Tag: business

The great escape: demand for £200 000 visas soars

A growing group of South Africans are increasingly eyeing obtaining the UK’s £200 000 Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa as political and economic woes continue to pummel their homeland.

This is according to Gary Kockott, MD for SA at Sable International, who says he’s seen an uptick in local demand for the visa. The visa offers a way for entrepreneurs to invest their way to citizenship in the UK for themselves and their families.

Q: Gary, SA is going through a turbulent time at the moment. Have you noticed an increase in clients coming to Sable International to enquire and seek UK business visas?

A: Absolutely. I think there’s a lot of individuals who are disillusioned at where we will be in the next few years. I think that with the rampant corruption, state capture, further downgrades, and our imminent recession, people are very disillusioned. So we’ve seen a big increase in client interest.

Q: Can you tell me about the UK Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa Investment Program that Sable International offers?

A: Yes. It’s a bespoke UK citizenship by investment program where, through a £200 000 investment into the UK, you can obtain UK residency for you and your family and ultimately citizenship – if all the requirements are met. In short, we match investor skills and experience with a range of pre-approved business investment opportunities whilst meeting the UK Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa qualifying criteria.

Q: You said it costs about £200 000?

A: Yes. That’s the capital investment you have to make into either a new or an existing UK business.

Q: How long is the visa valid for? You can basically qualify for UK citizenship afterwards, so can your whole family then also qualify for that?

A: Yes, absolutely. You can take your entire family, as long as they are dependents, with you. Your initial visa is granted for 3 years and 2 months, at which stage you would extend. If you meet those requirements, that extension is to 5 years. You then get indefinite leave to remain and once you’ve been a permanent resident for 5 years and you’ve held your indefinite leave to remain for 12 months, you’re able to apply for citizenship.

Q: You said that Sable International matches up the applicants with businesses. Can you tell us a little bit more about how that process works?

A: We’ve partnered with a private equity firm and they specialise in obtaining foreign direct investment into the UK. They have a number of businesses – investee businesses – that are actively seeking foreign direct investment. What we then do (together with our partners) is we match an individual’s skills and their experience with those businesses’ needs, because you have to match your skills with the business in order to qualify for the visa.

Q: How easy or difficult is it to get this visa compared to other, similar European visas, for example?

A: My recommendation would be to use a skilled immigration advisor. You do have to jump through some hoops in order to achieve it as it’s not straightforward. You have to apply a genuine test etc., but if you meet the capital amount and you’ve got a decent advisor, you’ll be able to get your visa.

Q: What is the rationale from the UK side to dole out visas like this? What is their main motivation behind it?

A: They’re looking for foreign direct investment into the United Kingdom, so they have a number of different Tier 1 investor visas, of which the entrepreneur visa is one of them.

Q: Is this one way in which the UK brings in a lot of foreign expertise, despite the advent of Brexit?

A: Absolutely, they’re bringing in the investment and they’re bringing in the skills.

Q: What has the reception been like from South African citizens?

A: The interest has been big. This visa has been around for quite some time, since 2008, but in the last few months the last 8 or 9 months, given our political climate and our economic instability, there’s been a huge increase in interest across all our visa categories. Generally, people are looking to emigrate.

Q: Can you maybe tell me about some of your other visa categories as well then?

A: Obviously within the Tier 1 category there’s the entrepreneur visa, there’s also the investment visa or the investor visa, that’s more of a passive opportunity where you invest £2m into the UK, that’s into a UK bank account which you then invest into UK government bonds loan capital or share capital and you are able to go over. The visa is granted for 5 years and you are able to go, live and work in the UK with your family. Then, there are a whole bunch of other categories. e.g. Married partner visas, ancestry visas, and other types of immigration visas.

Q: For our readers out there who are interested in obtaining one of these visas, what kind of advice would you give them, just in terms of going about this process?

A: Well, all of these services you can do yourself but my recommendation is if you are serious about emigrating, you get the right advice. Whether it’s through us or through other emigration advisors. getting the right advice of which category to go through and how to achieve it is the best way forward.

Q: Once an applicant is through to the other side in the UK, do you at Sable International still keep in touch with them? How does that work?

A: Absolutely, so we assist throughout the process. When we do the entrepreneur visa for example, as far as we’re concerned we’re in the process with you for the 6 years, until you get your citizenship. So we’re able to advise you, do all your extensions for you, we’ll ensure that you meet the various requirements in obtaining those extensions so that you’ll eventually get your citizenship.

Q: Gary, and just looking at this year so far, can you maybe give me numbers on how many people have approached you to date or how many you’re expecting to approach you regarding business visas for the UK?

A: Yes, I’m probably getting between 5 and 10 interested clients a week but it’s a long sale cycle, the individuals take a bit of time to make the decision. It’s a very big decision, emigrating, a lot of these guys are having to sell up their assets, if they’re emigrating permanently because of the fee of £200 000, which is about R3.5m in today’s money, so a lot of people are selling up in order to do that. the interest is massive and it’s also massive in terms of individuals looking to take their wealth offshore, and looking for second citizenships.

Q: Talking about second citizenships, so once you’ve perhaps got one of these visas and you get UK citizenship ultimately, can you still hang onto your South African citizenship then? How does that process work?

A: Yes, as long as you do it in the right manner, so you have to notify the South African government that you’re applying for UK citizenship. We (South Africans) are allowed to hold dual citizenship, so you certainly are able to keep your South African citizenship and take on the UK citizenship, as long as you go through the right process beforehand, before you make the application.

Q: Gary, and looking at visas like this. Is it a key strategy of Sable International’s? How does this fit into your broader business strategy?

A: Absolutely, we assist individuals who want to internationalise themselves, their wealth, or their businesses, so we’re constantly looking at ways in which we can assist individuals, who are looking to get second citizenships or emigrate or move, particularly to the United Kingdom or Australia. Putting together this program was just one of those bespoke options in being able to assist our clients better.

Q: Gary, it’s been an absolute pleasure talking to you today. Thanks very much for giving us more information on this.

A: Not a problem. Thanks very much, Gareth, I appreciate your time.

By Gareth van Zyl for BizNews 

See your business through 2017

The beginning of the year is the perfect opportunity to give your business insurance portfolio a good review and clean-up. When you’re in the thick of running your business, and tending to day-to-day work responsibilities, it’s easy to leave aspects such as insurance simply to ‘tick’ over, but that could leave you compromised as your business evolves and its needs and exposures change.

Here are 10 important considerations to help get your insurance cover into top shape to take on any challenge that may happen along its path during 2017:

Get cyber savvy
Cybercrime is a very real threat to any business or institution, regardless of size or nature of business. If your business has a network, an internet connection and holds sensitive or personally identifiable data, then your business is at risk. Talk to your professional broker about how to protect your business against cyber hacks.

Vehicle insurance
Whether you run a handful of cars or a fleet network, make sure your vehicle insurance is fit for purpose with sufficient liability cover. From an asset replacement perspective, your business vehicles should be insured at no less than retail value, which is what a car dealer would sell it for taking into consideration age, mileage and condition. Don’t forget to add extras such as tracking systems, tow bars and so on. The inclusion of car hire can also be beneficial.

Business interruption
If your business premises burned down, your assets cover will take care of replacing the lost items, but what happens if you are unable to trade for weeks, even months and your income stops coming in as a result? Business interruption insurance is vitally important to tide your business over in terms of lost income as a result of physical damage, until your business is back to operating as usual. Talk to your broker about this very important cover.

Directors and officers insurance
The main purpose of a D&O policy is to offer financial protection for company executives in addition to providing legal coverage in the event of a claim. The cover that a D&O liability insurance policy provides is an absolute necessity when it comes to the protection of the personal interests of directors, officers and other employees that are charged with supervisory and managerial responsibilities, and who can be held liable for wrongful acts which may occur in their day to day management activities.

White collar fraud
In the current tough economic environment, fraudsters are becoming ever more creative and syndicates are also at play, which means companies are facing ever increasing risk from white collar crimes in areas such as credit payments, EFT transfers, debtors, petty cash abuse, cash theft, international transfers, payroll fraud (ghost employees) and stock theft. The fundamental solution is a commercial crime framework, incorporating indemnity for losses resulting from employee dishonesty, forgery or alternation, fraudulent transfer instructions and third party computer crime. Talk to your professional Aon broker to tailor covers according to the potential of fraud exposures in your business.

Check your sums insured
Check that the sums insured on your building and contents are sufficient. Have you made alterations to the building and bought new assets such as laptops or machinery that adds to the value you need under the sum insured? Don’t forget to factor in the impact of inflation and the falling Rand exchange rate. Businesses that procure equipment or supplies from international markets are at risk of significant losses if you have not reviewed the impact of the falling Rand on the insured value of property and assets.

Fire insurance
Despite the risk to business continuity, financial security and brand reputation, many business owners remain indifferent to the domino effect that a fire poses to their business sustainability. Make sure you have enough cover to protect you in a worst case scenario in terms of contents, building, business interruption and any liability that may arise due to injuries or loss of life.

Insurance for keys and locks
Advances in technology and security have seen us graduate from standard metal keys to smarter devices, many complete with transponders and programmed microchips. Loss or theft of such keys can cost a lot more than your business bargained for. Check to see whether the sums allowed for replacement of locks and keys is sufficient.

Trade credit
Trade credit insurance indemnifies a seller against losses from non-payment of trade debt arising from insolvency of or delayed/slow payment by a buyer.
It offers protection of accounts receivables against non-payment due to slow pay, insolvency or foreign non-transfer risk. Coverage is designed to prevent disruptive losses, reduce risk of key account concentration levels, and provide risk transfer of bad debt issues. With trade credit in place, companies can also enhance their bank financing in terms of improving the lending relationship, enhance their balance sheet and gain access to more capital at reduced rates.

Employee benefits
Talent retention remains a key objective for South African companies and the best approach is to increase the attractiveness of a position by implementing a comprehensive compensation and benefits solution that is properly communicated to the employee. The support of a professional consultant or broker with experience across the spectrum of benefits will prove invaluable in formalising the benefits program for your business and delivering a structured benefits communications program suited to various levels of employees.

Regardless of size or status, there is no one size fits all approach to business risk insurance. It all depends on the size of the company, nature of its business and its unique levels of exposure. Consulting with a professional Aon risk advisor is an invaluable exercise in protecting your business, reputation, clients, colleagues and bottom line.

New Year’s resolutions aren’t just about diets, marathons or finally growing that vegetable garden you promised you’d start last year – they’re pertinent for business too. In the same way New Year’s resolutions help you focus on personal goals for the coming year, so can they improve productivity in the office – no matter what your business. Here are resolutions you can make to thrive professionally in the year ahead:

Write a growth plan
The first step in ramping up your business and career goals is putting a plan in place. Research shows there’s substantial benefit in having a formal, written strategy for growth, as opposed to pie-in-the-sky hopes for development. If you have one already, now’s the time to do a quick review and consider updates where necessary.

The goals should be achievable, like improving office communication, meeting deadlines or acquiring new skills. Unrealistic ideas will only lead to frustration rather than improvement. Once you’ve formalised your plan, share it with key staff members and get their buy-in before the year kicks off.

Get organised
Success is in the small things as much as the macro goals. Tasks like organising office space, computers or the server are essential before heading into the year. De-clutter your inbox and organise files into designated folders on your computer – then encourage all office members to do the same. Remove unnecessary clutter around your desk, store what you still need and throw away what’s not being used.

Having a clean workspace – physically and electronically – will help you start the year with a clear, stress-free mind. Allocate time for an office clean-up and make de-cluttering a fun activity – with an incentive at the end, like pizza for lunch. Organise stock rooms and shuffle the floor plan if necessary.

Communicate with staff members to get their input on logistical office-related issues – then workshop some solutions. Consider automating processes, such as workflows, to make the office more organised and decrease paperwork.

Improve well-being
Employees and managers should realise looking after themselves (and their teams) is as important as the time put into work. If you’ve been struggling to establish a work-life balance culture in the office, now’s the time to reset.

Encourage employees to free up time to recharge by working smarter, not harder when in the office. Consider introducing ‘power hour’ to kick-start productivity (slots of time when employees can’t disturb one another). If personal well-being isn’t managed, it impacts on performance and effectiveness.

Schedule health checks with each staff member in the first few weeks of the New Year. It’ll give you a good idea of what needs to be adjusted going forward.

Embrace new trends
New technology emerges every year in vast quantities. Rather than trying to embrace every new trend, success can be found in honing in on one area in which you want to up-skill or improve – then seeking out tech and software to enhance it.

There’s huge benefit in embracing new and adaptive technology and leveraging it so it works for your business. You might be keen to improve communication within the team and could explore messaging software or tools to streamline project management. If your business needs it, it’s probably out there.

Introduce training and development
In the New Year, prioritise personal development. In reviewing your own goals and the goals of your team, evaluate skills and set-up training sessions within the organisation. Pair employees up with mentors to help them grow and pursue new career opportunities. Encourage team members to send out calendar invites for mentoring sessions ahead of time and, where possible, stick to them religiously.

To help keep your New Year’s resolutions, make sure you have an actionable plan with defined goals and a process for monitoring progress. Just like the vegetable garden you want to start, businesses take time, investment and nurturing to grow. So plant new seeds in the New Year – then watch business flourish in 2017.

ICT has progressed to a point where it makes no sense for businesses to use single or one-dimensional channels. Today, the advent of social networks, social media and other interactive platforms means that any sized business in any sector or industry can extend their reach to a wide audience immediately. Omni-channel communication has become the order of the day.

Omni-channel communication involves the use of several platforms, often simultaneously, including print, email, social, SMS and MMS.

Fred Steinberg, MD of Communication Genetics, a leading provider of customer communication solutions, believes that omni-channel communication makes sense because it offers so many more ways to engage the customer and these all promote interaction.

“This type of communication is directed at a wide base but can be personalised, so that individuals feel as if they’re the only ones being spoken to. It is a very effective means interaction and because these are all digital platforms, they are by default responsive. More businesses are beginning to tap into the potential that social platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter offer, realising the intrinsic value of channels that are pervasive, dynamic and powerful,” says Steinberg.

Despite some of the more traditional business environments, like banking and financial services, still struggling to get to grips with social media and applications, the truth is that any credible business today cannot ignore the benefits of the omni-channel approach,” says Steinberg.

One of the main advantages that most markets are now familiar with is that of being able to ‘brand’ this communication – in other words tailor this communication to reflect the business, keep it fresh in the minds of recipients and basically use it as a form of consistent, low-cost but always accessible advertising.

The reality is that to continue operating, sustain performance and indeed capture market share, businesses must embrace digital tools and leverage these channels to integrate processes and procedures that form part of their core business.

SA’s top executives are confident that they will be fairly compensated – in terms of 2016 year-end bonuses and salary increases in 2017 – despite the current political and economic rollercoaster in which South Africa finds itself.

Furthermore, the annual Bonus and Salary survey by Jack Hammer, rated one of the top 3 executive search firms in the country, shows that sentiment has even improved from last year.

“The findings of this year’s survey are significant, given that the prevailing sentiment in the country seems to be one of doom and gloom in the face of a mooted ratings downgrade, and with the economic growth forecast revised downward to 0.5% from an already low 0.9% in February,” says Debbie Goodman-Bhyat, CEO of Jack Hammer.

Goodman-Bhyat says it appears as if business leaders are starting to find their equilibrium within the ongoing context of uncertainty and turbulence, and that they are adapting and even thriving despite external pressures.
The 2016 Bonus and Salary survey polled senior executives and managers in various sectors – including retail, financial services and manufacturing – about their expectations of bonuses, salary increases and business growth in the New Year.

Last year, 50% of leaders expected to receive bonuses either in line with or exceeding that of previous years. This year, 77% of leaders expected the same, indicating a positive market sentiment that belies the country’s apparent challenges.

“Compared with last year’s survey, this is significantly more positive, and interestingly, there were no big differences between industry sectors,” says Goodman-Bhyat.

When asked about their expectations for a salary increase in 2017, the trend was also an increased positive outlook.

At 82%, most respondents in this year’s poll indicated that they expected at least an inflation-linked increase, up from 71% last year. Few respondents expected little or no increase.

“Despite incredibly challenging times, great uncertainty about the local political landscape in particular, and global economic and political stability in general, there is a marked overall, somewhat counter-intuitive air of resilience around business,” notes Goodman-Bhyat.

Contrary to expectations, only 12% of respondents indicated that business was really bad, with no growth prospects at all.

The majority (65%) were of the view that business was solid, albeit admittedly tough. 24% of respondents expressed a wholly positive sentiment, with stated prospects for growth and opportunity.
“There also appears to be a renewed commitment to making things work – in one’s company and in the country,” says Goodman-Bhyat, arguing that this could be as a result of an increasingly vocal and active business and civil society mobilisation, which is breathing new agency and a sense of empowerment into both companies and individuals.

“Of course leaders will still follow opportunity, which is why 41% of respondents indicated they would be open to considering a new role in 2017. However it is notable that only 6% indicated a move would be triggered by a lower than expected bonus.

“Leaders are somewhat cognisant and understanding of the challenges companies face in the current market, including an appreciation that profits are significantly less than they were in previous years.”

Further, contrary to dinner-party conversations, the survey shows that relatively few leaders would consider leaving the country to pursue international opportunities, says Goodman-Bhyat.

Only 29% said they would leave SA without hesitation.

“Considering the sample group surveyed, people who are professionals in their field with myriad local and global options, this is a much lower than expected figure,” she says.

“It is significant that 71% of respondents either gave an outright or conditional no to moving abroad to further their careers. Of the conditional no’s, respondents indicated that they would only consider a move for ‘pull’ factors, such as an exciting and lucrative opportunity, rather than push factors.”

Goodman-Bhyat says that this year’s survey provides a much-needed glimmer of hope, as it shows that top leaders are not ready or willing to jump ship.

“Despite the upheaval, a political and socio-economic climate that leaves us punch-drunk day after day, it is clear that there still remains hope and belief in the opportunities in South Africa, even more so than a year ago,” she says.

Sick leave in business requires effective management; its mismanagement or abuse can be detrimental to any company in terms of financial and employee performance.

A dictionary definition of sick leave is “an absence from work permitted because of illness and the number of days per year for which an employer agrees to pay employees who are sick”.

According to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) an employee is – during every sick leave cycle – entitled to paid sick leave equal to the number of days the employee would normally work during a period of six weeks.

The provisions for sick leave do not apply to:

• Employees who work less than 24 hours a month
• Employees who receive compensation for an occupational injury or disease
• Leave over and above that provided for by the Act.

The BCEA prescribes that in the case of standard employment i.e. a 5-day working week, the employee would be entitled to 30 days paid sick leave during each sick leave cycle.

A sick leave cycle is calculated from the date of engagement up to the 3rd anniversary of that date; in other words, for employees with a 5-day working week an employee is entitled to 30 days sick leave every 3 years. This sick leave does not accumulate from cycle to cycle, after each cycle. All unused sick leave is forfeited.

It is important to understand that sick leave is given by statute as an entitlement; it does not accrue. It is also a form of contingency, so if, even early in their service, an employee requires extended sick leave, the whole thirty days may be taken. In the event that the employee leaves, the employer cannot claim the sick leave back.

However, the BCEA makes provision for this, by limiting paid sick leave during the first six months of employment to 1 day for every 26 days worked. The employer may thus draft the employment contract with this provision, whereafter the three year cycle will commence from day 1, month 7.

It should be noted that the BCEA protects the employer and makes provision for the employer to require proof of illness or injury when an employee has taken sick leave.

If, however, the employee has been absent from work for more than two consecutive days or on more than two occasions during an eight-week period and the employee is unable to provide a medical certificate on the employer’s request, the employer is not required to pay the employee for the absence. The medical certificate substantiates a claim for paid sick leave.

This is applicable to most industries with some variations in industries regulated by bargaining councils, sectoral determinations or other agreement regulated by law.

The Metal and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council Sick Pay Fund (MIBFA) provides for additional sick pay-benefits for each completed day of absence from work through illness and injury which is in excess of the paid sick leave entitlement. Additional sick-pay benefits are payable at a rate of 50% of the weekly earnings of a member for each completed week of absence from work.

Furthermore where a member’s absence from work is not a complete week, sick-pay benefits shall be calculated PRO-RATA for each complete day of absence. This amount is payable up to maximum of 30 weeks. In other words, once an employee’s 30 days paid sick leave has been depleted he/she is entitled to 50% of their wages paid by MIBFA up to a maximum of 30 weeks.

Although little has changed in terms of sick leave regulation (since the minimum was changed from 10 days per year to 30 days in 3 years in 1997), Human Capital Management (HCM) and HR experts are concerned about the efficiency with which this facet of HR management is being handled.

The issues

Nicol Myburgh, head of HR Business Unit at HR and HCM specialist services provider CRS Technologies, says many employers either grant sick leave and never follow up to obtain a medical certificate or grant sick leave indefinitely without capturing and tracking this on a system to ensure availability of leave before granting it.

“Another mistake employers make is accepting a medical certificate as proof for sick leave without making sure if the employee was actually “booked off” for the full period of absence,” says Myburgh.

Again CRS Technologies points to the BCEA and specifically the clause which states that the medical certificate must be issued and signed by a medical practitioner or any other person who is certified to diagnose and treat patients, and who is registered with a professional council established by an Act of Parliament.

Another issue is that sick leave entitlement poses a risk to employers, Myburgh explains.

The key message from CRS Technologies is only an employee who is too sick to work, may claim paid sick leave. If the employer is in a position to prove that the employee was not sick, disciplinary steps may be taken against the employee.

“Sick leave abuse is difficult to determine and prove, and many factors should be considered before an employer makes a claim of sick leave abuse for instance. The amount of time taken for each absence, the specific days that are taken (the day before or after a weekend or public holiday) or any inconsistencies for each staff member should be taken in to account, says Myburgh.

With South Africa’s economy under intense pressure and the fallout of socio-political uncertainty impacting significantly on investment, the business climate is volatile to say the least. However, while most companies are holding back on spending and are looking to save, the reality is that it is a mistake to overlook the critical importance of workforce management solutions to optimise processes and optimise businesses in tougher times in particular.

This is the view of Guenter Nerlich, MD of AWM360 Data Systems, the leading provider of Human Capital Management (HCM) focused workforce management solutions.

Nerlich agrees with the broader market sentiment that the economy reflects stagnant to no growth (0%) and this is has put a block on investment. He also agrees that many international businesses are reluctant to invest further ‘on home soil’ and are looking to rather extend their operations and businesses abroad.

The air of apprehension that has engulfed most sectors is beginning to smother industry, strengthened by political infighting, discourse and disharmony between key stakeholders including Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and President Jacob Zuma.

There is also growing concern over the country’s ability to avoid an official financial downgrade by global rating agencies.

So as complex as the situation may be and as serious, the reality facing businesses is that they cannot afford to hold back on investment in technology. “

“You must spend money first to save money,” says Nerlich. “A major part of the problem is that many companies are on a knife-edge – they feel trapped by the economic difficulty and become immobile, which is very dangerous. The fact is that during times of difficulty and volatility, businesses must be proactive and not sit back… sitting on the proverbial fence is not an option,” Nerlich says.

Investment is the backbone of an economy and when there is restriction, there is contraction – it squeezes the life out of investors, according to AWM360 Data Systems and this is very worrying.

“Effectively South African companies are sitting on capital that would otherwise be spent on investment. What we are advocating is that businesses free up their capital and commit to investment in solutions that boost workflow and reinforce HR and systems and directly contribute to the bottom line earnings, that is an investment in the future,” Nerlich continues.

He believes while South Africa’s labour force continues to feel the pinch of economic hardship and resources become more scarce, the need for solutions that optimise work systems, help businesses handle data, analytics, cloud migration, the Internet of Things and digital transformation, will only increase.

Innovation could lead to business failure

Kodak is famous for being the inventors of the digital camera technology, yet were completely bankrupted by digital cameras. The same could be possible within your business innovation initiatives if you don’t learn and apply the following lesson from Kodak’s failure.

A quick take on Kodak

Kodak did invent the technology behind digital cameras and had it available to use. Instead, they chose to focus on innovating their film technology. Obviously once digital cameras hit mainstream and especially mobile phones, the need for actual film disappeared overnight.

One-directional innovation

Kodak had no lack in new innovations. But the problem was that their focus was more on the innovations that served their current business model, your incremental business innovation. They tried to maintain the current business model probably hoping it would run forever. But few things last forever.

Why innovation could let your business fail like Kodak

I have worked with and spoken to many companies following this approach to business innovation. Yes, there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. It is important to innovate your current products and business model. If there is still a few billion dollars left in the market, why not. Even a few millions dollars too. But what about the future? What does the future look like? How do we strike a balance between business innovation in present and the future?

Corporate ambidexterity is what is needed

What you need are two business innovation initiatives. The one focused on the current business model and the other on future revenue streams and alternate business models. At first it may not make sense. However, this is something I learnt in the dating game. I cannot date two people at the same time and the same goes for innovation departments that has to serve the present and the future.

The processes, timelines and more are different for innovating current products than for new products. The KPI’s and reporting structures are also different. Good reason to split the two. You might raise the question of increased cost and yes, I will look at that in a later article, but you have to ask yourself, do you risk ending up like Kodak?

Some questions to ask yourself

Does your market change quickly or slowly? Even if it does change slowly, you need to look at outside forces. Nokia thought phones will remain and they will always tell the networks what they can and cannot do. That changed overnight with Apple.

Are you very price sensitive? Look at the oil price. If you only have fossil fuels in your product stable, chances are you are having potatoes and not a steak dinner now.

Are the barriers to entry high or low in your market? If low, then you could wake up being extinct one morning.

I am not going into a full PEST analysis now (Political, Economical, Social, Technological). But it is handy to ask these things when you are setting up your innovation department.

By Willem Gous for BizCommunity

If you work in the content and branding space, you’ll know how great it feels to log onto your Twitter account and see your brand’s hashtag in the top trends. A plus is also that it’s so objective. Apart from promoted trends, you can’t overtly buy your way into the top trends. It takes the time and effort of a number of independent content creators that felt like having a conversation with or about your brand.

I’ve been lucky enough to work in spaces where social media is a key driver of success. If there’s three almost-sure-fire tactics to get enough “tweeps”: talking about your brand to get it to trend, it’s these:

Consistently publish hot content

Think about the last time you saw a post that made you stop scrolling through your feed. How long did it hold your attention for before you eventually moved on? If you’re like most people, it can’t have been more than a few minutes. If this is true for the best pieces of content, imagine how little time people have for average, or worse, below average content?

Creating content that consistently strikes a chord with your audience over time is extremely hard to do. But if you manage to pull it off, the rewards can be immense. Essentially, you’ll have built a big community of people that trust you not to waste their time and data (yes, data struggles are a real thing). Before they even see your latest post, they are ready to share it, because they know you have a reputation of not disappointing them.

Reach out to influencers (the right way)

Influencers can be separated into two categories. There are celebs who are super famous musicians, actors and other public figures. Then there are ‘twelebs’ who have a lot more followers on social media than the average user, but their fan base is generally smaller than that of celebrities. If a tweleb or a celeb shares a post of yours, it exposes your content to their gigantic audiences. Besides increasing shares for your content, it’s kind of an endorsement. If celeb X has a cooking show for instance, and she shares a link to your recipe on her Facebook page, she’s telling her followers that they can trust your page to deliver on their content needs.

Relevance is important when reaching out to ‘influencers’. I’ve seen a lot of radio chart shows tag musicians letting them know how their music is performing. This works because it’s directly about the musicians and the radio shows regularly trend on twitter as a result of the artists retweeting and interacting with shows.

Incentivise the creation of content about your brand

Between 10 and 5 held their first two-day #POSSIBLEConference earlier this year and it had a fantastic buzz on social media. A great deal of the buzz came as a result of how they incentivised attendees to create content at the event. To stand a chance of working on a campaign with Estee Lauder, a sponsor of the event, attendees had to take photos where they use certain products creatively. The conference was targeted mainly at creatives, so the incentive was extremely relevant. Dentyne SA used a similar mechanic for their #DentyneSmile competition earlier this year and the hashtag trended a number of times while the competition was running.

By Skhumbuzo Tuswa for BizCommunity

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