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3 Great Benefits Of Advertising On Online Radio

If you’re not making the shift from traditional media channels like TV, print and radio to the more effective online advertising opportunities, you’re losing out. With the development of the Internet and tech devices, live streaming has become a way of life for millions around the world.  Worldwide, consumers are embracing Internet radio on an increasing range of devices. Listening to the radio station of your choice is no longer limited to the area in which you live, and certainly not to the radio sitting in the lounge or even the one in your car. Listeners have access to the music they love 24/7, from Jozi to Helsinki and New York to Adelaide.  For advertisers, this is brilliant as you can reach consumers listening in on smartphones, tablets, laptops and PCs from all over the world day and night. It’s a great time to think about serving adverts about your product or brand to a larger audience. Welcome to Internet radio!

Reach further with online radio

There’s a growing shift towards online listening because it offers greater freedom in terms of variety and choice.  Without the limitation of geographical boundaries or distance from antennae, almost anything is within reach. And, even though the stations broadcast via the web, few charge a subscription which means that all this is available free to the listener. Whereas the average FM listener only spent half an hour listening to the radio during peak times, today’s trend is to enjoy streaming the online radio station of your choice whilst you drive, chat, workout or even work on your laptop.  This translates into great benefits for the online radio advertiser.

  1. A bigger audience – more people are listening, both in your local area and from further afield;
  2. Longer listening – because of the ease and convenience of listening on any device, people are spending more time listening.

Save with online radio advertising

But this is not all. Let’s talk money for a minute. How will advertising affect your budget and bottom line? You might be surprised to learn that advertising on online radio costs significantly less than advertising on traditional radio stations.  Research also suggests that online listeners are more likely to act on your advert’s call to action. If they are already online browsing the Internet or checking their social media and they hear your radio advert, they are perfectly poised to take action right then and there, and buy your product online.

The shift to streaming offers benefits for anyone looking for a more cost effective advertising that reaches a much broader audience than traditional radio. Go with the cheaper choice that has a stronger impact on audiences.

Online Strategies You Should Adapt for Your Business

Online Strategies You Should Adapt for Your Business

The bedrock importance of digital marketing has long been established and accepted by the business community, with UK SMEs following a wider trend which has seen more and more of marketing and communications taking place online. However, where a lot of smaller businesses fall behind is in the realm of strategy, with SMEs often lacking the resources and experience to implement sustainable and successful online strategies vital for growth in the contemporary market.

With such a large and increasing proportion of business operations taking place entirely online, regardless of the size of the company, digital strategy requires just as much serious attention as any other aspect of day-to-day operations. There are a number of simple, quick and easily implemented online strategies you should adopt for your business, whatever your sector.

A great place to start would be with SEO strategy, meaning search engine optimization, which means the techniques you can use to ensure your search engine ranking in unpaid search results is improved, and your business will appear higher on widely-used search engines like Google or Yahoo. There are a few straightforward ways to do this, such as by using as many relevant keywords as frequently as possible throughout your site, and ensuring your site is as mobile-friendly as possible.

Speaking of mobile friendliness, this crucial aspect of online strategy merits equal discussion and attention. Potential and longstanding customers are nowadays more likely to be looking at your business on a smartphone or tablet as they are a computer, and a site that is not mobile-friendly can seriously affect online traffic and even your brand reputation. You should start by simply creating a more mobile-friendly version of your site via an application such as bMobilized which will do the conversion for you. You should also make sure to use mobile-friendly plugins and ensure that all content has a size and resolution that will load easily on smaller devices.

It’s also crucial to ensure that your site is secure and that users feel confident that their data, payment information and browsing history is in safe hands on your site. It’s advisable to use well-known and trusted third-party applications such as PayPal to process transactions, and – very importantly – you should be using encryption software to protect customers from theft. If users know that their information is well-protected, they are much more likely to repeatedly choose your business over others.

A great way to utilise online strategy is with promotions, with a website often being the best place to advertise special offers and bonuses for new customers, with online casino UK site mrsmithcasino.co.uk being a particularly illustrative example of how your online presence can attract new business and help you expand. An easy way to increase traffic and promote your business is by offering deals exclusively to online customers, such as discounts or privileged access to your products.

Finally, it is also important that you have a detailed social media strategy for communicating with customers, meaning your business should be represented across a range of platforms, and that you regularly post updates and interact with customers in a way which presents your brand as approachable, friendly and professional

 

SMEs: How to access finance

Three of the major hurdles facing entrepreneurs are getting a new business venture started, making it sustainable, and then being able to grow the business when opportunity comes knocking.  A key challenge during each of these phases is the entrepreneur’s ability to access finance, according to Standard Bank. 

“There are various options that aspiring or existing business owners can pursue when it comes to finance,” said Ravi Govender, head of small enterprises at Standard Bank. “The options depend on what is most suitable for the business itself, as well as at the different stages of the business’ lifecycle.”

The two main options to consider, Govender says, are borrowing money from your bank or selling some of the equity in the business to investors in return for a capital injection. “Both options have their advantages and disadvantages,” he said. 

“It is worthwhile for someone approaching a bank to remember that if they pay attention to the ‘5 C’s’ of small business lending, the chances of being granted a loan are increased,” said Govender.

Essentially, banks need to be comfortable with:
– The character of the entrepreneur and the management team.
– A business’s credit score, as a good credit history means that the business is run well and its financial obligations are met. 
– The capacity of the business owner to meet monthly loan repayments.
– Whether all, or a portion of, the capital in a business belongs to the owner. An owner who has invested his or her own money into the business is personally invested in its success.
– Collateral being available to provide security for the loan.

“Borrowing money has a lot of advantages for businesses,” said Govender. “Although interest has to be paid on the capital borrowed, it is predictable and the interest paid on a loan is tax deductible.”

“At the other end of the scale is raising money from equity investors,” said Govender. “This is usually most attractive when a business is in the start-up phase, as it eliminates the large expense of loan repayments.”

“An additional benefit of equity financing is also the expertise and access to resources that the right investors can provide. However, these benefits have to be balanced with the fact that ownership is diluted and control can therefore be lost over a portion of the business,” said Govender. 

Other avenues of funding growth depend largely on the particular lifecycle that the business is in. Small companies with little collateral and no track record usually have to rely on additional capital being supplied by the owner, or someone who backs the owner and is not too concerned with receiving immediate returns on their investment (angel investors).

High growth potential and a limited track record can open up finance opportunities with venture capital, business loans and mezzanine financing as well as trade credit.

“As a business matures and grows, so other avenues of raising capital become available,” said Govender. “The ultimate goal for any business, and one many entrepreneurs aspire to, is seeing their businesses listed on the stock exchange and members of the public providing capital to fund future growth.”

How to bulletproof your business in tough times

South Africa’s economic outlook for the next three years remains bleak. During his first Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement in October, new finance minister Malusi Gigaba painted a picture of continued low growth, higher debt and less revenue.

On top of all this bad news, business and consumer confidence is low. This leaves small and medium-sized businesses at their most vulnerable.

A business owner in SA who remains under the impression that it’s business as usual, will see their venture suffer a slow death.

A lot has been written about ways to bulletproof a small business against a recession or tough economic times. And although the advice sounds simple, the devil is in the detail.

The dependency drug

The devil in SA is government and big business. Small businesses have allowed themselves to become dependent on them.

Bernard Swanepoel, chair of the Small Business Institute (SBi), says a government that runs on the belief that it is the great enabler creates an environment of dependency.

“We can be critical and say this dependency on tenders from government or big business should never have happened. However, that is the reality many small businesses find themselves in.”

To break free from this “drug” of easy service delivery to either government or big business is not easy. Consumers are under financial strain. They are buying less, and they are purchasing cheaper goods and services.

Small-business owners should actively seek opportunities that fall outside of the influence sphere of the state. Many companies are looking at the rest of Africa.

“Some African economies are growing at a rate of between 5% and 8%. There is no reason why we can’t be part of this African growth story,” Swanepoel says. “People need to take some risks.”

Indeed, especially if your business is an export-oriented one. Swanepoel says it becomes critical to look for opportunities elsewhere, because it’s hard to survive in an economy that’s not growing. “In many instances, people are shaken out of their comfort zones when times get tough,” he says.

“We must do what we expect of government, and that is to grow the economy.”

But do so cautiously. Alan Mukoki, CEO of the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry, warns that now is not the time to embark on any grand expansions. The main aim is to ride out the storm and maintain the business.

Diversification vs different

It is important to make sure new opportunities complement and truly diversify your core business offering. Susan Ward, co-owner of the Canadian IT consultancy Cypress Technologies, writes that small-business owners too often simplify the concept of “diversification” to “different”.

“Just adding other products or services to your offerings is not diversification. At best it is a waste of time and money. Worse, it can damage your core business by taking your time and money away from what you do best and damage your brand and reputation,” she writes.

Beware the rash decision

Trevor Gosling, CEO of LulaLend, which offers short-term business loans online, says small-business owners tend to panic when times are tough. “We find that business owners jump into deals that make no sense at all and do not benefit the company.”

Entrepreneurs simply see potential – instead of actual – income for their businesses and make their decisions accordingly. 

“Calculate the risk and the cost associated with the contract carefully before making rash decisions. It could have a knock-on effect when you least expect it. Make sure you understand the contract.”

Also check that you’re aware of what lies in store in terms of red tape and compliance before signing on the dotted line.  “It is not only extremely difficult to open a business,” Swanepoel says, “but it’s equally difficult to keep it afloat because of the debilitating regulatory environment.”

Contain costs

Gosling also advises company owners to “bed down” their businesses. Contain costs, and ensure there’s no wastage or leakage.

“Costs have to be contained, especially if there’s little prospect of an increase in turnover.”

In a time of constrained economic growth, profits are likely minimal, meaning any event causing need for quick access to funding could spell disaster, or even ruin, if it is too little and too late, he says.

Businesses that don’t know the importance of well-managed cash flow will fail despite all the advice in the world.

Business owners should see what can be done to reduce inventory costs without sacrificing quality or upsetting customers, Ward recommends.

“Just because you’ve always ordered something from a particular supplier or done things in a particular way, does not mean you have to keep doing them that way – especially when those other ways may save you money.”

The SBi’s advice to companies wanting to survive is to take a hard look at their debt. The threat of further credit downgrades will make debt more expensive for everybody, not only for government.

It’s also a good time to be extra-kind to your own suppliers, as this may help you negotiate better credit terms with them. Plus it’s a win-win situation: everybody remains in business, and jobs remain secure.

Safety in networking

Swanepoel proposes that business owners who feel trapped by, or even depressed about, growth forecasts should link up with relevant associations and industry bodies such as business chambers.

“This gives business owners the opportunity to share their sorrows with people who are in the same boat. Networking is an integral part of doing business. We all have to get off our backsides and actively seek opportunities. You can only feel sorry for yourself so long,” he says.

Continue marketing

According to Ward, consumers are restless in these times and looking to make changes in their buying decisions, and business owners should capitalise on that.

“You need to help them find your products and services and choose them, rather than others, by getting your name out there,” she recommends.

Mukoki says, it’s a good time to improve services to keep current customers happy – and hopefully attract new ones. There’s nothing wrong with considering cheaper marketing opportunities and strategies.

For instance, social media media is an inexpensive way of making your business visible. However, use with caution and heed experts’ advice regarding engagement on these platforms.

The 10 best milkshake spots in South Africa

Who wants boring old chocolate or vanilla?

Restaurants all around the country are now embracing the international gourmet milkshake trend by recreating traditional favourites into one-of-a-kind milkshake masterpieces.

From salted caramel, Nutella and Oreo, and popping candy-flavoured milkshakes to “adult” versions with a dash of booze, these unusual and inspired flavours have made our childhood favourites more delectable and desirable than ever.

Think homemade, retro-inspired and fantastical gourmet drinks which make the traditional seem so, well, vanilla. We’ve compiled a list of must-taste milkshakes which are guaranteed to bring all the boys – and girls – to the yard:

1. Craft in Parkhurst, Johannesburg

The restaurant’s specialty #OhShakes are literally milkshakes on steroids! Featuring the likes of The Candy Feast, Chocolate Overload and Salted Caramel Delight these sweet treats are guaranteed to invoke a flavour overload.

2. Bootlegger Coffee Company, branches across Cape Town

While they’re famous for their coffee, certain branches of the sophisticated eateries also serve some pretty stellar milkshakes. Treat yourself with one of the indulgent salted caramel popcorn or Peppermint Crisp flavour shakes. For the caffeine lovers, there’s a Bootlegger Coffee flavour too!

3. Hudson’s The Burger Joint, branches in Joburg,Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban

Nothing goes together quite like a burger and a milkshake – and Hudson’s has the perfect pairing down to an art! Whil tucking in to one of their juicy patties, try indulgent flavours like salted caramel, Lindt chocolate brownie and even strawberry candy floss! If you’re looking for something with a kick, get yours laced with Kaluha, Amarula or Frangelico.

4. My Sugar, Cape Town

Chocolatiers at My Sugar in Sea Point, Cape Town, have created drool-worthy gourmet shakes with a twist that are almost too pretty to drink! Their miso caramel milkshake is a blend of caramel, cookie butter and butterscotch popcorn, and their caramelised coconut milkshake topped with vanilla-bean whipped cream is the stuff of milkshake heaven!

5. Freedom Café, Durban

Freedom Café’s delicious milkshakes are popular with Durban’s locals. From the traditional chocolate, banana and cherry shakes, to the more eccentric Spiked Shakes: banoffee pie, apple pie and peppermint crisp, there’s something for all milkshake-lovers on this menu.

6. Protea Fire & Ice Hotel Cape Town

Protea Fire & Ice Hote! Cape Town’s gourmet milkshakes are considered to be some of the best in the Mother City. The hotel restaurant has two ranges of milkshakes – naughty and nice. The non-alcoholic shakes include the Big Blue (blueberries and cream), Aero Attack (with Aero chocolate) and the Lindt-O-Licious (Lindt chocolate). But the “Grown-Up” Milkshake range is much more exciting. Featuring the Patronage (with a shot of Patrón coffee liqueur), the Amarula-flavoured Elephant’s Trunk and the tequila-infused Tequila Mockingbird, these milkshakes are the answer to all your milkshake cravings. And for those who want to indulge without guilt, there’s even a half-size option too!

7. The Thirsty Scarecrow, Stellenbosch

The Thirsty Scarecrow in Stellenbosch may be known for their local craft beers, but their traditional milkshake range has also won them widespread acclaim. With fantabulous flavours such as apple pie, lemon meringue and banoffee pie, it’s the one-stop shop to wet your whistle and indulge that sweet tooth.

8. XO Patisserie, Johannesburg

XO Patisserie situated at 27 Boxes in Melville, Johannesburg, features a two-for-one deal which dessert lovers won’t be able to resist. Known for their cronuts (that’s a croissant-doughnut hybrid pastry that’s deep-fried and all kinds of delicious, for those not in the know), they’ve now created a milkshake that is topped with their famed pastry delight!

9. Mugg & Bean, branches across SA

When it comes to bellywarming comfort food, you can’t go wrong with Mugg & Bean. And if it’s a happy tummy you’re after, try one of their jawdroppingly pretty shakes. The best part? They introduce new ones all the time!

10. Duke’s Burgers, Johannesburg

Turkish delight, homemade brownie or toffee and fudge – the choices are seemingly endless ad this trendy Greenside burger joint. If you’re stopping in to fuel up before a night out on Jozi town, be sure to indulge in one of shakes with a kick.

Is Your Small Business Protected If You Die? How to Mind the Insurance Gap

Is your business unprotected? “Of course not,” you probably say. But how sure are you? Almost 40% of small companies would likely go out of business if the business owner unexpectedly died, according to a new report, the New York Life Small Business Insurance Gap.

The survey also reveals the average insurance “gap”—the shortfall between a small business’s financial needs and the money it would have available from an owner’s life insurance policy in the event of the owner’s death—is $1.4 million.

“These numbers are eye-opening,” says Steve Strauss, USA TODAY senior small business columnist and independent consultant to New York Life. Strauss (full disclosure: Strauss is a friend of mine) says he’s surprised, especially since so many small business owners consider their employees their “business family,” that they’d leave them so vulnerable and unprotected. And it flies in the face of the business owners saying their employees keeping their jobs is the “most important” thing when they were asked about continuation of the business if they died.

Most (72%) of the business owners surveyed say they plan to leave their business to their families, and 53% name their spouse as the person they’d leave it to. But in many cases, families and spouses, especially if they don’t work at the business, aren’t prepared to successfully carry on the company—and without adequate capital, that becomes nearly an impossible task.

How valuable are you anyway?

The survey asked small business owners about the value they provide to their businesses in terms of hours worked, responsibilities, and the direct impact they have on sales. Their answers show it would take three trained, full-time employees to replace one owner who had unexpectedly died. Plus, company revenues would decline 34%.

The business owners surveyed are no slackers, either. Most (77%) plan to work until they’re at least 65 years old or longer, and 35% say they will never stop being involved in their business. Some 79% are responsible for generating revenue, and more than 40% work longer than the typical full-time workweek.

If you don’t want your business to be left unprotected, Strauss suggests three possible solutions:

  1. Make sure you have enough personal life insurance so your family is not left without funds if you die. Many desperate spouses have had to hold “fire sales,” selling businesses for less than their value, because they’re left without the resources to continue the business until a good deal can be negotiated.
  2. If your business is a partnership, each partner could buy a life insurance policy on the other one’s life. In the event of one’s death, the surviving partner can use the proceeds of that policy to buy out the deceased’s family and become the sole owner of the business.
  3. Identify the employee you think could best carry on your duties if something were to happen to you. Train them to do your job and buy a key-person insurance policy on them, since this will make them even more important to your business than they already are. Also make sure your contacts, contracts, and other vital business information are not “hidden” somewhere no one can find them.

No one wants to think about their untimely demise. But if you don’t plan for it, the business you’ve built with your blood, sweat, and tears could die along with you. Strauss advises all business owners to “think about the gap” and take action now to protect their employees, families, and businesses.

Starting a Business

Starting a business? Which start-up hat should you wear? Here are eight…

Starting a business? Be prepared to wear different hats and play various roles in the beginning of this beautiful journey, called entrepreneurship.

Then you can get out the starting blocks quicker, more confident and get through running your first lap while having all the basics covered. It is not as hard as you think, especially if you have help. Go through each start-up hat below and give yourself a head start.

We have listed the top eight hats, that with the help of my mentors/coaches and learning the very hard way, have been the best to cover and wear well, in your first year as a start-up.

1. The Bookkeeper start-up hat
Not everyone took maths or accounting at school or varsity but if you don’t know or understand your own numbers within the business, you are set up to fail. Although the reason you started a business might not be to purely make money, it has to be the end result, or you don’t have a business. So you have to:

  • learn how to quote and invoice quickly and correctly.
  • capture all your expenses and keep records of them.
  • keep up to date with who has paid you and who owes you money.
  • be diligent in paying your suppliers and communicating when you can’t.
  • create some form of monthly management accounts to know whether you are making a profit or loss.
  • and submit what is right to SARS.
  1. The Marketing Guru
    As a left-brainer, the best marketing design I produce is usually in black and white, involves a lot of squares, has way too much writing and me spending hours trying to Google a royalty-free high-res image. In the early days of trying to do it all, sticking to simple marketing works, but the point is, you have to include marketing. You really do need to know how to:
  • find the right words and images to sell your service or product.
  • select three platforms that you will focus on and start marketing with.
  • stay consistent with what you say and what you do.
  • cover your basics with a professional look even if your business is not a multi-million-rand company, including a
    logo that fits, a suited business name and a website.
  1. The Brand Manager start-up hat
    There is a difference between branding and marketing. As you start the business, you need to create an identity for yourself and your business. You are your own brand manager and your potential customers need to understand:
  • what you do,
  • who you are,
  • what you and your business stand for or
  • they will have no reason to buy from you other than necessity and the purchase will be based on price and service.

Unfortunately (or fortunately as I say) these are no longer the only deciding factors that customers will use to buy from you. Answer the above questions and you will give them more reason and often the right reason to buy. Your brand can be hard to put into words and so, many start-ups leave this out.

4. The Networker
When I see the word, “network”, for any event, I cringe, and usually skip right past the details, as to avoid myself going through the scenario of arriving somewhere, not knowing anyone and looking for the refreshments station as that should buy me a few minutes before hopefully having to find a seat so that the event can start.

In any start-up, mixing, socialising and getting other opinions are critical and it doesn’t have to be as daunting as our ideas about networking are. It can be a natural progression in the right environment, and for any start-up that right environment is where you belong. Take the time and find it.

5. The Personal Growth start-up hat
I read a powerful statement recently: “The gift of being alive, is the gift of growing.”  I love living in a world where I get to live on my strengths and believe in myself as much as own up when I am wrong and work on my weaknesses. It is so liberating. It’s very hard but oh… so fun and powerful.

When you start a business, there are so many things you realise about yourself. You find out what you are good at and very quickly what you are not so good at. Don’t make the mistake that so many start-ups make… Think you know everything. The day you think that, is the day you set up to fail as a person and as a business.

6. The Self-Motivator
If you don’t tell people about your start-up, how are they meant to know about it? In any start-up, the phrase that my business sells best through ‘word of mouth’ is very popular. Yet most start-up owners don’t have the confidence to go out themselves and tell people by ‘word of mouth’. I’ve come to believe, this is because telling people about your business means that:

  • you actually believe in what you do.
  • you’re not afraid to fail.
  • you actually want to succeed.

And these seem very logical statements that should be part of what you believe, right?

But when you are standing in front of that mirror and you ask yourself if you really believe… what are your answers? Until you have done some personal groundwork and gain some traction, very often:

  • you doubt if what you have to offer is good enough.
  • you remind yourself that you are afraid to fail.
  • and the illusion of wanting to succeed is sometimes just that. An illusion.

We are brought up in a society where being a brighter star than those around you is frowned upon. Where failing is not seen as a platform to grow from but rather seen as an embarrassment and a negative. Where believing in you and your product/service can be seen as arrogance.

It is this mindset that we have to get right. If you don’t motivate and believe in yourself, no one else will.

7. The Business Planner start-up hat
It is so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day running of a start-up that planning ahead besides daunting, seems impossible. There is this misconception that being busy is making progress, but this is a trap to fail. Not every start-up has a vision to be the next JSE-listed company, and nor should it.

Most start-ups just want to be in control of their own finances, future and free time. This usually means making a comfortable lifestyle with enough money to support your family, take leave often enough and spend time doing the things you love which should include work. But even this seemingly simple lifestyle of a start-up needs planning.

The must-haves to wear this start-up hat include:

  • a realistic plan for the various fields in a business for the first six to 12 months.
  • a middle-term plan for the next 12 to 24 months which will adjust as you go.
  • the long-term plan for where you see the big picture.

8. You need a Mentor/Business Coach

The scary reality for most start-ups is the fact that you have to do it all alone. Even if you start a business with one or two other people, there are still only a few of you that have to make all the decisions.

Although entrepreneurship has played a huge role in South Africa for many years, no mainstream or even private school or varsity taught any of us about what happens after studying and definitely not anything on how to start and run a business, therefore it is a very self-teaching, self-discovery road.  And unless you have the right people who can help, guide or just hear you out, it is a very long, lonely road.

Family and close friends are usually the natural go-to for the help and idea-bouncing sessions, but because there is a close relationship at play, the feedback is usually not what you need to hear, but rather what you want to hear.

It is critical to find someone who has been there, done that, has more experience and is willing to be honest and tough when you need it.  Advice isn’t advice unless it can help you or your business.

Now what? How do I learn to wear each start-up hat?

Send us an email to info@smefusion.co.za and we will gladly assist you with all your questions.