So you have a burning idea? And you now want to know how to start a business in South Africa? You have done your research or you have been running the business as a side hustle for a while and you now want to make things official. 

In this post, I am going to show you how to start a business in South Africa. After reading and following this post you should have a 100% legit business. 

At Ola 7 we are dedicated to helping people start and run successful businesses. We have helped a lot of businesses with Digital Marketing and Web Development through our Digital Marketing Agency. These businesses ranged from startups to established businesses. 

My goal in this post is to help you start a legit business while saving you money. 

South Africa is progressive. Most of the things are now done online. Gone are the days where you had to toil rushing from office to office just to set up your business. This guide will help you to start your business in South Africa at the comfort of your home. 

* Please bookmark this post or save it somewhere so that you can come back to it any time to continue with the process of starting your business.

Read: How to Start a Blog and Earn Money in South Africa (Step by step guide)

Are you ready to start a business in South Africa? Let’s get going

Step 1: Register Your Business.

CIPC website to register your business in South Africa
The CIPC website Home page

It is easier than you think to start a business in South Africa. The South African government has done a great job to minimize the costs and barriers to starting a business.  

The starting point to start your company in South Africa will be to head on to the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission best known by their abbreviation CIPC.

The CIPC is the ONLY institution that officially registers businesses in South Africa. All the other people and companies that come in between are just agencies who will complete the company registration process on your behalf. 

Visit the CIPC website by clicking on this link (Opens in new tab)

The process of registering your business on the CIPC website takes less than an hour.

You will need to become a customer on the CIPC website before you register your company. 

Please watch this video for you to register as a customer on the CIPC website. 

Official video to register as a customer on the CIPC website by CIPC

After registering as a customer you can then register your company. 

To register your company on the CIPC website you will need the following:

  • Director’s ID Number or Passport Number if you are a foreign national. 
  • R175 that must be deposited in the CIPC bank account.
  • Physical address 
  • 3 to 4 business names.

You can watch the video tutorial to register your private company below. 

Official video to register a private company on the CIPC website by CIPC

Ola 7 TIP: Take your time to choose your perfect business name.

After following the instructions in the video you should have your company registered. Your Company registration certificate and other documents can be downloaded to your computer or mobile phone. 

Congratulations. You now have your Official company.

On your company registration certificate, you will see your enterprise number. Which looks like 2021/123456/07. Please keep this number safely as it is practically your business. It is like your ID number in the business world. 

On the CIPC website, you can also register your BBBEE certificate. Details are in this video below.

Official video to register for BEE on the CIPC website by CIPC

A BBBEE certificate is important to some types of businesses or industries and not that important to some industries. 

For example, if you want to run an ecommerce business, having a BEE certificate is of no use. But if you want to be getting tenders or apply for government finance then a BEE certificate is a must-have. 

Let us now move on to the second step to start a business in South Africa. 

Step 2: Be Tax Compliant.

SARS Website home page
SARS Website home page

It is now time to meet the taxman of South Africa in this guide to start a business in South Africa.

Tax is a topic that no one wants to hear about. But unfortunately, we can not run away from the taxman if we want to start and run a successful business in South Africa. 

The South African Revenue Services known as SARS works hand in hand with the CIPC. SARS is the only institution that handles tax services in South Africa, both personal tax and business tax. 

This means that when you register your company on the CIPC website you will get your income tax reference number. This makes you a taxpayer.

As a taxpayer, you must register for eFiling on the SARS website by clicking here. (Opens in new tab)

For your convenience, you can watch this video to register for eFiling on the SARS website. 

You should register your business entity as an individual taxpayer as well as registering yourself or the business directors as separate individual taxpayers as well. 

Since your business and yourself will become 2 separate persons. Yes, a business is treated as a person in business legal terms. 

Completing your tax registration process takes less than an hour as well. But do not put yourself under pressure if it is taking you longer. As long as you are doing your best to start a business in South Africa you will be fine.

Now, let us go to the third step on how to start a business in South Africa. 

Step 3: Get A Business Bank Account.

Thinking of opening a business bank account to start a business in South Africa
Thinking of opening a good bank account

I can not stress enough the importance of having a business bank account in order to start a business in South Africa. 

A business account will help you manage your business easily and professionally. It will also make it easy when it’s time to meet the taxman. 

If you are running your business from your personal bank account at some point you will experience the chaos and confusion that comes from it.

South Africa has a great banking system that is recognised in the world. Most of the banks in South Africa allow you to open a business bank account. 

Some of the banks have a dedicated small business department in every branch and they are willing to help you to start your business in South Africa.

I am fond of the service I get from Nedbank It is a bank that I personally use to run my business. There is always someone professional to assist you plus why should I hate them if they give me free coffee with some cookies whenever I visit the branch and they call me by name. 

It is those small things that matter to me and you should also do your research when choosing your business bank account. 

In our survey here at Ola 7, we realised that most of our clients use FNB. This bank is so good and very efficient in processing payments. If an FNB account holder makes a payment to your bank account today, you will have your money the next day, within 24 hours. 

That is amazing.

I would highly recommend Nedbank or FNB for their efficiency, quality service and low fees. 

Whatever bank you choose, you must make sure that it matches your culture and you are happy with the service. 

Apart from Nedbank and FNB, here are some other banks to choose from to start a business in South Africa.

Standard Bank

Absa

Capitec

Bidvest.

Opening a bank account can be done online on most banks and this speeds up the process to start a business in South Africa. However, depending on the bank and the circumstances, you might need to visit a branch to open a business bank account.

Let us now go to the 4th step to start a business in South Africa

Step 4: Branding And Getting Online.

Ola 7 Digital Agency page
Ola 7 Digital Agency page

You have registered your business with the CIPC. Your business is now Tax compliant with SARS. You now have opened your business bank account with your favourite bank. It is now time to get the branding and get online to start your business in South Africa.

Branding and getting online is where the success or failure of your business begins. 

Every business needs branding. Moreover these days if your business is not online you are missing money on the table. To give you an easy illustration. You are reading this post online, All the businesses and institution listed in this article are all online. All the applications are done on their business whereabouts.

And then you only think that only your business should not be online.

The only business that should not be online is an illegal business and it should not be registered at all. When you start a business it is a must in this day and age to be online. Even if you run a small Spaza shop.

At Ola 7 Digital Agency, we develop professional logos, websites and complete marketing solutions for small businesses. 

Our team of professional Logo Designers, Web Designers and Marketers are always there to assist you. You can also purchase your domain name and Web Hosting from us.

If you click here you will land on our Agency page where you can click the button to request a free quotation. You must enter your details and type in the service that you would like us to provide for you. 

After that our professional consultant will call you to discuss your needs and give you a quotation for the services to be provided. 

Depending on your needs, we will then help you with Logo Designing, Web Designing, Your domain name, Web Hosting, Digital Marketing and all your branding needs. At Ola7 Digital Agency, we are a one-stop solution to small businesses. 

Let us now move to the 5th step to start a business in South Africa.

Step 5: The Place To Operate Your Business

A place to operate your business in South Africa

To start a business in South Africa you can register your home address as a business address at the CIPC. However, you still need to decide where you are going to operate your business. 

Are you going to run your business from home? Are you going to be in the city centre or in an industrial area? 

What place suits you best? How accessible and convenient is your place to your suppliers and your customers? This all depends on the type of business and your budget as well. 

If you can start your business and run it from home, then cool. It’s time to build your home office.

In general, your working space must be a place that encourages you and your team to work. To get the job done. 

When you find your perfect place, it is time to go to the 6th step to start a business in South Africa.

Step 6: Get On The Phone

Business owner getting a phone

One thing that every business needs is a Phone. For you to start a business in South Africa you will need to make outgoing calls and receive incoming calls from your customers, suppliers and team members. 

Never make a mistake of starting a business using your personal phone number. 

Companies like Euphoria are there to assist small businesses with complete telephone solutions. From geographic 011, 021 phone numbers to 087 national numbers. Euphoria can help. 

Depending on the type and size of your business, Euphoria has all the solutions for you. From VoIP calls where you can use the Euphoria App on your smartphone to call centre solutions where you may have multiple phone users.

It is easy to apply for your phone solutions from Euphoria. You just need to click here and then enter this code: Ola62776 on the 1st and second fields of that form and then enter your details and hit submit.

Applying for a phone solution from Euphoria
How to enter the above code when you apply for your phone solutions from Euphoria

Step 7: Get The Equipment You Need To Start A Business In South Africa.

Every business needs some equipment. Be it the machinery to manufacture some products, the software that enables you to trade or the tools that you will use. 

Equipment to start a business

It is for you to decide whether you need to buy new equipment or hire from rental companies. Do you need a custom made software or you can use the software and other online resources that are available on the market? 

To start a business in South Africa, you will need to accept payments. There are quite a number of tools and equipment that allow you to accept payments in South Africa but Yoco surpasses them all.

Yoco is your number one payment solution as it allows you to accept payments anywhere and anyhow you want. If you need to accept card payments in store, on your business premises or on the go, Yoco has the Solution for you. 

They have card machines that are as low as R499. Enabling you to accept all major cards wherever you are in South Africa. The card machine will be delivered to you within 3 working days at no additional costs. 

There are no monthly fees, you only pay a small fee when you make a sale. You can apply for your Yoco card machine by clicking on this link. (Opens in new tab)

Yoco also enables you to accept payments online too. You can accept payments on your website using the Yoco online payment gateway and at Ola 7 Digital Agency we can set that up for you when we create your website at no extra cost. 

Yoco allows you to accept payments on Whatsapp, Social media, SMS, Email and any of your favourite online channels. You simply send a link to your customer and they click on it and make payments wherever they are.

Step 8: Get Business Funding To Start A Business In South Africa

How to apply for business funding In South Africa

When you start your business in South Africa, like most business owners you might not have sufficient funds to roll the ball. This is where you might need to knock on some doors to get the money that you need to run your business.

Startups are always considered as high-risk businesses and it is very difficult to get the business funding that you need when you start your business in South Africa. 

However, when your business is at least one year old and has hit R500,000 in annual turnover it then becomes easy to knock on some doors and get funded. Companies like Lulalend, for example, are proud of funding small businesses with funding up to R1,5 million. 

If you want to apply for business funding from Lulalend, we have a complete step by step guide which has helped a lot of entrepreneurs. You can find it here.

But before you hit one year for you to be funded easily by Lulalend, here are some funding avenues to consider.

Small Enterprise Finance Agency (SEFA) is a government vehicle to fund small businesses in South Africa. The downside is it takes time for the funds to be approved. 

National Youth Development Agency (NYDA). Is another government funding vehicle to fund youth businesses. The NYDA has strict funding criteria and this is good or bad depending on your age group, as they are more focused on funding youth businesses.

The NYDA qualifying criteria include:

  • Youth 18-35 years
  • Youth with skills, experience or; with the potential skill, appropriate for the enterprise that they conduct or intend to conduct.
  • South African citizens
  • You must be resident in South Africa.

Conclusion on How to Start a Business In South Africa

Conclusion of this post to star a business in South Africa

It is easier to start a business in South Africa than in most developed countries. You can start your business in the comfort of your home since most of the applications are done online.

We listed the 8 steps to start a business in South Africa in this guide. These include:

  1. Registering your business at the CIPC
  2. Getting tax compliant with SARS
  3. Opening a bank account (Nedbank, FNB or any bank of your choice)
  4. Branding and getting online (The Ola 7 Digital Agency)
  5. The place to operate your business
  6. Getting the phone (Euphoria)
  7. Acquiring the equipment to run your business including card machines. (Yoco)
  8. Getting Business funding. (Lulalend, SEFA, NYDA).

This is a general guide to give you an overview of the process to start a business in South Africa. Obviously there are other businesses where you have to acquire licences, permits, certifications and approvals from different institutions. That is beyond the scope of this post.

My goal was to give advice and guide you to start your business here in South Africa. You are welcome to find other alternative products, services and resources to those mentioned in this post. 

I hope you will start a successful business and make more money here in South Africa. I will be happy to know what business you would like to start. If there are other tips that you might want to throw in as well you can let me know in the comments below. I will be happy to hear from you. 

You might also want to check out our Resources page for more resources to run your business. 

Please share this post with your friends who want to start a business in South Africa. 

Ola 7.

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