#star­tup­di­aries

CityPress - - Busi­ness - Fol­low @AmargiMe­dia on Twit­ter for more on the #StartUpDiaries

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.

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