Take opening a bank account. Yes, you’ve heard the crowing advertisements from the big banks: they care so deeply for the small entrepreneur that they have special units to help get you going; they want you to succeed, they want your custom, they want to give you a toaster as a token of their deep love for you and your endeavour. If only this were true in real life.
The reality is that opening a bank account can be harder than getting things right with the SA Revenue Service. For one thing, to open a bank account, institutions demand originals of everything. Original signatures on original pieces of paper. Original declarations of original sin. Fair enough – the rules are the rules after all.
If you are a dual-city partnership, as we are, this will be particularly frustrating. You see, banks claim to have overnight bags, but what they really have is fourworking-day bags, which means just the preliminary papers will take a week to arrive. Now imagine what happens when someone forgets to include a single page of a sheaf of documents you need to sign. That’s two weeks down, and still no bank account – it’s #WineInATumbler time.
Then there’s everyone’s favourite four-letter word: Fica. You have to Fica. Your partner has to Fica, your company has to Fica … wait, the company has to Fica too?
Consider the delightful conundrum: You can’t get paid until you have a bank account. You can’t get a bank account unless you have Fica-ed. You can’t Fica until you have a rates bill in your company’s name. You can’t get a rates bill in your company’s name until you have an office. You can’t get an office until you get paid. Refer to point one.
Even with the benefit of a private banker, you find yourself dealing with the kind of grinding bureaucracy that could put a lumbering government department to shame. It’s little wonder then that so many micro entrepreneurs never manage to expand beyond subsistence. Between the rigours of jumping hoops for the bank, the cost and time associated with registering a business and the often perplexing world of the taxman, it can seem like too much.
One would think with so much at stake, and so much for the economy to gain from entrepreneurs, that the processes around “becoming” might be a little less fraught. As my late father was so fond of saying: “It is what it is.”
In your inevitable moments of frustration, you just have to reach for the tumbler and push on through, because once you’ve cleared the hoops, run through the forest of Fica and leapt over the burning barriers to entry, you can truly say you exist.