South African Entrepreneurs Thinking BIG: Business ideas, success stories, marketing and innovation

To Perceive Or Be Perceived… That Is The Question?


by on 17/07/13 at 1:30 pm
1 comment


Hey Mr Small, yep you, one to five man operation, ever thought of taking on the big guys? The bold response is…yep all the time! Ever thought about working with them and not competing with them, i snap back.

You may want to argue with my point and say well, they had the benefit of apartheid or they only do business in their circles so partnering with them does not interest me.

Often we rationalise 10 ways that they cannot help us and develop imaginary seniors why such a relationship will not work. So off we go slogging hard and slogging long just to get to the front door, let alone get in the front door.

We plug away with diligence and tenacity en route to catch the big break. The real story is that Mr Big was once upon a time Mr Small, and can most probably share some valuable insights on how he/she got there. I think there is a misconception around the help offered by Mr Big. The insecure believe Mr Big is going to steal their business ideas, the arrogant believe that they can instantly compete with Mr Big and intern will one day take over Mr Big. I believe that there is an essence of symbiosis that should inform this relationship.

My team recently on the Tourism Enterprise Partnership, recently pointed this out to me. Mr Small needs to leverage the networks of Mr Big and Mr Big needs the innovation and creativity often found in Mr Small. How do we then create this relationship that results in mutual prosperity? How do we create this business Utopia where, we by way of assisting each other, create benefit for ourselves?

In my business, Skylar, now only going officially into the second year of business is a Mr Small in the true sense of the word. We have entered into partnership agreements with the likes of Neotel, Prometric (US testing centre),Compass Group (International), Tsogo Sun, Barter 21 (US Firm) to leverage our offering to clients. We  all of a sudden don’t look so small now. When we do joint things, the perception is created that we are now also  Mr Big. Why would Mr Big engage with them if they are not big themselves, so we allow this stream of perception to flow, Mr Big’s networks now start engaging with us. We have just managed to short circuit a process that could take Mr Small years to achieve. And all Mr Small did was opening himself to a relationship with Mr Big.

Mr Small opens different markets for Mr Big, he basks in the innovation offered by Mr Small, because Mr Big may be a bit lethargic to implementing new and innovative ideas. Mr Big staff start feeding off this innovation of Mr Small and they inturn become more productive and more energised, morale goes up with profits. Mr Big is perceived by his peers as a new business leader and “rather new age” for an old guy. Mr Big is not perceived as arrogant and a bully but as an enabler of small business. And all this by just embracing Mr Small.

So either perceive others or be perceived as the next BIG thing by leveraging relationships. Oh, and put it in writing.

Jonathan best describes himself as a social entrepreneur who helps people help themselves. His life mission is to create job opportunities for 100,000 people. Armed with street skills and a few degrees, Jonathan has assisted numerous entrepreneurs. He has recently been nominated as Honorary Consulate to Sri Lanka. He is currently Chairman of International Trade and tourism for the Cape Chamber of Commerce, Founding Board Member of South African Small, Medium Enterprise Federation, Provincial Manager for the Tourism Enterprise Partnership and “The TEA Lady” at Skylar Investment Holdings. He is involved in a myriad of business which include Green Energy, Brands, Technology, Events, Media, Consulting and his personal favourite his foundation. Jonathan lives by the mantra, “IF IT IS TO BE IT IS UP TO ME”, he believes that if one wants to make a change for the better he can. View more articles by Jonathan Jacobs.

Tags: business

One Response to “To Perceive Or Be Perceived… That Is The Question?”

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