Tag Archive: entrepreneurship


Sandra Swanepoel

Sandra Swanepoel

Blog by Sandra Swanepoel, Sales Director at Sage VIP

There are ten core principles that differentiate good entrepreneurs from great ones. It is important to nurture an entrepreneurial spirit within an organisation and to empower the business to operate as if each individual works for themselves.

My top ten tips for entrepreneurs are:

  • Have stamina and work hard – Be relentless in pursuing  business. Make sure you have the stamina to spend all the hours that you can on pursuing your dreams.
  • Always spend your time on activities that are closest to cash – Certain hours are high income generating hours, spend them wisely.
  • Be an expert in what you do – invest time in yourself in order to be extremely well informed.
  • Deal with people  effectively – if you had to think of a leader  that really had a impact on you  and that influenced you in a positive way. You will find that the qualities they possessed were mostly emotional intelligence qualities and very seldom technical or IQ related. Make sure you develop your emotional intelligence to be able to deal with people efficiently.
  • Do things differently – Ask yourself what can I do differently so that customers will do business with me. How can I add value to their business? Be innovative, and take bold steps to distinguish yourself from the competition, be it with product service or your operations.
  • Be driven – set targets for yourself, your business and your staff; your business will only do well if you are driven to achieve results. Make sure that your targets are realistic. Unless you set goals you will find that time goes by that you cannot account for.
  • Do you have an immensely positive attitude – How you think is extremely important when you are a business owner. If you are able to stay positive and have a great mindset you are already on the right track.
  • Measure as much as possible – If you do not know your business you will not be able to improve year on year.  An example would be to measure what employees do and to give them goals, motivate them and pay them accordingly, resulting in greater buy-in, more ownership and accountability.
  • Read listen and learn – make sure you have a culture where you never think you know enough. Be open to learning and hungry for knowledge, whether from people that are younger, older, in different places or culture groups.
  • Admit mistakes and manage poor performers – If you do not manage people that perform poorly you will loose the whole room. For the same token if you have made a mistake by admitting it you will create a platform for peers to also admit mistakes. Keep the best employees and surround yourself with strong players.

by Michael Brennan

Sage has been carefully listening to its global market for Sage ERP X3 with regards to feedback and requests on the topic of Financial Reporting and is already making progress on integrating a powerful and flexible reporting technology based on cutting edge BI technology. The Sage ERP X3 core product team in France has embarked on a strategic partnership with our team with the intention of providing a modern Excel-based financial reporting designer and tools.

We have been in the business of offering robust Excel-based business intelligence tools for 11 years and have been working on Sage ERP products since 2005. Sage France’s move to collaborate closely with our team, mainly based in South Africa, is well aligned with Sage Group’s core strategy of consolidating group assets across regions and presents an exciting roadmap of consistent product and service offerings globally.

As global market BI market trends continue to evolve we have been investing heavily in new advanced technologies to power our next generation offerings and are pleased to announce Sage ERP X3 version 7 will include fully integrated financial reporting capabilities based on its next generation In-Memory Database BI Platform codenamed ‘LIME’. This new column based database platform has been engineered from the ground up to cater the needs of tomorrow’s businesses with a core focus on high performance, flexibility and great user experience. The new platform is able to accelerate performance by pre-calculating financial logic and place the results into its in-memory BI database to dramatically improve real-time query performance.

Expectations on this new offering include report design automation to cater for novice Excel users as well as flexible drag and drop formulas for capable Excel users. This approach allows both types of users to pull financial and analytical ledger data directly out of Sage ERP X3 v7 and arrange it within Excel using their existing Excel skills and save your Excel report securely back to the Sage ERP X3 server. In addition to utilizing cutting edge technology, we are also including major usability and modernization changes to our  report designer tools as we ramp up to deliver on ever increasing market demands for simpler BI and reporting software. This is great news for users who are already using Sage Intelligence Financial Reporting for Sage ERP X3 v6 and v6.5 who can look forward to substantial business value increases when moving to the integrated report designer within Sage ERP X3 which will be available as an option to all users using version 7.

Both French and South African teams are excited about the extent of new business value planned for Sage ERP X3 version 7 as a result of their collaboration and having a dedicated BI team focus on the Excel financial reporting capabilities of Sage ERP X3 allows the French team to ship more value to market each release.

Sage Business Index by Softline shows local confidence in business prospects remain stable, but confidence in SA economic prospects dips

8th November 2012, Johannesburg: Softline, part of the Sage Group PLC, today released the results of The Sage Business Index – Local and International Business Insights.

The Index is a global measure of confidence across small and medium sized businesses. Nearly 11,000 small and medium sized companies in 15 countries across Europe, North America, Brazil, South Africa and Asia responded to the survey. The Index shows that whilst there is a general decline in confidence in global and local economies, businesses remain cautiously optimistic in their own growth prospects.

In South Africa, confidence in both individual business prospects and the outlook for the global economy remain largely unchanged, down slightly from March 2012 (Index scores: 64.44 to 64.19 and 44.71 to 44.54 respectively). Confidence in South Africa’s own economic prospects has fallen slightly further from 46.11 in March 2012 to 43.03 in September 2012.

South African Index Scores* September 2012 March 2012 September 2011
Global economic confidence 44.54 44.71 45.92
SA’s Country economic confidence 43.03 46.11 44.10
Own business confidence SA 64.19 64.44 62.58

(Below 50 is decline/less confident above 50 is improvement/more confident, 50 is no different)*

The research, which included 1 879 South African small to medium size businesses, was carried out by Populus, a UK based opinion and research consultancy firm.

Economic confidence – local concerns in line with macro-economic trends

All countries, with the exception of Brazil, registered an index score below 50 showing that respondents generally feel that the global economy is continuing to decline. Unsurprisingly, the Eurozone countries feel the most negative, with fears of a “double dip” recession having risen sharply.

In South Africa, businesses surveyed are feeling less confident about the prospects for the local economy, with the index declining from 46.11 to 43.03 over the past 6 months. This, however, is in sharp contrast with how they feel about their own business prospects which scored positively at 64.19.

Commenting at the official results presentation in Johannesburg today, Ivan Epstein, CEO (and co-founder) of Softline and Sage AAMEA (Asia, Australia, Middle East and Africa) said, “Looking at the results against an international backdrop, South Africa scored the second highest index rating of all the countries polled in terms of individual business confidence. Entrepreneurial spirit and business culture is identified by businesses as one of the most important aspects for doing business successfully in South Africa. This endorses my strong belief that South Africa is a fertile environment for successful entrepreneurs and small businesses.”

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Business performance and challenges – revenues maintained, cost challenges

There are some positive signs in the global survey with 63 percent of respondents saying that over the past 6 months revenue has either increased or held steady whilst 82 percent have either increased or maintained employee numbers.

South Africa achieved a similar score with 65 percent of businesses polled showing either steady or increasing revenue and 84 percent of businesses either increasing or maintaining employee numbers.

Rob Wilkie, CFO of Softline and Sage AAMEA commented that “72 percent of South African businesses said that they have adapted to the challenges of the current economic climate. The agility and resilience of businesses in South Africa is testament to a strong entrepreneurial business culture and strength of South Africa as a place to do business”.

Increasing costs are the number one concern of businesses surveyed in South Africa. Wilkie commented that “this was expected given that CPI is on an upward trend with the main drivers being food prices, fuel and electricity. In addition, an inevitable consequence of the recent high wage increases seen in the mining and transport sectors is going to be higher inflation, particularly when decoupled from increased productivity”.

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Government – businesses call on government to do more

All countries participating in the global survey feel that their governments don’t provide sufficient support for business, with the exception of Singapore where 54% of respondents indicated that their Government provides adequate support.

In South Africa businesses are calling for skills development and education (46%), the reduction of bureaucracy and legislation (40%), a reduction in business tax (34%) and currency stability (28%).  Wilkie commented, “in order to enhance its competitiveness, government must address the quality of primary education, particularly in view of a very high unemployment rate. Over-regulation and red tape is a further obstacle, specifically firing and hiring practices, wage determination, public sector tender procedures and enforcement of contracts”.

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Investment for growth – future prospects

In considering the year ahead, 29 percent of South African businesses surveyed said they were looking to diversify into new markets, 28 percent would invest further in marketing and sales within their existing markets and 27 percent would invest in skills development and training.

According to Epstein, “economic and political reforms in Africa have resulted in an improved business environment and offer an attractive opportunity for South African businesses to diversify and expand across their border.”

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In conclusion Epstein said, “ We’ve seen evidence in this research report and others, that small and medium sized business in South Africa require more focused attention from our leaders. The future of the South African economy, and most importantly, the ability to create employment in this country will be dependent the stimulation of more businesses that are sustainable over the long term. Private business and Government have a pivotal role to play in the economic growth and development of small business in South Africa.”

To view the full article, please visit http://businessindex.sage.com/

For more, please follow Softline on Twitter http://twitter.com/SageGroupZA

Softline was recently very proud to be involved as a sponsor organisation with SIFE (Students in Free Enterprise), an international non-profit organisation that brings together South Africa’s top leaders with students, with the aim of creating a better, more sustainable world through the positive power of business.

SIFE hosted the SA 2012 national competition in July this year and 26 higher education institutions participated.  Participating students are required to form teams on their campuses and apply business concepts to develop outreach projects that improve the quality of life and standard of living for people in need.  The SIFE competition held last month was an opportunity for all teams to showcase the results from their projects and win the chance to compete in the SIFE World Cup.

SIFE South Africa CEO, Letitia de Wet says that all the participating teams showed great commitment in developing their communities and enriching their outreach through the creation of sustainable businesses. “It is heart-warming to see such commitment from these youths as it gives us hope that South Africa’s talent and entrepreneurial outlook is increasing – enabling a future led by inspiring and focused leaders who will constantly look for ways in which to not only develop their own skills but also integrate these learning’s and uplift the communities in which they operate.”

Nozipho Tshabalala, Organisational Development Consultant for Softline says that the sponsorship of the SIFE initiative is aligned to the Softline motto of not waiting for someone to help you, but rather taking steps to help yourself. “Learning about the projects and initiatives launched as a result of this competition has been inspiring, specifically the long term effects these students are having on the communities they live and study in.”

“Development of an entrepreneurial spirit is key for scholars and students in South Africa, and projects like these go a long way to educate young South Africans about starting and running small businesses with the added bonus of benefitting a community.”

The University of KwaZulu Natal has won consecutively for five years now, and this year they were awarded the National Champion title because of the outcome and impact they have achieved through the development and implementation of outstanding sustainable community outreach projects. As a result, they will be competing against winning teams from 38 different countries globally, where they will represent South Africa at the 2012 SIFE World Cup in Washington (D.C.), taking place from the 30th of September to 2nd October 2012.

We wish them all the best for this global competition and we at Softline are proud to be associated with such an uplifting initiative.

 

By Ivan Epstein CEO (and co-founder) of Softline and Sage AAMEA 

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Ivan Epstein

In the lead up to World Entrepreneur Day this Friday, I am constantly inspired by the tremendous entrepreneurial talent in South Africa. The desire to succeed by South Africans has resulted in an entrepreneurial culture which continues to grow at an encouraging rate in our country. This growth will be vital to fuel economic development in South Africa this year, and beyond.

While people can learn the principles of entrepreneurship, I think it’s very hard to train someone to be an entrepreneur. The steps and the risks you have to take to succeed in your own business can’t be taught. Ultimately, building a successful business and constructing a legacy is about passion; having a vision and sticking to it no matter what.

Starting a business and finding the right concept and vision is a gruelling process. Here are some insights that I gained along the way:

Work with people that support your vision

Finding a business partner that you trust and who shares your common interest and a similar drive to succeed is critical to making a business idea work. In many instances you will question your decisions or the direction you are taking, but having partners and staff that support you and share your vision makes the process substantially easier.

Find the right idea

The right idea might not present itself immediately, and is likely to be the result of a lot of investigative work as well as the current situation.  Revisit your initial idea often. Look back at where you’ve come from, and how the concept might have grown, expanded or improved. Be inspired by this, and use it as a learning experience to grow.

Persevere. It just takes one

With no track record, starting a business and selling a service or product can be difficult. A stand-out piece of advice that I received was simply to persevere until you find that one person that will give you a chance. Once you have gained your first customer the second one will follow. The challenges are many to start with, but these decrease as you persevere and focus on steadily moving forward.

Making mistakes is part of the process

With most decisions it takes time to get into a rhythm of knowing what to look for and how to make an informed decision. It is important to recognise that not every decision will be a good one. Entrepreneurs make mistakes; the secret is that they need to be big enough to admit it, learn from it and move on.

Trust your gut

Many entrepreneurs look for mentors to guide them along the process. Mentors are important, but trusting your gut is just as important to succeed. Taking the advice and guidance of others on board is helpful, but most entrepreneurs will also have that basic instinct for their own businesses. It’s important to tap into that instinct.

In closing, continue to look ahead and to see beyond where the business sits today. Your interest should always lie in the future. That is, after all, where you are going to spend the rest of your life.