Friends & Friction: Hard work is still the best muti

2014-08-07 06:45

"My goodness! Broer, is this you?"

“Oh, my brother. It’s been how many years? 20? 25?”

“I think more than that because my son is now 26 years old.”

“Oh my goodness? Any grandchildren?”

“One on the way…”


“How are you doing otherwise?”

“Man, I’m managing, just managing.”

Have you ever stopped to think what the word ‘manage’ really means? It means to get by, to cope. Yet we entrust “managers” with the future of a company and the careers of so many other people below them.

Managers are like herdsmen. They never inspire greatness. Herdsmen do not add value to the cattle they watch graze. They walk them to the pastures and occasionally take them to the cattle dip. Their job is to watch and report any problems to the owner.

Invariably, when you ask many managers what they do, they reply: “I look after such and such a division.” Look after? Not lead? This explains why so many companies are mediocre, at best.

The directors are worse. All they do is give directions and get paid a ton of cash. Think of traffic cops in their white gloves as they direct cars, or funeral directors whose job it is to direct mourners.

The reason they wear white gloves is because they don’t have to touch anything. It goes without saying that company directors do nothing except point fingers. No wonder many boardrooms are ­referred to as ivory towers by workers.

We underestimate the language we use, but it has an impact on how we perform. If you run a small business, you must avoid such luxuries. This also applies to big businesses that have an SMME mind, the mind of winners.

A total of 70% of German employers are small to medium companies and they contribute half of the country’s GDP.

Germany has proved to be the most resilient economy in Europe and is the world’s second-largest exporter. Its workers are some of the highest paid in the world.

We all know the future of business and employment in South Africa rests largely on the shoulders of new entrepreneurs.

Starting a business is like planting a tree. It needs time and patience to grow. There may be ­exceptions just as there are lottery millionaires, but the rest of us have to toil without any guarantee that our labour will yield fruit.

Some trees grow to be big, like the baobab, or bear lots of fruit, like the morula, but many others remain small.

Likewise, some businesses will grow to make lots of money, employ thousands of people and become case studies at business schools all over the world.

Their founders will be invited to every posh dinner and lauded with medals.

As for the majority, they will remain small, unknown and employ a few people who will depend on them to feed their families and send their children to school.

By its nature, a small business has limited resources, so must limit its activities and ­focus on what it can do best. At a glance, business may look easy, but so many fail because a thousand small things can go wrong.

Resist the temptation to diversify because that would mean you have a thousand small things to learn in a myriad industries.

There has been great technological ­advancement in the past few years, but no one has invented a remote control to run a business yet. The owner’s sweat is still the best muti for any business.

You need to be there to cultivate relationships with your customers, staff, suppliers and financiers. You need to know everyone who matters in your industry, especially your competitors.

It is not how much money you make that matters, but how much you keep. So keep your costs low and don’t employ people whose talents are only to manage and direct.

Hire people with the right attitude and open your company to as many apprentices as possible. They’ll learn the business from you and you will create goodwill in return.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.