselves, but they would also be investing in South Africa’s economic development and job creation,” concludes Botes.

How to beat with winter blues

Most businesses, at some stage or another, are likely to experience seasonal fluctuations, which are often related to various seasonal periods and holidays. Some may be more affected than others, for example businesses operating in the retail or tourism industry.

However, according to Nimo Naidoo, project manager of the Sanlam Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year® competition, while a business may not sell its products or services throughout the year, it doesn’t mean that the business concept isn’t viable, it just means that the business needs to be managed appropriately in order to survive all year round.

She says that while extensive planning and execution is crucial for all entrepreneurs, it is even more so for seasonal business owners.

“A seasonal business is noticeably more difficult to manage than other businesses as they not only experience the challenges that all entrepreneurs and small business owners are faced with, such as red tape compliance, but also specific challenges unique to a seasonal business, such as inconsistent cash flow.”

Naidoo offers the following tips for seasonal business owners to consider in order to survive the quieter months:

  • Save when business is booming: It is no secret that ‘cash is king’ for small businesses and entrepreneurs, and a significant challenge for seasonal businesses can be to successfully manage finances due to the irregular cash flow a seasonal business is likely to experience.

    As the majority of a seasonal business’ income is obtained in a set period, often limited to a few months each year, it is vital that a portion of this income is saved and allocated to the quieter months in order to cover the cash outflows for during these periods. While it might be tempting to spend this additional money earned during the busy months, it is important to keep in mind that the quieter months are just around the corner.

  • Market your business wisely: Increasing marketing efforts in the lead up to, and during, the busy season will assist with increasing a business’ profile and ultimately assist the business in maximising its revenues for the in-season period. Business should however also maintain an active marketing plan during the quieter months in order to keep the business top of mind for customers. An annual marketing plan should be implemented, which will ensure that all possible channels are utilised all year round in order to maximise sales and performance.
  • Choose your staff carefully: Seasonal businesses need to strike a balance between maximising profits during their high season while also operating with skeletal staff during the off-season. Fixed-term or temporary employees provide cost-effective solutions for seasonal businesses as it isn’t always feasible to keep full time employees due to the nature of the business. It is however important to allocate enough time before the peak season to recruit the correct people for the job.
  • Manage your business effectively year round: The quieter months for a seasonal business shouldn’t be thought of as a holiday, but as a time to conduct further market research to establish how the business can improve its products and services, and ultimately increase revenues during its peak season.

Businesses should also prepare for the upcoming season by ascertaining the expected demand. This will assist when placing orders, as unsold stock and produce for a seasonal business could be costly, and should this not be sold or utilised during season, the product runs the risk of expiring or becoming out-dated before the next peak season.

EOY finalist discusses how seasonality affects her business

Seasonal entrepreneurs rely on the cyclical nature of their business and are therefore required to be considerably future orientated when making managerial decisions. This can be very challenging and requires careful planning and an in depth understanding of one’s business environment.

Anthea Ambursley, General Manager of Anansi Business Enterprises T/A Anansi Heights guest house, is a seasonal entrepreneur and was also a finalist in the 2012 Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year® competition. As an entrepreneur operating in the local tourism and hospitality sector she is greatly affected by the cyclical nature of her industry, and indicates that 80% of her turnover is generated during seasonal peaks. “It is therefore imperative that we actively take seasonality into account when managing the business.”

She says that the seasonal nature of the hospitality industry has a strong influence in the strategic management of her business. “Operating in a seasonal business cycle requires an efficient model that relies on accuracy and precision. One has to be extremely accurate in calculating monthly overheads, restructuring targets and most importantly, cash flow management.”

Seasonality also affects decisions regarding capital investments, which is not exclusive to human capital. “Employing staff is a very important issue that requires careful consideration. Hiring temporary workers during peak periods is largely preferable in this industry to maximise the favourable peaks in the business cycle, without incurring losses during the troughs, and avoids having to fire permanent staff members.”

However, Ambursley stresses that it also of utmost importance to account for changes in the business cycle that are a direct result of changing economic conditions. “Operating in a seasonal business educates one how to handle fluctuations in the economic climate. It is important to note that good fortunes may be a direct result of a prevailing economic or sector-specific tailwind and that tougher times may potentially lie ahead.”

Business owners urged to prepare for upcoming ‘silly season’

With the festive season looming, entrepreneurs often get caught up in the rush and forget to step back and analyse how their business operates within this busy period of the year.

According to Nimo Naidoo, project manager of the Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year Competition®, the festive season can be one of the most busy and costly periods of the year, especially for businesses operating within the tourism, hospitality and entertainment sectors.

Naidoo says that although most businesses have seasonal highs and lows, no matter which industry they’re involved in, many businesses within the lifestyle and hospitality sectors depend heavily upon revenue generated during this period, and can sometimes survive on this revenue throughout the year.

She says that businesses operating in these industries therefore need to take care when putting budgets in place. “Business owners operating in industries heavily reliant on seasonable revenue need to budget very carefully to ensure that they don’t overspend or extend themselves throughout the year.

“Expenses such as maintenance, taxes and equipment purchases need to be scheduled on an annual basis, and therefore businesses may need to budget far in advance for these expenses. If not properly budgeted for, businesses may run out of capital before these expenses are paid.

“Close attention also needs to be paid to cash flow and credit records, as having good credit is crucial for a seasonal business.”

Naidoo advises that seasonal businesses should plan carefully for the upcoming busy periods. “When careful planning is not done ahead of a busy period, business owners often spend valuable time planning, when they should be implementing and taking advantage of the increased amount of potential clients and customers. This potentially lucrative period only comes around once a year for most seasonable businesses, so should be taken advantage of.”

She says that advance planning can also help businesses reduce costs considerably. “For example, businesses which need to increase production in the festive season may be able to negotiate discounts from suppliers and service providers if the necessary orders are placed and arrangements are made early enough.

Naidoo says that although certain businesses consider November and December the most important months of the year, owners often struggle with staff productivity during this period. “The holiday season often has a very significant impact on labour productivity. As the holidays draw near and as the “Christmas spirit” begins to take hold, even the hardest working and most dependable of workers may very well find it hard to be productive. Making use of an incentives system to motivate staff during this period can prove to be successful as it encourages staff to work towards a specific target or goal which ultimately benefits the business.”