Now more than any other time in history, starting and running a business can be done with little to no seed funding. That’s because the digital age offers entrepreneurs the ability to use a set of online platforms and tools that can be installed or accessed via the smartphone.
That’s Jesse Weinberg’s view. The head of the SME segment at FNB Business offers a useful guide on how one could go about using a smartphone to launch a start-up at little to no cost.
Business registration & certification – Entrepreneurs can register their businesses and apply for a business account on a bank’s website. CIPC registration through a bank was launched by FNB in partnership with the DTI in 2012; it is now available through all major banks in South Africa at a minimal fee. This includes the creation of a company with the registrar of companies (CIPC) on your behalf.
Reserve a web domain and email address – One of the best ways to professionalise your business image from the start is to have a business website and business email address – it says that you are serious. Registering a web domain address is relatively cheap and easy through companies such as www.godaddy.com and www.Afrihost.co.za which also offer you the ability to setup an email account and even a website.
Cloud and App-based accounting software – With so many companies offering various software tools and solutions, it has never been easier to get yourself up and running so you can start invoicing and balancing your books right away. Many banks now even offer business customers accounting software as part of their value-added offering. FNB offers their Instant Accounting Solutions suite for free which enables business customers to import and reconcile their bank account transactions immediately, invoice clients and even issue payslips to employees.
Social Media – Never before has it been easier for a small business owner to compete with larger businesses in the digital marketing arena by creating and managing multiple digital campaigns right from their own smartphone. With mature social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, there are a whole bouquet of tools available to create, track and monitor campaigns with incredible precision. What’s more is most of these platforms now even enable you to sell your products and services directly on their platforms.
Cloud services – By definition, this is any software service that is available to its users via the internet or “the cloud” on demand. Cloud services cut costs because the business doesn’t need to own its own physical servers, meaning no direct technology costs of owning servers or physical storage. For example an entrepreneur can access web-based productivity software such as Microsoft Office 365 or Google Docs, or they can file and store all their documents online in the cloud and have access to them from anywhere with the likes of Dropbox, iCloud and OneDrive.
Website builders – The idea that a website has to cost a fortune isn’t true; one can launch their own website online using an online website builder platform offered by many providers. Most platforms offer pre-created themes and templates either for free or at a minimal cost. You can personalise a theme to suit your business aesthetics, image and needs, when you are happy with it, you can simply launch it under your web domain URL. Most of these platforms offer plug-ins that are built for ecommerce, meaning you can link it to your account and sell online. Examples include www.Shopify.com and www.Wix.com.
Weinberg said “It’s a new digital business world out there, and by embracing the power of your smartphone, you can take full advantage of it.”
These platforms and tools, when used effectively, can jumpstart a business.