SMEs need a network of support to thrive

QuickBooks launches small business online community

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It is widely accepted that small business owners and entrepreneurs need a network of support to stack the odds of success in their favour, and this is all the more important in difficult economic conditions.

Intuit QuickBooks, a leading accounting and business software provider, believes that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are the engine of the economy and has launched an online community to support small business owners - which can be found at quickbooks.co.za under the support tab.

QuickBooks’s view on small businesses is echoed in academic literature. In a study called “The Impact of Entrepreneurial Business Networks on Firms’ Performance Through a Mediating Role of Dynamic Capabilities’ published in May 2019 in MDPI, the authors write: “In the prevailing competitive and challenging international economic situation, a viable and dynamic small and medium enterprises (SMEs) sector is essential to the economic progress of the respective country.

“Similarly, small and medium firms are considered as the engine of growth and play a significant part in creating economic development… Unfortunately, small businesses face a high rate of failure worldwide. Previous literature indicated that almost 40% of firms face failure during the first two years of their business start-ups in various countries worldwide.”

South Africa is going through a difficult period as the nation experiences record unemployment and a stuttering economy. Such conditions require a vibrant and strong SME sector to drive economic growth, and networking and community are vital to the success and prosperity of small businesses across the country.

Jolawn Victor, head of emerging markets at Intuit QuickBooks, says that being a global company with a very strong presence in South Africa, QuickBooks has a “birds’ eye view” of trends and challenges facing small business owners, and the need for a strong support structure cannot be understated.

“Our experience in our interaction with small businesses, and speaking with entrepreneurs at our events, demonstrates that networking and a community of support is one of the most vital ingredients in supporting the success and sustainability of SMEs,” says Victor.

Victor added that small business owners don’t often have the time to take off work and go and meet people in formalised settings. “Running a small business is most often a hands-on activity. This is why we thought out of the box and used technology to create our South Africa QuickBooks Community.

“We made the community available on the QuickBooks app that can be used on mobile for business owners that are always on the go. When they need product help from QuickBooks, they don’t have time to sit down and search on various web pages for various help methods which makes them feel stressed. In addition to that, we have encouraged our diverse range of business owners, bookkeepers and advisors to make full use of the community.”

Victor says that their goal for the public forum is to bring the spirit of community support to entrepreneurs through an accessible and convenient digital channel. “Running a business can be lonely so it’s good to have support, build relationships in order to network, have access to the kind of information you actually need.

“In addition to providing support and information related to QuickBooks, business owners can learn from each other, encourage each other and pick up new skills. There needs to be more communities where entrepreneurs tell their stories, their successes and their challenges and inspire and be inspired.

“Small businesses truly are the engine of any economy and it’s in our best interests -- both locally and internationally -- to provide the best possible platform for their success,” she says.

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