Starting a business is tough enough, but making the right choices in the journey to achieving sustainability, profitability and growth can be equally, if not more, challenging.
Our Chief Risk Officer Garth Rossiter, shares five characteristics which indicate that an SME is on the right path. “It takes an enormous amount of personal sacrifice and effort to get to this level of business health,” says Garth. “I think a lot comes with investing time and understanding your cash needs and budgeting. But let’s not forget that almost all successful businesses were once struggling start-ups. If you’re committed to the business and want it to succeed I believe you can get there.”
Here are five healthy business characteristics for you to aim for, and some tips on how you can steer yourself a little closer towards them:
A steady or growing flow of income
You need to be selling a product or service that people really want to buy; and you need to keep growing your customer base to increase a steady flow of income. This can be done through marketing.
Consistent or predictable expenses
If you budget properly, you can plan for expenses mostly and keep them relatively predictable.
Growing cash balances
Cash balances will grow if you keep some cash in your business and don’t spend it all, which could result in running into liquidity problems.
Good management of liquidity and working capital (debtors, creditors and inventory/stock)
Good management of liquidity and working capital will come when you really understand your business – how much stock do you need to hold (you don’t want to spend all your cash on stock you can’t sell)? What sort of terms are you giving your debtors and what creditors terms do you need to work with?
An appropriate level of debt
This means making sure that debt is being used to expand the business or take advantage of opportunities, rather than just to stay afloat.
We’re going the extra mile to ensure small businesses have instant financial assistance to survive load shedding.
Our “SME Load shedding Task Force” has been set up to prioritise applications and provide an almost instant response to businesses in crisis due to load shedding. Many small businesses do not have the necessary backing to survive such interruptions. We’re stepping in where traditional banks are failing to come to the rescue of small businesses in need of emergency financial assistance.
Under normal circumstances, funding applications are processed within 24 hours. The emergency task force will however fast-track the process further for businesses that are severely affected by Eskom’s power interruptions.
This worrying trend, and Eskom’s announcement this week that South Africans should brace for at least two more years of intermittent load shedding, prompted the creation of the special emergency response task force.
“By setting up our emergency response task force, we are now able to prioritise any applications when the applicant tells us it’s load shedding-related,” says Lulalend CEO Trevor Gosling.
Load shedding survival tips for small businesses
Small businessesneed to start looking at workarounds to lessen the impact of load shedding. Gosling says there are a number of things that small businesses can do in the interim to mitigate the fallout from load shedding:
Download apps like Eskomsepush to make yourself aware of the load shedding times in your area and communicate this with your team. Structure your workdays to tackle the important tasks in those times.
Break up the workload. If you only have a limited number of hours a day – spread the important tasks across team members so that they get accomplished in time.
Invest in surge protectors for your appliances, machinery and hardware. Small surge protectors that are sold in the supermarket will do the trick to keep your PC, fridge, coffee machine and other small appliances from blowing when the power surges back after load shedding. For industrial-size equipment, it’s best to get advice from a trustworthy electrician.
If you run a shop, invest in a mobile or battery-powered point of sale solution so that you can continue to accept card payments when the power is off.
Invest in solar power banks or car chargers for your mobile devices.
Identify which tasks can be done with your mobile device when all other systems are down, such as phone and email communication. Though your data costs might be higher than usual at least you’re able to stay in touch with suppliers, customers and stakeholders.
This may seem obvious, but charge your technology while you have power.
Change your online settings to enable you to work offline. If, for example, you work with Google Docs, see Chrome’s instructions on how to set yourself up to work offline.
Backup all systems and important – on the cloud and on an external harddrive. It’s easy to lose documentation and vital information if it’s not saved and backed up in time.
Consider investing in a generator. If it’s difficult to find the extra cash, talk to Lulalend about bridging finance.
While some industries are able to wind down towards the end of the year, others have a final sprint to the finish. Running a business can be a 365 day a year commitment, which is why it’s important to recharge, disconnect and allow yourself some time offline. A quick escape to one of these South African destinations where wifi is scarce and nature is abundant might just do the trick. Here are five local getaways that will allow you to switch off from the hustle and spend some well needed time with family or friends.
You don’t need wifi if you’re staying in a forest cabin. You’ll be so busy braaing or looking out across a canopy of trees at Kurisa Moya, you’ll forget you even have a Facebook account.
Only accessible by 4 x 4, eco-lodge Rockwood Cottage is a tranquil hideaway in the Karkloof Nature Reserve which is in the Northern Midlands area of KZN. If solar powered simplicity is what you’re after, this is the place.
Nestled among mountains, orange sunsets and rooibos farms there are plenty of quaint and quiet spots to explore in the Northern Cape.You’ll need to wind your way through mountain passes to get to Gifberg Holiday Farm, while Verbe Farm is another great spot just a few kilometers off of the N7.
When you started your business you might have had a whole team of supporters helping you get to where you are now. Or maybe not, maybe it was 100% hustle that’s earned you the title of CEO, Owner, Founder, or as is the case with a lot of SME owners, ‘A Little Bit of Everything-er’.
We’re proud to say that we’ve been able to offer many businesses the help they need so that they can get back to doing what they do best: running their business. That’s what friends do – they’re there to offer each other support when they need it. Our Friends in Funding competition, which runs until 13 December 2019, is aimed at doing just that.
We’re giving one South African SME the opportunity to breathe a bit, put your name on the map or bring that next big idea to life.
What you use it for doesn’t matter. The bottom line: R500 000 can change everything. See how funding has impacted other South African businesses in our community here.
And we’re giving it away (like for free!) to one small business who completes a funding application with Lulalend before 13 December 2019.
How to enter
Complete a funding application before 13 December 2019.
It takes only minutes and is 100% safe and secure.
I don’t need funding right now – but I know a guy!
Become a Lulalend Affiliate and you’ll earn 3% on the amount of funding received by anyone in your community. And if someone in your network ends up winning the R500 000 – we’ll give you 3% of that too!
Any given day in South Africa can, out of nowhere, feel like doomsday for small businesses. Like when the floods in Joburg turn your delivery vehicles into flotation devices. Or Eskom’s stage 8 load shedding schedule transforms your restaurant into more of a blind tasting experience for your patrons. Forget about the weather and the damp coal for a minute and think about all of the unknowns you face as an SME wanting to expand your business… it’s a mixed bag of expenses and possibilities. Our credit facility has proven to be the perfect fit for businesses in this stage of their journey (and a few who’ve needed generators in a hurry).
“A lot of businesses like to have month to month access to a lump sum of funds that they can access at anytime when a particular business need arises,” says Business Funding Specialist Tracy Kukard. “Like a security company who gets a contract for a new site and needs to quickly bring on new staff, new uniforms and new vehicles to service it. Those upfront costs are high, but will be paid back quickly once their contract kicks off. Having a credit facility means they can create the capacity for new business and save on time and costs because they don’t have to apply for new funding each time they need it, and they only pay for the amount they use.”
Lulalend’s credit facility has proven to be really useful to business owners across a number of industries. “From guesthouse owners to dentists; internet service providers and online stores – having that kind of access to funds has helped so many SMEs in our community,” says Business Funding Specialist Lene Schlebusch-Kemp. “And there’s no requirement or limitation on how much you use or what you use it for. If you’re a business looking to grow, fund flexibility is crucial.”
Another flexi-perk about a credit facility is that it offers you the ability to only pay for what you use. If, for example, you access a R300 000 credit facility over a period of 6 months, and you only draw down (Lula speak for make use of) R100 000, your bimonthly costs would be roughly R2000. That’s a rough estimate based on average risk scores, as each company is assessed individually and has a unique cost structure. Unlike traditional lenders, we don’t charge an initiation, admin or credit life fee or any penalty fees if you are able to settle your account early.
How to apply for a Credit Facility
If you’ve taken out funding from Lulalend previously, you’re one step ahead. Having your financial information already linked makes the process of assessing your eligibility for our credit facility even faster.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org and one of our funding specialists will get in touch to chat you through an application.
Who can apply for a credit Facility
This is the part where we let you know that we are proud of being responsible lenders, which is why we have minimum requirements in place and why each company would need to be individually assessed in order to see if they qualify for our credit facility.
How soon can you access the credit facility?
Once you’ve completed your profile, which includes making sure your financial information is complete, it’s all systems go. You can have access to a credit facility in a matter of hours.
Where can I get more info about Lulalend’s credit facility?
You can read more about how our credit facility works here, or you can watch this quick video which sums it up in just a few minutes: