Many people have a lot of myths about what being an entrepreneur is and how it will shape/affect their life that are simply not true. Global Entrepreneurship Week South Africa in Most Popular and these are the seven biggest myths that I continuously hear.
1. Being an Entrepreneur is too risky for me.
Starting your own business in these days is not too much more risky than trying for any other corporate job. At a corporate job you can be laid off at any time, Successful Entrepreneurs In South Africa And Their Roles In Society have benefits cut with no reason, and work long overtime without being compensated for that. If you are student as well, the risk can’t be that bad. It’s not like you have a mortgage or family to support if it fails.
2. I am too young to start my own company
Being young is not a negative, in fact in most cases it’s a positive! When your young you have the passion energy and enthusiasm that is needed to work 14 hour days day in and day out for a company you believe in. Most older people with more experience just don’t want to do that any more.
3. I have no experience
Again, Global Entrepreneurship Week South Africa this can work towards your advantage. Your lack of experience means that you are looking at everything with a fresh set of eyes. You wont get stuck in the “we have always done it that way” kind of thinking that can stop other entrepreneurs. Running your own company will also build much more valuable experiences than a job flipping burgers will at your age.
4. It is not the right time for me to launch a business.
As a student you have a schedule that is completely flexible and large blocks of time between classes and on breaks to start a business. Campuses have tons of resources you can harness as well, Who Is The Most Successful Entrepreneur In South Africa so there really has never been a better time than now.
5. If I am running a business my grades will fall.
Running a business takes organization and discipline. If you are organized and disciplined in one area of your life it will probably pass over to the other areas of your life as well. Many student entrepreneurs I know actually report their grades increasing once they started a business.
6. Student businesses are just small rinky-dink operations
Some student business that started as just rinky-dink operations were Dell, Google, and Microsoft. You have probably heard of those companies right? That is because they were great ideas and hard work created products that had potential to expand from their small beginnings. Your business can too!
7. I don’t have any money! I can’t start a company
Everyone seems to think only millionaires start companies. This is simply not true. Most companies are started with the founders savings and no investment capital. Start with what you can and work hard. Things will come together if you want them to come together. You will be amazed at what you can do!
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It is a well-understood axiom of the business world that there are two ways to improve the bottom line of the business. Stated simply, those two ways are to make money or to cut costs. Now no business can cost cut their way to profitability. But by the same token, waste and excessive internal costs for any business can eat away any profits that business is enjoying. So to get ahead in a competitive business environment, both methods must be employed.
When a business turns its eye to cost cutting, there is a stated or unstated business objective that the business owners will discover significant bleeding of revenues that are going on within the systems of doing business. So if those systems can be improved to eliminate that waste, the business would literally make money from the inside out because the overhead of the business would drop so dramatically.
The usual progress of such a cost saving campaign by a business is to find “the low hanging fruit” first. By that we mean that in order to satisfy the demands of management, middle management will identify superficial savings in hopes of satisfying the requirement. Hence switching from disposable cups to mugs or cutting back on break room amenities often go on the chopping block first.
Sadly, while there may be some superficial savings to be found in such places, the significant introduction of efficiencies for any business lie at a deeper level and take a more in-depth process of locating problems with how things get done internally. The methodology of finding these “money pits” within a business is often called “Process Improvement.” The concept of process improvement is to diagram a particular business process from inception to completion and document the stages it goes through, the handing over of authority for the process and to pin point places where inefficient methods are causing excessive cost in executing that process en route to the final stage of process completion.
Routinely, the areas of business structure that most often identified as being candidates for a process improvement examination are…
* Excessive overhead between departments. Departments within a business are notorious for taking on the atmosphere of a fiefdom and becoming resistant if not suspicious of other departments in the same company. When that happens, department managers will introduce paperwork and unnecessary processing to cause “work” to move to his or her department from another or for completed jobs to continue along their path. This excessive overhead can be costly at the department level and bog down the business as a unit enough to actually reduce the profitability of the organization.
* Communication problems. A business process moves through the organization as each department or entity adds value to the process through to the completion of the job. However if communications between departments or people along the process chain are flawed, a process can grind to a halt and wait for hours if not days before the missed communication is discovered and the work is put into the cycle to be completed. This slow down or break down in communications can be a tremendous drain on the company. To correct the problem, modern tools of communication should be reviewed so each significant person along the chain is quickly made aware of work that needs to be done and can signal to the next agent that their step is complete and that the process is moving to the next stage.
* An inefficient IT infrastructure. Out of date computer programs that are not integrated with each other cause needless work to be done to take data from one system and moving it into the next computer program only to be entered again at the next stop along the chain. Standardization and integration of data and systems will introduce huge efficiencies to the process.
By streamlining the process of moving a business requirement from inception to conclusion, we can remove much of the inefficiency and waste that has become inherent to that process. We can introduce up to date integration designs both at the IT and process level to quickly move the process from one department to the next upon completion. The outcome is a streamlined organization that is no longer “bleeding money” due to inefficiencies and as such is making money “from the inside out”.
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Does your business needs an outside accountant?
It all depends. If you require an audited or reviewed financial statement, then, yes, you need a CPA. In any event, it is always a good idea to maintain a relationship with an accountant no matter how small your business. Whether your accountant is a CPA is up to you. The real question is: To what extent do you need outside accounting services? That also depends on you and the nature of your business.
I always start with the admonition: The Buck Stops With You! You cannot afford to dissociate yourself from understanding the meaning of your financial statements. If you solely rely on your accounting staff or accountant for completely accurate financial data, then you are asking for trouble. If you are going to own or manage a business, then you have a responsibility to learn how to speak the language of business. The language of business is accounting knowledge.
How involved you become in the accounting process will be determined by time schedules, your mental pre-disposition, desire for control, cash flow, etc. One scenario, if you can afford it, is to hire an internal accounting staff to prepare financial statements on a monthly basis and have an external accountant check them over. Another common scenario is to prepare part of the compilation yourself, such as preparing a sales journal and a cash disbursements journal, and then hire an outside accountant to prepare a bank reconciliation and the financial statements for you. Some do this on a monthly basis, others quarterly. Some business owners do the books themselves all year and turn them over to the accountant at the end of the year to verify the balances and do the depreciation entry for tax purposes.
There are numerous ways to work with an accountant. Regardless, you should learn enough about accounting to be able to communicate intelligently with your accountant. Since you are intimately involved in your business you may recognize danger signals that not even your accountant will see.
Selecting an accountant
Relying on the yellow pages to find an accountant can be risky. The best way to find any professional is by a referral. However, you need to interview prospective accountants before signing on. One of the first priorities is to find out what their experience level is. Your business may have very specific accounting and tax issues that require a certain amount of expertise. Perhaps you have a manufacturing concern. What does the accountant know about raw materials, work-in-process, and finished goods inventory accounting? Does the accountant know how to set up job-costing and overhead burdens? Ask for references from other like-kind businesses.
Keep in mind, that you may go to an established firm with a good reputation, but with whom are you going to have a relationship? Is your account large enough to warrant a relationship with a partner? You need to feel confident with the person assigned to your account. Perhaps a smaller firm with four or five accountants who are all seasoned veterans might work better.
You will also want someone with whom you can relate. The ability to communicate is a crucial factor. Your accountant may be technically proficient but can you understand what he or she is telling you? Does he or she listen when you ask questions? Don’t be afraid to ask for someone else if you are having difficulty communicating.
Another important criterion is “accessibility”. Is your accountant too busy to talk to you? Can you get your questions answered within a reasonable period of time? Do you feel important to him or her? Situations may arise where you need information immediately to make an important business or tax decision, will your accountant respond quickly?
Last, but not least, are the accountant’s billing practices. Billing practices vary from firm to firm. Some firms are very aggressive and put tremendous pressure on staff and partners to bill every minute they can. Some firms require a review process before any work goes out the door. This means that every person who performs any work on your account, including the person who puts the stamp on your envelope, bills you for it.
Find out in advance what happens if you call the firm to ask a simple question that takes less than five minutes to answer. Are you billed for five minutes or are you billed in increments of fifteen minutes even though you only talked for five? Some firms justify this increment billing by explaining that you are paying for the accountant’s expertise that may have taken years to acquire, therefore, they say, it’s worth it.
Some accounting practitioners charge a flat rate for services rendered or a combination of flat services and hourly charges. For instance, an accountant might charge $200 a month to prepare a monthly financial statement but charge $100 an hour for special projects. Within the monthly fee, the client can call to ask questions that last fifteen minutes or less for no additional charge. This way the client is not reticent about calling. Getting your question answered may prevent little problems from later becoming bigger more expensive problems.
Very often projects take longer to complete than anticipated. Complications arise and the practitioner should be paid for his or her work. Always insist that, if there are going to be additional charges over and above what has been agreed upon, that the accountant gets your approval first. Be sure to clarify these procedures before engaging an accountant in an “engagement letter”. This is a document that spells out the responsibilities of both parties and how the relationship is going to work.
Remember, there is absolutely no reason to be intimidated by your accountant. After all, you are paying for the services, and I promise you, the accountant wants your business.