Marketing, wrong partners big worry for SMEs - survey | Fin24

Marketing, wrong partners big worry for SMEs - survey

Oct 19 2015 15:30
Eugenie du Preez

Cape Town - Marketing is a big concern in South Africa's small business community, followed by a lack of confidence and partnering with the wrong people.

This is one of the findings of the 2015 National Small Business Survey, released by the National Small Business Chamber (NSBC) on Monday, which canvassed 18 500 small businesses throughout South Afirca.

The survey found that 32% of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) regard failing to market their business effectively as one of their biggest business mistakes. Twenty-three percent felt they were selling themselves short, while 20% said they had partnered with the wrong people.

A failure to borrow money and hiring the wrong people tripped up a further 9% each of respondents.

Building a customer base and boosting top line continues to be a major concern, with 43% citing sales and marketing as the area where they feel they needed the most assistance. This was followed by business and strategic planning at 30% and financial management at 11%, with IT/technology, social media, HR and legal scoring 5% each.

NSBC founder and CEO Mike Anderson emphasised the importance of cash flow as a key factor in the health of a small business. "Enhanced efforts to encourage and promote best practice between government, larger organisations and their SME suppliers will go a long way in ensuring small business continues to play a role in growing the South African economy,” said Anderson in a statement on Monday.

According to the survey, the Western Cape is the fastest growing region in South Africa for SMEs, while Gauteng remains the largest. Forty-six percent of the nation's SMEs are based in Gauteng, followed by the Western Cape at 31% and KwaZulu-Natal at 12%.

The bulk of small businesses in South Africa operate in the manufacturing and business services market with 14% of respondents each, followed by IT and professional services at 12% and 11% respectively.

The majority of SMEs have been in business for one to three years (30%), with 25% less than a year old. Sixteen percent have managed to stay the course for more than 10 years, while 13% have been a going concern for five to ten years and 16% for three to five years.

Despite hurdles on the path to growth, a substantial 78% of small business surveyed plan on hiring more staff in the next year. This is also despite many small businesses citing regulations that make it costly to terminate poor performing staff, as well as the high costs involved in recruiting and skilling quality staff as the primary stumbling blocks preventing them from employing more people.

“The future of the South African economy and the future of job creation are inextricably dependent on small business,” said Anderson. “This is why small business matters, and why supporting small business should be a priority for all South Africans.

"Ordinary citizens can play their part by identifying and supporting local small businesses, knowing that going small has a big impact on the country’s economic future.”

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