Why investing in youth is good for your business

It was Nelson Mandela that famously said, “The youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow”. And although some years have passed since his death, his words still echo true. How we treat our youth (legally defined in South Africa as people between the ages of 15-35) will have a lasting impact on the growth of our country and even local businesses.

Staggeringly, though, youth unemployment has sat at over 55% for two years in a row and was last under 50% n 2011. This is a worrying statistic. But it doesn’t have to remain so. There are many reasons why youth employment is a smart and responsible movement to become a part of.

In fact, over the years, many employers fail to realise that the demand for technologically-skilled individuals is rapidly increasing. While this should by no means be an encouragement to phase older workers out (in fact, with good strategy, workers of any age can learn new skills and apply the latest technology to their work), it does incentivise employers to consider employing younger talent that has more recent exposure to training within newer technological frameworks.

Furthermore, there are a variety of incentives for employing youth:

Employment Tax Incentive (ETI)

Beyond the advantages in employing people with the most relevant skills in your industry, there are tax incentives for employing young people too. The ETI was implemented in 2014 with the express aim of encouraging employers to hire young workers between the ages of 18 and 29, who earn less than R6 000p/m.

The incentive has the following benefits:

  • Reduced amount of PAYE (Pay-As-You-Earn) payable by the employer
  • ETI can be claimed for a total of 24 qualifying months
  • It serves as complement to existing learnership agreements
  • More young people are employed, and the economy is boosted

Please note that this is an over-simplification and any real consideration regarding the use of the ETI should be discussed with your tax adviser.

SDL & SETA Registration

By registering for the Skills Development Levy (SDL) and registering at your relevant Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA), you can offer learnerships and apprenticeships in your company. If you are able to secure a grant, you can use it to train your employees and invest in their skills, which is desperately needed in a country where unemployment rates have been sky-high for years.

The SDL is not optional for any business owner who expects to pay more than R500 000 in salaries over 12 months. The SDL amount payable is 1% of the total salaries paid. However, a large portion of these funds can be claimed back in various ways:

Mandatory grants: If you submit both your valid Workplace Skills Plan (WSP) along with your Annual Training Report (ATR) by the end of April every year, you qualify for a 20% return on the funds paid to the SDL.

Discretionary grants: Employers will need to apply for these grants with their respective SETA. The purpose of these grants is to incentivise employers to contribute to skills development while they address skills shortages within their specific industry. Not only does this create jobs, it is also a worthwhile way to invest in upskilling young people through learnerships. These discretionary grants could be worth up to 49.5% of the amount contributed to the SDL.

How are you investing in the leaders of tomorrow?

The path to a brighter future starts with you, the business leader. Not only are there many ways in which employing youth can help you save money, but it also contributes to the eradication of youth unemployment in South Africa while ensuring that you have staff in your company that can go a long way with you. What are you waiting for? Speak to your financial adviser today to see how you can make a difference while utilising the incentives detailed above.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied upon as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

Cybersecurity in your business starts with you

As a business owner in the digital age, one of the best things that you can do to gear yourself for the future of your industry is to learn how to protect your business and its interests from cyber threats that could lead to damages on a large scale.

One of the most frequent minor inconveniences we face in the modern age is waiting for a program to update before we can use it again. You might find it frustrating if your anti-virus program wants to perform an update every other day, but these updates are vital to your continued safety.

These updates are necessary as every moment that goes by is another moment in which a cybercriminal is attempting to exploit vulnerabilities in the digital universe. In fact, everything we know about cybersecurity right now is already outdated. Do not let it come as a shock or induce panic, though, as there are many practices/steps that you can implement to essentially eliminate all cyber-threats to yourself and your businesses.

Start with yourself

The best leaders learn before they teach others to follow. This is not to say that you need to learn everything there is to know about cyberinfrastructure and cybersecurity before you start speaking to your employees about it. But the only way that those in your employ will trust you enough to listen and take to heart what you say, is if you lead by example.

Take time to familiarise yourself with cyber threats to your business. As a business leader, you are best equipped to identify the areas of your business most susceptible to cyberattacks. Once you have identified the most valuable information your business possesses, you can ramp up your security measures in the right areas to repel or prevent attacks against your company.

Focus on re-learning

As people who have grown up in a society where technology has grown in leaps and bounds over the years, we must not be as naïve as to think that what we knew 10 years ago is still as valid today. Cybersecurity, from now until the indistinct future where we transcend the need for a digital world (which will not be anytime soon), will constantly need to be revised, unlearnt, and re-learnt.

Therefore, from the outset, it is necessary to take a systematic approach to cyber education that constantly revises its practices and implements new safety measures against the multiplicity of threats out there.

Know about the array of cyberthreats out there 

To be best equipped for a cyberattack, you need to be aware of the various avenues for attack that exist and how these points of attack may present themselves to your business.

Web-based attacks 

Web-based attacks make up the largest proportion of all cyberattacks (49%). These attacks are conducted while you are browsing the web and can take a variety of forms: from clicking a hyperlink to a malicious website, to enabling malicious web-scripts, to inadvertently installing malware.

Phishing 

The second largest proportion of cyberattacks (43%) is phishing attacks, which often starts over email. Phishing is a method of cyberattack by which cybercriminals entice you to divulge sensitive information while purporting to be reputable sources.

Spoofing 

Spoofing is when someone or something pretends to be something else in an attempt to gain a victim’s confidence, get access to a system, steal data, or spread malware.

Malware 

Malware is a kind of malicious software that compromises a network/device/system. These include, but are not limited to, adware, viruses, trojan horses, and spyware.

Put the infrastructure in place to minimise your risk

As cyberattacks become more sophisticated, so do anti-virus programs (and other cybersecurity tools). Make sure you have the kind of infrastructure in place to maximise your security. Here are some considerations for improving your cybersecurity:

  • Implementing firewalls between datapoints
  • Investing in reputable (paid) anti-virus/anti-malware solution
  • Encrypting the data you store on your servers
  • Installing a Virtual Private Network (VPN) on your devices

Teach your staff cyber (street) smarts

The vast majority of cyberattacks require at least some kind of human interaction for it to be successful. While your infrastructure can do a lot to minimise risk, it can never eradicate it. That is why you need to invest in continuous staff training. Make sure to include cybersecurity training as part of your onboarding processes, while continually helping your staff make the best decisions while working online.

Cybersecurity smarts are not only worthwhile in the office, but they are also becoming a necessity outside of the office. Promoting cyber-security as a habit could go a long way to protecting your employees and company no matter where they are.

Test your security

One tactic that many companies have been using to assess their risk of cyberattacks is that of co-ordinating mock security breaches in which employees are targeted with a cyber ‘threat’, which demands a response from them. Those who fail the test must be alerted to the real damages that could have been borne from threats to security and what the consequences of their actions may have been if there was a real security threat. Although it may seem a little drastic, it could very well serve as a much needed wake-up call for those who are naïve in their online activities.

References

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied upon as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

Have you revised your business continuity plan?

While the possibility of a global pandemic was always at the back of our minds, its emergence still managed to catch us off-guard and wreaked havoc on every aspect of our lives, particularly the world of work. Therefore, it’s safe to say that Covid-19 has been a wake-up call for organisations to rethink their priorities and strategies to ensure their businesses will survive the next disaster.

When you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail

The current health crisis highlighted the vulnerability of businesses around the globe, exposing the consequences of fragile business continuity plans and executives completely failing to prepare for unforeseen crises. Covid-19 is not the first crisis our world has faced, and it will certainly not be the last. From disease outbreaks to climate change threats, and cyber-attacks, the list of future potential business crises is endless. Now is the time to pay attention to the bigger picture –  to learn from global businesses, adapt to create new opportunities, and prioritise business continuity planning.

How will an effective Business Continuity Plan (BCP) benefit your business?

Business continuity planning is the proactive process of understanding your company’s vulnerabilities and ensures that your business knows what measures to take to keep operating and maximise its growth potential in the face of unpredictable events. An effective BCP minimises losses and costs; protects your workforce, physical assets, and electronic assets; prioritises continuity and recovery of critical business functions and supply chain processes; and reduces recovery periods.

While most businesses do have BCPs in place, they don’t always take the time necessary to review and update them. In light of the current global crisis, business leaders can’t afford to make the same mistakes in the future. It’s time to dust off and revise your business continuity plan if you want to ensure that your organisation emerges stronger the next time around.

BCP 101: What steps can your business take to better prepare for the next crisis?

Identify existing vulnerabilities: How businesses position themselves in a post-pandemic world is critical in building organisational resilience and will determine how well they respond to future disasters. In what ways was your business not prepared for the Covid-19 pandemic? Think about the impact of those pitfalls and the likelihood of it happening again. Focus on what your business can do to mitigate those risks in the face of the next potential crisis.

Anticipate financial fluctuations: Cash flow is certainly the biggest challenge that organisations faced during the Covid-19 outbreak. Assess the probable impact of various scenarios and evaluate your company’s working capital accordingly. If your cash reserve is not sufficient, you will need to set aside funds that will help keep your debt low while your business keeps operating. Speak to an accredited financial advisor if you are uncertain about your cash reserve requirements or whether all financial planning risks have been thoroughly addressed in your business.

Overcome AI fears: Many employees are concerned that they will lose their jobs once their employers implement Artificial Intelligence, failing to realise how it can empower them to improve their performance. Take remote working for example – if it wasn’t for digital innovation, most businesses wouldn’t have been able to continue their operations. For your business to be well-prepared for unexpected crises, you must recognise that technological advancements will accelerate, and online demand for products and services will increase. “Business as usual” is a thing of the past and business leaders will have to start thinking out of the box. Attract new clients by increasing your online presence and developing new service offerings in a digital world.

Provide upskilling opportunities: To remain relevant and gain a competitive advantage in an ever-changing consumer market, it is critical to provide your workforce with upskilling opportunities. Your employees are your most valuable asset, which is why investing in online training should be of critical importance. With the accelerated digitalisation brought about by the pandemic, and the needs of businesses and consumers constantly changing, there is an urgent demand to bridge knowledge gaps and sharpen essential skills among staff to ensure future business success.

Establish roles: Build a crisis management team, and determine who will be in charge of what when disaster strikes. This includes clearly articulating which participants will initiate the BCP and who will manage the execution of the activities. Assigning the right individuals to the right roles and informing each person about their specific responsibilities will optimize your business continuity. Conversely, placing the wrong individuals, i.e. those lacking in certain skills and experience, in the wrong positions, can result in poor performance, and ultimately – an ineffective business continuity plan.

Test and revise your plan: Once you have updated your BCP, it cannot be considered final until you are truly sure it will work in any situation. Take the time to search for any weak spots in your BCP and rectify them accordingly. Schedule a debrief session with your crisis management team following the test to gather their input and to address what worked and what didn’t. Listening to their concerns and suggestions will help you develop new perspectives that could possibly lead to further adjustments. Only when you are fully confident that your BCP has covered all the bases, you can put it aside until it needs to be tested and revised again.

The coronavirus catastrophe serves as an important reminder for business leaders that crises do happen. And they will continue to happen. But ensuring that your business has an effective BCP in place, will make it easier for your business to bounce back when the next crisis hits. Keep in mind that a BCP is not a one-size-fits-all solution and will vary according to each organisation’s unique corporate culture, structure, and operational requirements.

What measures have you taken to make business continuity a top priority in your organisation? Speak to your financial or risk adviser as you establish your comprehensive BCP.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied upon as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

The benefits of moving away from the one-size-fits-all approach


Every business in the world sells something. They sell goods or services in order to address a need or desire of a consumer, and to achieve a profit in the process (at the very least only to ensure its sustainability).

Before the introduction of many modern technologies (the internet specifically), focussing solely on quality goods or services in order to make profit was the common thing to do. Business owners could often hard sell their goods/services without much thought about the long-term impact it would have – especially if they had a local monopoly on the goods/services they provided.

Ever since the advent of the internet and parallel advancements in global infrastructure, focussing solely on making the buck without concern for the individuals behind the product will likely be detrimental to your business’s profit. Here’s why:

People speak:  Word-of-mouth has always played a role in marketing, but because of the reach of the internet and the speed at which consumers share their experiences, disgruntled consumers are much more likely to voice their discontent and have a wider audience who are listening. When people feel like they are just considered to be ‘somebody to sell to’, it becomes very difficult to keep them coming back.

The world is smaller: Even as little as 10 years ago, the basis of starting a business was “Location, location, location.” Now? Not so much. In fact, with online orders and quick delivery becoming a staple in the buying repertoire of every-day consumers, location seems to have gone out the window. If your product/service does not satisfy, you could even end up losing business to someone on the other side of the country.

There is greater ethical awareness: Because the world’s information is available at the tap of a button, selling a product or service with disregard for the environmental consequences can quickly turn a consumer against you. People are also much more likely to realise when they are being manipulated because scepticism has become a necessary defence in a world of manipulated information and half-truths.

One-size-fits-all fits very few: Providing a standardised service in our modern society largely neglects the individual needs of consumers. When you use the same approach for each and every client, they are bound to be unsatisfied when individual elements of your service don’t fulfil their individual needs.

Instead, business owners will be well advised to turn their attention to their customers and clients in order to build relationships with them. There are a few ways in which this can be accomplished. Here are a few tips to facilitate the process, from simply having clients to building authentic relationships:

Ask them about their business and their needs: Many entrepreneurs believe that they have all the answers before they have even asked the questions. Discovering more about your client’s needs and requirements before offering a solution will go a long way towards building trust and will show that you’re not just interested in their money.

Give a little more: One way in which you can be sure to acquire clients and keep them is by offering a little more than the next guy. The thing is that gratitude comes from receiving what is not expected. When you only give clients what they pay for, you might have satisfied clients, but you won’t make them grateful. Where you are able to give more, give more and see the gratitude pouring in (and this doesn’t necessarily have to be resource intensive).

Refer them to specialists: Just as your General Partitioner refers their patients to specialists, so you too can have a network of businesses to whom you are connected and can recommend additional services that do not fall in your scope. Not only are you giving practical steps to your client on how to satisfy their business needs, you are also incentivising good-faith relationships with fellow entrepreneurs who can refer their clients back to you where appropriate. Be careful to choose business partners you are willing to trust, though.

Be transparent and provide a platform: One of the biggest things that can damage trust in the internet generation is by not having a clear platform on which consumers can engage with you – or worse still, deliberately withholding such a platform. Giving your customers/clients a platform through which they can speak to you or provide real commentary on the service you provide can go a long way towards establishing trust. Take constructive criticism to improve your product/offering and give relevant feedback – silence can also damage trust.

Give back: People trust businesses that give back – whether that is by improving a product/service to be more eco-friendly or by getting involved in community projects. Going above and beyond the call of duty not only reflects well on your business but can help you and your employees to de-stress and feel content in making a difference in their local community. Doing good is a proven way of managing anxiety and encouraging better mental health.

How do you plan on building relationships?

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied upon as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

Innovation: How to manage it

Managing innovation? Why put a damper on creativity? No, that is not the idea. The purpose of managing innovation is to organise all the free-flowing ideas in order to avoid chaos and to actually put all the great ideas into action.

 

Here are the steps to how you can manage innovation:

 

  1. Envision

 

To envision an idea is a critical step in the innovation management process. The envisioning process should put the plan in place to reach the innovation goals. Words alone are not enough. Leaders of innovative companies need to emphasise that innovation is a strategic imperative and they need to back up their words with their actions.

 

  1. Engage

 

The next step, to engage, is where ideas are generated. In this process, companies engage employees, customers and partners to capture and share new ideas. To formalise the engagement process transforms it from an unfocused and ineffective “suggestion box” to a proactive and productive approach that efficiently produces targeted innovations.

 

  1. Evolve

 

With this step, companies evolve ideas to increase their quality and value. Early feedback will allow ideas to be improved upon and problems to be raised so they can be solved or prevented. Give people a platform to exchange information, add comments and refine ideas, and remember, in order to get the most out of ideas, they need to mature. Developing these ideas in a virtual team setting provides the medium to bring group knowledge together and share it with subject matter experts, communities of interest and others by discussing, commenting and contributing to concepts.

 

  1. Evaluate

 

Companies must identify the ideas that they believe will succeed. A lot of companies are overwhelmed by too many ideas. They want to use the “wisdom of the crowd” to provide some direction on where to focus. The goal is to take potentially thousands of ideas and turn them into a more reasonable number that you can evaluate. Companies can identify the best ideas by tracking which ideas are getting the most attention, views and comments. They can also provide mechanisms for the community to rate the ideas, from a simple “like” to providing specific feedback or validation on details like technical feasibility.

 

  1. Execute

 

The best idea in the world will have no value unless it can be transformed into a reality. The execution process takes the input from the previous processes to execute an official project which will further build on the idea. Companies should have a repeatable project management method and should plan projects based on the deliverables to be completed. One of the clearest challenges that companies face in the execution phase is simply getting projects delivered on time and on budget while maintaining quality.

 

In conclusion, successful innovations are the result of carefully examining the target market and the available technology to meet customer needs. Essentially, innovation management means to be innovative in order to come up with solutions, before competitors have realised there is a problem.

 

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

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