How do you start a business in South Africa and what are the small steps that lead to building a big business? Starting a business takes time; from planning and developing your ideas to rolling things out, you always have to have your finger in many pies. Here's what you need to know if you’re starting a business.

Research and development

If you want to start a business, a business plan can help you find out if it will be successful before you spend a lot of time or money on it. It helps to understand what steps need to be taken, what resources you'll need to reach your business goals, and when you can expect to see results. When you plan your business well, you connect all the pieces so you can see the big picture. It helps you ask strategic questions so you can step back and look at the situation as a whole. 

Setting up the business

In South Africa, by law, there are five different kinds of companies that people can start: private companies, personal liability companies, public companies, non-profit companies and state-owned companies. If you want to start a new business but aren't sure what kind of business you want to start or didn't know there were so many choices, it's important to know what each type of business means. By turning your small business into a legal corporation, you can protect your personal assets. The legal structure of a business or organisation with limited liability means that a profit loss can't be bigger than the amount of money put into the business. When you register your business, you protect yourself from having to pay for any debts or liabilities that your business might get into. Depending on the size of your business, this structure can also protect all business owners and partners. You can register your company online at the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) website or at, a CIPC platform which offers company registration and other related services.  You can also register your business through your bank. You can also register your business by giving the paperwork to a company that knows how to do company registration and other related tasks. 

Securing Funding 

There are a lot of places you can get money to help you finance your business, from banks to venture capitalist firms and even the government. You just have to know what kind of business funding will work best for your business. The South African government offers a variety of ways to get money, such as grants, tax breaks, loans, and options for financing with equity. You can apply for different kinds of funding through the Industrial Development Corporation or the Government Investment Incentives at the Department of Trade and Industry. South Africa's Seda (Small Enterprise Development Agency) also helps small businesses grow. People who want to start a business can go to Seda for help. You can also get money from the private sector as well as from the government. Loan financing, equity financing, venture capital financing, angel investment financing, and personal debt financing are some of the options. 

Setting up your business operations

Depending on what type of industry your business is operating in, marketing, sales, and customer service are usually part of your business operations. This would also include production, product and order management. Your business operations will be aimed at maximising your business assets. These assets include the people who work there, the tools they use, and the information they collect. Business operations set up the systems, processes, patterns, and templates that your business will use every day to run. An operations ecosystem makes sure that your team has the right tools to do its work and that those tools produce useful information for leadership without overburdening your team. More specifically, business operations are the core activities that turn inputs like raw materials, labour, and capital into outputs like streamlined products and services. 

Promotion and Marketing 

Marketing is important for all businesses, but for new businesses, it's even more vital. If people don't know about your new business and what it has to offer, they probably won't buy anything from you. Start-ups need to put a lot of energy into running marketing campaigns which cost very little or nothing. Email marketing, blogging, and social media are all important parts of any start-up strategy as it affords you the opportunity of attracting customers to your startup for little or no cost. 

The bottom line

These areas highlight a bird’s eye view of the important things you need to keep in mind when starting a business. Remember that every business begins with an idea, but with the right energy invested in strategic places, you can take that idea out of your mind and turn it into a reality.


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