Praying mantis vs garden spider

Lloyds recently published figures showing that 23% of SMEs and 58% of charities lack basic digital skills. That’s astonishing, but having spoken to many small businesses, it’s not hard to believe. So, what is holding people back? In my experience there are two reasons, time and confidence.

In the last couple of years I’ve spent quite a bit of time at Exeter Farmers Market. It struck me that many of the traders were just stood at the back of their stalls, doing nothing and talking to no-one. If I had a free pie for every trader who told me they didn’t have time to do social media I’d have a belly like a space hopper and terrible indigestion. Like a garden spider, they were content to spin a web and wait passively for prey to blunder in. But those same traders would tell me that times were hard and business was bad. So why weren’t they doing more to promote themselves? The conclusion I came to is that wasn’t time which was the problem. It was lack of confidence. They simply didn’t understand how simple it was and were too daunted to try. Overcoming that fear opens up a whole new world. Slack time between customers suddenly becomes an opportunity to reach a much wider audience. A tweeted picture of a delicious pulled pork roll is free, takes just a few seconds and is so much more effective than standing at the back of the stall looking hopeful. Even better, Retweeting a picture from a happy customer who has just bought one!

In other words, traders need to be less like a garden spider and more like a praying mantis, ready to actively grab opportunities when they arise.

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