DESPITE the country's high unemployment rate, entrepreneurship is low on the list as a career choice for South African youth, with only 6.8% of young people aged 18-24 opting to go the small business route.
This is hardly surprising, considering that 80% of small businesses fail in their first four years. But Carolyn Holgate, general manager of MWEB's Connect Division, believes that small businesses are the
strongest engine of job creation in South Africa, and that technology is the
key to startup success.
She has the following tips for up-and-coming entrepreneurs:
Be online savvy
When it comes to launching a business, the internet is your best friend. Thanks to the World Wide Web and its offerings such as free web hosting, cloud solutions that enable you to access your data from anywhere and social media, small businesses and startups are able to compete in the market place today.
The internet has closed the gap between big and small businesses, levelling the playing field and making it easier for startups to advertise and develop their brand without needing a big budget.
With that said, you need to familiarise yourself with social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to really enjoy the business benefits the internet has to offer.
Build your brand
While there are plenty of other online avenues to market your business, you must not neglect your website. This is at the core of any digital strategy, allowing for existing and future customers to learn more about what you have to offer.
If you don't have a big budget, don't panic - there are Uncapped Website Hosting packages out there that suit any budget. Many packages also offer free tools to allow you to create your own website, so building your brand just got easier.
Once your website is up and running, remember to keep it fresh and relevant with new content or products and contact details.
Connect without the cost
Once your website is up and running, you'll need to start building your business by liaising with customers and clients.
While bigger businesses can afford to travel the globe meeting with industry professionals and clients, smaller businesses need to rely on technology to keep them connected.
VoIP (Video and Voice calls over IP) is an affordable way for you to connect with people around the world and expand your business without leaving the office.
Get your head in the cloud
If your business is just starting out and your requirements are one to four PCs, all you need is an ADSL service and a telephone line.
The best option to store and access data files such as documents, images and photographs is to choose a cloud-based system.
You won't need your own server which will save you money upfront, and it is also convenient as you can upload and access your data from anywhere in the world - all you need is an internet connection and an internet enabled device i e PC, laptop, tablet, etc.
The perk of the internet is that you have a wealth of information at your fingertips - use this to your advantage.
Research and learn more about your competitors find out about the latest trends in your industry or line of work and collect ideas that inspire you.
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