MBOMBELA - Mr Dirk van Rooyen knows about change. He spent 33 years working in local government before starting his own consulting firm, and then joining Pam Golding Real Estate.

The winner of the Lowveld Big Change mentorship programme, Ms Phephsile Maseko, recently had the opportunity to spend some time with the expert in change as she embarks upon expanding her own new start-up Phepisa Natural Resources Institute.

Aside from mentoring Maseko, Van Rooyen this week also shares his core principles with Lowvelder readers.

He points out that there are many correlations between successfully working in government and the private sector: both rely on providing a service while balancing the books. The basic principles stay the same,” he says. Someone told him early in his career that he should determine what was driving him: was he service orientated or money motivated? Those are the two pillars one must always consider for yourself,” says Van Rooyen, who decided he leaned more to the services side.

Later I found out you can actually combine it. Viable business must stand on both pillars.”

Local government has to operate as a business: they provide a service, but also sell a product, such as electricity. If you don’t use basic management principals the business will collapse. If the services are there, you must still generate money and administer that money very well.”

Van Rooyen shares the 10 steps he takes to approach and manage his income generating activity.

1)      Integrity  and ethics
Integrity determines how someone deals with clients, with everything.
When Van Rooyen needed to learn what he needed to learn (in this case about computers at age 71) he did what he needed to do and studied it.
This goes with integrity. Write yours into a code of conduct.

“It is the basis of everything I do. It is something I will not forfeit even if sticking to it puts me at a disadvantage.”

2)      Control
A lot of people are good at planning, organising, staffing and budgets, but without control you are going to have a problem.

“Control is the portion of management where, after you have given someone an instruction, you follow up that it has been done. You have to monitor it right through to the end.”

3)      Familiarity
“You must be known, liked and trusted,” Van Rooyen says. “All three must be there. I can’t trust you if I don’t know you and if I know you and don’t like you, how can I trust you?”

Also, market yourself; even while you work for a larger brand, in his case Pam Golding, Dirk van Rooyen is a brand on its own.

4)      Market your product too
You have to tell people about your event or product or service, how else could they know about it?

“When you do marketing well, you, your company and goods are perceived by people to be good. As soon as that happens your business will pick up.

5)      Get involved
“Support your community. It is always important to be involved there. When people see you getting involved, they can support you.

“It creates the perception that you’re positive, doing good and making a contribution to causes they support too.”

6)      Always act like a professional
“The problem with some people is that they can be very good at what they do, but you sometimes get the feeling the person in not very professional,” Van Rooyen says.

Your clothes, state of your car (not fabrication but tidiness) and actions, everything you can see must make people want to do business with you, because it says you are not a fly-by-night operation, you are professional.

7)      Practice perfect administration…
…in the governance and finances of your company.

“Keep everything up to date. I am not a financial person, but I’m financially orientated, I make sure everything is in order.” Where you are not strong, make use of the services of someone who is good in that area.

8)      Respect
People can see in your actions whether you respect others, and it starts with yourself.

9)      Tackle challenges
“One cannot run away from problems,” he says. “If you don’t address a challenge, it doesn’t get resolved. When there is something difficult, approach it head-on.”

10)   Communicate
Communicating properly is important. “You have two ears and one mouth. Use them accordingly,” Van Rooyen says.

Lastly he shares wise words from the late Steve Jobs: Once you have enough, pursue matters which are unrelated to wealth. “There should be something that is more important.”

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