This month we look ahead at what reprieve may come for the economy in the New Year; we offer some tips on assessing whether your business is ready for the year ahead; and we meet our latest square pegs, Jaap de Bruyn and Hermanus van Niekerk.
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Meteorological and economic drought poised to end in 2017

Just like the latest rains hold the promise that at last the drought may be broken, the signs are everywhere that South African business owners can, for the first time in quite a while, look forward to a year in which the economy will start flowing forward again, says Ben Bierman, Managing Director of Business Partners Limited.

In fact, the breaking of the drought is one of the factors that makes Bierman optimistic that the local economy can achieve growth in the year ahead of between 1,6 and 1,7% - by no means spectacular, but still a vast improvement on the near-recessionary environment of much of the past year.

“Agriculture still comprises up to 13% of the South African economy, and is a labour-intensive industry. The end of the drought can add as much as a percentage point to economic growth,” says Bierman, who believes that while food prices will probably not come down, food inflation will no longer contribute to the risks of an interest rate increase.


Batteries recharged? Now is the time to reflect and plan

Business owners who have been lucky enough to pinch a week or two off in December are probably about as rested and fresh as they are going to be for the next twelve months or so. There is no better time for them to take a good look at their business and assess its readiness for the year ahead, says Jeremy Lang, regional general manager at Business Partners Limited.

It doesn't matter if your financial year starts in March, which offers another opportunity to reflect, assess and plan. The important thing about the beginning of the calendar year is that, for most business owners at least, your head is fresher and your batteries more charged than usual, says Lang.

The same goes for your staff members who have taken a break. Some of the thinking and reflection you will have to do on your own, but drawing key employees into the process will not only give you fresh ideas, but it will help to get the team pulling in the same direction in the year ahead.

January 2017 / Vol.8.1


Are you a
square peg?

This quiz is not scientific but serves to highlight some of the key attributes of entrepreneurs or “square pegs”, as we at Business Partners affectionately call them. The quiz should give you some idea on whether you “possess” entrepreneurial qualities, or not. However, please remember that a positive outcome/score is not a recipe for success.

Take the quiz

You've got to rest to keep going, says round-the-clock entrepreneur

Jaap de Bruyn finds himself in one of those relentless round-the-clock industries in which it seems impossible to take a holiday, yet he is adamant that every person in his 700-strong workforce, including himself, needs to take their annual leave – not because the law says so, but because it is a crucial part of “keeping fit” for business.

But the challenge for De Bruyn, 69-year-old co-owner and managing director of Micaren Exel Petroleum Wholesalers, is that he cannot allow that one of his network of 31 petrol stations to run dry, not even for a few minutes. It is not just the loss of sales that will hit the business, but as a small, emerging petrol-station brand Micaren Exel has to outperform the big brands at every level. Even more important is maintaining the trust between Micaren, the wholesaler, and the 31 petrol-station owners in the Group whom it supplies.


Building a business from less than nothing

Some successful entrepreneurs start multi-million rand businesses with nothing but their ingenuity and determination. Hermanus van Niekerk started his with way less than nothing - almost R1 million of debt that he had no hope of paying off.

Today the owner of Alberton-based Security Experts South Africa, one of the biggest independent gate and canopy installers in Gauteng, looks back on his start-up days in 2006 at the age of 46 as “no doubt the most difficult in my life”. Hermanus had lost everything in a venture which he declines to describe, except to say that he trusted some people too much.

He lost millions and was left with 86 unpaid loans and accounts totalling R814 000. His urgent efforts to find a job to save his family from destitution came to naught. Ironically, his eclectic mixture of qualifications – one in mechanical engineering, a PhD in pastoral care and an MBA...

Location: George Industrial Park, c/o Nelson Mandela Drive and Luven Street George. The park is 10 minutes drive from the N2 and 5 minutes drive from the CBD.

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021 464 3659
073 066 8098

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Description: The units available are approximately 64m². They consist of a roller shutter door to the factory and have 24-hour security.

Rent: R3 040.00 (R47.50 pm²), plus VAT and metered electricity, water and sewerage.

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Description: 3 Units of 254m² each are available to let (unit 9, 10 and 11). They can be combined for bigger space. The units are road facing and consist of one garage door with access to factory, an open plan reception and office/storage on a mezzanine level. The business Park has 24-hour security with guards at the access point.

Rent: R13 970.00 excl. VAT per month per unit. Metered electricity, sewerage and water charged separately.

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079 011 9191

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