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WIN A BLACKBERRY CURVE 8900 DETAILS KBERRY PAGE 12 IT’S MY February 15 2009 www.itsmybusiness.co.za LEASE GET AVOID IT OR PHONE FINANCIAL LEAVE SMART YEAR-END BLUES PAGES 4 & 5 PAGES 8 & 9 PAGE 11 ZERO TO HERO 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 J 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.” PROUDLY SPONSORED BY MWEB 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 MATHEBULA Cash book keeps tabs on your money W 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 webinfo.co.za) PROUDLY SPONSORED BY MWEB 4 FEBRUARY 15 2009: IT’S MY BUSINESS / Sunday Times Coffee shop owner suspects that shopping centre couldn’t GRINDING HALT 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 E 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. PROUDLY SPONSORED BY MWEB FEBRUARY 15 2009: IT’S MY BUSINESS / Sunday Times 5 care less about its tenants — they just want their money Research, research, research O 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- tailers: 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, firstname.lastname@example.org 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. Only R49.84 8 FEBRUARY 15 2009: IT’S MY BUSINESS / Sunday Times M 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. SKY’S THE LIMIT 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 contacts). 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 www.itsmybusiness.co.za FEBRUARY 15 2009: IT’S MY BUSINESS / Sunday Times 9 TOBY’S TOP IN BRIEF NEW SMALL BUSINESS FIVE PICKS 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 keeping; 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 www.gbse.co.za 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 www.b2bmatchmakerexpo.com 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. contact Chantal Rodriques 021 488 1873 or 083 277 2093 PROUDLY SPONSORED BY MWEB 10 FEBRUARY 15 2009: IT’S MY BUSINESS / Sunday Times A NEW BEGINNING 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 B 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 children. 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 briskly. 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 labour. UNEXPECTED CHALLENGES 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 Barbara. 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. PROUDLY SPONSORED BY MWEB 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 Y 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 W 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. 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