by Darrell Henley
I enjoy hunting. I’ve hunted throughout North America for deer, turkey, elk, moose, and bear. In order to have a chance of success on a new hunt, you need to learn about your hunting environment, converse with experts in the field, and then diligently plan ahead. Does this sound surprisingly similar to starting a new company?
Many similarities exist between beginning a new hunt and starting a new company. Often, there’s a steep learning curve for each. For example, hunting coastal black bear in Alaska is completely different than hunting moose in Maine. Different strategies are required for a given environment and a given goal.
The Benefits of Blending In
Over the last few years, camouflage has become fashionable. I use camouflage when hunting to allow me to get close to my prey. I can blend in with my surroundings. It keeps me off the animal’s radar. I’ve been using camouflage for decades, and not just for hunting.
Camouflage can be an equally valuable tool for entrepreneurs. There are times when you need to blend in (and, sometimes, you need to outright hide). Many new companies are instantly competing with companies that are bigger, better funded, and established. Drawing the attention of these bigger competitors can get you blocked, beaten, or squashed before you’re actually ready to compete.
Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs have large egos. Those egos compel them to yell their plans and ideas to the world. They brag about increased revenues publicly. They tell their competitors their ideas and plans, and then they’re surprised when their competitors adopt the same plans. If you don’t want to enter a race with your bigger, better funded, more established competitor to implement your ideas, then don’t give them the ideas. Wear your camouflage. Just as my prey underestimates me, you don’t want your competitors to zero in on you. Don’t be a threat. Surprise them!
They remain unaware of your progress and growth in a market. You can essentially camouflage your success until you simply become too big not to notice.
Taking the Shot
We’ve all read stories of hapless hunters shooting at a lion and then being killed by that same lion. Their shots aren’t kill shots. The lion is usually looking at them when they pull the trigger. Those unfortunate hunters underestimated the strength and determination of that majestic animal and, in a matter of seconds, paid for their mistake with their lives.
The same thing is true in business. You cannot underestimate your competitors. You’ve got to make your shot count because they’re not going to just give up. You may never get another shot, so it’s best if you wait to take your shot until your competitors are looking the other way.
Strategies that can help include:
- Knowing your markets: Just as successful hunters choose the timing for their shots based on an animal’s patterns of movement and feeding, you need to research what will and won’t work for your industry. Knowledge is power in the hunt.
- Assessing your competitors’ strengths: And weaknesses, hopefully. Through this evaluation, you can create a plan to identify your distinct traits and strengths in comparison. How will you win clients over? What sets your business apart? How are you better at what you do?
- Being proactive: A hunter doesn’t let his prey determine the outcome. You shouldn’t let competitors or market trends determine your course. Stay ahead of the game and use your resources to guide the market, rather than let it guide you. By implementing that perfect strategy at just the right time, you become the victor.
Good camouflage isn’t just for hunters. It’s a valuable tool that’s routinely used by successful entrepreneurs. Knowing when to blend in and when to attack can determine your success. Just as the tools of the hunt can help you land your prey, the tools of market analysis and effective planning can help you propel your company above the competition.
Darrell Henley is a serial entrepreneur with over 20 years’ worth of experience in starting and growing businesses in a variety of industries, such as Internet marketing and travel. Darrell is passionate about every company he decides to invest in, and he works closely with his various business partners to develop each company’s highest potential.