What do hedgehogs do best in the world? They protect themselves, that’s right. When danger threatens, they curl up in a little ball and let their prickly exterior do its job (reminds me of some people I know 🙂 ) Anyhow, in this week’s Coffee with Colm I discuss why understanding the link between this and your business can set you apart from the crowd.
The corollary, of course, is that your business is left bumping along as a ‘me too’ or ‘also-ran’.
Have a look, see what you think:
Hedgehog for breakfast
It’s early morning and Little Hedgehog is out and about doing what hedgehogs do best, mooching for food. They root through hedges and other undergrowth in search of the small creatures that compose the bulk of their diet—insects, worms, centipedes, snails, mice, frogs, and snakes. As a hedgehog picks its way through the hedges it emits pig-like grunts—thus, their name, hedgehog. Hedgehogs have a unique feature. Hedgehogs have a coat of stiff, sharp spines. If attacked they will curl into a prickly and unappetizing ball that deters most predators. They usually sleep in this position during the day and awaken to search for food at night.
The fox wants hedgehog for breakfast so he gets up early, before it gets light, selects his position to the right of a hole in the hedge…and waits. Little Hedgehog is oblivious and continues mooching; the gap between the two shrinks by the minute.
All of a sudden Little Hedgehog’s hog senses are tingling, something is not right, so he does what has been programmed into his DNA since the dawn of time, he curls up just in time to evade the jaws of the lunging fox. Foxy gets pricked, nose, jaws, gums even, lets out a yelp and shoots off to rethink his strategy for having a hedgehog breakfast tomorrow. Little Hedgehog waits patiently until his hog sense says the coast is clear and continues mooching towards the dawn and bed for the day. Happy life.
You see, the hedgehog is the best in the world at – being a hedgehog. He knows what he’s about. He knows what he’s not about. He doesn’t try to be something he can never be. He’ll never be a fox and no amount of personal development books, tapes and seminars will change that. He’s content with his lot.
What’s this about? I hear you cry – has O’Brien lost the run of himself? No, this is about two things. Knowing what you are about and being the best in the world at it. The corollary equally important, knowing what you are not about.
The story of the hedgehog and the fox serves a far more important lesson in terms of us in our businesses. The Hedgehog Concept* of business asks us to ask ourselves three important questions about what we are doing.
1. Can you be the best in the world at it?
Now, the world, when you begin a business, may simply be the area you live in, your town or county, or perhaps the region of the country, but of course, some businesses today are ‘born global’ i.e. an online business with immediate global reach in terms of delivering its product or service. Regardless, you are being asked can you be the BEST IN THE WORLD at it? Not – can you be as good as yer man down the road who you’re planning to copy? The Hedgehog has high standards.
2. Are you passionate about it?
If you’re not, don’t start. It really will be too much work. Stay as an employee. Regardless of how hard you think you are working for your boss, you will work markedly harder when you are working in your own business.
3. What drives your economic engine?
This subject is for another day, but at some point you will have to identify one piece of information, the measurement of which will satisfy you that your business is in good health.
MORE: To see last week’s Vlog go here
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Thanks for thinking with me.