The Elon Musk 3-point plan for ruining a business

By Dasblog

I was famously (infamously) unimpressed with Twitter when it first stormed the beaches a little more than a dozen years ago, telling my USA TODAY column readers not to tweet because “no one cares what you had for lunch!”

Admittedly, my then-editor at the time was not much better, awkwardly titling that column, “Should entrepreneurs Twitter? Uh, no.”

But for sheer audacity and getting-it-wrongness, we pale in comparison to the man who bought the platform for some $44 billion and proceeded, in a few short weeks, to practically burn it to the ground.

Want to ruin your small business? Then all you have to do is take a few pages out of Elon Musk’s playbook.

Overwhelmed:Elon Musk says he has ‘too much work on my plate’ following Twitter takeover at G-20 forum

1. Upset your employees

Businesspeople generally, and small businesspeople in particular, are wont to say our most valuable asset is our people, our team.

Makes sense, no? It is your valuable staff members who do the work, deal with customers, sell, put out fires, manage expectations and get the job done.

I once saw a report that said the most successful franchise owners were not the ones who understood marketing best, or who had the best locations, but rather were the ones who were the best managers. By being inclusive, positive and rewarding, great managers fostered great teams. Great teams begat happy customers and happy customers became repeat customers.

Another speed bump:Elon Musk is making automakers uncomfortable on Twitter

Elon seems to have forgotten that. After buying the company he:

  •  Fired about 3,700 people, roughly half of Twitter’s workforce
  • Also fired the CEO, the COO, their general counsel and the head of policy. Other execs, seeing the writing on the wall, quit.
  • Making people work twice as hard because, literally, half the team is gone, and then giving them no leadership nor direction is a sure way to start sinking a ship.

But Elon wasn’t done there. Via email he also informed those remaining that the new normal of hybrid work was over and that all employees would be expected to be 100% full-time, in the office.

How very 2018.

Want to go out of business? Make people work more, work harder, fire their friends, fire their bosses and put them in an environment they don’t want to be in.

More turbulence:Fake Eli Lilly Twitter account locked down after false claims of ‘free’ insulin

2. Scare your customers

As a business model, Twitter is not great. It has only ever been profitable twice (2018 and 2019.) In 2020, the year the whole world moved online and chatted over the Internet, Twitter lost a billion dollars.

Twitter makes the vast majority of its revenue from ads and advertisers, meaning, you and I and the rest of Twitter’s tweeters are not really its customers. Its real customers are its corporate advertisers.

Well, with the business in freefall, with banned and suspended people likely coming back, with the executives that advertisers traditionally dealt with either gone or overworked, and with bots and hate speech running amok because content moderation is in decline, those same advertisers have given Twitter a serious rethink.

Indeed, Volkswagen, United Airlines and many other corporate advertisers have all paused their advertising on the platform.

Fleeing for the exits:Twitter lost more than 1.3 million users in the week after Elon Musk bought it

3. Botch the brand

Great brands are valuable, and they are tough to create. Branding takes time, effort, money, luck, consistency, and vision.

One way Twitter built its brand was by offering a valuable blue checkmark that verified some people as real top tweeters, legit voices worthy of attention. Blue ticks were not easy to get. But now it looks as if anyone with $8 a month to spare will be able to buy one.

Because, after all, if you lose your top advertisers, you have to make that money up somehow, right?

Calculating:Elon Musk’s net worth cut nearly in half as Tesla stock prices dive

But if everyone can buy verification, then no one is actually verified, and that means that you can add even more fake accounts to this witch’s brew.

With no verification, short-staffed, morale among employees, advertisers, and users at an all-time low, with content moderation moderated, it is probably no surprise that Musk recently told those who are left on the sinking ship that . . . bankruptcy may be in Twitter’s future.

The man is a business startup genius for sure, but who knew that he was also gifted at shipwrecks?

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