“For the want of a nail….”Doing the little things



Life lesson from a poem

The poem by Benjamin Franklin “ for the want of a nail….’ signifies the importance of doing little things. The want of a nail led to the a series of other events which eventually culminated in the loss of an empire. The full poem is at the bottom of this article.

As entrepreneurs, it is always easy to get carried away by all the big stuff that little things can turn into bigger issues. Like a small drip left to fetter causing a bigger damage. Take time to deal with such issues and then move on.

Do the small things

In this day of analytics, data is a friend of the entrepreneur or business owner. It costs a lot of money to get new clients, so if we are only converting 1 in 5 enquires into sale, then more focus may be needed in converting 2 or even 3 out of 5 enquires into sales. Such a small change can increase turnover and profit significantly.

Many businesses spend money on adverts on different platforms, but are they effective in delivering the right number of enquires and subsequently the right clients for your business?. It is easy to follow what everyone is doing but are you getting good return on your investment efforts? You will only know this by analysing your data.

Even when your business is doing well, never believe in the mantra that ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. Sometimes you need to make the changes even when things are going well just to keep ahead of competition and avoid collapse.

As a business owner you don’t have to know the answers to all questions, so get professional help if in doubt you may be interested in this article

Case study

Everyone will remember Nokia and Blackberry in the mobile phone industry. They were leaders in the sector and felt comfortable at the ‘top’. I bet they thought, ‘if it ain’t broke, why fix it’. The result, both are now case studies in how you can get your strategies wrong. To be fair to both companies, they are now doing more in the information technology sector rather than the ultra competitive mobile handset industry.


Nokia was once one of the most profitable companies to come out of Finland in the 1990’s, but had revenue of €22billion and a loss of €500 million in 2018. Continuous improvement is important especially when your business is still enjoying great success. Apple Inc. learned this lesson the hard way in the 1980’s and 90’s. At at December 2019, it has released more than 10 versions of its iconic iPhone in 12 years ( first iPhone was launched June 2007). The company has sold over 2.5 billion iPhones and keep captivating the customers. Innovation is a continuous process.

Small consistent steps are better than the hope of one day to make big giant steps, they are better than no steps at all.

The Benjamin Franklin poem “For the want of a nail”



Dr. Ade Otukoya B.Sc, LLB, FCCA, MBA, PhD


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