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For many aspiring entrepreneurs, the new year brings the resolution to finally set out on your own. Some of the most popular reasons to start a small business include working towards financial independence, designing a career with flexibility, pursuing a passion, and opportunities for growth.

The success of a small to medium sized enterprise (SME) is often set at the beginning, with rigorous planning and commitment. “More than the big picture idea, business owners need to get a strong handle on the internal operations of their company and ensure that they’ve got processes in place for seasonal changes, managing cash flow and covering operational expenses,” says Daniel Goldberg, co-founder of Bridgement, a Fintech company offering digital invoice financing and credit facilities to SMEs.

Feted to be the future of business, SMEs play a key role in job creation and economic growth. Findings by cloud accounting firm, Xero show that SMEs make up 90% of formal businesses and contribute around 34% to South Africa’s gross domestic product.

Goldberg answers five questions that every prospective SME owner should be asking themselves before embarking on their new venture in 2020: 

  1. What resources do I have to get started? Building a network of professional help is a necessity to a successful small business. This would include legal, accounting and tax planning advisers in addition to strategic partners such as potential customers and existing SME owners.
  2. What skills do I need to run my business? Developing your skill set to include sales, marketing, human resources, legal, computer skills, and project management will enhance the operations of your small business. Consider taking some online short courses through companies like Get Smarter or Red and Yellow.
  3. What is my mission and business model? A successful business starts with an effective internal strategy. This includes a detailed business plan and a strong sense of where your business differs in relation to your competitors as well as what your business will provide potential customers or clients with. Steve Blank’s Business Model Canvas is the go-to template for defining and iterating on your business idea.
  4. What is my business structure? Understand how your company will run on a day-to-day basis. The financial, legal, tax and practical side of the business needs to be fully realised and implemented, in advance.
  5. How will I finance my business? Working capital is a daily necessity for SMEs, they require a regular amount of cash to make routine payments, cover unexpected costs, and purchase basic materials used in the production of goods. If you’re just starting out, its best to fund your venture yourself or with the help of family and friends. If you’ve already been generating revenue for at least 6 months, a loan facility can help manage seasonal fluctuations and bridge gaps in cash flow. Raising equity financing from venture capitalists can aid in long-term growth and development.

Using machine learning for credit analysis and decisioning to speed up their application process, Bridgement offers SMEs credit facilities from R10 000 to R5-million are available to registered companies who have been trading for longer than six months and have an annual turnover of more than R500 000. Interested businesses can apply in under two minutes on their website, www.bridgement.com.