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When running a business is like running

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Starting your own business can be scary at times. Sometimes we find ourselves questioning whether or not we can do it, but DARLENE MENZIES, CEO of SMEasy, says you can and shares some motivation tips.

Starting and growing a business is a long road, with many uphill climbs along the way. While you may enjoy many aspects of being your own boss and building your own business it can also be lonely, tiring and at times even a terrifying experience. The question is: what is going to keep you putting one foot in front of the other when things get tough?

Building a business is like running the Comrades Marathon: it’s a long distance race, not a short sprint and there are steep hills and lonely stretches along the way. To make it, you need to ensure you have a positive attitude and a deep-seated belief in yourself from the get-go. You also need to learn to maintain this enthusiastic, optimistic mindset for the long haul, regardless of the challenges you encounter.

One of the secrets to ensuring that you keep moving forward, irrespective of setbacks, is to acknowledge up front that setbacks are going to occur: it’s not all going to be roses. In business, as in life, it is as important to be realistic as it is to be optimistic. Mental preparation is powerful. Have a strategy for how to deal with the disappointments, fear and the loneliness that comes with building a business.

When you start on the entrepreneurship road, you need to know what you’re in for, as well as ensure that you have the motivation to keep going day after day. Veteran entrepreneur Menzies shares her top marathon motivation tips:

> It’s not a sprint: If you come flying out of the starting blocks, the chances are that you are going to lose steam and fall out of the race. You need to learn to pace yourself and to mentally prepare yourself for the long road ahead. Hard work and long hours are inevitable and also necessary to succeed, but so is sleep. An all-nighter here and there is fine, but doing months of them on end will be detrimental to your business. Remember that slow and steady wins the race.

> You’re got to do the dreaded training: No runner wants to get up 4am to do a training run, but there are some things that have to be done to ensure your dreams come true and you reach that finish line. Likewise, you have to face the things that you don’t enjoy doing in your business and just do them. Admin is a good example – you may not feel like doing it, but it’s vital to your business’s survival. Poor admin and record keeping is one of the primary causes of business failure.

> Get kitted out: While some people are complete enigmas and can win a marathon literally wearing no shoes, the rest of us need all of the gear, including compression socks and high quality shoes. The same applies when you’re building a business; you need to invest in the right equipment, appropriate office space and technology and, most importantly, a quality team to ensure a successful result.

> Put the hours in: Comrades runners have to clock up hundreds of the hours on the road if they hope to finish the race. Building a business also requires long hours and hard work, especially in the initial years. The reality is that the only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary. You’ve got to put the hours in.

> The importance of refueling: Runners need energy drinks and nutritious food during a marathon to refuel if they are going to make it to the finish line. Likewise, entrepreneurs need to refuel after periods of hard work and stress. For some people, refueling may be a night on the town with good friends, for others a spa treatment or maybe just taking a day out to watch a new series in your PJs. Whatever it is for you, make sure you do it. Refueling is a necessity, not an indulgence.

> Let go of the bad days: Every single marathon runner has moments when they feel defeated. For an entrepreneur, it’s inevitable. You need to remind yourself during times of disappointment or discouragement that it’s not permanent; a bad day is not a bad business. Tomorrow is a new day that holds new solutions and new opportunities.

> You need a support system: Marathon runners need someone to second them during the race, and having a group of supporters cheering them on makes the world of difference. The same goes for business: it is vital that you have support. Find trusted, experienced, credible people you can go to for advice and encouragement when it’s needed, whether this is a mentor or fellow entrepreneur or a small business networking group. Support is vital for success – for more on this see http://bit.ly/28UopSw .

> Have clear goals: Just like a runner may aim for a sub-four hour marathon, you need to have some clear goals when it comes to your business. If you aim at nothing, that’s exactly what you’ll achieve. Write down your objectives for your business and define what achieving them will accomplish for you – whether that be money, freedom, status, creativity or independence. Once you have done this, you’ll know exactly where you are going and will be motivated to get there.

While building your business can be a tough and lonely marathon, it is also incredibly fulfilling and rewarding. Nothing will beat that feeling of crossing the finish line. The same goes for achieving your goals in your business. Give it all you’ve got, enjoy the good times, hang in during the tough times. It’s worth it.

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When will we stop calling them phones?

If you don’t remember when phones were only used to talk to people, you may wonder why we still use this term for handsets, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK, on the eve of the 10th birthday of the app.

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Do you remember when handsets were called phones because, well, we used them to phone people?

It took 120 years from the invention of the telephone to the use of phones to send text.

Between Alexander Graham Bell coining the term “telephone” in 1876 and Finland’s two main mobile operators allowing SMS messages between consumers in 1995, only science fiction writers and movie-makers imagined instant communication evolving much beyond voice. Even when BlackBerry shook the business world with email on a phone at the end of the last century, most consumers were adamant they would stick to voice.

It’s hard to imagine today that the smartphone as we know it has been with us for less than 10 years. Apple introduced the iPhone, the world’s first mass-market touchscreen phone, in June 2007, but it is arguable that it was the advent of the app store in July the following year that changed our relationship with phones forever.

That was the moment when the revolution in our hands truly began, when it became possible for a “phone” to carry any service that had previously existed on the World Wide Web.

Today, most activity carried out by most people on their mobile devices would probably follow the order of social media in first place – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn all jostling for attention – and  instant messaging in close second, thanks to WhatsApp, Messenger, SnapChat and the like. Phone calls – using voice that is – probably don’t even take third place, but play fourth or fifth fiddle to mapping and navigation, driven by Google Maps and Waze, and transport, thanks to Uber, Taxify, and other support services in South Africa like MyCiti,  Admyt and Kaching.

Despite the high cost of data, free public Wi-Fi is also seeing an explosion in use of streaming video – whether Youtube, Netflix, Showmax, or GETblack – and streaming music, particularly with the arrival of Spotify to compete with Simfy Africa.

Who has time for phone calls?

The changing of the phone guard in South Africa was officially signaled last week with the announcement of Vodacom’s annual results. Voice revenue for the 2018 financial year ending 31 March had fallen by 4.6%, to make up 40.6% of Vodacom’s revenue. Total revenue had grown by 8.1%, which meant voice seriously underperformed the group, and had fallen by 4% as a share of revenue, from 2017’s 44.6%.

The reason? Data had not only outperformed the group, increasing revenue by 12.8%, but it had also risen from 39.7% to 42.8% of group revenue,

This means that data has not only outperformed voice for the first time – as had been predicted by World Wide Worx a year ago – but it has also become Vodacom’s biggest contributor to revenue.

That scenario is being played out across all mobile network operators. In the same way, instant messaging began destroying SMS revenues as far back as five years ago – to the extent that SMS barely gets a mention in annual reports.

Data overtaking voice revenues signals the demise of voice as the main service and key selling point of mobile network operators. It also points to mobile phones – let’s call them handsets – shifting their primary focus. Voice quality will remain important, but now more a subset of audio quality rather than of connectivity. Sound quality will become a major differentiator as these devices become primary platforms for movies and music.

Contact management, privacy and security will become critical features as the handset becomes the storage device for one’s entire personal life.

Integration with accessories like smartwatches and activity monitors, earphones and earbuds, virtual home assistants and virtual car assistants, will become central to the functionality of these devices. Why? Because the handsets will control everything else? Hardly.

More likely, these gadgets will become an extension of who we are, what we do and where we are. As a result, they must be context aware, and also context compatible. This means they must hand over appropriate functions to appropriate devices at the appropriate time. 

I need to communicate only using my earpiece? The handset must make it so. I have to use gesture control, and therefore some kind of sensor placed on my glasses, collar or wrist? The handset must instantly surrender its centrality.

There are numerous other scenarios and technology examples, many out of the pages of science fiction, that point to the changing role of the “phone”. The one thing that’s obvious is that it will be silly to call it a phone for much longer.

  • Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @art2gee and on YouTube
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MTN 5G test gets 520Mbps

MTN and Huawei have launched Africa’s first 5G field trial with an end-to-end Huawei 5G solution.

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The field trial demonstrated a 5G Fixed-Wireless Access (FWA) use case with Huawei’s 5G 28GHz mmWave Customer Premises Equipment (CPE) in a real-world environment in Hatfield Pretoria, South Africa. Speeds of 520Mbps downlink and 77Mbps uplink were attained throughout respectively.

“These 5G trials provide us with an opportunity to future proof our network and prepare it for the evolution of these new generation networks. We have gleaned invaluable insights about the modifications that we need to do on our core, radio and transmission network from these pilots. It is important to note that the transition to 5G is not just a flick of a switch, but it’s a roadmap that requires technical modifications and network architecture changes to ensure that we meet the standards that this technology requires. We are pleased that we are laying the groundwork that will lead to the full realisation of the boundless opportunities that are inherent in the digital world.” says Babak Fouladi, Group Chief Technology & Information Systems Officer, at MTN Group.

Giovanni Chiarelli, Chief Technology and Information Officer for MTN SA said: “Next generation services such as virtual and augmented reality, ultra-high definition video streaming, and cloud gaming require massive capacity and higher user data rates. The use of millimeter-wave spectrum bands is one of the key 5G enabling technologies to deliver the required capacity and massive data rates required for 5G’s Enhanced Mobile Broadband use cases. MTN and Huawei’s joint field trial of the first 5G mmWave Fixed-Wireless Access solution in Africa will also pave the way for a fixed-wireless access solution that is capable of replacing conventional fixed access technologies, such as fibre.”

“Huawei is continuing to invest heavily in innovative 5G technologies”, said Edward Deng, President of Wireless Network Product Line of Huawei. “5G mmWave technology can achieve unprecedented fiber-like speed for mobile broadband access. This trial has shown the capabilities of 5G technology to deliver exceptional user experience for Enhanced Mobile Broadband applications. With customer-centric innovation in mind, Huawei will continue to partner with MTN to deliver best-in-class advanced wireless solutions.”

“We are excited about the potential the technology will bring as well as the potential advancements we will see in the fields of medicine, entertainment and education. MTN has been investing heavily to further improve our network, with the recent “Best in Test” and MyBroadband best network recognition affirming this. With our focus on providing the South Africans with the best customer experience, speedy allocation of spectrum can help bring more of these technologies to our customers,” says Giovanni.

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