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Five steps to being a better entrepreneur

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Keeping a close eye on the day-to-day happenings of a business is key to becoming a good entrepreneur. But just what to you need to monitor?Entrepreneur DARLENE MENZIES, CEO of SMEasy  gives five steps to help owners keep their company going.

Abraham Lincoln said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”  Lincoln’s productivity secret was good preparation and using an effective tool for the task.  It’s the same for entrepreneurs, adequate preparation and effective tools are key to business success.

Here are a few tips to help you become a more efficient and productive entrepreneur.

Be well prepared at the start of the week: A very helpful tip for entrepreneurs is to set aside your Sunday afternoon to prepare for the coming week. Attend to the emails you haven’t answered, write checklists and prioritise them – including setting time aside to communicate with clients or staff who need your attention or instructions. Doing your Sunday prep will clear your mind for the coming work week and will ensure that nothing slips through the cracks if the week becomes chaotic. “The only way to be proactive is to prepare. Positive ordinary preparation precedes extraordinary accomplishment.

Check your bank statements every morning: Cash flow is the life of any business and without sound money management things will unravel quickly. Keep an eye on what payments have been paid, what payments are outstanding and determine how much cash you still need to bring in for the month to meet your commitments. Staying on top of the business’ financial status will ensure that you can easily detect anomalies and take the necessary steps to correct them immediately and also give you the necessary time to arrange finance to bridge any cash shortfalls you may have.

Your mobile phone is key: Mobile phones are important business tools for every entrepreneur, ensuring you can get hold of clients and they can get hold of you is paramount. Your mobile phone is crucial to maintaining good relationships and eliminating delays in communication when it comes to urgent issues. A flat battery during your business day can be very costly. A helpful tip is to buy a spare battery for your phone and to carry it with you at all times, that way you are never unreachable when your clients need you. Sending your email to your mobile phone is another helpful way to make sure you are kept updated at all times and can be in constant contact with your staff and clients.

Raising finance: When trying to raise finance for your business, potential lenders want to look at both your business finances and your personal finance to gauge your eligibility for the loan. As such, it is important to ensure that your salary payments from the business are paid consistently each month into your personal bank account. If your salary is not reflected each month then it is likely that your business loan will be rejected. A tip if you have a month when the business can’t afford to meet all it’s month end expenses is if it pays you your salary is to make sure your salary payment is done first before all the other business expenses are paid. Then once it is reflecting in your personal bank account you can then loan it back to the business so it can cover the other expenses. By doing this you are providing proof that your monthly salary is guaranteed which will assure lenders that you are low risk. In so doing, securing finance will become much easier.

Offer early payment discounts to clients: Most clients make payments 30 to 90 days after receiving your invoice. That’s not a problem if your company has a large cash reserve to cover expenses, however, if you don’t have a cash reserve, you could run out of money. This is a common situation for many businesses and affects small and large companies alike. There is a simple solution to this problem: offer your clients an incentive to pay quickly. Offering a discount to clients for making immediate payments can improve your cash flow, often in a short period of time. It’s simple to implement and very effective. While you may receive less money, you will have the available cash needed to cover month end commitments. It can prove cheaper than paying interest on bridging finance.

If you are running a small business, then becoming a better entrepreneur should be your goal. Make sure you prepare well for each new week, keep on top of your finances and your email admin and look out for effective tools and smarter ways to grow your business.

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Earth 2050: memory chips for kids, telepathy for adults

An astonishing set of predictions for the next 30 years includes a major challenge to the privacy of our thoughts.

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By 2050, most kids may be fitted with the latest memory boosting implants, and adults will have replaced mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought.

These are some of the more dramatic forecasts in Earth 2050, an award-winning, interactive multimedia project that accumulates predictions about social and technological developments for the upcoming 30 years. The aim is to identify global challenges for humanity and possible ways of solving these challenges. The website was launched in 2017 to mark Kaspersky Lab’s 20th birthday. It comprises a rich variety of predictions and future scenarios, covering a wide range of topics.

Recently a number of new contributions have been added to the site. Among them Lord Martin Rees, the UK’s Astronomer Royal, Professor at Cambridge University and former President of the Royal Society; investor and entrepreneur Steven Hoffman, Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner, along withDmitry Galov, security researcher and Alexey Malanov, malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab.

The new visions for 2050 consider, among other things:

  • The replacement of mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought – able to upload skills and knowledge in return – and the impact of this on individual consciousness and privacy of thought.
  • The ability to transform all life at the genetic level through gene editing.
  • The potential impact of mistakes made by advanced machine-learning systems/AI.
  • The demise of current political systems and the rise of ‘citizen governments’, where ordinary people are co-opted to approve legislation.
  • The end of the techno-industrial age as the world runs out of fossil fuels, leading to economic and environmental devastation.
  • The end of industrial-scale meat production, as most people become vegan and meat is cultured from biopsies taken from living, outdoor reared livestock.

The hypothetical prediction for 2050 from Dmitry Galov, security researcher at Kaspersky Lab is as follows: “By 2050, our knowledge of how the brain works, and our ability to enhance or repair it is so advanced that being able to remember everything and learn new things at an outrageous speed has become commonplace. Most kids are fitted with the latest memory boosting implants to support their learning and this makes education easier than it has ever been. 

“Brain damage as a result of head injury is easily repaired; memory loss is no longer a medical condition, and people suffering from mental illnesses, such as depression, are quickly cured.  The technologies that underpin this have existed in some form since the late 2010s. Memory implants are in fact a natural progression from the connected deep brain stimulation implants of 2018.

“But every technology has another side – a dark side. In 2050, the medical, social and economic impact of memory boosting implants are significant, but they are also vulnerable to exploitation and cyber-abuse. New threats that have appeared in the last decade include the mass manipulation of groups through implanted or erased memories of political events or conflicts, and even the creation of ‘human botnets’. 

“These botnets connect people’s brains into a network of agents controlled and operated by cybercriminals, without the knowledge of the victims themselves.  Repurposed cyberthreats from previous decades are targeting the memories of world leaders for cyber-espionage, as well as those of celebrities, ordinary people and businesses with the aim of memory theft, deletion of or ‘locking’ of memories (for example, in return for a ransom).  

“This landscape is only possible because, in the late 2010s when the technologies began to evolve, the potential future security vulnerabilities were not considered a priority, and the various players: healthcare, security, policy makers and more, didn’t come together to understand and address future risks.”

For more information and the full suite of inspirational and thought-provoking predictions, visit Earth 2050.

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How load-shedding is killing our cellphone signals

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Extensive load-shedding, combined with the theft of cell tower backup batteries and copper wire, is placing a massive strain on mobile network providers.

MTN says the majority of MTN’S sites have been equipped with battery backup systems to ensure there is enough power on site to run the system for several hours when local power goes out and the mains go down. 

“With power outages on the rise, these back-up systems become imperative to keeping South Africa connected and MTN has invested heavily in generators and backup batteries to maintain communication for customers, despite the lack of electrical power,” the operator said in a statement today.

However, according to Jacqui O’Sullivan, Executive: Corporate Affairs, at MTN SA, “The high frequency of the cycles of load shedding have meant batteries were unable to fully recharge. They generally have a capacity of six to 12 hours, depending on the site category, and require 12 to 18 hours to recharge.”

An additional challenge is that criminals and criminal syndicates are placing networks across the country at risk. Batteries, which can cost R28 000 per battery and upwards, are sought after on black markets – especially in neighbouring countries. 

“Although MTN has improved security and is making strides in limiting instances of theft and vandalism with the assistance of the police, the increase in power outages has made this issue even more pressing,” says O’Sullivan.

Ernest Paul, General Manager: Network Operations at SA’s leading network provider MTN, says the brazen theft of batteries is an industry-wide problem and will require a broader initiative driven by communities, the private sector, police and prosecutors to bring it to a halt.

“Apart from the cost of replacing the stolen batteries and upgrading the broken infrastructure, communities suffer as the network degrades without the back-up power. This is due to the fact that any coverage gaps need to be filled. The situation is even more dire with the rolling power cuts expected due to Eskom load shedding.”

Loss of services and network quality can range from a 2-5km radius to 15km on some sites and affect 5,000 to 20,000 people. On hub sites, network coverage to entire suburbs and regions can be lost.

Click here to read more about efforts to combat copper theft.

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