Mr Mac van der Merwe started out as a young Vaal Triangle entrepreneur many years ago and today owners and is CEO of the successful and highly respected Zorgvliet Group, which includes the luxurious Riviera Hotel on the banks of the Vaal River.
He admits, however, that he encountered many setbacks before he and his family could enjoy the sweet fruits of success.
This local legend was among the high-level speakers who shared their business experiences at the SMME conference presented by the Emerald Foundation and the Vaal Region Community Chest last week.
Van der Merwe says it is of paramount importance for any entrepreneur to have clear objectives about where they want to go. They need a sustainable business model – almost like a flight plan – about the results to which they aspire.
“Continuously measure your progress. Revisit your mistakes and work through them. That is how you gain worthwhile experience. By not accepting mistakes as defeat, you put yourself in a position to see new opportunities and gain valuable experience.”
This has been the model of his own life. “Working through the ups as well as the downs of cycles brought satisfaction and financial benefit. Today I realise that at those times when I got it wrong, it was because of an unclear ‘roadmap and flight plan’. There were no red lights to warn me that I was off course. When I got it right, I was clear in what I wanted to achieve and how to apply available resources productively and optimally,” he says.
He believes that successful people balance business and family. “Business is like a rubber ball: it can bounce back, but family is like a glass ball: it can break”.
Van der Merwe says anyone planning to start their own business should establish exactly why they want to be in business. Is it for the money and financial independence? Do they have a positive outlook and a desire to influence people? Do they want to be a leader in their community?
He says if you don’t have the drive to make money, to create wealth and to look after it, then rather leave the world of business.
You also need to have the desire to be a leader in your community – to carry the flag of prosperity and creation of wealth and employment.
You have to enjoy the stressful challenges brought on by being involved in your own business. “Life is all about enjoyment. In business, establish and target what you like to do best,” is his advice.
Zogvliet, which is a globally competitive business, is also a family business where various family members manage different business units.
“Each manager has to justify his position in the open market. It takes courage to challenge each family member to prove him or herself. It was very important to find out where each family member can add most value to the company,” says Van der Merwe.
“In a family business – as in every other business – unity of command is very important. Each unit must have only one manager who takes responsibility for his or her unit. As head of the family business you may not interfere in an individual family member’s unit. Leave it to each manager to take responsibility and make decisions in his or her own business unit. Another very important aspect in a family business is that there should be lots of appreciation for each other.”
Van der Merwe says since the credit crunch, the global economy is setting new standards and new challenges. “We’ll have to be able to compete on the international market otherwise we won’t succeed, but you can rest assured that there are big opportunities for small businesses.”
News source: Mooivaal Media – Vaalweekblad