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                   IT’S MY

February 15 2009                                        

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   The story behind Soweto’s first motorbike dealership                 SEE PAGES 2 & 3
2   FEBRUARY 15 2009: IT’S MY BUSINESS / Sunday                           Times

    Joel is firing
    on all cylinders
         His life was going
         nowhere. Would he ever
         break out of the poverty
         he’d been born into?
         Basil Grant finds out

            OEL Makitla remembers well the               After six months Joel was on his way,
            night he broke down and cried,            buying his first car. Now his friends were
            alone in his back room in Meadow-         wondering “whether I was robbing the
            lands, Soweto. He’d just dropped out      bank”. His next move was into shade-cloth
    of yet another course.                            carports. Every second week he would
       “I remember crying and praying to God.         bank R7 000 from the carport business
    I told Him it wasn’t that I was giving up.        alone. He was earning four times his bank
    Life was just too hectic,” he remembers.          salary and so decided, in 1998, to resign
       Joel, 36, admits — now that he can laugh       from the bank. And then nothing
    about it — that he had been “a bit of an          happened.
    academic slut”. He’d tried drama, jour-              “I’d given up my job,” says Joel, “and
    nalism, computers, pharmaceutical mar-            nothing happened. I was starting to panic.
    keting and business administration, but a         Just then, towards the end of my first
    nine-to-five bank job and not having trans-       month, I got an order for R15 000. It was my
    port to lectures proved too much.                 biggest job ever. I was A for away.”
       Plus he felt the strain of having to              Soon the carport business was making
    support his family on a salary of not much        over R60 000 profit a month, but Joel then
    more than R2 000 a month.                         discovered that his partner was cheating
       “I had one pair of Fram boots which I          him and, scared of being ripped off again,
    used to polish so hard I made them look           he took a job in community development.
    like formal shoes, which I wore to work,”            That led Joel eventually to a high-flying
    says Joel. “Whenever you saw me after             position at the Regenesys Business School
    hours I was wearing the same thing: my            where, last year, he was given a share in
    basketball shoes and a tracksuit. I had no        the business.
    cellphone, no TV or music centre.
       “One night some friends came round to          THE BUG HAD BITTEN
    my room. They were really ugly; going on          But the entrepreneurial bug had bitten
    about how I had nothing to show for               Joel and for several years he beavered
    working at the bank. But what they didn’t         away on turning a long-held dream of his
    know was that, while I didn’t have clothes        into reality: opening Soweto’s first mo-
    or things to show for it, I was saving at least   torbike dealership.
    R500 every month.”                                   Last month Joel was named winner of
                                                      the transport and logistics section of the     GROUNDBREAKING: Black Crystal Auto Bikes is the first bike dealership in Soweto and will offer
    THE FIRST INVESTMENT                              FNB Enablis business-plan competition.         a wide range of bikes, from racing machines to delivery scooters Picture: SIMON MATHEBULA
    After 18 months at the bank Joel had saved           Judges were impressed by this savvy
    R21 000, which he used to buy a Telkom            businessman who convinced them he had
    container, three phone lines and a Coca-          done his homework on all the various mar-
    Cola fridge. He parked the container near         kets that his business, Black Crystal Auto
    the Meadowlands Stadium and got an un-            Bikes, would serve; on costing the business    million and operating costs for the first        service centre, a biking academy and tar-
    employed resident to run the business for         and the projected turnover and mark-up         three months about R400 000.                     get government tenders.
    him. “I was waiting for the end of the month      figures. Joel had even identified a site: an      After one year Joel predicts a pre-tax          Joel has no illusions about what winning
    to buy stock for the fridge. When I got my        empty car dealership on a busy road.           profit of almost R400 000.                       more than R2-million means. His business
    salary I filled it up with cool drinks.”             And he was prepared to put his own             Biking is in his blood, but Joel has plenty   plan involves loan repayments of R30 000 a
       Joel also invested in two popcorn              money into the venture; R270 000 from two      of schemes to make the business succeed          month — a big outlay for any fledgling
    machines, which he placed in local shops.         plots he bought as an investment.              other than selling high-end sports bikes.        business.
    Popcorn, he reckons, is great business.              Joel’s main prize is more than R2-million      He is going to sell cheap and cheerful          “But I’m on way,” he grins. “This is the
       “Most days we’d make R200 a machine;           in start-up funding. Capital expenditure       bikes and scooters (perfect for local couri-     chance I’ve always wanted to make my
    sometimes on weekends as much as R700.”           (most of it bikes) will be more than R2.3-     er and other delivery businesses), open a        dreams a reality.”

                                                                                                         FEBRUARY 15 2009: IT’S MY BUSINESS / Sunday                                                               Times           3

                                                                                                                                                                                                    FULL SPEED AHEAD:
                                                                                                                                                                                                    Joel Makitla saved and
                                                                                                                                                                                                    invested his own money
                                                                                                                                                                                                    wisely over years, giving
                                                                                                                                                                                                    him the start-up capital
                                                                                                                                                                                                    to launch his motorbike
                                                                                                                                                                                                    venture — and making
                                                                                                                                                                                                    him winner of the
                                                                                                                                                                                                    transport and logistics
                                                                                                                                                                                                    section of the FNB
                                                                                                                                                                                                    Enablis business-plan
                                                                                                                                                                                                    competition last month
                                                                                                                                                                                                    Picture:                  SIMON

Cash book keeps
tabs on your money
              HEN Joel Makitla was mak-
              ing carports and selling
              popcorn and phone time he
              kept track of his records in a
single exercise book. His business wasn’t
VAT registered and wasn’t paying tax.          receipts and payments that your busi-
  Now that he is opening a formal retail       ness is likely to incur.
business, some of whose customers will be         ý There should be at least “sales” and
paying cash and some with bank finance,        “other” columns on the receipts page.
Joel appreciates the need for proper book-        ý The payments page should include
keeping. He is going to hire in a book-        columns for “purchases” (which are
keeper to keep tabs on sales and purchases     recorded in the purchases ledger) and for
and to produce regular management re-
ports, while keeping Black Crystal Auto
                                               other items that are paid for immediately
                                               rather than on account (credit).                         EASY CASHBOOK EXAMPLE
Bikes on the right side of the taxman.            ý Receipts are recorded on the left-       RECEIPTS                                                     PAYMENTS
  For new businesses, the most impor-          hand page and payments on the right.          Date            Details    Ref. No   Bank    Sales    Other Date     Details   Ref no.   Bank    VAT   Purchase   Travel   Wages
tant, most basic piece of accounting, the         ý Every time a cheque is received or                                                    ledger                                                      ledger
cash book, doesn’t need to be difficult or     issued, the total amount should be en-        c/fwd                                 250
time-consuming. Here is a brief overview,      tered in the column headed “bank” and                                                                      24/9    Petrol       902      47     7                   40
supplied by Cobweb Information:                then analysed into the appropriate            25/9            LSC           102    2 350   2 350
  ý A cash book is used to record all of       columns. This immediate analysis helps        25/9            Interest              200              200
your business’s transactions. It gives a       to monitor the most important items.                                                                       25/9    Garage       903      58               58
detailed account of expenditure and in-        Payments made by debit order should                                                                        25/9    Rent         904     500              500
come. If you have a very simple business,      also be recorded.                             25/9            Bloggs        103     587      587
with all sales paid for when you make the         ý The extra entries for wages and                                                                       27/9    Wages               1 000                              1 000
sale, then you probably only need a single     petrol are not included in the purchase       Total                                3 137   2 937     200                               1 605    7        558        40    1 000
cash book to keep your financial records.      ledger because they are paid for im-          Net cash flow                        1 532
  ý When your business offers credit to        mediately. If you had an account at the       c/down                               1 782                                                                    Graphic: FIONA KRISCH
customers, and you get credit from the         garage, the transaction would go through
businesses or people who sell you goods        the purchase ledger.
and services, you will need to keep sep-                                                    from the income (R3 137) to give the net                             negative, you should carry it forward on
                                                  ý At the end of the month all the         cash flow for the month. Then add the                                to the expenditure page.
arate sales and purchase ledger books.         columns should be totalled. The sum of
  ý The figure shows a typical cash book                                                    figure carried forward from the previous                                — This information is extracted from
                                               the separate totals should equal the total   month to give the carry down figure                                  the fact sheet, How to keep a manual cash
layout. The number and headings of the         of the “bank” column. At the end of each
columns depend on the categories of                                                         (R1 782). This is also the balance that                              book, by Cobweb Information (www.cob-
                                               month subtract the payments (R1 605)         should be in the bank. If the figure is                    

4       FEBRUARY 15 2009: IT’S MY BUSINESS / Sunday                           Times

 Coffee shop owner suspects that shopping centre couldn’t

         When Owen Woeke’s coffee shop
         at Westgate encountered financial
         difficulties, he had no idea how
         callous the shopping centre’s
         management would be to his
         plight, writes Barrie Terblanche

         XPERIENCED shopping mall tenant          kiosk, his coffee shop would break even or
         Owen Woeke has known for a long          even make a small profit from the extra sales
         time that running a small shop in a      through the kiosk. The centre would gain
         big centre is not for the faint-heart-   from the extra rental for space previously
ed. But he never really knew just how callous     unused.
and ruthless landlords could be until his Café       The centre’s management turned down
Valentino coffee shop at Westgate in Roode-       the idea and Owen’s suspicion is that man-
poort failed to break even.                       agement couldn’t care less whether his coffee
  Having helped Vodacom and Celltel In-           shop succeeds or not. As long as they have
ternational roll out their cellphone fran-        him contractually bound by the lease to
chises in shopping centres throughout             either pay R30 000 a month or cough up his
Africa, and having built up a successful chain    life savings, which he signed as collateral,
of biltong shops in Johannesburg shopping         they are happy. Survival? That’s his problem,
centres himself, Owen knows that landlords        not theirs.
drive a hard bargain. Rentals are extremely          He set about trying to convince them of the
high, and small tenants who demand a better       soundness of his idea. Eventually, after show-
deal are told to accept their leases or leave.    ing centre officials that such kiosks work in
                                                  other centres, they came around. Yet they
A GRANDE IDEA                                     seemed to have no sense of urgency and after
Owen wanted to copy a very successful coffee      months of waiting for them to submit the idea
shop in another centre after the owner            to the centre owners, Owen’s investor had
agreed that he could try to franchise it.         pulled out because it was taking too long.
Westgate was keen on Owen and his son
Reynold’s idea of a coffee                                       SECOND ATTEMPT
shop, because they knew the
two as successful tenants.
                                 He had brought                  Owen’s plan B was to take into
                                                                 account the changed demo-
   And from Owen’s research,     new business                    graphics and apply to the cen-
Westgate looked like a good                                      tre’s management to change
site. But a few months after he  but was cut out                 his coffee shop into a Fontana
signed a five-year lease with                                    chicken franchise. Again he
the centre, he realised that the of the picture                  received a knee-jerk “no” to
area’s demographics had                                          his idea. Yet he persisted and,
changed. The number of vis-                                      after arranging a presentation
itors to the centre remained the same, but        by the franchisor, the centre’s management
they were spending less at coffee shops. Café     agreed.
Valentino received the required number of            But they decided that the chicken fran-
patrons, but they were spending less than         chise had to be at a different site. Alright,
R15 each instead of an average of R19.80 —        Owen said, would they release him from the        GROUNDS FOR COMPLAINT: Café Valentino owner Owen Woeke                 Picture: SIMON MATHEBULA
which it needed to survive.                       coffee-shop lease so that he could sign one for
   Owen accepts that it was a risk he took        the new site? Their answer was his biggest
which didn’t go his way. He knew he was           shock yet: they were no longer negotiating
contractually bound to pay rental to the          with him, they said, but directly with the        tre’s management to offer them nine months’        off the hook early is if he closes shop and the
landlord of about R30 000 a month for the         franchisor. Yet he had brought management         worth of collateral and deposits. “This gives      centre finds a replacement tenant. But given
next four years. But like any good                new business, which they took and then cut        them nine months to find a new tenant if the       their track record, Owen reckons they will
entrepreneur, he set about finding a solution     him out of the picture.                           new owners don’t succeed,” says Owen. “My          probably take their time.
that would not only help him but also all the                                                       argument is that if you can’t find a new
stakeholders in his coffee shop, including the    ANOTHER INVESTOR LOST                             tenant in nine months, you shouldn’t manage        THE CENTRE’S VIEWS
shopping centre, which surely had a vested        The franchisor still wanted to sign Owen as       a shopping centre.”                                  Dumisane Malinga, the centre manager,
interest in seeing its tenants succeed.           their franchise, but the centre management’s         To his horror, management informed him          referred all queries about Café Valentino to
   He was in for a very rude awakening.           attitude and delays frightened off yet another    that the new owner hadn’t been paying rent         the lawyers of Motseng Property Services,
                                                  investor Owen had lined up.                       since taking over the shop, which was now          the property management company in
PLAN OF ACTION                                       In desperation, he sold the coffee shop for    seven months in arrears. Despite regarding         charge of the centre.
His first plan was undoubtedly a win-win          R120 000 — a fifth of its value, says Owen —      Owen as the lease owner, they never notified         He added: “We do try to help businesses
solution. He would sell the shop as a going       after management verbally agreed to accept        him of the arrears and never tried to collect it   that struggle to make their lease, but if they
concern, but only if he could also rent an        the new owners, who took over the shop in         from the new owners.                               want to sell or change to a franchise, there
unused space beneath an escalator, where a        May last year.                                       With almost four years still left on the        are conditions — reasonable conditions —
small kiosk would be able to do good busi-           But the new owners couldn’t provide the        lease, Owen is now considering the final step      that they have to meet.”
ness. If he could use the coffee-shop kitchen     collateral for the lease and Owen, who was        of taking the shop back and closing it down.         He said Owen never approached him di-
to produce extra confectionery for such a         still legally the tenant, approached the cen-     The one clause in his contract that lets him       rectly with his problems.

                                                                                                          FEBRUARY 15 2009: IT’S MY BUSINESS / Sunday                               Times           5

 care less about its tenants — they just want their money


                                                                                                                                                                                 WEN        Woeke,
                                                                                                                                                                                 whose experi-
                                                                                                                                                                                 ence at West-
                                                                                                                                                                                 gate taught him
                                                                                                                                                                       that landlords don’t nec-
                                                                                                                                                                       essarily see a shopping
                                                                                                                                                                       centre as a partnership
                                                                                                                                                                       with their tenants, has
                                                                                                                                                                       some advice for prospec-
                                                                                                                                                                       tive shopping centre re-
                                                                                                                                                                          ý Spend money on an
                                                                                                                                                                       expert retail analyst to
                                                                                                                                                                       check very carefully your
                                                                                                                                                                       assumptions about how
                                                                                                                                                                       many and what kind of
                                                                                                                                                                       customers you can expect
                                                                                                                                                                       in your shop.
                                                                                                                                                                          ý Ask for a copy of the
                                                                                                                                                                       lease, and take it to a good
IN THE DRINK: Café Valentino, at Westgate Shopping Centre, which is struggling to break even                                          Picture: SIMON MATHEBULA         lease lawyer to check be-
                                                                                                                                                                       fore you sign it.
                                                                                                                                                                          ý Try to sign as short a
                                                                                                                                                                       lease as possible. If the
                                                                                                                                                                       landlord gives you an op-
                                                                                                                                                                       tion to renew, note when

W                                       A shift in focus
             HY is it that shopping                                                                                       new generation of small retailers.           you have to give notice of
             centre landlords fail to                                                                                     Unfortunately, the relationship at           your      intention       to
             see the development                                                                                          centres is quite the opposite. It’s still    renew.
             and support of their                                                                                         adversarial.”                                   ý Insist that the land-
small tenants as part of their busi-                                                                                        Even where the top management              lord specifies conditions
ness? Surely, the more successful the                                                                                     of property companies recognises             under which you may sell
tenants, the more successful the        report quarterly profits, and there-     and recover all arrears by liquidating   the need to nurture small tenants, its       your shop.
shopping centre?                        fore take a short-term view on get-      the failed shop owner’s remaining        agents — the centre managers —
   George Skinner, chairman of the      ting as big a return as possible from    assets.                                  tend to take a different approach,
SA Council of Shopping Centres, says    their investments.                         George says there is little recog-     says George.
the main reason is that shopping           The dominant perception is that       nition among landlords that “the fu-       He says there are some exceptions,
centre managers are accountable to      the cheapest and quickest way to get     ture of SMME businesses in the shop-     such as Canal Walk, the V&A Wa-             TELL US: Are you a struggling
the centre owners, who in South         a return from a shopping centre is to    ping centre industry is dependent        terfront, and centres run by Old Mu-        tenant? Write to
Africa tend to be large financial in-   sign up someone with enough col-         upon partnership, relationship build-    tual, Attfund and Retail Africa,  
stitutions.                             lateral to cover a lease. If the shop    ing, nurturing, mentoring, encour-       where small tenants are supported           with your concerns
   These firms are under pressure to    fails, replace it with someone else’s,   aging, supporting, and building up a     and helped to develop.


8       FEBRUARY 15 2009: IT’S MY BUSINESS / Sunday                            Times

             Y FIRST Windows desk-
             top computer in 1993
             was an Intel 486 proces-
             sor with 48 megabytes
                                          SMART CHOICE: A LOOK AT TODAY’S CELLPHONES
(MB) of RAM and 10MB of hard
drive space. When I put Windows
95 on it, it could dial up to the In-
ternet at a maximum of 56 kilobits
per second. It cost me about R5 000.
   The average smartphone today
is at least 10 times faster and has 10
times more storage space. It can
access the Internet, wirelessly at as
much as 7.6 megabits per second, or
roughly 7 000 times faster. And it
costs less.
   All the things that in 1995 needed
a desktop computer to do, can to-
day be done just as easily on any
souped-up cellphone.
   This should be music to any
small business owner’s ears. You
can run your business from any-
where, check your e-mail, do online
banking, even check the cricket
score. I saw people run PowerPoint
presentations off their Samsung
cellphones three years ago when
they were half the capacity of cur-
rent smartphones.
   It’s a new age of business, when
this portability and mobility are
available to every small business.
   So why doesn’t every SME owner
have a BlackBerry? Or a Nokia,
Samsung, Sony Ericsson, HTC or
LG smartphone? They all make
multiple models, and then there’s
still the iPhone.

It’s a no-brainer, given what you
can achieve with always-on Inter-
net access in your hand. No e-mail
will be left unread, no calendar
appointment missed, no contact
lost (because you can synchronise
your phone with your computer            INFORMATION SUPERHIGHWAY: Cellphones are increasingly becoming more of a business tool than a device for having a conversation            Picture: JEREMY GLYN
and keep a backup of your
   I know photographers and cam-
eramen who have a version of their
showreel or portfolio on their
iPhones so they can show other
journos, either just to demonstrate
what they’ve done or convince
                                         OFFICE IN YOUR PALM
someone they can do the next job
they’re looking to hire for.
   Running my own small business
a few years ago, I would often carry
                                               Smartphones let you run your business from anywhere,
all the contact details for specific
projects with me and the relevant              check e-mails and do banking, writes Toby Shapshak
documents I might need synched to
my smartphone.
   When I needed to make a meet-
ing time, I always had my calendar
with me. I always had the number I       out keyboard for the Palm, I bought         Most people are too afraid to find    Most operators or service provi-        puters and technology was by trial
needed, or could quickly track it        that and took it to all my meetings      out, or can’t find the time to bother.   ders will gladly show you how to        and error. When I got stuck, I asked
down. I never arrived at meetings        and interviews — where I typed all       Or they struggle to do it once and       maximise your use, while the            for advice. There is a logic to it and
without the information I needed,        my notes.                                then give up.                            phone’s manual is filled with all the   once you work it out, you’re cooking.
even when I forgot a document at           Writing freelance stories took            As Bjarne Stroustrup, inventor        instructions you’ll need.                  Smartphones are increasingly
the office, because I synched digital    half the time, because my interview      of the computer programming lan-            Most of the set-up is a once-off     simpler to use (to set up a Black-
version to my trusty old Sony Er-        was already in digital form and I        guage C++, famously said: “I have        (from Internet access, setting up       Berry e-mail account, for instance,
icsson P900 series phones.               didn’t have to transcribe it. Nokia      always wished that my computer           your e-mail or online banking).         requires only typing in your e-mail
                                         now makes a similar Bluetooth key-       would be as easy to use as my            Take the pain once and you’re           address and password) and all have
DITCHING THE PDA                         board for their smartphones.             telephone. My wish has come true. I      away.                                   desktop synchronisation software
Before that, I used several Palm           So why don’t more SME owners           no longer know how to use my                                                     to make it easy to copy data back
personal digital assistants (PDAs).      use them? Or use them to their full      telephone.”                              JUST ASK                                and forth. — Shapshak is editor of
When I discovered there was a fold-      potential?                                  It doesn’t have to be that way.       Most of what I learnt about com-        Stuff magazine

                                  IT’S MY

                                                                                              FEBRUARY 15 2009: IT’S MY BUSINESS / Sunday                  Times          9

TOBY’S TOP                                                                                                               IN BRIEF
                                                                                                                         NEW SMALL BUSINESS

                                                                                                                         SCHOOL OPENS IN SOWETO
                                                                                                                         THE Global Business School of
                                                                                                                         Entrepreneurship (GBSE) has opened its
                                                                                                                         doors. The campus — situated at the Grace
                                                                                                                         Bible Church in Pimville, Soweto — will
                                                                                                                         initially offer the following courses:
                                                                                                                           ý SME Development Programmes in
                                                                                                                         Entrepreneurship and new venture creation;
                                                                                                                           ý Certificate programmes in
                                                                                                                         entrepreneurship and new venture creation
With so may options for powerful smartphones,                                                                            (CHE accredited);
                                                                                                                           ý International computer driving licence
                                                                                                                         (ICDL) — computer literacy;
there’s no reason you can’t take your office                                                                               ý Introduction to accounting and book
                                                                                                                           ý Certificate programmes in
mobile and integrate smart e-mail into your                                                                              entrepreneurship and venture creation for
                                                                                                                         unemployed graduates; and
                                                                                                                           ý Short courses in self mastery and
small business, writes Toby Shapshak                                                                                     leadership development.
                                                                                                                           Says Sipho Mseleku, chief executive of
                                                                                                                         ASSCI and president and chairman of GBSE:
                                                                                                                         “Soweto is home to around 40% of
                                                                                                                         Johannesburg’s population. A significant
                                                                                                                         percentage of this figure is people who are
                   BLACKBERRY STORM                                                                                      self-employed.
                                                                                                                           Many are not in the mainstream
                   BLACKBERRY’S new touch-screen has been widely touted as the so-called iPhone killer. With a           professional category, but they, too, need to
                   clickable touch-screen that gives you feedback when you “touch” a key, and BlackBerry’s               have basic business skills. They need to be
                   leading e-mail service and improved multimedia features, it has been held up as the best all-in-      acquainted with the basic how-to of
                   one touch-screen device.                                                                              business, elements like how to access
                       But while it is the best challenger for this coveted touch-screen smartphone mantle, the          information, finance, opportunities and so
                     Storm’s lack of accuracy lets it down. The keypad cleverly changes from either alphanumeric         on. This GBSE was designed to deliver on
                      (like a cellphone) or a 20-key layout when you hold it vertical to Qwerty when you swivel it       that — not only for the Soweto-based
                       horizontally. However, the Qwerty takes a lot of getting used to and the auto-correcting of       entrepreneurs, but the entire continent.”
                        words isn’t as good as the iPhone’s.                                                             Course fees start at R550. For more
                           But the mobile e-mail is superb (BlackBerry has been doing it the longest), and the music-    information, visit
                          and video-playing phone uses its bright 3.5-inch screen to its fullest, while the surfing is
                          pretty easy and the R59 a month for unlimited e-mailing and browsing (it’s exclusive to
                           Vodacom) is an unbeatable consumer proposition.                                               2008 ENTREPRENEUR
                              If you are a keyboard junkie, you are better off with the Bold or the new Curve 8900
                           (exclusive to MTN). The phone has a 3.2 megapixel camera, 3G HSDPA and GPS, but no
                                                                                                                         OF THE YEAR
                        Wi-Fi.                                                                                           SALIM Ayob of the Ayob Family Group in
                                                                                                                         Polokwane is the winner of the 2008
                                                                                                                         Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
                                                                                                                            “Ayob Family Group represents the very
                                                                                                                         best of what entrepreneurial enterprise is all
      NOKIA E71                                       SAMSUNG OMNIA                                                      about,” says Jo Schwenke, Business Partners
                                                                                                                         managing director. “Driven by vision and
       LOVERS of the preceding E61 and Nokia          SAMSUNG’S flagship phone                                           anchored in skill, drive and a strong focus on
       in general will be besotted with the E71,      from last year has a number of                                     performance, it is independent businesses
       which is arguably the best mobile mes-         features ideally suited for                                        like these that are setting the pace for
       saging phone Nokia has yet made. Al-           business on the go. It runs                                        business development in South Africa.”
       though it has the Qwerty keypad that’s         Windows Mobile, so it inte-                                           The three other regional finalists were
       necessary for intense messaging, which         grates very well with other                                        Marx Concrete Pipes, Donish Luggage and
       some people might find a bit small, it is      Windows services or mobile                                         CTS Trailers.
       underpinned by Nokia’s superb mobile           applications. Samsung have                                            “Every one of our finalists is a sterling
       operating system, called S60. After years      created their own skin on top                                      example of entrepreneurial enterprise in
       of development, it’s stable, robust and just   of it: a series of shortcuts that                                  South Africa,” adds Jo. “With companies like
       works. Familiarity with Nokia’s interface      let you access information                                         these at the forefront of the country’s small
       is a plus for Nokia fans and its slimness      easier and quicker. It has a                                       and medium enterprise sector, it is
      and chicness, as well as a nifty red-lined      version of Microsoft Office                                        becoming more and more of a driving force
      leather pouch, are bonuses. It has a 3.2MP      that lets you, say, edit a Pow-                                    in the overall economy.”
     camera, 3G HSDPA, Wi-Fi and GPS.                 erPoint presentation and then       tached stylus. The phone has
                                                      run that presentation off the       a 5MP camera, 3G HSDPA,
                                                      Omnia, using its TV out jack.       8GB of onboard storage plus    CATCH THE B2B
                                                      Although it lacks a slide-out       a 8GB microSD card, and a      MATCHMAKER EXPO
                                                      keypad, it has a clever at-         built-in GPS.
                                                                                                                         IF you are in Joburg from March 2-4, be sure
                                                                                                                         to make your way to the Sandton Convention
          SONY ERICSSON                               HTC TOUCH PRO                                                      Centre for a business-to-business
                                                                                                                         matchmaker expo. The B2BMatchmaker
          XPERIA X1                                   LIKE the Xperia X1, the Touch Pro has the best of both             Expo will provide an opportunity for big and
                                                      worlds with a touchscreen on top and a slide-out                   small business to meet and to discuss
          THE Xperia X1 has the ideal com-
                                                      keyboard. HTC uses its own TouchFlo interface for the              mutual needs and requirements.
          bination of touchscreen and slide-out
                                                      7cm touchscreen and it’s a                                           For more information, visit
          keyboard. Sony Ericsson have been
                                                      good one. HTC phones have                                
          doing touchscreen phones the
                                                      been firm favourites with
          longest, and the X1 shows it. It runs
                                                      South Africans for years be-
          Windows Mobile too, but has
                                                      fore other manufacturers
          extremely clever and useful skins,
                                                      got up to speed with Win-
          called “Panels”. These link to specific
                                                      dows Mobile, but as the
          functions and are the best skins on
                                                      favoured Microsoft hardware
          WinMob to date. The phone is slick
                                                      partner for early WinMob,
          and the wide keyboard is ideal for any
          long messaging. It has a 3.2MP cam-
                                                      handsets have a few more                                                        To advertise in
                                                      years’ development on the
          era, assisted GPS and Wi-Fi.
                                                      others. It has 3G HSDPA, 3.2MP
                                                      camera and Wi-Fi.

                                                                                                                                     Chantal Rodriques
                                                                                                                                      021 488 1873
                                                                                                                                     or 083 277 2093
10 FEBRUARY 15 2009: IT’S MY BUSINESS / Sunday Times

  Determination: Personal loss did not stop Barbara
              If you thought starting a new business was tough, try
              turning one around that is staggering under a load of
              debt, writes Alice Rhodes

         ARBARA Wood was no
         novice when she suddenly
         found herself in charge of
         an ailing company a few
years ago. She had a background in
research and a knack for business,
having started no fewer than five
companies, eventually selling them
to concentrate on raising her
  With the children almost grown,
she had began studying for her
MBA and doing work for her hus-
band’s company “to tide me over”.
  Then, in 2001, her husband died.
  Barbara was faced with a tough
decision: to shut up shop or try to
make a go of it.
  On the home front she was being
both mother and father and dealing
with the trauma of her husband’s
death; there were even more people
depending on her decision at the
company, which employed 60 full-
time staff and provided regular
work to another 60 part-timers.
  “I had to decide whether to walk
away or face up to the challenge. I
decided on the latter,” she says
  The business publishes the re-
spected Professional Management
Review Africa, which provides
business intelligence, profiles com-
panies     and    decision-makers;
awards the annual coveted PMR
Diamond, Gold and Silver Arrow
Awards to top-rated companies;
and benchmarks business, govern-
ment, professions, education and

Barbara had been active in the
company, but not on the controlling
side — and a shock awaited her
when she took the reins: “I knew
the business, but not intimately. I
discovered the company was in a        STRONGER: Barbara Wood, left, with Professional Management Review subeditor Andrea van Rijswijk                                   Picture: KEVIN SUTHERLAND
terrible state.”
   It owed a great deal of money –
R1.6-million to the SA Revenue Ser-    would need to be hard work and                ‘I knew the business, but not                                             The publication features a com-
vice alone.                            dedication — and a sharp focus on                                                                                       bination of advertorial and edito-
   “There was major debt,” says        cutting costs — if there was to be a          intimately. I discovered the company                                      rial — paid-for company profiles
                                       chance of turning around the                                                                                            and other features and findings
   Where there had been silence        business.                                           was in a terrible state’ Barbara Wood                               that are strictly not for sale, such as
about the company’s problems,            “We put together a budget that                                                                                        ratings it awards to companies af-
Barbara was determined to be com-      dramatically reduced costs,” says                                                                                       ter carrying out industry surveys.
pletely forthright and open about      Barbara.                                sexism when a couple of men —            “I was very frank about the sit-          “The credibility of the company
them as she set about the hard slog                                            including a senior employee — said     uation with the bank. I gave it          had gone. People thought they
of rescuing a dire situation.          STAFF SUPPORT                           they would not work for a woman.       personal commitments, and boy,           could buy the awards, or buy
   “I spoke to everyone and their      Many staffers stepped up and helped,      As could be expected, clients also   was I punctual about meeting any         favourable ratings from us. It was
dog,” she says.                        proving their worth as Barbara no-      became aware of the strain:            commitments.      The      lines    of   the wrong perception.”
   She took the staff into her con-    ticed who came early and stayed late,   “Clients felt shaky — we lost some,    communication were always open              This was particularly galling to
fidence, explaining that times were    who put in an extra effort.             but we gained others. It was           between us.”                             Barbara who, as a former vice-
about to get tough.                       But some made a difficult sit-       hellishly tough.”                        The difficult period the company       chairman of the SA Research As-
   Employees were not asked to         uation worse: in the middle of the        She was also completely open         was going through began to affect        sociation, was steeped in the ethics
make a salary sacrifice, but there     crisis she had to deal with blind       with the company’s bankers.            PMR’s stock in trade, its credibility.   of responsible research.

                                                                                                       FEBRUARY 15 2009: IT’S MY BUSINESS / Sunday                            Times         11

         ‘I was very frank about the situation
         with the bank. I gave it personal
         commitments, and boy, was I punctual
                                                                                    TRICKS OF THE TRADE
         about meeting any commitments’
                                                            Barbara Wood

                                                                                   Take the
 being a success                                                                   stress out
                                                                                   of financial
                                                                                   year end
                                                                                   TANYA MIRANDA

                                                                                              ES, it’s year end time again and you’re
                                                                                              panicking because there’s so much to
                                                                                              do between now and February 28. So,
                                                                                              let’s make it easier for you.
                                                                                      Start by checking that all your account
                                                                                   balances are correct. Work from the largest to
                                                                                   the smallest, or chronologically or alphabet-
                                                                                   ically, whichever makes the most sense to you.
                                                                                   But work in an orderly fashion so that you
                                                                                   finish one account before you start another.
                                             Picture: BERND KAMMERER/AP            That will eliminate any confusion and will give
                                                                                   you a real sense of confidence and achievement
                                                                                   as you progress through your list. It will also

   Lessons learnt                                                                  allow you to write off the bad debts as you go.
                                                                                      Stock, of course, you can only count on the
                                                                                   28th, so forget about that particular job for
                                                                                   now and focus on completing the other year-
                                                                                   end tasks. These include making sure your
                                                                                   filing is up to date, that you’ve got all the

                HEN Barbara’s husband died, she had to pick up the                 records you need to substantiate the infor-
                pieces of a crumbling business and find a way to turn              mation in your accounts, and making hard
                it into a successful venture. She soon found that she              copies of anything the auditors may need as
                had a few difficult lessons to learn on the road to                supporting evidence of what you’ve posted to
   financial recovery:                                                             various accounts.
                                                                                      On that note, it’s worth deciding now to make
      ý Be completely honest.                                                      2010’s year end even easier by doing three
      ý Talk to people – your staff, your suppliers, your clients.                 things. The first is to always post the same kind
      ý Talk to your bank. If you are going to be half an hour late with           of information to the same journals and always
   a payment, let the bank know before that happens                                in the same way. This applies particularly
      ý Realise that you cannot have an ounce of pride as you set                  when you’re not sure about where to post
   about begging for help with your company’s survival — your                      something. At least, then, if you need to go back
   knees, says Barbara, “will be completely worn out”.                             and change where you posted it to, all the           BE READY: Tanya Miranda advises that you
                                                                                   information will be in one place and the process     prepare for year end throughout the year
                                                                                   of changing it will be quick and logical. You
                                                                                   won’t have to hunt through your books to find
                                                                                   different instances of the same information.         make two backup copies of your data and store
                                                                                      The second thing to do to help yourself next      one backup away from your office premises.
                                                                                   year is to make notes to yourself about why you      Pastel, for instance, offers an online, off-site
  “It took years to correct that       lieving it could be done? “Failure          made certain decisions related to the books.         backup facility that automates the full backup
impression,” she says.                 was not an option,” she says.               Make the notes at the time that you make each        process and thereby eliminates human error.
  And it took years to turn the           Now Barbara shares her lessons           decision and write the notes on your monthly         This gives SMEs access to a solution that is
company around – three and a half      with students at Wits Business              hard copies of the accounts. That way, if the        quick, easy and convenient. It’s also a highly
years, says Barbara.                   School as part of its Managing a            auditors query your decisions, you don’t have        cost-effective way to ensure that data is cur-
  But she has gone from “a sit-        Turnaround course and, with PMR             to rely on remembering something that hap-           rent, secure and accessible 24 hours a day.
uation where you cannot face the       on a stable business footing, is            pened months ago.                                       Naturally, if you have the right sort of
banks, you are scared of SARS, to      already starting another business              Thirdly, check your bank balance and your         accounting software, all of the above is going to
where you can show your face”.         — “I have ventured into the new             trial balances on a monthly basis, rather than       be that much easier to do, because the software
  The company is now not just on a     eco-consciousness with a new pub-           waiting for year end to go back and find errors      will guide you through the process. Solutions
sound footing, it is better off as a   lication, Ozone magazine.”                  in posting or balances. For instance, you know       such as Pastel Accounting also give you a 13th
result of the turnaround, having          She’s even able to find the upside       pretty accurately what expenses go through           period that allows you to process March trans-
grown beyond South Africa to in-       of the experience: “It makes you            the books on a monthly basis, so check anoma-        actions even though you haven’t finished off
clude the SADC region under the        very strong, and able to deal with          lies as they appear. It’s much easier and            February.
mantle of its research, awards and     downturns.                                  quicker to correct them as you spot them.               It’s inevitable, with bank statements and
publication.                              “You say to yourself, when it’s             In other words, do your preparation for year      supplier remittances for February reaching
                                       rough out there, with people bat-           end throughout the year.                             you only in March, that you won’t be able to
SLIMMED DOWN                           tling retrenchment and so on: ‘Hey,            Back to this month. Once you’ve got               close off your books precisely on the last day
PMR has cut away duplications and      everything is still possible’. Remain       all the details pinned down, make hard copies        of year end. So a 13th processing period
inefficiencies; evidence of this is    flexible and apply the same values –        of everything the auditors will need, and            is a godsend.
the fact that it now employs rough-    honesty and integrity. ”                    organise all your documents into four cat-              In fact, getting the right accounting software
ly half as many people as when                                                     egories: corporate records, staff records,           might be the most important thing you do for
Barbara took over.                                                                 accounting and tax records, and employee             yourself for next year end!
  It has added seminars and cours-                                                 benefit plan records.                                   — Miranda is the support director of Softline
es — on company turnarounds and                  TELL US: Have you turned your        Then print out all your year-end reports,         Pastel
start-ups — and has a new, young                 business around?
management team in place.                        Write to
  What was it that kept her be-        

12 FEBRUARY 15 2009: IT’S MY BUSINESS / Sunday Times
    T’S MY Business is giving away      has an expansive feature set that   hi-resolution display.                and the microSD/SDHC expand-             into   regarding
    one of BlackBerry’s new 8900        keeps users easily connected with      The BlackBerry Curve 8900 gives    able memory slot supports up to          this competition.
    Smartphones as well as a 12-        their office, friends and family.   you video, text and maps on the       16GB.                                    SMSs cost R1
    month subscription on MTN              In addition to being an excep-   move with a full Qwerty keyboard        For more information about the         each.
Anytime 100, a 12-month BlackBerry      tional phone with e-mail, messag-   and an intuitive trackball naviga-    device, visit          The competi-
BIS subscription and a BlackBerry       ing, organiser, web browser and     tion system. Its media player sup-      To enter, SMS first the codeword       tion closes on
accessory pack, courtesy of MTN         multimedia applications, the new    ports streaming and can play all      “business46” followed by your            Friday February
and BlackBerry. It fits in your hand,   BlackBerry Curve 8900 also fea-     your favourite songs and videos.      name and postal address to 32545.        20. You may en-
and your life — perfectly.              tures built-in Wi-Fi, GPS, a fast      Its new 3.2 megapixel camera         ý The editor’s decision is final and   ter as many times
  The new BlackBerry Curve 8900         processor (512Mhz) and a dazzling   takes sharp, print-quality pictures   no correspondence will be entered        as you wish.

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