How to start an IT services business in South Africa

Read everything you need to know to start your own IT services business in South Africa.

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How can you start your own IT business?

So, you want to start your own IT services business? We hope to inspire you and all other aspiring IT fans! Remember - nothing, and no one can stop you from making a name for yourself in the IT services industry of South Africa. 

We had a chat with Derek, who started his own IT services business, The Way Forward IT, in Johannesburg, to get some first-hand insights into making it happen.

Get practical tips that Derek had to share about starting his business.

How did you end up starting a business?

"So I was a backend office engineer for Deloittes, and my contract was coming to an end. So I decided to start my own business and build a bit of capital from my Deloitte days and then start the word-of-mouth and try to get new clients to start my business.

"So I guess the secret of building a small business is networking."

What personal qualities do you need to start your own business?

"When it comes to personal qualities, resilience, determination, motivation, and craziness. There are so many advantages of a small business, and there are so many disadvantages for a small business.

"I think you need to have that personal discipline and thick skin so that what people say to you, I don't get hard on your heart and dream that's good quality."

What was the informal start of your business?

"So the first two years of my business, I ran my business as a sole proprietor.

"So in the early stages of the business, it would be word-of-mouth and going out to clients and trying to do the job."

What challenges have you experienced starting an IT business?

"One of the hottest aspects of starting a business is figuring out what to charge, value, and what the clients will pay. The next aspect, I guess, is networking and getting your name out there.

"I think you also need to have a bit of confidence because there are lots of IT service providers. I never thought I was the best, but I knew I could do the job, and that's why I started my IT business. 

“I have experienced a challenge when you're working inside the business. You forget about working on the business. So the technologies you should be using to run your business you don't use, focus on your clients to match what you're doing, work harder every day."

What challenges do you currently experience running your IT business?

"So now that my business has been running for 14 years. For the first two years, which has a cell proprietor, and in 2010 I registered the business. What a challenge these days, I think, is the growing pains of any business

  • "It is trying to facilitate the different business units to focus on the core strategy. I outsource my finance, so my finance team is very effective on the finance side but doesn't know about the core focus of the vision. So that's one of the roles that I need to impart. 

  • "Another aspect is marketing. I have a marketing lady who assists me again in outsourced marketing. So I thought I'd share the vision and drive for my business so that the marketing person can portray that effectively in their day-to-day happening when they market my business. 

  • "Some more challenges that I have that are affecting us all like the days of the lockdown. So I've had to adapt my business a bit, and so instead of just focusing on services, I have added products as well so that I can still keep the business afloat when they are weren't the ability to get out in service peoples computers. 

  • "Another challenge that I have in the business is on a technical level. We have to keep abreast of the new developments. So it's constant research and training so that I don't get left behind when it comes to technology."

Why did you choose to have an IT business?

"From the first 10 years of my IT career, I felt that I was able to do the job and understood the job, and I was quite effective in the job, so that is why I chose an IT business.

"I didn't really get on well with the corporate environment and following someone else's strategy was not something that I was very good at.

"A bit of passion drove me into IT and the ability to help people, which is one of my core values."

What are the benefits of having your own business?

“There are many benefits of having your own business.

  • "The easiest one is you have the time to yourself, so you get to manage when you start and finish work. So you have the freedom to move around, and you also have the freedom to go and watch kids' sports events and assist the family during the day. 

  • “I've had my own business because I make the money I can use. It's not been made for someone else.

  • "Another benefit is that the more you work, the more you get money in, and so you manage the inputs or inflow of cash into your business to soon agree. 


  • “Another benefit is that I work from home, so the traffic from the bedroom to the office is not too bad.”

Are there disadvantages to having a business compared to full-time employment?

“Yes, there are disadvantages to having my own business. 

  • "The buck stops with me. How many you can't escalate to someone else because I am alone in my business

  • If you don't work, you don't get paid. You don't get benefits in a corporate environment like leave pay, sick pay, and maternity leave. 

  • “When you get home after a long day, you can leave the work in the office and your home time is yours. It isn't always like that with your own business. It is hard to separate work from family time.

  • “In a corporate environment, you're not wearing multiple hats, for instance, the financial director, marketing director, or sales director. In a corporate environment, you get to do just your job. You don't have to worry about the vision or the business's strategy, and you don't have to concentrate on building the business.”

What advice do you have for those wanting to start their own IT businesses?

  • “I guess spending your years growing yourself in an IT department where you can learn the different roles and responsibilities.

     

  • Find your niche in the IT department. Once you've built up the skills in different areas, the IT business might focus on one specific area. 

  • “Always remember that you are solving a problem. You're not playing with technology, but you're solving someone's problem and using IT to improve life. 

  • “While you're working in corporate and learning about the IT environment, advice would be to get some training under the company because training gets very expensive. 

  • “Try and save up some money to build a bit of capital. When you buy anything, make sure you buy COD and don't go to loans. 

  • "If you go into business with someone else, remember this is a marriage, and if at any stage you would break the relationship, it would just be like divorce, and there is no misconception that divorce hurts both people. Make sure you have the correct documentation

  • “The most important thing is to make sure you have a trustworthy and reliable finance department.

  • Spend less, and have rainy day savings. Don't go for the biggest and the best.

  • Don't just strive for the end results. Enjoy the ride.”

How did you fund your business at the start? 

“I did not take any capital loans out when I started my business.

"I've built up a little bit of capital, maybe a month and a half for two months of savings to look after myself, but I really started from the ground up are used what I had, don't spend what I don't have.

"Cash on delivery is the safest way, and do not sign any surety.”

What makes South Africa great for starting a business?

“As South Africans, we are very passionate and driven. We don't accept the status quo, and we work really hard. So in a business in South Africa, I would say it has less red tape than overseas, from what I've heard.

"The important thing is about networking, and what I've seen with South Africans, they really enjoy the relationship side of the business.”

 Is it worth it to have a business in South Africa?

“It is worth it to have my own small business in South Africa. It fits my personality very well. When necessary, it gives me freedom and allows me to work at odd hours of the day or night, where I am sometimes more productive. 

“Owning on business is not easy, and don't let anyone convince you otherwise. You get paid for what you do. There is no free lunch in this world card, to a good honest days work and that will make you strive to do more in life.”

Derek gave us useful tips and advice that we hope could help your business journey. Do you want to find out more? Read on for more information to start your own IT services business.

Learn more about starting an IT services business

Why the need for IT services professionals? Most companies are equipped with high tech infrastructure to be a winner in the marketplace and protect their valuable data. This is why IT services gurus like yourself are in high demand.

So, why wait?

Capitalise on this need and start your own IT services company. Big businesses have budgeted for guys like you. By 2021, IT spending worldwide is expected to grow by 6.2%.

What will your business offer? 

Your services will be the selling point, so consider the following or combinations of them:

  • Tech support.

  • Network design and installation.

  • Software installation and updates.

  • Remote admin management.

  • Security strategy.

  • Risk assessment.

  • IT budgeting and assisting procurement.

Start with those IT areas where you have experience. Be careful to not bite off more than you can chew.

Who are your competitors?

You have chosen to start in a specific IT area, but what kind of customers do you want? Perhaps you can go for companies in specific business sectors. So, start researching, especially on competitors in your local area. Knowing more about your competitors will show you more about pricing and which niches to investigate further.

What will your business offer? 

Your services will be the selling point, so consider the following or combinations of them:

  • Tech support.

  • Network design and installation.

  • Software installation and updates.

  • Remote admin management.

  • Security strategy.

  • Risk assessment.

  • IT budgeting and assisting procurement.

Start with those IT areas where you have experience. Be careful to not bite off more than you can chew. So, work on your strengths and grow your business from there.

Get it done with Yoco

You’ll get a good idea of how well Yoco has inspired and helped 230 000 underdogs get paid using our affordable card machines and other payment services. 

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions. We would love to help you.

Does IT services sound like the right business idea for you? You can do anything you set your mind to do. You can make it happen by starting today.

Are you ready to start your business? Find out more about how to start a business in South Africa now.


Source: How to start an IT services business

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