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How a business can fail for not ‘connecting the dots’

John Lincoln from du talks about the consequences of businesses and SMEs not connecting the dots when it comes to handling their employees, customers and much more...

September 11, 2012 9:16 by

Prima donnas and disruptive employees affect employee productivity and morale. Connect the dots and recognize the opportunity costs that you bear by keeping them. Know and make it clear unequivocally, that your business is not and will not be built on one or two people!

Limiting your marketing investments to save money

Many small business firms try to save on their marketing spend by very limited or no promotional activities. They think that they have done enough promoting by just releasing a press release, participating in an event or blasting social media messages to an untargeted world wide audience. Blasting a communications campaign to all and sundry is just a sheer waste of money and can be counter-productive to your brand image, as most people are annoyed at being slammed with junk mail.

You can get loyalty and repeat business only once your target market is aware that you exist and once they know that the functionality of your proposition works. Your target market has to connect emotionally as well to your proposition. Keep in mind that the emotional relevance of your proposition can only happen if the experience works or rather if it is functional. Only then can you think of repeat business. In other words your business will not grow without sufficient investment in your brand.

In other words, you need to connect the dots and know that taking short cuts means that your business will limit its growth potential and might even not sustain in the long run.

Saving money by limiting channel incentives

I recently came across a company that limited its pay out to its sales employees. These front facing sales employees’ incentives were capped were at 110% of their expected target delivery. The owners of this SME obviously did not connect the dots. They limited their own growth with this artificial limitation based upon some purported belief that top sales performers are not motivated by their incentives!

Other examples of SMEs not connecting the dots

Keep in mind that is not a Mutually Exclusive Completely Exhaustive (MECE) list, but rather a sampling. The summary of the examples below are real; the implications and consequences for a SME business is insurmountable. Take a moment and think how these SMEs are not connecting the dots.

  • Not putting in place structures, processes and people with clear empowerment, responsibilities and accountabilities.
  • A large number of SMEs give limited or no empowerment to their key employees.
  • Quite a few small businesses invest in an excessively large number of people for non-core and administrative support services.
  • Not all SMEs invest adequately in information and telecommunications systems.
  • Most SMEs take short cuts in the design of the customer value proposition including products or services.
  • Most SME owners keep their prices artificially high, based on fallacious advice from their accountants, who do not necessarily have a cross functional view of their business.
  • SME investors often set unrealistic margin expectations and also expect higher commitments from customers.
  • Limiting incentive payments to channel partners with no accelerators for increased business.

In conclusion

‘Connecting the dots’ is an important concept that most SMEs should know. More often than not, the implications of an action or decision that they make about managing their business are more important than that meets the eye. Remember that just because you keep doing something, over and over, it might not be the right thing. Conversely, just because you are not doing something it may not necessarily mean you are doing it because it is the wrong thing. It could just mean that you have not connected the dots!  As the famous Indian Mahatma Mohandas Gandhi said ‘An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it’.

John Lincoln is the Vice President of Enterprise Marketing at Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (du). You can contact him at [email protected] or tweet him via @lincolnjc, or visit

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