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by Adam Gray | @AGSocialMedia | LinkedIn

There’s a huge amount of data in circulation showing that a many small businesses fail in the early years – 20% in the first year and 50% by year 5. There’s also lots of stats showing that big businesses also fail – 50% of the Fortune 500 have failed since 2000, and Accenture predict that 50% of the current S&P 500 will fail within the next decade.

Why is this the case? Ego.

In our experience small businesses tend to fear stepping in the the unknown. They look to see what other businesses before them have done to be successful and try to emulate it. This is a perfectly fine strategy in some areas, but certainly shouldn’t form the basis of a fundamental business strategy because it doesn’t ever position the business anywhere other than as a follower, which means picking-up the scraps that the leaders leave behind. So the problem is one of ego…or rather lack of ego. These businesses don’t have confidence to step-out in to the unknown. Large businesses, on the other hand, also have an ego problem, but it tends to be the problem of having an ego that says “what we’re doing is fine because it’s got us to where we are today.” 

Either one of these attitudes can be fatal.

It’s no surprise that leaders (largely) succeed where followers don’t. The huge majority of successful brands have excelled because they have seen a virgin field – either new products, new processes, or ew technology – and exploited this whilst their competitors have played catch-up (for example Kellogg’s – the first breakfast cereal, Boston Consulting – new ways of analysing business practices, Uber – technology). This is a repeating pattern. Toy-R-Us became the world’s biggest toy retailer by spotting an empty niche (large out of town superstores that stocked everything) and really going for it, they then, once established as the leader thought that it was enough just to sit by and not innovate to remain relevant and competitive – the same with Border’s, Blockbuster, MySpace, Yahoo and countless other brands.

So, how can your business learn from the mistakes of these and countless other organisations?

You should always be looking for the next virgin field. Imagine if you were the first organisation in your industry to have a website, or voicemail, or mobile phones, or computerised stock control and ordering, or GPS tracking for your delivery vehicles or any one of a million other things that we now take for granted. This would give you a huge competitive advantage.

So, with over 80% of the world’s population that have internet access being regular social media users for you to not make this a major part of your sales and marketing seems rather short-sighted. Whether the focus for your business improvements is sales (social selling), customer service (social customer care), word of mouth (employee/customer social advocacy), recruitment & talent management (social HR), internal communications (internal social network deployment), logistics & supply chain (social supply chain)…or any other business function, social could be just what you are looking for to leapfrog the competition.

If you have already thought that social could deliver a benefit to your business, pick up the phone and we will show you how to make it really work for you.

If you don’t think that social media is the way forward…drop us a line because we would love to convince you that it is.

People who read this article also read these:

Why It’s Time to Stop Being Scared About Social – Help Is At Hand

Common sense…

If you are an SDR, don’t be a luddite

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