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The Perils of Rapid Growth: How Overexpansion Can Dilute Core Competencies in SMCs

Can rapid business growth lead to a loss of focus on core competencies and ultimately harm the company?

In recent years, the Middle East has witnessed unprecedented growth in small and medium-sized companies (SMCs), transforming the region into a hub for entrepreneurship and innovation. As SMCs continue to expand, business owners and executives are increasingly faced with the challenge of managing rapid growth. While expansion can offer numerous benefits, it can also lead to a loss of focus on core competencies, ultimately harming the company. This article examines the implications of overexpansion for SMCs in the Middle East and offers insights on how to maintain a steadfast focus on core capabilities amidst growth.

The Lure of Rapid Expansion

The allure of rapid expansion can be difficult for business owners to resist, particularly when operating in a dynamic market like the Middle East. Opportunities for growth abound, driven by factors such as government support, technology advancements, and an increasingly skilled workforce. However, the pursuit of growth at all costs can lead to a loss of focus on core competencies and, ultimately, harm the company.

The Importance of Core Competencies

Core competencies are the unique capabilities and resources that provide a company with a competitive advantage in the marketplace. They enable businesses to differentiate themselves from competitors and create value for their customers. Examples of core competencies include exceptional customer service, innovative product development, and efficient supply chain management.

When SMCs lose sight of their core competencies, they risk diluting their competitive advantage, leading to decreased market share and reduced profitability. This is particularly concerning in the Middle East, where intense competition among SMCs demands that businesses maintain a sharp focus on their core capabilities.

Case Study: The Consequences of Overexpansion - Aramex

A well-known example of a Middle Eastern company that experienced the perils of rapid expansion is Aramex, a leading global provider of logistics and transportation solutions. Established in 1982, Aramex rapidly grew to become the first Arab-based company to be listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange in 1997. The company's success was built on its core competencies in express parcel delivery and freight forwarding, with a strong focus on customer service and innovation.

In the early 2000s, Aramex began to diversify into various unrelated sectors, including e-commerce, retail, and digital services. The company's aggressive growth strategy aimed to capitalize on the expanding market and the increasing demand for comprehensive logistics solutions. However, this diversification led to a loss of focus on Aramex's core competencies in logistics and transportation.

As Aramex's resources were spread thin, the company faced challenges in maintaining the quality of its logistics services and the efficiency of its operations. This dilution of its competitive advantage resulted in decreased market share and reduced profitability.

Recognizing the risks posed by overexpansion, Aramex's management took corrective action by refocusing on the company's core competencies. The company divested its non-core businesses, streamlined its operations, and invested in technology to enhance its logistics services. As a result, Aramex was able to reestablish its competitive advantage and return to a sustainable growth trajectory.

By learning from Aramex's experience, SMCs in the Middle East can better understand the importance of maintaining focus on core competencies and the potential risks associated with overexpansion.

Best Practices for Sustaining Core Competencies Amidst Growth

To avoid the pitfalls of overexpansion, SMCs in the Middle East should adopt the following best practices to maintain focus on their core competencies:

  1. Clearly define core competencies: Ensure that the company's unique capabilities are well-defined and understood throughout the organization. This provides a solid foundation for decision-making and prioritization.

  2. Align growth strategies with core competencies: When pursuing growth opportunities, ensure that they align with and leverage the company's core competencies. This ensures that expansion efforts complement and enhance the business's competitive advantage.

  3. Establish clear communication channels: Ensure that all employees understand the company's core competencies and growth strategies. This helps to maintain focus and ensure that resources are allocated effectively.

  4. Monitor performance and adapt: Regularly review the company's performance in relation to its core competencies and adjust strategies as necessary. This helps to ensure that the business remains agile and responsive to market conditions.

  5. Foster a culture of innovation: Encourage employees to continuously improve and refine core competencies, ensuring that the business remains competitive in the long term.


While rapid growth can present exciting opportunities for SMCs in the Middle East, it is crucial for business owners and executives to maintain a focus on their core competencies.

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