Monday, November 27, 2006

Humor of the week: Pardon the pun

After a blue blue Monday, I thought it apt to start the week of with some humor. This one was send in by Karen de Beer. Big thanks Karen, please keep them coming.

1, Those who jump off a bridge in Paris... are in Seine.
2, A backward poet writes... inverse.
3. A man's home is his castle... in a manor of speaking.
4. Dijon vu - the same mustard as before.
5. Practice safe eating - always use condiments.
6. A plateau is a high form of flattery.
7. A hangover is the wrath of grapes.
8. Dancing cheek-to-cheek is really a form of floor play.
9. Does the name Pavlov ring a bell?
10. Condoms should be used on every conceivable occasion.
11. Reading while sunbathing makes you well red.
12. When two egotists meet, it's an I for an I.
13. A bicycle can't stand on its own because it is two tired.
14. The definition of a will?... (It's a dead giveaway.)
15. In democracy your vote counts. In feudalism your count votes.
16. A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.
17, If you don't pay your exorcist, you get repossessed.
18. With her marriage, she got a new name and a dress.
19. When a clock is hungry, it goes back four seconds.
20. The man who fell into an upholstery machine is fully recovered.

And last but not least...

21. Acupuncture is a jab well done.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Idea of the week: WIFI Service Provider

This week we consider the exiting and rapidly growing field of WIFI and starting a wireless hotspot business.

For those of you not familiar with WIFI, it is simply the facility for accessing the web with a computer that is not physically connected via a telephone line or modem.

Starting a wireless hotspot business is simple. Just approach a local coffee shop, restaurant, bar, hotel, library, retail shop, fitness club, laundromat or any location where customers usually frequent or wait. Bowling alleys and marinas are also great locations. Ask the business owner if he/she would like to attract new customers, retain customers longer or add an additional source of revenue.

With WIFI already available in some areas of South Africa, now is a good time to enter this market as most laptop computers now also come ready to use this service.

Upside: There is a huge market in South Africa with every coffee shop, hotel and restaurant being a possible customer.

Downside: A bit of training may be needed and of course that ever needed skill of selling once again essential.

Verdict: A great business idea for an existing web company or for someone who is a fast learner and can get to market quickly. This is still a niche market but may not be for long.

Please contact me should you need further information and support with this idea.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Innovation & Unleashing the Human Spirit

I aim to include at least one thought provoking article in the Blog every week. Yes of course I would like to think they all are, but articles like this one is aimed to evoke a bit more than usual. Let me know what you think.

The importance of innovation has been described in a multitude of ways in recent years: Innovation has displaced quality as the standard for differentiation. Innovation is the only sustainable competitive advantage. Innovation is a necessity for continued existence. No matter how it is portrayed, innovation is understood by today's vast business audience to be vital to any organisation's success. This is nowhere more true and relevant than for entrepreneurs and small business owners right here in South Africa.

Innovation has always been a primary challenge of leadership. Today we live in an era of such rapid change and evolution that leaders must work constantly to develop the capacity for continuous change and frequent adaptation, while ensuring that identity and values remain constant. They must recognise people's innate capacity to adapt and create -- to innovate.

In my own work I am constantly and happily surprised by how impossible it is to extinguish the human spirit. People who had been given up for dead in their organisations, once conditions change and they feel welcomed back in, find new energy and become great innovators

The human capacity to invent and create is universal. Ours is a living world of continuous creation and infinite variation. Scientists keep discovering more species; there may be more than 50 million of them on earth, each the embodiment of an innovation that worked. Yet when we look at our own species, we frequently say we're "resistant to change."

Many people are of course resistant to change due to the perceived fear and the many uncertainties that change might hold. How can this be overcome, or perhaps we should consider, how we have coped and thrived with change for so long?

We know that the only path to creating more innovative workplaces and communities is to depend on one another. We cannot cope, much less create, in this increasingly fast and turbulent world without each other. If we try to do it alone, we will fail. There is no substitute for human creativity, human caring, human will. We can be incredibly resourceful, imaginative, and open-hearted. We can do the impossible, learn and change quickly, and extend instant compassion to those who are suffering. And we use these creative and compassionate behaviors frequently. If you look at your daily life, how often do you figure out an answer to a problem, or find a slightly better way of doing something, or extend yourself to someone in need? Very few people go through their days as robots, doing only repetitive tasks, never noticing that anybody else is nearby. Take a moment to look around at your colleagues and neighbors, and you'll see the same behaviors -- people trying to be useful, trying to make some small contribution, trying to help someone else.

We have forgotten what we're capable of, and we let our worst natures rise to the surface. We got into this sorry state partly because, for too long, we've been treating people as machines. We've forced people into tiny boxes called roles and job descriptions. We've told people what to do and how they should behave. We've told them they weren't creative, couldn't contribute, and couldn't think.

After so many years of being bossed around, of working within confining roles, of unending reorganization, reengineering, downsizing, mergers, and power plays, most people are exhausted, cynical, and focused only on self-protection. Who wouldn't be? But it's important to remember that we created these negative and demoralised people. We created them by discounting and denying our best human capacities.

But people are still willing to come back; they still want to work side by side with us to find solutions, develop innovations, and make a difference in the world. We just need to invite them back. We do this by using simple processes that bring us together to talk to one another, listen to one another's stories, reflect together on what we're learning as we do our work. We do this by developing relationships of trust where we do what we say, where we speak truthfully, where we refuse to act from petty self-interest. Many courageous companies, leaders, and facilitators have already developed these processes and relationships. Many pioneers have created processes and organisations that depend on human capacity and know how to evoke our very best.

In my experience, people everywhere want to work together, because daily they are overwhelmed by problems that they can't solve alone. People want to help. People want to contribute. Everyone wants to feel creative and hopeful again.

As leaders, as neighbors, as colleagues, it is time to turn to one another, to engage in the intentional search for human goodness. In our meetings and deliberations, we can reach out and invite in those we have excluded. We can recognise that no one person or leader has the answer, that we need everybody's creativity to find our way through this strange New World. We can act from the certainty that most people want to care about others, and invite them to step forward with their compassion. We can realise that "You can't hate someone whose story you know." We are our only hope for creating a future worth working for. We can't go it alone, we can't get there without each other, and we can't create it without relying anew on our fundamental and precious human goodness.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Democratic Alliance Report Boosts SABusinessHub

A recent report from the Democratic Alliance suggesting at more needs to be done to provide business guidance and support for would be entrepreneurs and small business owners in the form of one stop shops, is great news for SABusinessHub. With a number for business hubs already in place and the current recruitment drive to find suitable hub owners in Gauteng and Kwazulu Natal, South African business hubs will soon be providing business support through their hubs across the country.

Research conducted by Luther Diedericks and myself as the founders of South African Business Hubs indicated showed similar findings two years ago. The vision showed at that point by Luther especially is now paying of and we are well on the way to 'Unleash the Entrepreneurial Revolution' here in South Africa.

We are currently busy with a full scale recruitment drive in Gauteng and Kwazulu Natal with the intention of finding the right individuals to head up our business hubs in these provinces. If you are reading this blog and know of the right person to fill these challenging positions please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Koos Bekker takes Entrepreneur of the Year

Koos Bekker this week became Ernst & Young and Rand Merchant Bank's ninth entrepreneur of the year and will soon be competing for last years winner from South Africa, Bill Lynch’s World Entrepreneur of the Year title.

Bill last year did South African entrepreneurs proud by winning the title and we will all be rooting for Koos Bekker to take the honors this year. Lets face it, after the dismal performances of the Springbok Rugby team in Ireland and England, we can all do with a bit of good news.

Monday, November 20, 2006

What South African entrepreneurs can expect from broadband

Is the South African business infrastructure about change in a big way or is all the hype about broadband simply another sales ploy from the large telecoms companies?

In many ways and if figures from first world countries can be believed, broadband certainly will play a large part in leveling the playing field most of the sectors where knowledge and information drive competitiveness and profitability.

The boom in the sme sector in many countries has been attributed to the ease, low cost and breakdown of barriers to entry provided by the availability of broadband technology.

Some of the ways that small firms may benefit are:

1)Geographic location becomes less important so firms in small towns and remote areas where salaries, property and transportation costs are low can now compete.

2) Infrastructure cost savings will equate to lower cost and lower prices for the end user.

3) Start-up costs are lower and hence the risk of starting becomes much lower.

4) Online training and elearning can be used to access high value low cost training and support for small business employees.

5) As online products and services become more popular, SEO and online advertising becomes more important. Although the small firm will still not be able to compete with he big budget advertising of large firms, entrepreneurs with the right skills and experience can gain valuable exposure through online marketing.

6) New employment opportunities will emerge resulting from new technology.

In addition my argument is supported by this article in the Business Times.

Comments welcome

Friday, November 17, 2006

What is effective Leadership?

Pat Grove, my long time friends and mentor wrote this great piece. I trust you'll enjoy it as much as I did.

Leadership is a well-used term that means many things to many people. At Pat Grove Coaching Academy, where we interpret management as 'Managing what is', we see leadership as 'Managing what isn’t'. It is about leading people to places that they would not go by themselves. We would like to share with you our way of looking at leadership and what makes an effective leader.

A metaphor I use in my workshops is, “what is the job of the fly half in the game of rugby?” There are many responses, pass the ball, kick the ball, run with the ball and my answer is always. ‘Yes these are all the things he does and his main job is to put the ball where it isnt.

The same with a leader - whose job it is to put the organisation ‘where it isnt.’

There are many components to a great leader and we we see them all based on the leader’s network of relationships, which to us is an organisation. Fundamental to effective leadership are relationships and, above all else, to become an effective leader, one must be trustworthy and build trust with others.

Effective leaders understand that trust is based on assessments of past actions. They are sincere and mean what they say. They 'walk the talk'. They are competent at what they do. Their employees know that they can do what they say they can do. They are reliable. They understand the fundamentals of making and keeping promises. They are clear in the requests and offers they make, they allow for negotiation of those requests and offers in the context of defined organisational priorities and then manage their promises effectively.

They know the difficulty of regainng trust once it has been lost so they make every endeavour to keep their promises. They also understand the possibility of there being a ‘breakdown’ and the promise not been kept from either side. A leader also understands that re-negotiation to keep the promise then clears the trust.

Since leaders manage what could be, in other words ‘what isnt’, they are able to design organisations that are capable of adapting to the rapidly increasing change of the business environment. Those organisations are flexible and focussed.

An effective leader recognises their organisation as a network of relationships and has the conversational skills to build those relationships. They know that the right conversation at the right time and in the right mood will build relationships. They know that the wrong conversation in the wrong mood will damage them. They have an understanding of language distinctions and the active nature of language and utilise these in the conversations that they have.

Effective leaders recognise that to manage what isn’t, they must interrupt their 'busyness' in order to reflect and speculate. They need to step away from the day to day pressures to see the forest from the trees. They also recognise that breakdowns present opportunities and that the bigger the breakdown the greater the potential for learning and transformations which ultimately opens the door for breakthroughs. Therefore, they do not punish mistakes but see them as opportunities for learning and growth.

An effective leader is able to anticipate or create shifts in the paradigms in which their organisation operates. They recognise that we are all unique observers and that there are many different viewpoints within their organisation. They are able to tap those views to generate paradigm shifts. They then have the conversational skills, trained in the language of action, to create new realities for people and to shift their organisation in ways that they adopt the new paradigm and make quantum leaps forward.

An effective leader has employees who personify the mission and values of the organisation. They are people who are fully committed to what the organisation stands for and wants to achieve.
They know that commitment comes from the heart, not the head and that personal commitment is an embodied ‘way of being’ and an emotional acceptance of a way of doing business. Therefore an effective leader understands how to tap into the fundamental mood of their organisation and to intervene and influence in ways that develop a mood of ambition a mood of success for the future throughout the organisation. They also understand the vital role that each individual’s emotional state plays in their ability to learn at any point in time. They know that certain moods and emotions enhance learning and they seek to establish that emotional context to enhance their systematic learning programs.

Effective leaders know that with increasing commitment and trust will come empowered staff. They understand that all of the great ideas do not come from one or a few people at the top of an organisation but that the majority can come from those who actually do the job. They recognise that through empowered staff, the organisation will become more efficient and productive.

There are many concepts put forward about leadership. Many of them provide similar concepts about what makes an effective leader - trust, relationships, vision and a new way of being.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Weekly Humor: Lessons from Noah's ark

This is a great one send to me by one of our subscribers Sarah James.

"Everything I need to know in life, I learned from Noah's

1. Don't miss the boat.
2. Remember that we are all in the same boat.
3. Plan ahead. It wasn't raining when Noah built the Ark.
4. Stay fit. Even when you're 600 years old you may get a
chance to do something really big.
5. Don't listen to critics; just get on with the job that
needs to be done.
6. Build your future on high ground.
7. For safety's sake, travel in pairs.
8. Speed isn't always an advantage. The snails were on
board with the cheetahs.
9. When you're stressed, float a while.
10. Remember, the Ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic by
11. No matter how big the storm, there's always a rainbow afterward.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Proud South African Part of YouTube Success Story

By now we have all heard and considered with envy the recent sale of internet phenomenon YouTube to Google for a cool $1.65 Billion. It was however with amazement and pride that I discovered that A South African entrepreneur was part responsible for the huge success. For those of you who are not familiar with Roelof Botha, he is the son of old Minister Pik Botha, and apart from being part owner of the VC firm behind YouTube, Roelof was also in the team who created and sold PayPal to eBay last year.

This is a proud moment for all of South Africa and a much needed shot in the arm for many South African entrepreneurs who may not always be aware of the light at the end of the tunnel.

Well done Roelof, Your country is proud of you.

For the fullk articlae on the sale of YouTube, click here

Lessons from the home based entrepreneur

Home based businesses has long been the less chick of the entrepreneurial sector yet still so many successful businesses started at home. New research now shows that the home business industry is booming and contributing positively to the South African economy as a whole.

Perhaps there are a number of lessons to be learned from start-small and keep costs as low as possible school of thought. How often do we see new entrepreneurs taking advantage of their new independent status, buying expensive company cars, setting up lush HQ and entertaining like there is no tomorrow. How often do we see these same companies fail at the expense not only of themselves but also of the reputation of entrepreneurs throughout the country.

A few lessons from the home based business sector:

1) Start small and keep your cost down.

2) Borrowing money is not an option. Innovate your company to success by reinventing what is possible from using the resources at your disposal.

3) Yes can do. The home entrepreneur is a can do kind of character. He/she knows that there is no blame to be issued. They are responsible for their own success.

4) Work now - earn later. Yes of course its unrealistic to not earn anything and the home entrepreneur knows that they will not be earning a salary or bonus until such time as they have created that income themselves. There is no borrowing of money to pay the owners salary.

5) Opportunity and flexibility are the two trump cards. Home based entrepreneurs are in the ideal situation to react quickly to opportunities. They are pro-active and except change as a competitive advantage rather than the grim reaper.

What can your business learn from the home business industry and how will this aid you to become more competitive, cost effective and pro-active in your market?

For results of the research please click here

Friday, November 10, 2006

Top10 SA venture finance sources - Media

This weeks funding sources focus on the media industry in South Africa. As always, .
many of these will be hard work and it may be tough to get your foot in the door and as always it will be worth it once your venture starts producing the results. Please contact me should you need any support with this - Best of luck.

Bridging Finance Scheme (from IDC)
Bridging Finance is aimed at entrepreneurs who have secured firm contracts - except for construction. Development Agency, Financial Institution
PO Box 784055,Sandton,Johannesburg,2146
19 Fredman Drive,Sandown,Johannesburg,2196
Mr A Malinga
011-269 3869

Archway Technology (IDC)
The main objective of the wholesale venture capital fund is to act as a catalyst in development of the technology sector through the provision of finance.
Private Equity Company
PO Box 784055,Sandton,Johannesburg,2146
19 Fredman Drive,Sandown,Johannesburg,2196
Ms J Matlala
011-269 3000

Africa and NEPAD Programme (from DTI)
The Africa and NEPAD Programme focuses on supporting the realization of NEPAD and the development of SADC Government
Private Bag X84,Pretoria,0001
0861-84 3384

AMB Private Equity Partners
AMB Partners business include traditional private equity, leveraged transactions and equity finance. Private Equity Company
PO Box 786833,Sandton,Johannesburg,
2146 The Forum, Maude Street, Sandton,Johannesburg
Mr Z Lusengo
011-303 2900

Venture Capital Managers
This fund focuses on manufacturing and technology industries.
Private Equity Company
Block F, Hurlingham Office Park, Woodlands Avenue,Hurlingham,Johannesburg
Mr N Charlton
011-787 0252

Zephyr Africa
Funding for most development stages, except seed and start-up
Private Equity Company
P.O.Box 55955, Northlands, 2116
1st Floor Unihold House, 22 Hurlingham Road,Illovo,Johannesburg
Mr M Jennings
011-268 6911

Sterling Capital
A Cape Town based private equity firm
Private Equity Company
P O Box 4299,Tyger Valley,Cape Town,7536
Sterling Place,86 Edward Street,Bellville, Cape Town
Mr D Mulder
021-910 2626

Standard Scheme, Khula
The purpose of the individual guarantee scheme is to enable entrepreneurs to access funding from a participating bank or other financial institution.
Development Agency
PO Box 4197,Rivonia,Johannesburg,2128
Mellis Park, Bradenham Hall 7 Mellis Road,Rivonia,Johannesburg,2128
Ms S Morekhure
011-807 8464

Southern Africa Enterprise Development Fund
This fund excludes the gambling, tobacco, liquor and defence industries Private Equity Company
PO Box 2241,Saxonwold,Johannesburg,2132 1st Floor,
32 Fricker Road,Illovo,Johannesburg,2196
Mr R Kelley
011-283 1630

SA Diaspora Network
A network of SA professionals working/living abroad, assisting in economic growth and development in SA Other
Graduate School of Business University of Cape Town Private Bag,Rondebosch,7701
Graduate School of Business Breakwater Campus Portswood Road,Greenpoint,Cape
Dr M Herrington
021-406 1423

Top ways of coping with crisis in your business

No matter how big or small your business, there will be times when you may think that your number is up and you wont be open for business come next week. Perhaps you’ve just loss a big account or two of your biggest customers have gone to the competition. Its times like these that really tests your resolve and its up to you and your team to ensure that all your hard work is not going to waste and the trust your clients have invested in you will be preserved.

So what do you do when your back is against the wall, the unpaid invoices are piling up, the bank is calling for the third time today, but you are not yet ready to give it all up?

1. When you're running a business in a situation like this, you have to pay attention to people.

You have to pay attention to the fact that something horrible has happened, and you've got to run a business. You know, we're not Old Mutual -- we're 50 people, and we're a family. If you don't acknowledge people's needs, you risk hurting that family.

2. Don’t start blaming one another.

Blame is one of the easiest things to dish out, especially when times are tough. It won’t get you anywhere and it won’t resolve the issues at hand. Stay together and make the best use of all the resources (including people) that you have at this point.

3. Resuming business.

Make sure your business opens its doors in the morning. Get everyone together and talk about what’s going on and how to get past it.

4. Make decisions together on upcoming projects.

You are where you are, possible because you don’t know as much as you thought you did and your way - just maybe - isn’t the best way. Listen to those ideas you always brushed aside. Consider the outrageous plans and give the shy guy in the corner an opportunity to air his views.

5. Learn from survivors as resource people on how to cope.

There may be a number of people on your team who has been in this situation before. Listen to them and learn from their mistakes.

6. Get a consensus.

While there may be disagreement about what to do next, ensure that you get agreement about what to do next. Every one may be feeling vulnerable, ensure that you get agreement from everyone involved.

7. How do you carry on at such a time?

It isn't easy. Allow for a period of mourning. Don't celebrate, but life doesn't stop.

8. Contact your customers and clients as people.

Decide early on to contact all your customers, just to make contact on a human level. It helps to know that people are there for you and may stand by you in tough times.

9. Offer personal help.

There may be some members of the team that see themselves as the reason for your failure. Make sure that they get some attention even if you agree with their view.

10. Understand we're all in this together. Foster unity and build unity.

People want to go on -- they don't want to give up. Use this feeling of unity to forge a path for the future.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Business idea of the week - South African SEO Specialist

This week we consider the exiting and rapidly growing Search Engine Optimization (SEO) industry.

For those of you not familiar with the term, SEO is the science of getting websites to appear high on search results on search engines like Google, Yahoo, MSN etc. With more and more customers searching for goods and services on-line, it is becoming increasingly more important to your bottom line that your company's name appear higher than that of your competitors.

As an example, go to Google type is 'final warning letter' - when the results come back you can see SABusinessHub about 5th from the top. Its obvious that the higher our site comes in the result the more likely you will click on it and buy the form you searched for. Research estimates that this year, worldwide e-commerce spending will reach $6.8 trillion. Bearing this in mind and that up wards of 85% of Internet users make use of search engines to locate products or services, optimizing your website for prominent search engine placement has become a fundamental component of any on-line business plan. It is understandable that companies are willing to pay good money to get their website link appear on the first page of a search.

With more and people in South Africa now following the internet trend due to connection speeds increasing vs. decreasing connection costs, the need for websites to be optimized for search engines has created the need for companies to offer this service. When you consider that only the top 30 search results will ever generate serious traffic. It won't help a company or its product to rank anywhere below position 30.

Upside: There is a massive market for the skilled person or company in this field. Its is important to create a good reputation, but that goes for most industries. Relatively low investment is needed with high profit margins possible.

Downside: Training cost could be high initially and the technology and knowledge is a well kept secret for those who know.

Verdict: A great business idea for an existing web company or for someone who is a fast learner and can get to market quickly. This is still a niche market but may not be for long.

Please contact me should you need further information and support with this idea.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Humor: Whats up!

Thanks to my friend Jim Bowen who often sends me these from time to time.

So what is this stuff about English being easy? There is a two-letter word that perhaps has more meanings than any other two-letter word in the English language -- and that is the word "UP."

It's easy to understand UP (meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list) but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake UP?

At a meeting, why does a topic come UP? Why do we speak UP and why are the officers UP for election and why is it UP to the secretary to write UP a report?

We call UP our friends and we use it to brighten UP a room, polish UP the silver, we warm UP the leftovers and clean UP the kitchen. We lock UP the house and some guys fix UP the old car.

At other times the little word has real special meaning. People stir UP trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite, and think UP excuses.

To be dressed is one thing but to be dressed UP is special.

And this UP is confusing: A drain must be opened UP because it is stopped UP.

We open UP a store in the morning, but we close it UP at night.

We seem to be pretty mixed UP about UP !

To understand the proper uses of UP, look it UP in the dictionary. In a desk size dictionary, the word up takes UP almost a quarter page and it adds UP to about thirty definitions.

If you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP is used. It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don't give UP, you may wind UP with a hundred or more.

When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP. When the sun comes out we say it is clearing UP .

When it rains, it wets UP the earth. When it doesn't rain for awhile, things dry UP.

One could go on and on, but I'll wrap it UP, for now my time is UP, so...I'll just shut UP!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Is it time to outsource yet?

Outsourcing, is not only a buzz word but is also a practice being used on a regular basis by SMEs in the UK, US and Europe. more than 50% of UK businesses currently outsource one or more business activities. With the pressure to become more efficient and competitive, businesses - both small and large - have turned to outsourcing as the solution.

With the constant need to cut cost outsourcing has gathered pace in recent years. It has also provided the means to bring a lot of good business ideas into reality.

There are a variety of reasons for outsourcing, including improved efficiency, cost reductions, and increased flexibility. Situations are familiar, ranging from high-tech start-ups which are unable to raise funds or risk manufacturing their products to companies with cyclical sales, making production planning difficult and expensive.

What is outsourcing?
Outsourcing is the delegation of a business process to an external service provider. The service provider will then be responsible for the day-to-day running and maintenance of the delegated process.

Do you really need to outsource?

Before outsourcing an IT function, look at your firm's own goals and culture. What business objectives are you trying to accomplish by outsourcing this particular function? How will sending this function to an outside party impact the work flow within the company? Clear answers to these questions can help guide a business owner toward the most appropriate vendor.

Consider the advantages and disadvantages of outsourcing before you make your decision.

Allows a business to focus on core activities
Streamlines a business' operations
Gives you access to professional capabilities
Shares the risk · Piece of mind that the process is in good hands (reliability)
Do not have to worry about continually introducing new technologies
Improves service quality
Frees up human resources
Frees up cash flow
Increases the control of your business
Makes the business more flexible to change (i.e. demand)

The fear of the service provider ceasing to trade (bankruptcy, etc)
You may lose control of the process
Creates potential redundancies
Other companies may also be using the service provider. Therefore in some cases, the best interests of the service provider may be diluted with other users
You may lose focus of the customer and concentrate on the product (the outsourced process)
The loss of talent generated internally
Employees may react badly to outsourcing and consequently their quality of work may suffer.

Buy the expertise

A valuable outsource partner will do more than lighten the load. Such a partner will lend expertise to ensure an optimum blend of in-house and outsourced functions. In the case of network management, for instance, an outsourcer should "provide a small business with an operational, tactical and strategic view of their network environment,

This allows for quality recommendations to ensure network availability, reduction of total cost of ownership, optimization of network assets for meeting business needs, and support of future growth.

Know who you are outsourcing to.

The two most important factors in a successful outsourcing relationship are trust and security - without these the relationship is destined for failure. It is therefore important that you take the time and effort required to find the perfect partner.

Make sure your service provider is keeping current. "IT is very dynamic, so it can be difficult to intelligently know what's happening in IT," said Jeremy F. Shapiro, professor emeritus of operations research and management at MIT. The best vendors can provide not just services, but also "state-of-the-art knowledge about IT needs and developments."

Does this vendor value its employees? What is the average length of employment of the staff? A company that retains its employees must treat them well and value them.

Meet the team: Before signing anything, meet the people who will actually service your account. Good outsourcers will have a dedicated team servicing the customer, led by the controller who acts as the 'go to' person. Chain of command: Along these same lines, know who is talking to whom. The last thing that you can afford to have are layers of contacts, especially when time means money. Finding a provider or consultant that provides one point of contact and even better, one person, is any business' best bet. The language barrier: Finally, it's important to remember that even an outsourced IT function does not go away entirely. In most instances the small-business owner still will have to maintain some involvement. Look for an expert who can clearly explain answers in non-technical terms and can make tech-talk clear to even novice questioners.

Know what you are buying

As you get closer to making a decision, it is important to agree upon a set of service level expectations or objectives," said Hoyer. "Measurement objectives can include streamlined operations, cost savings, and reporting with all activities pointing to an improved bottom line," he added. What matters most is to agree in advance on the service to be delivered and especially on the measures that will be used to determine satisfactory performance.

Many of the disadvantages of outsourcing can be avoided if you research the service provider and you do not regard outsourcing simply as a money saving scheme - this is not always the case. Consequently, you should be certain that you have a valid reason for outsourcing and that you intend to liaise regularly with the service provider to avoid loosing all control of the process.

Launch of my book today!

Great news today is that my book is hitting the shelves around the world from today.

There will be an official Launch in both London (UK) and New Orleans (US) on the 8th of December. South African launch date to be announced shortly.

Here is a press release from the Open Press:

(OPENPRESS) November 3, 2006 -- John Vinturella and South African entrepreneur Ben Botes, based on different continents, recently combined their years of working with entrepreneurs and small business owners around the globe and created a groundbreaking book on new venture creation. This really is new news for new entrepreneurs

“Release Your Inner Entrepreneur” (RYIE) is the result of information compiled from working with hundreds of clients, and addresses issues relevant to budding entrepreneurs as well as experienced small business owners. Whether an entrepreneur is local or international in scope, RYIE provides a thorough yet clear analysis of the steps involved in starting a successful venture or sharpening an existing business.

Features of the book include real life scenarios, ongoing coaching support throughout and a supplemental web site ( with timely resources and downloadable podcasts to support readers well beyond the last page. The authors offer common sense tips, and apply their professional savvy on strategic issues to support the reader in the many steps from idea formulation to “harvesting” the business.

For more information contact John (, visit the RYIE web site, or preview the book at RYIE is on sale at, and other fine online retail channels worldwide.

This book works because the authors know what they are talking about. John Vinturella has 40 years experience in the business world. Ben Botes has worked with and supported entrepreneurs on four continents.

"Buy this book and heed its message!"
Harold R. Singer
President, Singer Strategic Consulting, LLC

"There is no question; Ben Botes is an entrepreneur unleashing himself on the world!
Highly recommended."
Thomas Power

About the Authors:
John B. Vinturella, Ph.D., has written books on entrepreneurship and small-business management and maintains sites on entrepreneurship, Internet marketing, and personal finance. Dr. Vinturella also maintains blogs on business and on New Orleans' recovery from hurricane Katrina. Your comments and suggestions are always welcome (

Ben Botes is an entrepreneur, management consultant, executive coach and one of the UK's new leading thinkers on the coaching of entrepreneurs and small business leadership. His specialties are leadership development, individual and organizational learning, business innovation, personal transformation, and team dynamics. Ben is the founder of a web portal for 1st time business owners

buy it from amazon here