SOUTH AFRICA – Lesego Mokae (29), is an Entrepreneur and considered a “change-maker” by Forbes Africa 30 under 30, class of 2019. In 2015 she co-founded Ditsogo Projects, a 100% black female-owned company specializing in the manufacturing of steel products, steel fabrication, and plant maintenance.
Lesego, Steel & Business
“I had a passion for entrepreneurship whilst I was helping my mom at her spaza. I loved fixing things, that’s where my passion for engineering was ignited. The rural area where I’m from is surrounded by mines; so I wanted us to shift from employee mentality to business owner mentality.
We saw a gap in the engineering field to create jobs, inspire the youth, give hope to the hopeless and grow the economy. But the journey was not smooth, hence we ran the company using my salary at the time. I later resigned as a bank manager to focus on the business full time.” says Lesego
5 Business Lessons from Lesego
1. Take care of your team first –
-Get to know them individually, if you have a bigger team, you can take them for team-building exercise and please pay attention.
– Many times we neglect the people who work for us and when we told to look after them we say, “Why should we do that? It’s their job”. But we forget they spend most of their time in our offices making us look great.
– Celebrate them publicly and please criticize them in private.
– Motivate them and be interested in seeing them win in life.
-Remember if you take care of your team, they will take care of you.
2. Take care of your clients –
– Ensure you pay attention to details they provide, yes you can offer your opinion but do not force it on your clients.
-Deliver more than the expected and offer value-adding information; no matter how obvious it might look to you, note people are not the same.
-When you listen to your clients it will be easier when you do courtesy follow up calls. For instance, if the client’s child was hospitalized call to ask or if it’s their birthday call to wish them an amazing day.
-Remember our clients are our greatest ambassadors, those referrals you are looking for, they provide them. That is if you did a great job of making them feel special in your interaction.
3. Get feedback on the kind of leader you are –
-Most of the time we think we are doing a great job at being leaders. Only to find out we actually have Gaps we haven’t identified that need to be closed.
-When you get feedback please acknowledge and thank them for their honesty. Do not be mean or rude as they might not give you feedback again.
-If you think your team/staff won’t be comfortable, do anonymous feedback sessions. Allow them to rate the type of leader you are with reasons, examples and how it made you feel. If you realize one thing stands out in almost all the feedback please try to rectify it.
4. Offer unique and excellent service –
-Often I see people treating small jobs differently to big jobs. Sometimes clients give you small jobs to test, not only your capabilities but also your credibility.
-You can lose a big job because of not putting much effort into your small job and not listening to your client’s needs.
-Remember every job you do says a lot about you.
-Ask yourself how you would like to be remembered. I don’t think messy, unreliable, hush job is what you would like to be remembered for. So ensure your work can speak on your behalf. Go an extra mile for your clients.
– When dealing with angry clients please hear them first and try not to defend yourself. Offer a solution and teach your staff to do the same.
5. Have goals, Strategic plans, rules and follow them –
-Have a company vision and mission and if you have staff members ensure that they know what the vision is and why it is there.
-When doing your planning you can include your team/staff especially if they are the ones who will be implementing such. What I have learned is that staff execute work 110% better when they were involved in the planning. As opposed to those who were told to do the work without being involved in the planning.
-Ensure the company has rules and standards that must be adhered to. Have review sessions so that they don’t forget or take advantage by claiming they did not know.
-Have a 20year plan for yourself and the company. Ensure your plan includes a succession plan, exit plan, investors, staff plan. If you have children, how are they going to fit in the business? Please discuss with them or the board if you have, in case something happens to you, they will have a path to follow.
-Lastly, take care of your brand and constantly improve on yourself.