Starting a business can be extremely rewarding, but also highly challenging. It requires very careful planning and absolute dedication. You’ll have to consider what college course you choose to study, the product or service you want to offer, and a number of legal, financial and practical aspects. Here’s how you can plot your path to a career in business management.

Choosing what to study

If you start your own business, then you’ll be your own boss. However, you will obviously need a sound knowledge of what it takes to get your business up and running. If your heart is set on starting your own business, based on a well-thought-out business idea, you don’t need a university degree. National qualifications or skills certificates in business management will equip you with all the basic knowledge you need to get started. In addition, if your plans happen to change for some reason, you’ll have a qualification behind your name that you can fall back on.    

Drawing up your business plan

Once you’ve acquired the knowledge you need to start your business, it’s time to put your plans down on paper. For any prospective business owner, a business plan is essential. Amongst other things, the business plan will describe: the business offering; your sales and marketing strategies; target markets; financing plans; budgets; estimated expenses and projected losses and profits.

The business plan can serve two purposes. Firstly, it can give you a blueprint to follow when starting and operating your business. Alternatively, it can be targeted at potential investors, providing them with evidence that your business is worth investing in.

See these 10 tips for writing the best business plan.

Finding funding

You can’t start a business without the appropriate funding. Are you going to self-finance your business with money that you’ve saved? Will you need to apply for a loan at a bank? Or will you look to attract investors who can provide the start-up capital you need to get up and running?

If you don’t have enough money saved up, then a good starting point would be to approach family and friends to ask whether they may be willing to provide some funding. Show them your business plan and discuss how their money will be invested and what funds you will return to them.

You could also consider approaching business funding agencies such as the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA), which regularly provides support and financing for promising start-ups.

Any funds you raise should be invested in areas such as product development, marketing and advertising, and the equipment and systems you need to ensure your business can operate optimally.  

Finding employees

Now it’s time to think about the people you will need to join you in starting your business. Unless you have large amounts of start-up capital, you will usually start your business with only a handful of staff members. In fact, it’s much better to start with too few staff members than too many. This will minimize your risk of having to possibly lay off staff if you’ve overestimated the success or scale of your business. When looking for staff to join a start-up, consider people who you already trust and who you know are fully on board with your ideas and vision for the business. 

Complying with the law

In order to start a business in South Africa, you need to comply with a variety of legal requirements. Here are some of the steps you need to take to ensure that your business is legal:

– Registering your business with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission.

– Registering with the South African Revenue Service (SARS) to ensure that your business pays tax; and that your employees have an unemployment insurance fund. If you employ one or more staff members who earn over R40 000 per year, then you will also have to register your company for Pay As You Earn Tax (PAYE). 

– Registering with the Department of Labour in order to commit to your legal obligations to protect employees.

To cover all your bases, it is highly recommended that you hire an attorney who can ensure that your business is fully compliant with all legal requirements.

Getting your business off the ground

Once you’ve done all the admin work and laid the proper foundations, it’s time for the exciting moment of starting to operate your business!  We have some great tips for you on how to start making a name for your business, without having to spend bucket loads of money. Read Opportunities are Everywhere! 6 Great Ways to Boost Your Business.

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