In one business day in South Africa…

In one business day in South Africa…

We pride ourselves as one of a new breed of digital-first fintech companies designed from the ground up to support South African SMEs. We’ve spent countless hours refining our scoring technology to ensure we can provide quick, easy short-term funding through a convenient online interface. In some cases, we are able to provide approval on a loan application within a single day – a far cry from the three-month wait most traditional lenders demand.

That got us thinking: what happens in a typical business day? What are some of the main business activities that play out in the time it takes us to process and approve a loan application?

Here are some of the amazing things that take place on an average working day:

  • 8 million people get ready for work at 650 000 SMEs across the country
  • 683 new SMEs are established
  • 868 new SME jobs are created
  • R11 billion in economic value is created
  • 15 million minibus commuter trips take place
  • 6 million people order coffee from an independent coffee shop
  • R101 million is spent on online transactions
  • 8 billion emails are sent and received

See our infographics for more amazing stats

 

 

Can Facebook advertising really boost my business?

Can Facebook advertising really boost my business?

Facebook has the biggest user base of any social media platform out there, with approximately 2 billion monthly active users. Over and above this, in the second quarter of this year Facebook made 19.6 billion in ad revenue. What is interesting to note off the back of these stats is that there are still business owners who claim that they don’t use Facebook ads because they don’t work, or are a waste of money.

The truth is, Facebook ads can work if there is an understanding of how to build a proper Facebook strategy and assess the ad performance to adjust this strategy accordingly over time. Because small business owners are usually wearing a lot of hats, and managing their marketing on top of their already busy schedules, not taking the time to spend developing a strategy is the biggest culprit to failed Facebook ad campaigns.

Facebook ads can work for virtually any business, all it takes is a bit of know-how, a plan and clear goals and objectives. To help small business owners blow up their business using Facebook ads we’ve put together a few effective ways to go about this.

1. Have a clear strategy

 One of the biggest mistakes that business owners make when developing a Facebook ad campaign, is getting going without a strategy. You need to have a plan and you need to make sure that the money you are putting in is actually going to pay off. This is the number one reason some people don’t think Facebook ads work, they put money into Facebook ads without a plan, and are disappointed when they don’t see any returns.

You need to be clear on how much you are looking to spend, how long you want your campaign to run and what results you are wanting to see. This strategy should include who exactly you are wanting to target, what message you are wanting to communicate to them and what action you want them to take in the end.

There are so many companies today who do not give targeting the time and thought it deserves. You need to really think about who you’re targeting, instead of just creating a generic “we sell cycling gear so we target cycler’s.” Spend some time studying your target audience and focus on more than just gender, age and location.

This detail influences how you will be setting up your campaign and what type of Facebook advertising you’ll be using. So, take some time to understand their beliefs, values, interests and lifestyles. You need to really know who you are marketing to when creating ads. This should all be clear in your mind before you launch a campaign.

Once you have launched your campaign make sure you are regularly assessing how it has performed and determine whether you need to make changes such as optimizing the placement of your ad or the message, otherwise you will just keep throwing money into these ads in the hopes that they will eventually work.

2. Know your KPIs

 If you don’t know what your goals and objectives are it is going to be very difficult to know whether your ad campaigns are successful or not. Similarly, if you haven’t been taking note of the metrics that are important to your business, and have nothing to compare your campaign results to, it will also make it difficult to get a holistic picture of the performance of your ad campaigns and the impact that they are having on your business.

Always ensure that you are clear on what you want to achieve and make adjustments to your ads if they are not performing or helping you achieve the desired results.

 

 

Here are some examples to give you an idea of what we mean:

Example 1: If you want to increase your website traffic take note of your current weekly/monthly visits and determine what percentage increase you want to see. Be sure to calculate how much a new visitor is worth to you so that this can also help guide your campaign budget. I.e. How much are you willing to spend/pay for a new visitor to your website?

Example 2: If you want to see more newsletter sign-ups take note of your current number of subscribers and the number of new subscribers you want to see by the end of the campaign. Again, having an indication of how much you are willing to spend on a new subscriber will help you plan your budget. In this case a subscriber might be worth more than just a website visitor. This might mean that you’re willing to put more budget behind this campaign as opposed to example 1.

Example 3: If you are focused on lead generation and website conversions make sure you have a conversion rate in mind so that you can aim to meet that goal. Conversions usually mean revenue and new business. Here it is helpful to ask yourself how much you would be willing to spend to acquire a new customer, a metric known as cost per acquisition (CPA).

3. Tailor your ads to your audience

 Understanding your target market is only half the battle. When it comes time to create Facebook ads, you will see a little box known as Audience Definition. This box tells you who this specific ad will be targeting. One of the best things you can do when focusing on Audience Definition is to think quality over quantity. It can be really tempting to see that your ad could potentially reach 1 billion people, but that is not what you want. You want to focus specifically on your niche to begin with. So, narrow down your audience details.

Pick a few areas you want to target, pick an age range, and even pick some more targeting features like interests, education or relationship status. Ideally, you want your campaign to reach 5,000 to 15,000 people. While it doesn’t sound as exciting as reaching 1 billion people, you are now targeting the right people who are most likely to buy or take action on your product offerings or services.

4. Create compelling text or banner ads

Delivering the right offer, to the right audience, with the right message can be really powerful and persuasive. Some people believe that the ad copy or graphics aren’t an important factor. However, in an online world where people are bombarded by thousands of messages a day, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Hundreds, or thousands, of businesses and marketer’s are trying to compete for your attention every minute of every day. That’s the world we live in and you have to stand out from the generic messages that your potential customers are glossing over.

This means creating an engaging headline that will draw people in. Keep the body of your text simple and get straight to the point. Because you only have a few words to work with you need to make them count. Don’t waste your space trying to be super creative. Make it easy to understand and compelling. Your text body should include two things: more details about your offer and then a call to action.

Similarly, with banner advertising, ensure that it’s personalised and that your image reiterates the points you are trying to make in your ad copy. A powerful image can be memorable and engages your audience in a way that text ads simply can’t.

 

Here’s one of our favourite examples:

In one image and some cleverly crafted short copy, Slack has communicated the common pain point of business meetings and that their tool is a solution to better communication and efficiency. They have also depicted the benefit of having that time freed up in a fun, playful way and added a clear call to action so that their target audience knows exactly what to do if they want to find out more about Slack.

5. Run A/B Testing regularly

Once your ad is launched, your work’s not done. You also need to focus some time and energy into split testing. You should typically know within 200 clicks how an ad is doing and whether or not you should adjust the ads. This allows you to launch multiple variations of an ad and quickly figure out which ones are generating the best success rate. At the same time, don’t pull the plug on an ad too soon if you don’t see immediate results. The goal is to not give up too early when split testing, and to give it time.

 

The pros and cons of small businesses borrowing from banks

The pros and cons of small businesses borrowing from banks

We recently ran a survey that asked small business owners for some insight into where they turn for business funding. 32% said they look to their bank. However, other statistics show that about 72% of small business owners who do apply with their bank get rejected as they usually require strong personal and/or business credit scores, a personal guarantee, collateral, and healthy financials. Applying also takes serious effort and time. The whole process lasts about one to three months.

While bank loans are the traditional way to finance your business, it’s no longer the only way. What small business owners might not know, when turning to the bank for financial access, is that there are some important pros and cons that they should consider before borrowing money from the bank.

We’ve summarized a few key points to consider before you put yourself through the arduous process of applying or sit through weeks/months of waiting for a response to your application that could most likely be rejected.

Lower interest rates but higher fees

While interest rates at banks are generally lower than those offered by alternative lenders they are often subject to change. This makes planning and budgeting difficult for the borrower unless they have negotiated a fixed rate. These changes can negatively affect the cash flow of a business if the owner doesn’t account for possible fluctuations in repayment rates.

Business owners also need to keep in mind that although interest rates with the bank might be lower they also have added extras when it comes to fees. These include initiation fees, monthly service fees and credit life cover that needs to be taken out. So, in the end you might be paying more – this is something business owners need to consider when comparing lenders.

Arduous application process

In our small business survey, 41% of our respondents rated repayment rates and other fees as one of the things that significantly influences their business funding decision. Interestingly enough this was less than the 44% that said speed and access were their biggest influences and 42% that said the paperwork and time involved played the biggest role in their decisions.

While interest rates are important it doesn’t seem to be the biggest factor when it comes to decision-making. The time and paperwork involved have a negative impact on the customer experience with banks. Because banks see small businesses as high risk a lot is asked of them when applying for funding. There are plenty of obstacles to overcome. Intensive documentation needs to be provided which includes things such as business plans, financials, proof of address etc. These stringent processes require all of this information before the bank can even begin to assess and application.

Long-term commitment

Banking business loans have the advantage of a longer term than most alternative lenders who offer shorter term lending with higher interest rates. Because banks can often offer much larger amounts over a longer period, some business owners turn to the bank first without considering the other advantages that alternative lenders offer such as the ease and convenience of applications or the opportunity for unsecured lending – like that offered by Lulalend.

Multiple loan options

Banks advertise various types of products to entice business owners running a business. The real earnings from the bank come from the interest they charge on these loans. Options like term loans, standard business loans and others are available for the business owner or entrepreneur. However, without security most of these are null and void. Banks are not willing to provide funding for businesses who are just looking to purchase inventory, hire new employees or market their business as there is no security in these aspects.

Risk of losing collateral

Because bank loans are generally sanctioned against some collateral, often the business owners house and property, this stands the risk of being lost to the bank should the business fail to take off.

There are a number of other advantages and disadvantages when it comes to a business loan with the bank. What every business owner needs to remember is that this isn’t their only option and that they would be wise to compare other product offerings first. Lulalend, for example, takes into consideration the holistic experience of the small business owner when applying for funding.

Lulalend address the biggest pain points for small business owners. Those being the convenience, speed to accessing funds, ease of access, unsecured lending, the amount offered, and the added extras of no hidden fees or early settlement penalties. At the end of the day, forward-thinking, technology-driven lenders like Lulalend can offer a better product offering and customer experience because we believe in financial inclusion and the power of small businesses, and work to make it easier for them to access financing that can help them grow and succeed.

 

What does responsible business lending look like?

What does responsible business lending look like?

Responsible lending means putting the customer first

Businesses turn to all sorts of places or people for business lending. Often first to family, friends or their banks. But when that doesn’t work out, especially for SMEs, they look to alternative options for assistance. The problem is that there are some alternative lenders out there that don’t act in the customer’s best interests.

At Lulalend we believe that responsible lending is to act in a customer’s best interest. This means ensuring affordability, transparency of terms and conditions and supporting the borrower. As a business lender, we understand that we have a responsibility to make sure our borrowers are clear on the details of the loan and that we carry out thorough checks on any of our borrowers so that they can be confident that what they receive will be suitable for their circumstances.

Our technology assists with confident decision making

The best way to provide responsible lending is by understanding that a business’s creditworthiness and affordability is essential when it comes to offering the right product.  We rely on technology and data to help make accurate decisions that allow us to quickly and easily assess a business’s true health. By drawing on our extensive range of data sources, our unique scoring-technology delivers a real-time decision that recommends the optimal funding a business can afford together with the most suitable/flexible repayment profile.

Over and above this we ensure that we are held accountable by bodies such as the South African SME Finance Association (SASFA) that promotes transparent and responsible lending to SME’s.

We avoid bad practices such as stacking

Unlike other lenders, we also take this a step further by avoiding what is known as ‘stacking’. Many lenders will provide funding even when a business has more than one short-term lender already funding their business. Having several loans open with a number of lenders can cause a business’s demise instead of their prosperity. This is because their indebtedness is over extended and it becomes difficult for them to manage and maintain all their debt.

Because we want SMEs to succeed we believe in lending that assists the business and its financial needs instead of adding to or creating a financial burden. Essentially, we seek to save our customers from themselves – we do this by protecting the position of the lender and ensuring that they can comply with the obligations that they agree to.

We develop our customer relationships

We also seek to develop long lasting relationships with our clients who show good payment behaviour. A positive track record helps us builds trust and allows us, over time, to reduce the cost of their funding and place them in a better risk band. This practice allows us to continue assisting small businesses as opposed to being a one stop shop. With fluctuations in our economy and the ebbs and flows of business, an established relationship with our customers allows us to understand the overall health of the business and take into consideration the circumstances at the time in order to make responsible decisions on an ongoing basis.

You need to be responsible too

Before entering into a relationship with any lender it’s important to be honest with yourself and ensure that you are making a wise decision for your business.

It can be helpful to ask yourself the following questions as you consider business funding with us or other lenders:

  • Can I afford the repayments?
  • What happens if circumstances change and I find my business bringing in less income and having more costs?
  • Are the interest rates fixed and if not what happens if they increase over time?

If you want to find out more about Lulalend you can read about our core values here. Should you have any questions concerning our terms and conditions, repayment structure or product offerings you can contact us on 087 943 2381 or support@lulalend.co.za.

You can also hear more about how we’ve helped businesses grow by taking a look at our customer success stories on our website.

 

Are startups eligible for funding with Lulalend?

Are startups eligible for funding with Lulalend?

We’re often getting asked whether we lend to startup businesses, so we thought we’d address this question in a blog post. The truth is there is no straight forward answer. It really depends on a few things, as well as what is meant by the term ‘startup’. Therefore, in short, our answer is yes and no.

Having communicated with a few people who have asked us this question, we’ve come to learn that people have different ideas about what is meant by the term ‘startup’.

What is meant by the term startup?

    1. A business that has not gotten off the ground yet and is only beginning to develop. These businesses often don’t have much history and are still building a customer base
    2. A technology-driven, innovative business that has a high potential for growth but is still only an idea or prototype
    3. A business that is fairly new, has only been operating for a few years but is turning a profit and has a handful of employees or is operated solely by the director/s

The reality is there are no real metrics that determine when a startup is a startup, or when it ticks over to an established business. The age of the business, it’s total worth, the size or number of employees do not necessarily qualify it as a startup. So because of this uncertainty, the term ‘startup’ can almost refer to a type of business rather than a particular stage of a business’ life. In this case being a startup seems to be more about company culture, work environments and business models rather than how young the business itself is.

Because people have different ideas about what constitutes a startup and at what point a startup becomes an established business we’ve provided more clarity below on what we mean by ‘we do and don’t lend to startups’.

What makes a startup eligible for a loan with Lulalend?

At Lulalend, we assess loans based on historical transaction history, which means we don’t ask to see a business plan or future projections. In fact, we don’t require all the document-intensive requests that banks and traditional lenders ask for. Rather, what we are most concerned about is the progress you have made to date with your business, as this is an important factor as we assess your ability to pay back the loan.

Startups eligible for a loan:

  • Businesses that have been trading for at least one year and have transactional history to prove this
  • Businesses that are making a monthly turnover of R40 000 / annual turnover of R500 000
  • Businesses that are registered South African businesses

Startups not eligible for a loan:

  • Businesses that have no history of trading
  • Businesses that have no account or transaction history or trade only in cash
  • Businesses that are looking for a loan to get their business started / seed an idea or prototype

If you’re unsure whether your business will qualify or you have any other questions about startup business loans, you can give us a call on 087 943 2381 or email us on support@lulalend.co.za