It’s likely that your business relies on offering various products or services to different customers. And hopefully, you’re doing pretty well at it.

But what about your hedgehog?

Based on the ancient Greek parable of The Fox and the Hedgehog in which the fox, assuming that it’s an easy target, devises strategy after strategy to catch the hedgehog. Inevitably, every single time the fox tries, regardless of the ingenuity of its approach, the hedgehog simply rolls into a ball of sharp spikes and the fox gets a sore nose and no hedgehog.

The hedgehog is best at doing the one same thing perfectly and without fail – protecting itself.

In his book ‘Good to Great’, Jim Collins talks about the Hedgehog Concept in terms of what a business could be the absolute best at.

The problem is that it’s difficult to focus on just one thing. Inevitably, a competitive marketplace in which nothing is really unique in terms of products or services, how can any single company be the best at something?

Well, your hedgehog it isn’t necessarily your product or service itself.

If you sell yourself as a business coach for example, there are many people doing the same thing so not only is the concept of being the ‘best’ business coach subjective, but it’s also unlikely that any of us are really going to be the ‘best’ in the world at what we do.

So, how do you find it?

To try and find your hedgehog we talk about focusing on four areas:

  • what your business is great at
  • what your business can make money at
  • what your business (not just you) is passionate about
  • what you can make your customers passionate about.

By going through a process of analysis and reflection in these four areas, you can try to focus on a single concept that underpins them all – your hedgehog.

Applying the Hedgehog Concept to our own business, we’re great at marketing because we have highly talented, massively experienced, trustworthy people.

We can make money at selling our skills to businesses that genuinely need our services at the price we offer them. This means we’re far too small for many bigger companies but we’re perfect for SMEs.

We are passionate about demystifying the marketing that SMEs need, stopping people being ripped off by smoke and mirrors, and being trustworthy.

We can’t make our customers passionate about marketing itself, but when they understand that have their best interest at the heart of everything marketing we do for them they trust us, they don’t worry about our value, and they get results.

To take a very upmarket wedding venue as another example, they are great at providing an incredibly expensive, exclusive venue full of small details that elevate the experience to exquisite.

They make money at a high price point because in every aspect they can control, they provide a sublime wedding experience which is reflected in the cost.

They are passionate about maintaining a specific combination of luxury, heritage, and innovation which keeps their venue unashamedly exclusive.

Their customers are passionate about what they do because this specific venue provides them with the opportunity to have their dream wedding.

Really, the hedgehog is the bit you’re great at but the other three test it. If you can’t make money out of what you’re great at, if you don’t really care that much, and if your customers don’t believe in you and what you offer, then it isn’t a hedgehog.