Reading Time: 3 minutes
Anyone who is in the retail business or has previously owned a retail store of any kind will tell you that Black Friday – and the festive season as a whole – is the best time to grow your sales.
And the numbers certainly don’t lie. A Geopoll survey showed that over the last three years, Black Friday shopper numbers have grown by an extensive 16 percentage points.
Despite South Africa’s slow economic growth over the years, consumers are still interested and willing to spend money – especially when there are major savings involved.
However, you can’t be too confident because your competitor knows this as well – and they will surely have a few tricks up their sleeves to cash in on the busy buying season. With this in mind, it’s always important to have a great marketing campaign that is unique to your brand in order to stand out from the crowd and bump up your sales.
Related: 5 Ways Your Small Business Can Prepare For Black Friday
Here are a few of our top tips for marketing your business for Black Friday.
1.Have your sale for longer
Extending your sale or savings period further than the Black Friday and Cyber Monday window will give you more opportunities for sales. Yes, we’ve seen this tactic many times before [How many businesses start promoting their Christmas promos in October?] This is the perfect time to get creative.
Using comedy, emotive language, and familiar faces or trends to lure customers will definitely re-engage the stragglers who might be holding off for a better deal.
2. Say yes to in-app offers
Mobile eCommerce is definitely where it’s at – whether it’s on a mobile site or an app. Most consumers are glued to their devices anyway, so offering a mobile-only saving is definitely a plus.
However, you have to be very clear in your messaging that deals on offer are specifically for mobile-only and will not be available in store. This provides your mobile-first audience with a sense of exclusivity, but it also allows you to easily track which – and how many – of your customers came to your site via push notification or email.
You can also use this time to remind your customers that shopping online saves them a lot of time and frustration during the #BlackFriday rush.
3. Make a gift guide
The festive season is a time for giving, and creating various gift guides for your customers using products they can buy from your business makes you stand out as a convenient store of choice.
This is also a great way to attract customers outside your normal target audience who are looking to purchase gifts for their friends and family.
A smart way to do this is to group your products first by your most overarching customer segments, then get more specific within each of these categories. For example, gifts for men, women, and children, and even colleagues.
4. Let your buyers shop ‘guilt-free’
While some shoppers are very clearly focused on the #BlackFriday specials for items they want for themselves, we should not forget that some people might also have the ghost of Christmas upon their shoulders to ‘do the right thing.’
So why not offer the best of both? Creating a donation option at payment is a great way to do this. This way, both your customers and a charity of your choice gets a little something – and you clean up. It’s a win-win-win situation.
5. Everyone loves a giveaway
Since it’s the season of giving, a little thank you to the customers that shop at your store will go a long way. The chance to win a great collection of goods from your store just for shopping during your #BlackFriday or #CyberMonday specials will keep the customers coming back.
Related: 5 Ways to support local businesses this Heritage Month
Even though you should leverage Black Friday and the festive season as an opportunity to increase sales and make your business some extra cash, you should not forget the complete customer journey. Sometimes, the most wholesome and effective approach is to stick to what your customers love while adding an extra saving on the goods they love.
If you’re in need of funds to make the most of your #BlackFriday sale this year, we’ve got you covered. We’re offering you a repayment holiday until January 2021 if you apply for funding before 30 November.
Check out more on this exclusive Lulalend offer here.
Reading Time: 5 minutes
Guest blog by Govchain
Simply put, a business plan is a document that explains what your business is all about. It sets out what the business is planning to do, how it’s going to do it, and over what sort of timeline it’s planning to do it over. A good business plan helps give the business direction and serves as a reference guide to make sure you have a laser focus on the most important goals of the company. So, what makes a good business plan?
The more detailed you make your business plan, the more encompassing of your mission it will be, making it clear how the business will be run. But, pro tip: don’t get distracted by unnecessary details, a good business plan focuses on the core of business – how it’s going to generate money. Stick to the point and plan everything around that.
Longer and more formal business plans start with an Executive Summary. This is a brief summary of the entire business plan – the trick here is to make it as comprehensive, yet concise, as possible. For a busy investor your Executive Summary might be the deciding factor in whether they go on to read your full business plan or not, so make it count.
Next is an Introduction to your company. This is exactly what it sounds like – an introduction to who you are, your history, how you came up with the idea for the business, what work you’ve done so far, your location, and your management.
Related: A quick guide to Bridging Finance
After that comes the Company Summary. This is structured in four parts:
Vision: This describes the change that the company is looking to make and how that will impact the community it serves and the world. It’s usually a high-level aspirational statement.
Mission: This explains why the company exists and what its central goals are – spreading its products and/or services. You can include who the major customers will be, but keep it short and sweet.
Objectives: These are measurable outcomes that your company wants to achieve through the business. Include estimated growth figures like how much do you plan on growing every year, how many sales a month do you plan on making etc.
Values: These are your ethics, your core beliefs about how the company is run, and how you want to operate in the world. Examples are integrity, consistency, and spreading positive change. Vision and Values tend to stay the same over the life of a company, but Objectives can change as the business grows over time, which may influence your Mission.
After Company Summary comes the Production/Service Overview. Here you describe in detail how the company makes its products or how the service will be carried out, being very clear with what goes into the processes. Following this is another section on Products and Services where you list all the various things your business might produce, including waste products and/or added services.
To show how you fit into the relevant market, include an Industry Overview. In this section, you describe what other role-players in the industry are doing, what the total market size is, and, if applicable, how much of that total you are planning to take over. If your business covers more than one industry, be sure to show this.
A section on Research and Development is a good place to show how you are planning to improve your products and/or services, and how you plan to offer a better experience for your customers than that of your competitors. Here you can also talk about things you would like to look into in the future as your business grows.
Related: Business Funding: An overview of how SMEs can access funding in SA
Now for the big one – your Financial Plan. This, after the Executive Summary, is the second thing a busy investor will look at, so make sure you do it properly. A full Financial Plan typically includes:
- Assumptions made about the business and markets,
- Options for financing the business, e.g. loans, direct investment or grants,
- If applicable, a Facility Cost where you lay out all expenses needed to build or fit out the premises. A general rule of thumb is that building ends up costing double what you expect, so budget for this,
- A Unit Cost Analysis – working out each and every cost that goes into making the product or service that you will be selling to figure out how much you will be charging. This is calculated by adding fixed cost ‘overheads’ (like rent for premises, salaries of employees, water and electricity, etc) to the variable cost of inputs needed to produce each unit, and then dividing it by the total number of units you will be able to produce given those costs. Be thorough here and think about all the costs, everything from insurance to staples,
- A detailed 3-Year Cash Flow Plan, showing that you will always have cash available, even if you are operating at a loss at the beginning, and
- A 5-Year Profit/Loss Plan, showing how you will grow and start building capital. Be sure to include the breakeven point. This is the important day where all costs of setting up the business will be repaid and from where you will start making a continuous profit.
Pro Tip: Balance being optimistic, realistic, and prudent when doing your costing – rather ask for a bit more investment and make sure that the business always has cash instead of having to ask for more later.
A final section to include is one detailing your Risk Management. All companies and businesses face risks, and it’s important to consider how you will stay safe. This includes things like insurance, staffing plans, legal matters, and other strategies to make sure things run smoothly.
It’s important to be honest and realistic in this document. Exaggerating or underplaying certain things will come out eventually, which will lead to some uncomfortable meetings and explanations. That being said, also think about who you are going to give the document to, and consider what they want to see. You can cater the business plan to a specific investor so long as your document is still accurate and truthful. Depending on what you want to achieve, perhaps let an accountant or someone with experience in the business have a look through the plan and financials before giving it to investors.
Remember that most investors look at the bottom line; they want to see that your business is, or is going to be, profitable. Include any Purchase Orders, Letters of Intent of other contracts as annexures to the business plan. Some investors might be looking to add different types of value to their investment portfolios, such as environmental responsibility and corporate social responsibility – if your business falls into one of those areas, be sure to point it out to them.
Even if you aren’t looking for investors, a good business plan helps bring structure to your company and the objectives within. It also helps to speak to people around you when writing your business plan, to test ideas against them. They may think about things in a way you hadn’t thought of before, which will help to further refine your ideas. Finally, remember to update the business plan as things move along so that it always remains the working manual your company can use to be successful at business!
Ready to take the first step in your entrepreneurial journey? Meet Govchain, your partner in company registration and small business compliance. Register your company quickly and easily online, no paperwork needed.
Reading Time: 2 minutes
If 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic is anything to go by, we know that in order to survive in business, one must adapt. If you’re a retailer, right now this means going digital. In this guide, we’ve unpacked the basics of what you need to know if you are looking to move your retail business online and develop eCommerce capabilities. We’ve also provided an indication of how much you’ll need to invest.
DOWNLOAD THE COMPLETE GUIDE HERE
Know your target customer
At this point, you should be very well versed in who your customer is and what their buying behaviour is. You need to research whether your customer base does in fact shop online and whether they will be willing to do so for your business and the products or services you sell.
Optimize your products, services, and offerings
What you sell or offer online must make sense, be easy to find, attractively presented, and be readily available.
Related: Business High Five: Online tools to improve your business
Choose the right eCommerce platform for your business
Having the right website and eCommerce platform for your business goes hand in hand. If you do not have a website already, there’s always the option to build your own website (integrating with an eCommerce platform) if you have the budget and resources available.
Choose a payment gateway
The final basic step to setting up your online selling channel is choosing the right payment gateway. If you want to maximise your online sales, choosing a gateway that has a variety of payment options is important. To match the payment preferences of online shoppers in South Africa, you will need to offer most of the following payment methods; Credit and debit cards, Instant EFT, Masterpass, Mobicred, and Zapper.
Related: Move your business online by following these essential steps
Make sure your business has a digital presence
Marketing your business online may seem like a daunting task but as a small business owner, you can start small. No matter what industry you’re in, chances are your customers are online. It’s estimated that South Africans spend more than 9 hours a day online, according to a wearesocial.com report.
For the complete expert guide on how to move your retail business online, click here.
Reading Time: 2 minutes
According to entrepreneur.com, growing a business is not an easy task, and especially under the current economic climate. When you’re expanding your business, it’s important to remember that whatever your plan, you should consider the ever-changing marketplace. We’ve put together a few noteworthy tips on how you can best prepare your business for growth.
Setting out achievable short term and long term goals are important. Goals act as a guide to what you need to do and when you need to do it. Having a clear plan of the direction you want your business to take will help in reducing the risks associated with expansion.
When you have plans, you are also able to make difficult decisions that help you stay on track.
Recruit the right people
Having a strong team is the foundation of any successful business. When hiring new people to join your business, it is important to have a diverse group of people who are clear on what your business vision is.
Each member of your team should have an understanding of what is expected from them and how their contribution adds value to the goal. In this way, you are also able to evaluate performance and reward good work.
Budget permitting, building a human resources team can streamline the recruitment process and ensure you find the best people the first time. This will also assist in providing your teams with ongoing feedback and development.
Related: Move your business online by following these essential steps
Improve your processes
Having clear processes makes it easier to understand what is needed to scale your business. You have to document how you do things within your business. When you have your processes down on paper, your employees can visualise the work they do from start to finish. If your processes are undefined, there is no way for you and your employees to measure that you are meeting requirements.
Having an open workplace culture has been proven to boost staff morale and balance out some of the uncertainty surrounding business processes that may seem overwhelming
Keep your customer in mind
When you are planning to grow your business, you must think about how what you are offering is different from others and why it should be the consumer’s first choice. It is important to always keep in mind what made your business succeed from the start.
Adding a personal touch to your product or service helps the customer feel connected to you and builds brand loyalty. This gives you the edge over larger companies who may not find this to be an essential part of their business model.
Related: Business Funding: An overview of how SMEs can access funding in SA
Review, review, review
It’s important to always go back and review your performance against your plans so you can improve them at every turn.
While your business goals will largely remain the same, your operating environment will always be changing. In order to truly evolve and gear your business for growth, adapting to change is always necessary.
Reading Time: 4 minutes
The tax season is upon us once again and we want to help you get your business prepared for submission. Complying with your tax obligations as a small business has been made a lot easier over the past few years as SARS continues its efforts to ultimately digitize and streamline the procedure.
It goes without saying, this tax season will unfold in a different manner due to the Covid-19 pandemic. While small businesses qualified for tax relief during the first 4 months of South Africa’s lockdown period, this also impacts how you’ll need to submit your taxes this year.
We, along with some of our friends who are experts in the field, have put together a few top tips to help with your business’s submission this year.
When is the tax season?
The tax season is split into three key periods for you to remember:
- April 15 to May 31 Employers submit their reconciliation of employee earnings and all third party information providers (providers of interest certificates, medical aid certificates, retirement earnings are three examples) send their certificates to SARS and the relevant individuals. SARS also uses this information to start populating individuals’ tax returns.
- June 1 to August 31 Taxpayers need to ensure that all their information is up to date and accurate. During this period SARS will issue a large number of individual taxpayers with auto assessment notices via SMS messages. Taxpayers need to check their auto assessment on the SARS eFiling website or the SARS MobiApp and indicate if they accept the assessment outcome. SARS will also notify taxpayers whose third party data is compliant that they may file early (i.e. before September 1).
- September 1 to January 1 All taxpayers should submit tax returns and provisional taxes and businesses due on 31 August for provisional tax. SARS will issue a public notice to confirm which taxpayers need to submit a return. Those taxpayers who file manually at a SARS branch must do so by October 22. Provisional individual taxpayers who complete their return electronically must do so on or by January 31, 2021. Businesses have until 28 February 2021 to submit their return.
Related: 5 Simple Tax Tips That Save Business Owners Money and Time
Can you (and your employees) claim a tax deduction for working from home?
Thousands of employees have had to work from home since the lockdown began at the end of March. The Income Tax Act sets out basic requirements that must be met if this tax relief is to apply:
- You must practice a “trade” – which can be employment. So purely by being employed this criterion is fulfilled.
- The home office must have all the equipment you need to perform your job, such as a laptop, printer, WiFi, desk etc.
- The home office must be used often and only for you to do your job. This space should not be a family/shared space when you have finished work for the day.
- You must have worked from this space for at least 6 months of the year.
You can also find SARS’ tax relief measures guide here.
Is all relief received due to COVID-19 exempt from income tax?
“Simply put, yes,” says Bernice du Toit, Financial Accountant at Lulalend. The tax relief includes the following three sections:
- An exemption from income tax on funds and accruals received by the business from the government
- An exemption from donations tax on donations made to or by the business (limited to R10 000 per year for businesses); and
- Donations made to a business will be tax-deductible by the donor. “Deduction is limited to 10% of your taxable income per annum, and this deduction would only apply to donations for which a section 18A certificate has been obtained,” says Bernice du Toit.
Read up more on the list of registered PBO’s here, and section 18A here.
What about the TERS benefits?
SARS confirmed that TERS (Temporary Employee/Employer Relief Scheme) benefits are payable in terms of the Unemployment Insurance Act and thus exempt from income tax.
According to Bowmanslaw.com, where the employer receives the TERS benefits from the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) in order to pay employees, the employer is merely processing the payment on behalf of the UIF.
Related: Tax Tips for SMEs from a professional tax consultant
Do you really need to submit a tax return?
According to Sue Willoughby of HorisonTax, it is vitally important, for many reasons, that all taxpayers stay tax-compliant. ‘“If you do not submit tax returns every year then you are not tax-compliant according to SARS. You should always submit a tax return even if it is a “nil-return”. Why do you need to stay tax-compliant? Well, if ever you need to get involved in a financial deal with any government department, institution, or municipal body, whether a loan, work contract, or otherwise, you will need to be tax compliant with SARS,” says Willoughby.
In certain cases, institutions may be reluctant to consider loans to people who are not tax-compliant. Institutions may need to see the latest SARS’s IT34. No ITR12’s and no IT34’s means you are not tax-compliant – it is as simple as that.
Visit www.horisontax.co.za if you need assistance with your filing this season.
The provisions set out by SARS and the disaster relief fund aim to help businesses and individual taxpayers stay tax compliant even during a pandemic. It’s important to remain tax compliant if you want your business to qualify for the COVID-relief. By following these tips and meeting all the relevant deadlines, you and your business can make it through the 2020/2021 tax season with a better understanding of what needs to be done to continue growing your business.
Reading Time: 4 minutes
Finding the best small business marketing strategies isn’t easy.
But what if you don’t have a massive budget?
Or, maybe you’re a small business owner who doesn’t have in-house marketing expertise.
The good news is you can get started small.
And a key step in that journey is learning more about the biggest digital marketing channels: Search and Social.
In this post, Lulalend’s digital marketing experts, Stacey Vermaak, and Michael Rampjapedi, discuss how to use these platforms to grow your business online.
Small business marketing strategies: search and social
Search and social are the cornerstones of most small business marketing strategies.
No matter what industry you’re in, chances are your customers are online.
It’s estimated South Africans spend more than 9 hours a day online, according to this report.
Vermaak explained the main differences between social media and search:
“The fundamental difference between the two is the basis of their targeting: how you tell each platform who you want to speak to.
“For search, this is based on keywords that tell Google what search terms you want your business to show up for; you are targeting people who are already looking for what you do or sell. For social media, you tell Facebook, or even LinkedIn, which types of people you want to show your ads to based on who your customer is and what their interests are.”
Search is an “always-on” types of media, explained Vermaak. This means your marketing is always visible to people searching for your business 24/7. This is because your audience is self-renewing; as new people start looking for your business or it’s products you want to be visible as long as you are profitable when including your ad spend.
In addition, both platforms allow you to narrow or expand your targeting based on age, gender, location, and device.
You can even include how your audience has interacted with your business before. And this targeting will help you to get better performance from your campaigns.
“For both, you need to install conversion tracking or use UTM tagging to understand if your campaigns are making you money. However, understanding the primary targeting for each allows you to understand the fundamentally different ways the two work.”
Setting up your small business in search
Getting started with building your presence in search begins with finding the right keywords, said Vermaak.
Rampjapedi added that you could use a free tool like Google’s keyword planner to find the right keywords.
Once your campaigns are live, it is very important to compare your keywords with your Google Adwords’ search query reports. These reports are available in your account and detail what searches are triggering your keywords, allowing you to expand or refine your targeting.
“These things will help you be visible for the most relevant searches that make your business money. Using your search query reports to refine what searches you are visible for becomes even more important to avoid wasted money and to help you achieve Return on Ad Spend (ROAS),” said Vermaak.
Once you start developing ads, you should make sure they’re relevant to your customer’s needs.
“Your search term should match what you are selling, which should match your advert (or organic result or business listing) and this should match the page you send a user to. When optimising your advert you are working to tell a searcher why your product is right for them.
“You want to give them as much information as possible so that they are hopefully clicking through to find the product or service they need,” said Vermaak.
Rampjapedi said it was worth hiring a professional to set up your website to make sure your technical SEO was correct.
This included, making sure:
- Google could index your website pages
- Your site is mobile-friendly
Missing this step could hurt your rankings. “When SEO is setup correctly this allows you to use Google Adwords DSA campaigns”, said Vermaak.
Using Facebook to find new customers for your small business
Most businesses are on Facebook. And it makes sense why.
By 2023, it’s expected 19.8 million South Africans will use Facebook, according to Statistia.
Vermaak said approaching FB was different:
“For Facebook, you are looking for the right audience targeting that finds the people who are looking for, and engage with, your product. Facebook has a lot of targeting options from interests to demographics that you can use to define and test users.”
Consider using customer information in other ways to reach new customers.
“You should at least test remarketing to offline customer lists, site users, site converters, page and advert engagers, and test acquiring new customers using similar audiences based on each of these.
“What this means is your primary targeting is a group of people who generally remain fairly consistent. The goal is to find the audiences that work for your business.
Because the audience remains fairly consistent, you should be creative with your content.
“You need to be constantly changing up and testing your messaging, with images, videos, and carousel ads. Consider combining ads featuring different campaigns, products and messaging. Invest in boosted posts to keep the audience engaged. “
“This is very different from paid search which is generally a self-renewing list as new people come into the market for your product or service.”
Looking for more on small business marketing? Read 5 digital marketing strategy tips here.
This article is part of our Open for Business campaign, a drive to set South African SMEs up for success when they re-open during the lock down.
If you are trading in these uncertain times and need funding to really get your business going, Apply Now for instant access to funds from a credit facility that increases as your business recovers.