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

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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



Business and life itself is made up of a series of dots that appear discrete and disparate. Despite this, there are significant consequences to each of the choices that we make. When the series of actions, words and deeds are connected, they give us a truer picture. In business, this is called ‘connecting the dots’.

Here are a few examples wherein small business owners (SBOs) not ‘connecting the dots’ to the detriment of their business.

Not ‘connecting the dots’ when making hiring decisions

A small business hotel owner was looking to hire a General Manager to run his business. One particular candidate stood out from the rest, but was not of his preferred ethnic origin. This small business owner felt more comfortable hiring his ‘own kind’, however, he admitted that the candidate was a far superior choice over a less-qualified candidate from his own ethnicity.

The owner had to go back to his original objective as to why he wanted to hire someone, so that he could ‘connect the dots’. He then did the right thing and he hired the stronger candidate.

Hiring few or excessively cheap labor for customer facing activities.

Imagine not having enough people to serve your customers, and the expectation that the existing employees will have to work harder, with less pay than they would get with a competitor. Unhappy employees mean unhappy customers. Unhappy customers will tell other potential customers of their dissatisfaction. Further, unhappy employees leave the business – which means losing your learning curve advantages. In other words, you just lost your core competency, which is derived from your experienced employees!

Location! Location! Location!

Getting an optimal location with the lowest rental possible is the right thing to do. Choosing a location just because it is the cheapest is not the answer.

Your customers, employees and business associates need to access your place conveniently. If they cannot, they will exit at the earliest opportunity and bring with them your potential business opportunities.

‘Connect the dots’ the next time you have to make such a decision.

Not treating employees with respect and as professionals

SBOs and SME investors need to know that they have to treat their employees well.

Human beings respond to empathy, kindness and respect. You don’t have to show them that you are the ‘boss’ – they already know that. This does not mean that you cannot chide them when they slacken in their performance. Remember to ‘connect the dots’ – when you respect and treat your employees professionally, they treat your customers with a respect and as professionals.

Not creating an environment conducive to employee contribution and productivity.

Many SBOs are secretive of their business development activities. Don’t exert excessive control or extend paranoia on your employees. If there is a bad apple in the cart, fire that person.

Remember that it is the same employees whom you depend on, to run your business. Employees respond to trust with trust. ‘Connect the dots’ and remember that paranoia and trust is a two way street!

Not getting rid of non-performing employees.

The odds are high that there will always be some employees who don’t perform. You are paying someone for doing nothing, bearing the cost of not getting incremental revenue from a potential new employee, and bearing the cost of other employees having to chip in for this non-performer, thereby reducing their contribution.

Always connect the dots when dealing with a non performer. The costs are much more than that meets the eye.

Not firing a prima donna or a disruptive employee

Get rid of disruptive employees and ones who walk around as though they are the prima donnas on whom the business is solely dependent. Communicate clearly that no one is indispensable. As a famous CEO of one of the largest telecommunications companies in the world once said ‘You don’t need a team of stars. You need a star team.’



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