Don’t bite off more than you can chew

Idiomatic Meaning: Trying to do more than one is capable of doing.

Picture this for a moment; a baby who just got introduced to the world of solid food starts stuffing his little face with everything he can find, without giving himself the chance to chew let alone swallow, what is going to happen? I believe we all know, he will choke, yes, choke and if not attended to, he could eventually die.

Let’s examine this, shall we? what does choking mean? It refers to the blockage of the airway passage into the lungs. Now crossing over to the business world, let’s do a little substitution shall we..the baby is a small medium enterprise (aka SMME) and the stuffing of the face is taking on a lot of opportunities at once without giving yourself a chance  to build and maintain any of them. Now the third part, that is the choking, refers to the enterprise’s inability to maintain all the opportunities gathered. And now, worst case scenario will be the closing down of the said enterprise. Granted, there are a lot of opportunities out there for start ups and even small medium ones that are already in existence and are looking to grow. Now don’t get me wrong, I am all for growth but a wise man once said, “you cannot grow beyond your foundation”. And in your foundation, we understand, lies your capacity. Now we all know the foundation determines the load that will then be carried. Case and point, the foundation of a 12 story building cannot be the same as that of a 3 bedroomed house. Why? Because they are carrying different loads. Likewise as an SMME, these things should be factored in when looking for opportunities;

Financial capacity- like it or not, money rules all things and if you are interested in growing, you need to ensure that you have enough financial backbone to cover any  surprises that might spring up on your entity, if not, establish an investment portfolio. This will help you to be able to take out and even pay back loans. It gives you credibility.

Staff capacity- (I swear I am not making this up) now, an opportunity may come as a tender. The question is how trained, how equipped are your employees to handle the task at hand? Because being good on paper can sell you, but the clinger always comes with your ability to deliver and that all rests on your team. As small enterprises, spend more money and time in equipping your employees, be it through seminars or training programs (both practical and theoretical) to give you an edge in the market.

Relational capacity- here we are talking about your public relation and media relations capacity. How much control do you have with those who sell the stories about your enterprise? Do you even have a story to sell? Who knows you? What relationships have you built? Who can vouch for you as a business? These things are usually overlooked but they play a vital role in building your capacity to handle opportunities.

Here is the long short of it all. When opening a startup, focus on building yourself as an entrepreneur, pick up on business deal. Grow and maintain it, earn a reputation from it and then learn to take things one step at  time, this will in turn help build your credibility. Otherwise you become a jack of all trades and master of none. You become everywhere but nowhere and sooner or later, you crush before you even flew. Examine a plane, after the boarding of the passengers, the captain speaks to the passengers about the flight plan. He then hands over to the air hostesses to talk about flying etiquette(that is another thing to be learned..delegation, and proper break down of assignments) and from there the passengers strap on their seatbelts, and the plane makes its way into the runway gaining momentum as it moves and finally takes off. What am I saying? I am simply saying that there is a process, and if anything in the process is left out, we are expecting a mayday in the not so distant future. So to avoid crash landings lets look into growth; personal, professional, financial and knowledge wise. Let’s learn to maintain. People who build skyscrapers take their time making sure one level is fit and strong enough to sustain the next one.. likewise, make sure your previous endeavor is strong enough to carry your next one.

Author: Tshenolo Beleng
Edited by: Onalenna Segaetsho Mphela

1 thought on “Don’t bite off more than you can chew”

  1. Quite true
    Especially the Relational Capacity. You must have sufficient control over in order to determine the growth of your market. If you are selling your business beyond your resource capacity then you might just get ready to lose all the reputation you have been building.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *