RAYMOND Ackerman, successful businessman who started the Pick n Pay supermarket group in 1967, firmly believes in the “four legs of the retail table.” He believes that each of these legs, representing the business, needs to be equally strong to balance the table.

WHAT ARE THE FOUR LEGS?

1. Administration: This refers to the various administrative controls, finance and store development – in brief, the mechanics of running the business.
2. Merchandise: This leg represents establishing what consumers really want and providing it at the right price and in the right environment.
3. Advertising and Social Responsibility: Ackerman has always regarded advertising and social responsibility as two sides of the same coin, based on the principle “doing good is good business.”
4. People: The fourth leg represents the people of the business. Ackerman regards good working conditions, better remuneration and fringe benefits than competitors’ staff as pivotal. It include genuine interest in the welfare of every staff member.

VITAL BUILDING BLOCKS

Similarly the International Labour Organisation has a strategic tool guiding entrepreneurs. The following “Four Ms” are vital building blocks for business growth.

1. Me
This is the most important building block. Remember that YOU are the jockey, the driver and the visionary. The best horse cannot win the race without the jockey. An entrepreneur has to have commitment, determination, leadership, tolerance of risk, creativity, self-reliance and the ability to adapt to excel. Ackerman faced disappointment and huge financial challenges when he started as an entrepreneur, but he succeeded.

2. Market
This represents our product and customer. The fundamentals of marketing remain key – it starts with analysing our market and planning our strategy. Consider the eight fundamentals of marketing – people, place, promotion, price, product, processes, physical evidence and productivity and quality.

3. Management
The jockey does not have to be the manager of all the operations and support functions, but it is your duty to ensure that the fundamentals are in place. Institute controls, identify strengths and weaknesses and implement solutions. Acknowledge your problems with honesty and deal with them. Stop being the business and start managing the business.

4. Money
We normally put too much emphasis on the money. Ackerman’s philosophy is not to use your business account as your personal petty cash. It is crucial to separate business and personal finances. Keep tight record, avoid overdrafts, watch interest rates, keep track of expenses, bank all income, self-fund if possible and check bank statement regularly.

– Betsy Ings