First impressions: SME business tools | by Oliver Nagaya

Oliver NagayaEntrepreneurs are often true visionaries who want to make a positive difference in their lives and in their communities. This is what they love. This is the reason that they become entrepreneurs. However, what most entrepreneurs hate (and are often terrible at) is the admin side of having a business. This is the day-to-day operations, handling client phone calls, invoicing, following up on payments, chasing outstanding debt, accounting, financials, tax compliance, online marketing and just general business administration.

Anecdotally we hear about many small things that entrepreneurs do that can negatively affect perception of them. Are you guilty of any of the following:

  1. Is your invoicing done on Microsoft Word or Excel?
  2. Do you protest or drag your feet when the procurement team requests a statement so that they can correlate your invoices and payments, and release that crucial payment to you?
  3. Do you have more than two invoices that haven’t been paid for more than two months?
  4. Do you have a current view of the financial position of your business (ie. management accounts or signed-off financial statements)?
  5. Do you pay yourself a fixed salary per month, and do you have payslips for yourself and your staff?
  6. Are all your SARS returns submitted and up to date?
  7. Are all your legal contracts in place, and do you have them stored securely online?

Treat your stakeholders the same as new customers
We cringe to think what the procurement teams who work with these entrepreneurs think about some of the supporting documents that they receive from well-meaning, enthusiastic, but perhaps less-than-meticulous entrepreneurs.

If you could impress them in the same way that you impress your prospective clients, with that tailored, all would be well. But procurement teams care little about your suit. They do care about your documentation and compliance. No excuse or justification can change the fact that it’s very difficult for any procurement team to help you secure contracts if your business fundamentals are severely lacking.

Help for SMEs?
In an age of software as a service (SaaS), on-demand and pay-as-you-use services, there’s no excuse for not having a professional looking business admin function. There are many service providers – local and remote – that help entrepreneurs, saving them time, giving them greater piece of mind, fulfilling all those critical functions in their business, at a fixed and cost-effective price. Some are even available free or on a “freemium” model (where the starting package is free, but extras will start to incur a cost).
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You can outsource or use cloud services for, among other things:

  • operations (to get your invoicing, payment allocation, medical-aid follow-ups, and unpaids management in order);
  • human resources (to manage the people working for you);
  • financial compliance (to understand what is happening in your private practice);
  • tax compliance (to ensure that you’re 100% tax compliant);
  • and marketing (to get the number of client referrals and bookings that you want).
This means that you have limited excuses for not making the lives of procurement teams (and yourself) better.

Getting it right
Don’t ignore the basics of running a successful operation while you’re chasing new business. Let’s make the lives of all procurement and supplier development teams easier, and give them reasons to brag about why and how they’ve supported so many new and existing businesses.

One closing thought: it doesn’t have to be expensive to put the critical systems in place for your business, and it is money well-spent; these critical systems are what all procurement teams will love you for putting in place. Let’s strive to make the lives of all procurement teams better, one business tool at a time.

Oliver Nagaya is the founder and CEO of Kitrin Business Services -

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Posted on May 16, 2019