Raymond Ackerman
Home Billionaires 5 Business Lessons from South African Billionaire, Raymond Ackerman
Billionaires - July 27, 2022

5 Business Lessons from South African Billionaire, Raymond Ackerman

Raymond Ackerman is a South African businessman and billionaire known for starting and building his billion-dollar supermarket empire from four Pick ‘n Pay stores he bought in 1967.

With his forty-three years of business experience, he has encountered his fair share of ups and downs that serve as business lessons. He built it based on the management philosophy of a four-legged table.

Apart from being one of the most respected and revered businessmen in South Africa, the billionaire also stood and exemplified what he believed in. He was involved in various consumer rights and community engagement activities.

Here are some of the business lessons you can learn from Raymond Ackerman.

Be Passionate

To the South African billionaire, passion is the most essential thing every entrepreneur needs. He believes, ‘It is the most vital ingredient of all’. It is the driving force that differentiates entrepreneurs.

Most successful entrepreneurs derive or have a passion for what they do. This motivates them to continue on the business path even when it is not profitable or moving the way they have projected.

Since owning a business needs one to be relentless, the lack of passion makes some give up before starting the business or while at it. Due to the importance of passion, in a quote, he said, “Your mission must become a passion you believe in”.

Be customer-centric

Ackerman has a philosophy of putting and considering his customers. He said, “If you fight for the consumer, she will look after you”. He was rewarded with customer loyalty that saw the business expand and grow through its fifty-five years of existence.

Though this made him an outlier in the business world, he was unwavering in what he believed in. While profit-making is also essential, remember that you need customers to make a profit.

It is a fact that your business cannot exist without your consumers or customers. He supported this by saying, “You must give back to the community. The more you give, the more you will succeed”.

Today, Pick n Pay has over $2.56 billion in market capitalisation and is the 3253rd most valuable store in the world.


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Learn to identify the right time

After Greatermans group acquired the Ackerman store, a clothing outfit owned by Ackerman’s father, the group expanded into food retailing and founded Checkers. He worked there as the manager of Checkers.

While managing it, the business grew and was a success. After fifteen years of service, Greatermans terminated his appointment in 1966. Instead of being sad about it, he saw it as an opportunity to start something he knows how to do best.

He bought four Pick n Pay stores in 1967 and grew his business empire in South Africa. Today, it has 1,628 outlets. 968 belongs to the company, while 660 are franchises. He said, “I’m not saying I’m different. I’m not saying I’m clever; I’ve just worked my whole life to rebuild myself after I was fired”.

Set a standard and dominate your business space

Raymond Ackerman did not only start his business but created his business standard. With his visions in sight, he started the self-service retail ideology and brought the supermarket culture to the country.

This further paved the way for his customer philosophy. The idea is that customers and not making money should come first in business. He instilled this in his Pick n Pay business. This led to the expansion of his business and changed the entire business approach in South Africa.

Learn to hire the right hands and delegate

Ackerman believes in the ‘four balanced legs of the table’ business approach. They collectively work towards achieving the ultimate goal. They are interdependent. These are administration, merchandise, PR/Social Responsibility/Marketing, and people (employees).

So learn to hire the best and delegate. Delegating does not mean you are incompetent or neglecting your work. When you delegate, you have enough time to go through all the legs in your business to ensure they have equally distributed strength to hold your business.

Never for any reason neglect any leg in the business process. They are all essential and determine the success of the business. Without balance, your business will crumble.


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