This month we focus on commercial property with a look into the pros and cons of property investment; we feature Business Partners Limited renter Dave Swanepoel and property entrepreneur Henk van Coller in our success stories; and we look at whether virtual offices are the way forward.
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May 2013   |   Volume 5.5

Property offers great opportunities, but tread carefully

Say “property portfolio” to a business owner who lived through the 2008 crash and chances are they would instinctively flinch. But Willem Bosch, COO of property management services of Business Partners, believes the property market offers great investment opportunities for entrepreneurs who need to squirrel away some surplus cash.

Even the office segment of the property market, which is currently the weakest sector with high vacancy rates, offers excellent opportunities. “Good office space is amazingly difficult to find,” says Bosch, implying that if you do find some, you’ve got a good investment opportunity. The other side of the coin, of course, is that in such a market you can easily buy a dud.

Bosch, an experienced property manager, acknowledges that entrepreneurs who reach the stage of their careers where they start looking for investments outside their businesses are not necessarily knowledgeable about the property industry. But he believes that armed with a number of basic guidelines and strategies, most business owners can build up sound property portfolios.

Success story:
In difficult times, success requires ‘moving forward constantly’

When a business owner faces a difficult scenario, the options are often those of the soldier – retreat, cut your losses and wait for a better day, or push forward with sheer determination. Dave Swanepoel’s instinct is to go for the latter, except that he believes in aiding his determination with the latest technological fire power.

Dave started his high-end embroidery business, Rightback Embroidery, in 1997 in Tongaat near Durban. Given the steady decline of the South African clothing industry over the past two decades, it seems like a pretty crazy thing to do. But on closer inspection, it was a solid business move.

As a trained electrical engineer with years of experience at a large clothing corporate’s manufacturing division, Dave was teaching workers how to run and fix the latest hi-tech clothing equipment, including embroidery machines. He had built up an intimate knowledge of the clothing industry, knew where the gaps were, and was passionate about the technology that could fill those gaps.

Success story:
Business lessons from a seasoned property entrepreneur

Henk van Coller, a seasoned property entrepreneur who has lived through South Africa’s best booms and survived its worst busts, has one main lesson for any business owner thinking of building a property portfolio: be conservative.

This may seem like strange advice coming from someone who has spent his life building, speculating, and, above all, developing office blocks and housing estates where there once was bare land. Surely the actions of a developer – investing millions into a pure vision - are the opposite of conservative? The same goes for a successful speculator, who buys when everyone is selling, and sells when everyone buys.

But Henk’s point touches on a paradox that goes to the heart of successful entrepreneurship: while the vision and actions are bold, the calculations that underlie them must be detailed and conservative, with plan B close at hand. The bold vision is foremost in the mind of an entrepreneur, but the worst-case scenario must always be there at the back.

Virtual offices: the way forward?

Is the traditional office environment crucial for all businesses? Taking into consideration the numerous technological advances that have been made with regards to business solutions, is the business world slowly moving in the direction of virtual offices?

Let’s first look at what exactly a virtual office is. A virtual office differs to “normal” office environments because employees usually do not work under the same roof. Having a virtual office means that all members of your business work on their own in their own work place, sometimes even in a different country.

Let’s look at the pros and cons to having a virtual office and remember to keep these factors in mind when deciding if your business should change its office setup.

Business premises for rent

Business Partners Industrial Park Silverton

Units available
375m², 408m² and 343m²
Office available – 183m²

Route 21 Corporate Park

Gammapark – Regency Street
Unit available – immediately – 253m²
Unit available – 1 July 2013 – 257m²

Route 21 Corporate Park

Business Partners Limited Mini Factories – Regency Street
Unit available – 566m²
Poll results Do you own or rent your business premises?
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SME Index
Complete the survey and win an iPad

The Business Partners Limited SME Index survey aims to gauge just how confident SMEs and entrepreneurs are in South Africa and what their outlook is for the future. The survey also aims to pick up on key social and economic issues affecting small businesses in various industries.

By taking part in the survey, you will automatically be entered into the lucky draw to win a fourth-generation 16GB iPad with Retina display (including Wi-Fi and 3G). A new draw will take place every quarter, so be sure to look out for our survey emails.

The SME Index survey closes 24 May 2013, so complete the survey now!
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