I underscored the importance of doing quarterly business reviews (QBRs) in a recent article. One of the benefits of doing so is that you can notice errors you could be making. Errors can be inevitable, especially in running businesses or startups. They can go undetected because they would have been normalized in the company culture. I want to talk about 2 major errors many companies in Zimbabwe are guilty of. These are errors that have been largely normalized yet detrimental. This article seeks to make you aware that it is now time for a change. Heeding what we shall discuss here is much to the benefit of your business or startup.

Extreme Sales Orientation In Marketing

What is the goal of starting a business or startup? The obvious answer is to make money, right? Well, fair enough but does that mean you should bombard customers or prospective customers with ‘buy!’ messages? It seems logical to do that but little did you know that you could be running down your enterprise by doing that. Aggressively pushing people to make a purchase pushes them away, just so you know. That is worsened by the fact that almost everyone else is doing that. This creates an annoying recurrence of the same content begging them to buy stuff. Do not have an extreme sales orientation in your marketing efforts.

The best marketing is when people do not even realize you are marketing. That sounds counterintuitive I know but that is the secret. The rule of thumb is this: focus 80 percent of your time engaging and sharing valuable content with your audience. It should be solely about informing, educating, and entertaining them. Then only 20 percent of your time is when you directly ask your audience to make a purchase. That 80/20 ratio should guide how you build your marketing strategies.

If you are super smart with this you might never ask people to buy anything again. They will just find themselves compelled to make purchases without you asking. Let me paint a picture for you to get the idea: let us suppose you are running a spa business for stuff like massages. You can regularly create content where you go in-depth explaining the different types of massages and their benefits. This, over time, will draw people in so that they benefit from the valuable free information you will be sharing.

Let us suppose you devote 24 hours per week to social media management i.e. 4 hours per day, 6 days a week. 80 percent would constitute 3.2 hours per day – where you do not mention anything about buying anything. You can approach it like that or you can set a specific day where you make your sales pitches. The overall thing to do is to limit sales pitches to just 20 percent or less of the time you spend with your audience. This has been shown to drive up your sales. This is not some wishful thinking strategy; it is backed by countless studies.

Ignoring Staff Engagement And Development

I rarely come across Zimbabweans who are content at their current jobs. For the most part, it is all about sticking it out because of the money. Even when the money is mostly peanuts, it is better than nothing. After all, unemployment is a serious menace in Zimbabwe. On top of the poor salaries, most employees are subjected to toxic work environments and unreasonable workloads. Most employers in Zimbabwe think this is a show of authority or strength. I have seen many employers who pride themselves on ill-treating their staff. Yet what they do not stop to realize is that their companies could do better if they treat their staff better.

In most companies staff engagement is not being prioritized at all. Employees are not free to air their concerns. They are not included in decision-making; it is all top-down everything. Employment development is also not being prioritized. They are not taken through any training and mentorship programs. Even worse they are not allowed to enrol on any personal development programs. Their mental health is not considered; they are treated anyhow. There are no teamwork and toxicity rules in most intra-company interactions.

All these are areas that can be streamlined by management if they care to. Unfortunately, in Zimbabwe, most employers do not care about that. All they care about is making money despite however it might be making someone’s life a living nightmare. Ignoring staff engagement and development comes with costs. At times you are too blinded to see them because you are deluding yourself. This error is so common in Zimbabwe that you even wonder if there is any company that prioritizes its employees.

These are the two errors you must start working on as a business or startup in Zimbabwe. Almost every business or startup in Zimbabwe is guilty of them. Imagine how you can set yourself apart by choosing to be different. I dare you to be different starting this year. Inform, educate, and entertain more than you sell to your audience. Prioritize your employees!