Should you Rent or Buy Commercial Space?

Your business location is a make-or-break decision to make. Something you might want to consider as well is whether to rent or buy commercial space.

How do you know which is right for your business?

Cash – like in the case with residential property, buying commercial space generally requires a sizable deposit, perhaps 10 percent of the total amount and likely more. If you don’t have that kind of cash available, or you need to put all your available funds into keeping your business running, than it’s better to rent. Retail investment does require a lot of resources – be careful in determining whether you can afford to buy.

Future – You need to think carefully about your future needs. If you’re renting, you have flexibility to upgrade to larger premises, or to a better location. If your overheads are too high, you can seek more affordable rent elsewhere. If you’re sure that you can make use of a location for a long time to come, then you can consider renting. Even if you foresee yourself moving sometime in the future though, remember your business could earn a secondary income by leasing the premises out.

Availability – There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing your business location, such as available parking space, your cash flow, traffic routes, distance to suppliers, zoning laws and more. Where to put up shop is one of the most important decisions you can make, and not to be rushed. For this reason, if you’re not too sure whether to buy or rent, first check out the availability of property that ticks all the boxes.

It might be the case that there is property for sale in Johannesburg that is ideal for you. But on the other hand there might not be something for sale that ticks all the boxes. In that case, rather rent in the meantime until something ideal becomes available.

In general, renting is preferable for businesspeople who are starting out, uncertain of where their businesses will be in five years, or need more control over their cash flow. Or who simply don’t want to have to deal with the hassles of owning property. On the other hand, buying makes sense for businesses that are established and stable in their cash flow. Also, for businesspeople who like the idea of making a real estate investment.

There’s no rush. Take the time to assess your options so you can make the best decision for your business.


Finding a middle ground between outlet and online shopping

We have all heard economists singing the praises of e-commerce, stating that soon all our consumerist needs will be met by online opportunities for purchasing products and services. Where does this evolution in lifestyle leave the brick and mortar outlet? Some would say the shop is becoming obsolete, but there is still a place for both sides of the shopping-coin.

Keeping true to brand identity on- and off-line

Consider the joy of walking into your favourite fashion outlet, hobby store or home décor supplier. Even before finding appeal in what the store has to offer, shoppers are confronted by the ambiance. These experiences are especially true of luxury brands where the storefront echoes the brand’s sophistication.

Although the physical experience of visiting such an outlet is location orientated, a similar “look and feel” can be achieved with a well-designed e-commerce site. A well-managed outlet will take special care to engage the senses of visitors with pleasant décor, music and inviting visuals. To carry a brand identity over into an online platform, equal attention must be paid to ensure the website echoes the sophistication and styling of the outlet.

A challenge in the world of online shopping is overcoming the absence of a client physically engaging in the merchandise. In the fashion industry, a shopper must decide whether they like a product’s appearance and price, as well as how it fits their body. Some web-based fashion suppliers have overcome this obstacle by allowing consumers to try clothing on in the comfort of their own home, and with their own existing wardrobe at hand, before committing to a purchase.

The human relationship

In our hyper digitalised world we often forget about the value of real human connection. A lot of client confidence lies in the ability to speak to an actual person who is knowledgeable about their product and approachable when it comes to negotiations.

Although online shopping provides convenience in other areas, consumers do value a personal relationship with a consultant or shop assistant when considering large purchases. Once a face-to-face sale has been made, future online sales through the same employee might be an avenue customers feel more comfortable exploring.

In the case of a purely online store, human interaction can still be achieved through personalised, friendly emails and phone calls wherein a particular employee ensures the happiness of a set portfolio of clients.

The critical balance

Some types of commerce are unavoidably dependent on offering a client the ability to try a product – for instance, a dealer of pre-owned cars must offer the option to test drive vehicles.  Even here the successful marriage between a brick-and-mortal dealership and online shopping is still the best way to ensure a convenient shopping experience. A client can browse vehicle models and options within their budget at leisure before visiting the showroom to narrow down their choices, effectively saving time for themselves and the dealership.

In the case of a business reliant on closing the deal at a physical location, it is tempting to see the online aspect as secondary to the outlet. With the world becoming more and more digitalised, shop owners can no longer deny the value of online shopping. It is important to realise the significance of both sales platforms and use them in conjunction with one another to achieve the perfect shopping experience


Know Your Ergonomic Rights

According to the Ergonomics Society of South Africa (ESSA), ergonomics is the science of work. The goal of ergonomics in the workplace is to design tasks, jobs, products, work environments, and systems in such a way that they are compatible with the needs, abilities, and limitations of people.

In November of 2013, the ESSA announced that they will be working closely with the Department of Labour to ensure ergonomic design is recognised in the South African legislation. This development will ensure the safety and sustainability of working conditions in our country so that our jobs do not negatively affect our overall health.

How do I enforce my ergonomic rights?

A worker should have the freedom to preserve their health while doing their job. It is therefore completely within your rights to approach your seniors with complaints about strain on your back caused by a non-ergonomically designed chair, poor ventilation, or any other undue strain to your body.

Not all problems concerning worker safety and comfort have been addressed in our legislation. There is, for example, no legal limit to what weight a worker can be expected to lift manually. A lot of airlines draw the weight-line for a single piece of luggage at 32kg in an effort to spare employee’s backs. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends a much lower maximum weight of 23kg, and that’s only if all other conditions are perfect.

Another example of holes in our ergonomic legislation is a lack of clear regulations when it comes to temperature control. International regulations do however dictate a summer bulb temperature of 23 to 28 degrees Celsius. In winter this range drops to 20 to 25.5 degrees Celsius.

Luckily space allocation is clearly stipulated by the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Environmental Regulations say that workers are entitled to 2.25 square metres of office space including their desk, chair, computer and accessories. Hopefully all aspects of our worker environment will soon be stipulated this clearly.

Promoting an ergonomic workspace

Keep in mind that your employer wants you to be healthy as well. A lack of health concerns in the office leads to employee absence, and profit losses. Office environments and control rooms where employees spend the whole day in a seated position should especially be concerned about ergonomically designed desk spaces and adequate lumber support.

It is your employer’s responsibility to have your workspace audited and certified by the ESSA. There are plenty of companies who specialise in office layout and ergonomic control room design.  These specialists can help with implementing the correct features and floor-plan to make your workspace as friendly as possible, and thereby promote your health.

The cost of implementing ergonomic design is easily validated when looking at the impact it has on worker happiness, days taken off sick and general productivity. Do everything you can to ensure your workplace is not harming your health, whether the legislation demands it or not.

Simple Ways to Reduce Your Overheads Now

It can be all too easy to just look at how much money you have coming in. But the higher your expenses are, the leaner your profit margin becomes.

Sometimes, improving the profitability of a business isn’t about making more money, it’s about spending less.

Outsourcing – There are many benefits to outsourcing, such as bringing in new perspectives and skills. But the biggest benefit is the potential money savings. Just make sure that you thoroughly understand the pros and cons of outsourcing, and make sure you partner with someone you can trust.

Remortgaging – Paying off a mortgage can be one of your biggest monthly expenses. Not satisfied that you got the best deal? Remortgages, also sometimes called second refinancing, is the process of paying off your current mortgage with the proceeds of a second one. It basically entails the transfer of a mortgage from one lender to another, so as to get a better interest rate or change the repayment amount.

Relocate – On the other hand, if you’re renting, then you might want to consider moving to a more affordable venue. However, you need to think about this carefully. If your business relies on its location, for instance a restaurant or a hair salon that relies on foot traffic, moving might not be the best idea. Even so, however, you can still try to renegotiate your monthly rent. In many cases, an owner would rather reduce rates than have a site sit empty for a year.

Go green – you’ll be amazed at how much a few green changes at work can save you in the long run. From reducing your paper usage, to decreasing your monthly utilities bill, there are many ways your business can benefit while you help the environment.

Buy second-hand If you need to buy equipment or furniture, go for the used option. You can buy items that are as good as new for a fraction of the cost.

Interns – There are always students and graduates who would be grateful for any help. Rather than hire more full-time staff, bring in one or two interns who will be happy for the opportunity. While interns typically aren’t paid a lot, do endeavour to make it worth their time by giving them practical work experience they can learn from, rather than just making coffee.

Your net profit is equal to how much money comes in, minus how much money goes out. As complicated and confusing as the market place can be at times, the success of your business essentially boils down to those two forces. The difference between the inflow and outflow of cash.


Courses to improve your chances of landing an admin job

If you are fresh out of school and in search of your first real job, the admin field may provide a few great job possibilities.  Every year thousands of companies place ads in search of well-rounded candidates to fill admin roles.  While your lack of working experience may be a disadvantage, this does not disqualify from getting the position immediately.

Business colleges and certain universities offer many short courses that could give you a fighting chance at landing one of the many admin jobs out there, even with limited to no experience.

Microsoft Office

Most positions, from customer care to being a bank teller will require you to be efficient in Microsoft office. Many colleges and high schools offer courses in the Microsoft Office package and provide a certificate on completion of the course.  Computer literacy is taught at as a subject at most schools and form part of a more career-based curriculum. If you did not have computer literacy as a subject on school, a Microsoft Office certificate would be a great place to start.


If you end up in an admin position, chances are that you will spend a huge part of your day typing.  Sending emails and typing out certain documents are only two of the functions you might fill while in this position. Many companies require their admin staff to be able to type up to thirty five words per minute.  While many business colleges offer this as a course, there are as many good online options you could consider.

Your course won’t mean much if you don’t put your skill to use. Practice on your own to improve your typing speed.

Sage Pastel

If you are planning on working in the admin field, Pastel may be one of the most valuable courses to complete. There are a huge number of admin jobs in Cape Town and other business hubs today, and many of these would require you to have some knowledge and experience where Pastel is concerned.


Secretaries and office managers are responsible for working out and paying staff wages.  The University of Cape Town offers a really good online course through their Get Smarter programme in payroll and tax administration. This will definitely put you ahead of the curve when applying for an admin position.


Admin branches out into many different roles and reception is one of them. As part of an admin team you may be required to spend time being on the switchboard and dealing with front of office duties.  Although most companies should provide you with the necessary training should you have to take on switchboard duty, College SA has a great certificate via distance learning you could take a look at as well.