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When running a business is like running

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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Time is running out for Microsoft SQL Server 2008

Companies are urged to update from the dated database management software as it reaches the end of its support, writes BRYAN TURNER.

The 11-year-old Microsoft SQL Server 2008 database management software is reaching the end of its support on 9 July. The applications that use databases running on this software will be at risk of security and stability issues.

On self-managed databases, upgrading to the latest database version comes with a lot of risks. Many IT departments within companies go by the motto: “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it”.

Microsoft made it very clear that it would not be updating SQL Server 2005 after its extended support date and even left it vulnerable to Spectre and Meltdown by not releasing patches for the dated version.

Updating SQL Server versions may seem daunting, but the benefits far outweigh the effort it takes for a migration. In the last major version update, SQL Server 2016 introduced simpler backup functionality, database stretching, and always-encrypted communications with the database, to name just three features.

While backing up the database may be the last thing on the typical database administrator’s mind, it’s become increasingly important to do so. In SQL Server 2008, it’s clunky and causes headaches for many admins. However, in SQL Server 2016, one can easily set up an automated backup to Azure storage and let it run on smart backup intervals. Backing up offsite also reduces the need for disaster recovery for onsite damage.

Database stretching allows admins to push less frequently accessed data to an Azure database, automatically decided by SQL Server 2016. This reduces the admin of manually looking through what must be kept and what must be shipped off or deleted. It also reduces the size of the database, which also increases the performance of the applications that access it. The best part of this functionality is it automatically retrieves the less accessed records from Azure when users request it, without the need for manual intervention.

Always-encrypted communications are becoming more and more relevant to many companies, especially those operating in European regions after the introduction of GDPR. Encryption keys were previously managed by the admin, but now encryption is always handled by the client. Furthermore, the keys to encrypt and decrypt data are stored outside of SQL Server altogether. This means data stored in the database is always encrypted, and no longer for the eyes of a curious database manager. 

The built-in reporting tools have also vastly improved with the addition of new reporting metrics and a modern look. It includes support for Excel reports for keeping documentation and Power BI for automated, drag-and-drop personalised reporting. Best of all, it removes the dreaded Active X controls, which made the reporting in a webpage feel very clumsy and bloated in previous versions.

A lot has changed in the past ten years in the world of SQL Server database management, and it’s not worth running into problems before Microsoft ends support for SQL Server 2005.

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Local apps to feature in Huawei’s App Gallery

Huawei’s mobile app store, the HUAWEI AppGallery, will soon feature a multitude of apps and designs by local developers. The company says this is part of its drive to promote South African digital talent and include more useful apps for Huawei smartphone users. HUAWEI AppGallery and HUAWEI Themes are pre-installed on all the latest Huawei and Honor devices.

“South African consumers are increasingly wanting more apps that are relevant to their unique circumstances, addressing issues they experience regularly – such as load shedding or safety concerns – but also apps that celebrate South Africa’s multitude of cultures and this vibrant country,” says Lu Geng, director of Huawei Consumer Cloud Service Southern Africa Region.

Akhram Mohamed, chief technology officer of Huawei Consumer Business Group South Africa, says: “Huawei is committed to catering to the needs of South African consumers, but we also know that we do not have all the answers. For this reason, we aim to work closely with South African developers so that we can give our users everything that they need and want from their devices. At the same time, we also hope to create an open ecosystem for local developers by offering a simple and secure environment for them to upload content.”

Huawei Mobile Services was launched in South Africa in June last year. Since then, both the HUAWEI AppGallery and HUAWEI Themes – which features tens of thousands of themes, fonts and wallpapers that personalise user’s handset – have become increasingly popular with the local market. Even though it is a relatively new division of Huawei, there has been a great increase in growth; at the end of 2018 Huawei Mobile Services had 500 million users globally, representing a 117% increase on the previous year.

Explaining what differentiates the HUAWEI AppGallery from other app stores, Mosa Matshediso Hlobelo, business developer for Consumer Cloud Service Southern Africa says: “We use the name ‘HUAWEI AppGallery’ because we have a dedicated team that curates all the apps in terms of relevance and ease of use and to ensure that there are no technical issues. Importantly, all apps are also security-checked for malware and privacy leaks before being uploaded on to the HUAWEI AppGallery.”

Huawei recently held a Developers’ Day where Huawei executives met with South African developers to discuss Huawei’s offering. 48 developers registered their apps on the day, and Huawei is currently in discussions with them with the eventual aim of featuring the best apps and designs on HUAWEI AppGallery or HUAWEI Themes. The Consumer Cloud Service Southern Africa Team at Huawei plans on making Developers’ Day a quarterly event and establishing a local providers’ hub, where developers can regularly meet with Huawei for training on updates to programmes and offerings.

“We have a very hands-on approach with our developers, and hope to expand that community so we can become an additional distribution channel for more developers and expose them to both a local and a global audience,” says Geng. “For example, we regularly feature apps and designs from local developers on our Huawei social media pages, and do competitions and promotions. We want to do everything we can to make our Huawei users aware of these local apps and upload them. This will encourage the growth of the developer community in South Africa by giving developers more opportunities to generate revenue from in-app purchases.”

* Developers who would like their apps featured on the HUAWEI App Gallery, or designs featured on HUAWEI Themes, should visit https://developer.huawei.com or email Huawei Mobile Services on sacloud@huawei.com.

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