2 June 2017
Hansie Britz

How to Build Persuasive Presentations

                                                     

Before you create any slides, think about  what you want to communicate to your audience. Your goal isn’t to dazzle the audience with your Power Point skills, but to communicate something – a company policy, the merits of a product or the virtues of a strategic plan. Your goal is to bring the audience to your side. To that end, here is some practical advice to build your presentations:

                                        

Start by writing text in Word.

Start in Microsoft Word, not Power Point, so that you can focus on the words. In Word, you can clearly see how the presentation develops. You can make sure that your presentation builds to its rightful conclusion. Power Point has a special command for getting headings from a Word file.

When choosing a design, consider the audience.

A presentation calls for a mute, quiet design;or something bright and splashy. Select a slide design that sets the tone for your presentation and wins the sympathy of the audience.

Keep it simple.

To make sure that Power Point doesn’t upstage you, keep it simple. Make use of the Power Point features, but do so judiciously. An animation in the right place at the right time can serve a valuable purpose. It can highlight an important part of a presentation and grab the audience’s attention. But stuffing a presentation with too many gizmos turns a presentationinto a carnival sideshow and distracts from your message.

                                     

Follow the one- slide – per minute rule.

At the very minimum, a slide should stay on-screen for at least one minute. If you have 15 minutes to speak, you’re alotted no more than 15 slides for your presentation, according to the rule.

Beware the bullet point.

Terse bullet points have their place in a presentation, but if you put them there strictly to remind yourself what to say next, you’re doing your audience a disfavor. Bullet points can cause drowsiness. They can be a distraction. The audience skims the bullets when it should be attending to your voice and the argument you’re making. When you tempted to use a bulleted list, consider using a table, chart, or disgram instead.

Take Control from the start.

Spend the first minute introducing yourself to the audience without running PowerPoint (or, if you do run PowerPoint, put a simple slide with your company name or logo on screen). Make eye contact with the audience. This way, you establish your credibility. You give the audience a chance to get to know you.

Make clear what you’re about.

In the early going, state very clearly what your presentation is about and what you intend to prove with your presentation.. In other words, state the conclusion at the beginning as well as the end. This way, your audience knows exactly what you’re driving at and can judge your presentation according to how well you build your case.

Personalize the presentation.

Make the presentation a personal one. Tell the audience what your personal reason for being there or why you wotk for the company you work for. Knowing that you have a personal stake in the presentation, the audience is more likely to trust you. The audience understands that you’re not a spokeperson, but a speaker – someone who has come before them to make a case for something that you believe in.

Tell a story.

Include an anecdote in the presentation. Everybody loves a pertinent and well-delivered story. This piece of advice is akin to the previous one about personalizing your presentation. Typically, a story illustrates a problem for people and how people solve the problem. Even if your presentation concerns technology or an abstract subject, make it about people.

Use visulas, not only words, to make your point.

You really owe it to your audience to take advantage of the table, chart, diagram, and picture capabilities of PowerPoint. People understand more from words and pictures than they do from words alone. It’s up to you – not the slides – as the speaker to decribe topics in detail with words.

16 April 2017
Hansie Britz

Pitch Deck Design

                      

 

What is a Pitch Deck?

A Pitch Deck (Power Point Presentation) provide your audience (Potential Investors) with a quick overview of your Business Plan. You will usually use your pitch deck during face-to-face meetings with investors, customers etc. Sometimes you will use your “Pitch” to present your business in front of a larger audience or other times, a Investor may ask you to email them your pitch without being accompanied by your verbal delivery..

When do I need a Pitch?

1. Your pitch can serve as an outline for your Business Plan. A “Pitch Deck” is easy to re-arrange, so you can easily experiment with the flow of your story.

2. If you are trying to persuade people to “buy in” to your story and become supporters i.e strategic partners, co-founders, or employees a pich deck is often the best medium to expressing your story.

3. If you are approaching sophisticated investors – like venture capatilists, angel investors etc you will almost certainly need a pitch deck.

4. No matter where you live, there are probably a number of opportunities within driving distance for you to present your opportunity to an audience. These are events organized by universities, angel groups, start-up conferences etc.

WHAT MAKES A GREAT PITCH DECK?

1. Length.

There are many experts who will tell you that your pitch deck must have excatly 5 slides, or exactly 10 slides. There are no strict rules about how long your presentation should be, as long as you can deliver it comfortably, without rushing, in the alotted time.

2. Content.

Think from your audience’s perspective. What questions do they need you to answer in order for them to take the desired action.

3. Focus.

Limit each slide to expressing one idea. You want to keep your entire audience on the same page.

4. Aesthetics.

Don’t worry too much about aesthetics until you’ve conquered the structure and flow of the pitch deck first. Then, don’t go wild with artistic flourish: you want your audience to focus on you, not your slides.

5. Delivery.

If your pitch deck is a race car, then you are the driver. The deck is useless without your execution. You should practice your your pitch until you get it perfect – first in front of a mirror, then with people like family, friends etc.

20 March 2017
Hansie Britz

Vertical Farming – Growing Crops without soil or natural light.

                

The term “Vertical Farming” has not been around very long. It refers to a method of growing crops, usually without soil or natural light, in beds stacked vertically inside a controlled environment building.

Faced with climatic uncertainties, dwingly resources and pressure on land, more and more fresh produce farmers worldwide have turned to undercover farming. Its advantages:-

  • increased yield;
  • a controlled environment;
  • efficient water: and
  • fertilizer use.

More recently, undercover farming techniques have expanded to include so called “vertical farming” which requires an even smaller footprint and uses water and fertilizer even more efficiently.

According to “Dr Dickson Despommer” who is considered one of the world’s foremost experts on vertical farming, our children and grandchildren’s generations could soon facing a worldwide food crises if changes are not made to the current manner in which we farm and grow our food.

Despommer believes that current technology and the relatively new methods of greenhouse food production as well as vertical gardening made famous by the green wall pioneer “Patric Blanc”, could and should be fused in an up-scaled design, where food can be grown year – round, despite the season, and inecologically sound manner.

Vertical Farming (VF) Benefits.

  • year round crop production;
  • no wheather – related crop failures due to droughts, floods or pests;
  • Food is grown organically:no herbicides, pesticides or fertilizers;
  • VF creates new employment opportunities;
  • VF creates sustainable environments for urban centres;
  • VF dramatically reduces fossel fuel use (no tractors, ploughs);
  • VF converts abandoned urban properties into food production centres;
  • VF greatly reduces the incidence of many infectious diseases.

Vertical  Farming – Where to from here:?

The immediate opportunity may simply be to take advantage of the space available on rooftops, says Mr Head, who carried out several studies of the idea. Rooftop gardening is already a common sight in cities and towns around the world, especially in Europe. South Africa has yet to catch on in a big way, as currently the costs of converting roofs into strong enough structures to support the large weight of the needed soil, outweighs the savings of the food costs.

4 December 2016
Hansie Britz

How to Start a Successful Poultry Business.

Many opportunities to start a successful and profitable poultry business exist as long as you start in the right way. How do you start? It is very important to decide upfront which sector of the industry you want to serve. 

The following options are available to suitable farmers:-

Option 1: You can hatch and sell day-old chicks to big producers. You will then only be involved at the first stage of the process and not concerned with the growing of the chicks at all.

Option 2: You can buy day-old chicks and grow them, and then selling them as fully grown chickens.

Option 3: You can become involved in the entire process, including slaughtering.

Option 4: You can build, manage and maintain your own affordable household egg production unit on a small scale. Later on you can increase the size of your unit in order to sell eggs in the community, if the demand for eggs is big enough. Eggs provide a valuable yet affordable source of high quality protein and vitamins required for normal growth, especially for children, when meat is too expensive or unavailable. If you want to start a successful poultry business (small or big) and even if you need money for funding your project or not, the best way is to put all your ideas/plans in a well-structured and bankable farming business plan that any investor can look at. We can help you with this.

Over the next decade the growth in the consumption of chicken meat is projected to outpace the growth for all other types of meat, mainly due to its competitive price related to other proteins. With an increase of 47% (compared to 84% over the period 2002 – 2012) over the next decade the total consumption of chicken meat is projected to reach almost 2.56 million tons by 2022. This implies that the per capita consumption of chicken meat will exceed 48kg by 2022.

WHAT REGULATIONS TO COMPLY WITH

A start-up poultry business must comply with health regulations but does not require a permit or license to start a poultry production business. These differ from area to area, and you should check regulations with the local authority or associations in your area.

OTHER REGULATIONS:-

Abattoirs for broilers.  As the establishment of an abattoir is expensive and complicated to install, it is best for new members to market and sell their broiler chickens live.

Transport Regulations. If you wish to transport slaughtered poultry, you should obtain and study the “Meat Safety Act” No. 40 of 2000 for all the rules. All other regulations including these will be found under the General Regulation of the Public Health Act, 1919.

Animal Welfare. It is essential to ensure that birds are well tended to, that cages are not overloaded and high health standards are maintained. A shower and a disinfectant foot bath is a must before anyone is allowed to enter a broiler house.

Halaal and Kosher Certification. To obtain certification to sell Halaal and Kosher poultry products, your business has to have official certification from the Beth Din (Kosher) and the South African National Halaal Association to produce and sell products for Kosher and Halaal use. Businesses that produce for these religious entities are evaluated and inspected and audits take place regularly.

THE EGG INDUSTRY

The Egg Industry comprises of 3 distinct sectors:-

  1. Day old chick production;
  2. Layer replacement hen production;
  3. Egg production.

Some large companies are integrated and involved in all 3 sectors.

Egg Production Process

Production begins with the breeder stock, at the “fertile egg production facilities” . Good quality eggs are sent to the hatchery for incubation. Those eggs that are not good are sold as by-product to consumers or entrepreneurs. The fertile eggs will produce day-old pullets that will be reared at the rearing facilities until they are ready for laying. At the egg laying facility, the pullets will produce eggs that will be packaged and sold to consumers or be sent for processing.

The Marketing Process

The following tasks are involved in the marketing of eggs:-

  • Collection of shell eggs from farms;
  • Transportation to a grading or packing plant;
  • Grading and standardizing of eggs;
  • Processing and packaging into useful forms that are stable and convenient;
  • Provision of storage facilities;
  • Movement of eggs through wholesale and retail channels;
  • Final delivery of products to consumers at a convenient place and time.

Get funding for your poultry farm

Setting up a poultry farm requires a lot of money, as poultry farming requires an expanse of land a hectare or more wide. You would also have to procure a large herd of chickens that are more than hundreds in number in order to generate the proper returns in income. Fortunately, you can avail yourself of loans that are offered to those that are starting or even those that are already in business. The loans can be used to cover aspects of the business like:-

  • Buying the land to farm on;
  • Start-up costs for the farm;
  • Construction expenses;
  • Animal feeds;
  • Vehicles or Trucks;
  • Operational expenses that need to be paid urgently;

It is also easy to apply for these loans, as long as you can provide the investors  with a well-structured and professional farming business plan. Some investors will also offer you advice from experts in the poultry business, aside from the monetary aid that you will be getting.

Getting your Poultry Farm Compliant

Another important preparation is to comply with regulations. If you plan on engaging in free range farming, then you have to make sure that the operations of your farm and the treatment of your chickens comply with regulations that are formulated for businesses like yours. Check with your local government agencies regulating laws and regulations promulgated for poultry farms.

Adequate Medical coverage for your chickens

Chickens are just like your children and other animals. To ensure continuous production of chicken and eggs, your chickens should be regularly checked by veterinarians to ensure their health. Sick chickens will negatively affect your production, so it is important to have adequate medical coverage for your poultry animals.

SOME QUESTIONS:-

  1. How much floor space will be required per chicken? – It depends on the chicken type. 3 sq feet needed for light chicken and 4 sq feet required for general purpose chicken.
  2. How many types of chicken sheds are used these days? – Most popular ones are the cage sheds and floor sheds.
  3. What is the shed area required for 10 000 birds? – A 30 000 sq feet house is needed for 10 000 chickens. If you prefer a cage type shed then the built up area should be 4000 sq feet depending on the type of cage you use in your poultry farm.
4 December 2016
Hansie Britz

Hydroponic Crop Production – Tomatoes, Capsicums, Cucumbers, Lettuce.

TOMATOES

Tomatoes are one of the major food crops of the Western world, yet breeders are still trying to improve the fruit’s disease resistance, shape flavor and color. The tomato is a member of the Solanaceae family which also includes peppers, capsicums, eggplants, potatoes and tobacco. While many consider the tomato to be a vegetable, it is in fact a berry fruit. There are many varieties and they are used in many different ways. Some are eaten fresh in salads, others used in cooking. Some varieties are firm and have a large amount of fibre (i.e. they have a low solids content). Firm varieties are preferred for salads and sandwiches. Hence selection of the correct variety is important.

When deciding to start growing tomatoes commercially it is very important to find out what your market wants. If you are seeking to establish a new market then you should do some research into the market size. It is also important to produce quality fruit. The tomatoes should have a uniform color, and fruit showing uneven or blotchy areas should be discarded, as well as bruised, split or misshapen fruit.

Varieties

It is very important to establish the market you are intending to sell to and then produce for that market. While the grower may be proud to produce large prize-winning tomatoes, the normal consumer buys tomatoes that are 65 to 75 mm diameter and weigh 120 to 150 grams. Tomato varieties can be placed in four main categories according to their method of production and market use:

  1. Canning tomatoes.                                                
  2. Greenhouse tomatoes.
  3. Outdoor tomatoes.
  4. Specialty tomatoes. 

Spacing

Plants should not be crowded. Close planting tends to favor leaf diseases and development of smaller fruit. At the same time there must be room to work along the rows and the plants open enough to allow light to penetrate and air to move through the plants. The optimum space per plant is between three and four plants per sq. metre of growing area, and if rows are 30cm wide then the spacing per plant is 45cm or 23,000 plants per hectare with aisle widths of 900 mm in the greenhouse. The density of planting may be increased in spring to give 30,000 plants per hectare of shed.

Fruit Development

Fruit color development is also temperature sensitive, the best red color forms when the average daily temperatures are 18degrees C to 24degrees C. Yellowness increases as temperatures rises above 26 – 29 degrees C. If the temperature rises above 40degrees C, the mechanism for producing the red pigment is destroyed. The affected areas on these fruit are yellow or sunburnt. When the fruit is maturing it is best to reduce the amount of watering to minimize leaf spot damage, as well as fruit damage such as star cracks. Restricting watering also helps to improve the fruits’ keeping qualities.

Harvesting

All produce should be suitably mature when harvested. Maturity must not be confused with ripeness. Maturation can only take place on the vine, whereas ripening (fruit softening and color development) can continue on or off the vine.During vine ripening, sugars, acids and other flavors move into the fruit and the texture is improved. Tomatoes are ready for harvesting about three months after they are transplanted. Optimal color development for tomatoes occurs between 15 – 21 degrees C.

Tomatoes are harvested for the local market at the “breaker” stage which is when the blossom end shows a pink coloring. If you are supplying distant markets the fruit should be green but mature, i.e. the seeds will be fully developed and surrounded by jelly-like flesh that has just started to color, and the fruit surface is a light green color. In warmer weather fruit will need to be picked about two to three times per week; under cooler conditions fruit my be picked less frequently. The stems should be trimmed flush with the top of the fruit to prevent bruising during storage and transit.

CAPSICUMS

Capsicums also called “peppers and chilies” are a rich source of Vitamin C and Vitamin A. Green capsicums and red chilies have very high levels of Vitamin A; red capsicums are very high in ascorbic acid (Vitamin C). They are a warm season vegetable, requiring a relatively long frost-free growing period for maximum production and perfect for growing in a “tunnel farming” type of operation.

CUCUMBERS

During the last ten years continental cucumbers have grown in acceptance from being a novelty vegetable to a major vegetable crop in a number of areas. They are ideal for tunnel farming type of operations. The techniques used for hydroponic cucumber production often involve a poly-house – tunnel. This will protects the plants from rain, wind, hail, extreme temperatures etc.

LETTUCE

Lettuce is an indispensable part of most salads. It is a summer flowering plant which produces vegetative growth in the cooler months and flowers under conditions of long, warm days. In hot dry weather or when the plant is under stress the plant is inclined to run to seed. The gap between peak maturity and starting to run to seed may be as soon as one week. It is therefore very important to know exactly when to harvest to achieve high quality, well-developed lettuce. We can help in various aspects of setting up a profitable farming operation including farming plans, farming marketing plans etc.

CONTROLLING THE ENVIRONMENT

The major factors that influence plant growth are the interaction of the plants genetic makeup and the environment. The grower has very little control over the genetics of the plant but he can exercise some control over the environment. Most growers show no originality when looking to provide protection to their crops. They tend to move from growing outdoors without any protection to poly-houses which fully enclose their crop.

Windbreaks

The first stage in protecting crops is the use of a windbreak. The material used should allow air to pass through it and simply reduce the velocity of the wind. The barrier must be high enough and strong enough to do its job effectively. Many lettuce growers build windbreaks 7m or more in height, using commercial wind break fabric meshing. Other growers plant trees and bushes to reduce the effects of the prevailing winds.

Rain and Hail

Thew next stage is providing protection from rain and hail. This allows the grower to work with a degree of comfort and at the same time prevents the nutrient solution from being diluted or changed, resulting in crop damage. Many lettuce growers have installed clear plastic covers 5-6 metres above the crops, in the form of a pitched roof.

Temperature Control

In areas where frosts or low temperatures occur, full enclosures such as poly-houses (tunnels)  can be used to help maintain better growing temperatures. However, a problem with poly – houses is that humidity tends to increase and fungal diseases may be encouraged. Moisture condensation inside the poly-house can also lead to water droplets falling on the plants, particularly flowers, as soon as the shed starts to warm up in the morning.

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