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Answers to your burning questions

Provided by Business Partners Ltd, South Africa's leading investor in SMEs


Entrepreneurs' commonly asked questions that will help you find the information you need on the SME Toolkit.

STARTING A BUSINESS

MARKETING

EMPLOYEE MATTERS

KeystoSuccess.jpgQ) How will this website help me start or manage my business?

A) The site provides how-to articles, business forms, financial tools, online training and information resources developed by leading experts, and free software tailor-made for SMEs.

All aspects of business set-up and management are covered, from business planning to accounting, financial management, human resources, import /export, legal and insurance matters, marketing, sales, operations and information technology.

Whether it's a budget spread-sheet, policy document or forms needed for tax filing, the SME Toolkit is a one-stop business management shop.

Q) Can you tell me where to find financing to start my business?

A) When you're approaching someone to finance your business, it's important to be well prepared. The Finding Financing section will do just that and also provides links to a number of organizations who provide funding for small businesses.

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Q) Please send me information about starting my own business

A) There is so much you need to consider when starting a business that your request is a difficult one to answer in one or two pieces of information. The Toolkit has a Business Planning section with tips and articles about everything you need know about starting a business, from writing a business plan, how to go about finding financing and so on.

On the homepage, you will also see a link to upload Sanlam’s business plan e-book. You can either download certain chapters or the entire workbook, which is a very thorough and user-friendly guide to the planning needed to start a business. If you systematically work through this manual, we guarantee you’ll have a head-start on the rest of the pack.

The Toolkit also contains information on all aspects of running a business, so browse around for some great ideas and things to consider when starting a business. If you register on the site, which is completely free, you will receive a monthly newsletter with SME news updates and anything new on the site.

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Q) Please help me write my Business Plan.

A) We have an entire section on Business Planning that will answers a lot of questions you may have. This category also has a template and various articles on writing a business plan.

When putting all your thoughts and ideas together, your first point of reference can be found on our homepage; the Business Plan e-book, which provides a user-friendly step-by-step guide to writing a business plan.

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Q) Where do I find information on how to register my business?

A) The section called Starting a Business (In the Business Planning Menu item), contains some guidelines on registering a business, and the different types of business formats you can choose from. Once you know how the process works and what type of business you're going to register, we provide a link to CIPRO – the Companies and Intellectual Property Registrations Office.

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MARKETING

loudhailer.jpgQ) How can I market my business without spending a lot of money?

A) Absolutely yes. The Marketing & Sales category on the Toolkit explores the various ways you can market your business on a shoestring budget. Everything from providing superior customer service, designing and promoting your company's website and even exhibiting at Trade Shows is covered.

This section provides simple steps to help you research your target market, plan your marketing strategy and promote your business on many fronts, such as advertising, online and face to face networking.

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Q) How do I market my business internationally?

In the Marketing and Sales category under E-mail and Web Marketing, we cover an important aspect of marketing your company internationally, and that is establishing an online presence. The articles in this section offer many hints and tips for doing this without being an Internet “fundi”.

The e-Commerce section in the Technology category also contains information around how to sell your products online. We are currently working on adding more content about importing and exporting.

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Q) My business needs a website, but I just don't have the budget. What are my options?

A) There is a whole section on the Toolkit dealing with Web Design and Development, from how to ensure you have a good website to what you should look for in a Web Hosting Service.

Alternatively, we are also very happy to be able to connect you with Yola, a free website building tool that allows you to design your own professional website, using simple tools and software. You don’t have to be a website or technical expert to use this service, so go to our Homepage for the link to the Yola website.

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Buspeeps.jpgEMPLOYEE MATTERS

Q) I need to hire more people, but I don't know where to start.

A) The Recruiting and Hiring section in the Human Resources category will guide you through this process. Not only are their articles on deciding what your HR needs are, devising salary packages and drawing up employment contracts, but you will find sample application forms, interview templates and job description forms you can print and use.

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Q) How do I register my employees with UIF, PAYE and whatever other taxes and levies I am liable for?

A) This is not as complicated as it seems and the Labour Law section in the Legal and Insurance category will take you though the hows and whys. Various articles will explain which laws you will have to comply with, and how to go about registering your business and employees for the relevant benefits and insurances.

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Q) I have to fire an employee. How do I do this legally?

A) The Human Resources category also has a section dealing with termination. It explains what your rights are, the employee's rights and the various procedures you need to follow before, during and after terminating the worker's employment.

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Q) I would like more information about how to manage my employees more effectively.

A) Happy employees make for productive ones, so this is a very positive direction to take. First, in the Employee Management section of the Human Resources category, you will information about how cultivate good employee relations and a company culture that creates loyal workers. 

Under Refine Your Management skills, you will get some hints and tips on boosting employee morale, dealing with conflict and ideas for managing all areas of your business for effectively.

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