Women Powering SA: Tshego Ratshidi, Bleu Rose Floral Designs

Women Powering SA: Tshego Ratshidi, Bleu Rose Floral Designs

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Tshego Ratshidi

Owner of Bleu Rose Floral Designs

The Business

Bleu Rose Floral Designs help people express their emotions through flowers and other gifts.
We are a floral services business, our services include everyday flower arranging (these are for I miss you, I’m thinking of you, Condolences, I love you, Can’t wait to have you back in the office, etc.) and delivery, event flowers, we sell indoor plants for your home or office, and more recently, home office too.  We sell fruit baskets and snack boxes as well.
We operate largely in the greater Johannesburg North region but we also cover other areas of Johannesburg when the need arises.  We do also offer services in Cape Town in the Observatory, Pinelands, Sea Point, and surrounding areas.

 

Related: Business Funding: An overview of how SMEs can access funding in SA

 

Tshego’s story

WHEN AND WHY DID YOU SEEK OUT LULALEND’S SMALL BUSINESS LOAN?

We needed to grow our business to be able to reach more people, to fully integrate online and to incorporate a CRM system to allow us to serve our customers better.
We also needed to get a vehicle dedicated to deliveries, as well as transform our workspace to be easier to work from and serve those that would like to collect.
We are also currently working on adding a new line of products and need funding for the project. Customers keep asking for more products, and I believe these will sell, but did not have the appropriate funds to execute.

 

 

HOW HAS COVID-19 AFFECTED YOUR BUSINESS?
We have seen a drop in our orders because we were not able to provide our services online. We have seen a drop in expenditure from our corporate customers, and definitely no reception flowers.
I have had to take on a lot of the work myself as I couldn’t afford to keep the staff on anymore. Our administrator also had to stop coming to work as she traveled with public transport, and as she is expecting, it was a high risk – this means I had to let her go until she gives birth later this year.
Our approach to delivery recording has also had to change as we no longer accept signatures – it would be great to use a digital tool as proof of delivery. For now we just take down the recipient’s name. The cost of running the business has increased as flower prices are so high now.

 

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST SUCCESS IN YOUR BUSINESS?
Being able to secure some nice contracts through the work that we do. Customers saw our work and started buying more frequently. We are proud to have some big corporate clients in our stable. One of these corporates placed our first big year-end gift order last year (over 800 gifts) which we delivered in approximately 2 weeks with a skeleton team. This has attracted more of their teams to use our services.

 

Related: Women Powering SA: Ann Clarke, options in training

WHAT MOTIVATES YOU TO KEEP ON GROWING YOUR BUSINESS?
The interactions I have with customers after I serve them. It reminds me of why I chose this business.  Flowers and plants have healing powers for mental wellness – hence ‘We express emotions through flowers’. We also teach people how to add plants into their spaces and how they can positively improve their mental health. I am constantly motivated by the dreams that still need to be reached, the ladies I bring into the team, and their commitment to their own dreams and thus helping me realize my dream.

 

Contact Tshego Ratshidi and the Bleu Rose Floral Designs team at info@bleuroseflowers.co.za

 

Women Powering SA: Monique Pasqualle, HR Cartel

Women Powering SA: Monique Pasqualle, HR Cartel

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Monique Pasqualle

Director of HR Cartel

The Business

HR Cartel is a 100% black-owned female business, established to provide specialist HR, management and project-based consulting services to entrepreneurs, start-ups, small to medium enterprises, NGO’s, NPO’s and the educational sector. Their clients fall within the above sectors, as well as within the government, corporate, automotive, retail, and restaurant industries. They encompass the entire HR function starting at sourcing suitable skilled candidates, ensuring healthy performance as well as employee engagement and growth in line with your business goals and without breaking your pocket. We also offer Project Management, Management Consulting, and Business Services Solutions. This ensures a 360-degree strategic overview for all businesses, where we ensure our clients’ needs are met from A to Z.

Related: Small Business Marketing Strategies: Google vs Facebook

Monique’s story

WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST SUCCESS?

Our biggest success was starting our Academy (Uluntu Academy) at the beginning of 2020. Uluntu Academy has 2 divisions, one is for new entrepreneurs and upcoming businesses teaching valuable business acumens, such as project skills, finance, marketing, and operational skills and the other academy is aimed at empowering the youth and young adults from underprivileged areas to encourage, empower, create, start and act on their ideas to create functional businesses that will eliminate youth unemployment and create sustainable futures and income for the economy.

HR Cartel has recently been featured in the Brand Alchemy RSA Women Support Women blog series as well as CITI – Cape Innovation Technology Initiative in partnership with the City of Cape Town article series for the Top Tech Tools Women in Business. They were also nominated for the Santam Women of The Future Award, as well as nominated for the Standard Bank Top Women Awards 2020 for Top Women Entrepreneur category.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST HURDLE?

The current pandemic has hit many sectors hard. Our biggest hurdle to date was to move our business functionalities over to virtual platforms for sustainability and to teach our clients and learners how best to thrive within the current situation they are faced with. It’s been a challenging 4 months for all parties involved as 80% of our business entails client contact and onsite assistance. It has also been especially trying over the last few years to run a business as a young black female in South Africa. Many big corporates do not feel you have what it takes to do the basic, despite years of education and corporate skills attained.

Related: COVID-19 SME Support: Business Brightspot Listing

ADVICE FOR WOMEN IN BUSINESS?

My advice to women regardless of colour is to keep going. Know your worth! As women in business, it’s easy to get steamrolled when it comes to the gender pay gap, ideas, or leadership. But confidence comes from within! Knowing your worth starts with positive self-talk and professional development. Give yourself the tools and training you need to be the best in your field, and never ever give up. Be relentless to change and take negativity as useful tools to help you grow. Once you have the cold hard skills and attitude to match, you’ll be able to carry yourself more confidently, pitch your business to others, and do better work for your clients.

Get in touch with them to enrich yourself or your team’s skills and take your business to the next level.

Contact Monique Pasqualle and the HR Cartel team at info@hrcartel.co.za

COVID-19 SME Support: Business Brightspot – Get Access Home Decor

COVID-19 SME Support: Business Brightspot – Get Access Home Decor

Reading Time: 2 minutes

In this edition of the Business Brightspot blog, we’re covering an unconventional South African SME that has been affected by Covid-19 but has continued to push through to keep their doors open and service their clients.

Poppy Kabini, Get Access Home Decor

About your business

At Get Access, we believe that your space should reflect your own personal style. Each corner of your life should be eye-catching and unique. Get Access is a home decor store, dedicated to helping our customers discover their own design personality.

With an extensive selection of home goods and decor along with superior customer service, Get Access helps you find exactly what you need.

How has your business changed during COVID-19?

Sales have dropped drastically but with the consumer market slowly opening up once again, we are seeing a slight increase in some of our more essential products such as baby clothing and furniture. 

What motivates you as a businesswoman?

I’ve always loved being a business person and using my creativity to solve problems. I started my business in tertiary, but because I didn’t have any formal training in business, marketing, and finances; the business failed. That did not stop me, I began conducting gatherings with women in business, where we could all share our experiences and give each other advice on how to improve ourselves as businesswomen. Today I run a home decor manufacturing business which is doing fairly well. Despite all the challenges I have come across, I still persisted; I took it upon myself to research, learn, and train on how to be a good and disciplined businesswoman. The one mistake small business owners make is to not equip themselves with proper tools; having a business idea and running the actual business, are two different things.

Contact details:

Get Access Home Decor

 

Want to list your business? Submit your story here to be featured on our Business Brightspot campaign.

The Business Brightspot blog is part of our Open for Business campaign. This is an initiative to give South African SMEs the tools and information they need to re-open their businesses during COVID-19.

For on the campaign, read this blog post.

Women Powering SA: Ann Clarke, options in training

Women Powering SA: Ann Clarke, options in training

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Ann Clarke

MD of options in training

The Business

options in training offers training that covers everything from an introduction to computing in business to intermediate and specialised Microsoft office courses, often tailored to meet an exact business or personal requirement.

They make keeping up-to-date and improving your skills fun by ensuring that it’s relaxed, interactive, and supportive in small, facilitator-led, computer, and business skills classes.

They have been around for over 30 years, have full MICT SETA accreditation with courses mapped to unit standards, are part of the Microsoft channel, and a testing center, but have never lost that personal touch or the flexibility to schedule courses where and when it suits you. They thrive on the challenge of developing new courses, to your needs.

Over and above Microsoft training they also offer:

Project Management, Visio, CorelDRAW, Publisher, and Internet courses.

Business Skills Training: developing your communication and people skills – whether you are looking at interaction with colleagues, bosses, employees, or clients.

They believe that when writing, presenting, training, leading, supervising, or talking, a depth of knowledge and understanding of both yourself and best practices predicts success.

Ann’s story

It was in the ’80s when Ann created a solid business plan that secured the finance she needed to start options in training. She credits this and the youthful positivity which gave her the confidence in getting started. At the time she entered the professional services industry, it already welcomed female entrepreneurs.

“A couple of lessons I’ve learned, which have so often stood me in good stead, are that saving in the good times eases the stultifying financial stress of the not-so-good, and cherish your reputation, it keeps you in business. But you wouldn’t have a business without a dedicated team who care as much as you do, look after them, “ says Ann.

“Today, our computer and business skills training has moved from our beautiful thatched premises to the small screen of our computers, in our home offices.”

“To my surprise, this hasn’t diminished our trademark personalised attention and has opened new opportunities for distance training. So hold on to perseverance and belief – they are your path to continued success.”

Get in touch with them to enrich yourself or your team’s skills and take your business to the next level.

Contact Ann at ann@optionsit.co.za

Does Alternative Lending Make Sense as a Cashflow Management Tool for Your Business?

Does Alternative Lending Make Sense as a Cashflow Management Tool for Your Business?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Running a small business is hard, especially now during lock down. One of the biggest challenges that faces small and medium-sized businesses is cash flow how does one keep the lights on when cash flow is tight? For business owners, managing business operations is hard enough, but throw in managing the finances and it can sometimes feel impossible.

In this post we will introduce how an alternative credit lending facility can help SMEs take advantage of growth opportunities, to not only keep their business operating but also generate a positive ROI in the long term.

Cash flow management 

How does one manage business cash flow effectively?

More Sales? – the easiest and best would be to increase sales while managing costs – if only it was that easy! With the constant drive to increase sales while juggling cost inputs (all with different timelines) one really needs to know how to juggle one’s cash reserves

Credit Facility? – having access to a credit facility, be it a bank overdraft or an alternative lender credit facility, can be a lifesaver,

Bank overdraft vs a Credit Facility

What’s the difference between a traditional Bank Overdraft Facility and an alternative lender Credit Facility?

When does alternative funding make sense?

Credit lending facilities can serve a specific purpose and may not work well for every business. How do you know if this is a good choice for you?

You need a quick turnaround

  • Some deals appear and you need to act quickly. This does not allow for the long lead times of traditional lenders. You can access capital from Lulalend within 24 hours. 

You are not being approved by a bank 

  • Traditional lenders have traditional credit models, which do not suit all businesses. Lenders like Lulalend can assess a business’s ability to repay a loan in minutes using their machine learning algorithms and alternative sources of scoring data. 

The costs are not clear

  • When assessing a business opportunity, you need to have a clear idea of what the costs are to ensure you are making money. Loan initiation fees, early settlement penalties and ongoing account costs are often “hidden” costs that can make traditional lending not as cost-effective as they appear. 
  • Lulalend’s fees are completely transparent – there are no initiation fees, no early settlement penalties and no account fees – you only pay when you access your facility

Margins can support the costs (Positive ROI)

  • When making any business decision that requires using a credit facility, you should check that your income and margins can support the cost of that funding. Here are a few simple examples: 

The advantage of using a lender like Lulalend, is that you can calculate your investment costs with 100% certainty before you commit to a deal so you can ensure your ROI is positive. In addition, as soon as your deal is done, you can park the Lulalend facility – at no cost! – until the next deal presents itself. 

 

Apply in minutes online and get business funding in your account in 24 hours.

 

Increasing Your Business’s Resilience to Come Back Stronger

Increasing Your Business’s Resilience to Come Back Stronger

Reading Time: 3 minutes

In the face of COVID-19 most businesses have already been taking some steps, out of pure necessity, to increase their resilience.

However, as we settle into the uncertainty and prolonged semi-locked down period, we thought we would highlight the areas most experts agree should be prioritised to increase business resilience.

In this instance we define resilience as the ability to come out of a crisis faster and stronger than competitors in your industry.

In terms of survival over the lock down period many businesses have already made use of Cost cutting, and while most owners are good negotiators, we tend to get lax in times of plenty. We must use the memory of COVID-19 to keep us on our toes in terms of how we spend our budgets, how often we choose to negotiate and how extravagant we are in times of plenty. In addition, as seen in this McKinsey study of 2000 businesses, in times of crises an early and strong focus on cost cutting can better position your business for an earlier and stronger recovery. It is worth noting that in this instance the best form of cost cutting is increased efficiency through greater digitisation.

In addition to this, business insurance, as we have all seen, is worth the investment. So too is staying on top of things like UIF and encouraging your employees to invest in income protection. It is far too easy to underestimate how often these big crises occur, but once a decade is a good benchmark (last decade there were two – 2002, and 2008).

This leads to the next level of resilience – building up savings or having access to funds that can see you through any prolonged period of reduced income. On a personal level we are told to build first 3 and then 6 months worth of savings as an income buffer – and it shouldn’t be any different for your business.

While you are building this buffer up, and indeed after, it is worth having additional funding options in place. Fast access to funding allows you to fill any gaps, or more importantly to take advantage of opportunities to grow your business and recover faster ( Lulalend’s instant access credit facility is designed to help support your business through good times and bad. It has no fixed fees so it costs you nothing to have it in place “just in case”).

Throughout the current crisis we’ve all felt there was a lot of noise, but few quality sources of information. Did you manage to discover the right source of business information. If not, it is worth making sure that you have a good, reliable source of information so that you don’t waste time trying to find the answers you need. This allows you to take action faster and keep your focus where it is most needed.

One area that can help with this is finding a good mentor or building a strong network. Simply looking for businesses in your industry either locally or internationally and sending out a request to ask for some guidance can be the beginning of increased support and insights.

What is clear from the McKinsey study is that the most resilient businesses act faster to recover faster, especially as opportunities begin to present themselves as the markets change, and as competitors begin to offload assets. Furthermore the gains they make during this time stand them in good stead for years to come.