Sunday, October 19, 2014

Circle of Life: 12 small business tips from Simba’s childhood.

Just the other day my kid’s were watching The Lion King. Even though it was made more than a decade before my oldest child was born it is still an awesome story with some great lessons for life and, as it turns out, business.

First, Presentation. If you want the masses to come, you have to build a brand that catches the eye and holds it. 

Did Rafiki leave Simba in the neo-natal cart and let the animals shuffle by? Heck no! He thrust him into the air, atop pride rock with light streaming down from the heavens and the animals rejoiced!

 People are bombarded by thousands of images and brands each day, is your brand attention getting enough to inspire the masses to travel across the Serengeti in order to buy your product?

Second, “Life’s not fair.” Scar laments about being number two. The lesson here is you won’t beat the Number One’s, the Walmarts, so don’t try. Be the best at what you are but don’t lament about “Rollback” because you don’t have the leveraging power. Find another way. Find your niche.

Third, “Everything exists in a delicate balance.” Mufasa reminds that resources are finite and their relationship is cyclical. The wife buys a latte on the way to the antique shop, while the husband is at the lake fishing. Just like the lion relies on the gazelle, each business relies on others in a small community.

Fourth, the morning report. It is important to keep abreast of the situation and remain a part of the community. You must keep your finger on the pulse of the ever-changing market.

Fifth, define your territory. Know the limits of your business. Find your niche and exploit it. Know where to go and where no to go, avoid the elephant graveyards.

Sixth, beware of hyenas in the Pride Land. We all recognize the Walmart impact on small business. But what about the hyenas, the Dollar General’s, that insidiously affect communities in the same way.

Seventh, the lure of the Elephant Graveyard. Beware of the ever-present lure of attempting to move beyond your niche, your expertise. Know your niche and be the best.

Eighth, bring a friend. The opposite of competing with the Walmarts is cooperating with local business. Be symbiotic. Partner in promotions and sales. If you can’t deliver on the customer’s request, suggest the neighbor than can.

Ninth, “Free to do it all my way….” The great thing about entrepreneurship is that you drive the innovation and brand marketing. If you “just can’t wait to be king,” then remember why you struck out on your own: Freedom and hard work.

Tenth, don’t get distracted. Zazu loses the cubs because he becomes distracted by the song and dance at the watering hole. Stay focused, remember your brand, your niche.  Don’t get caught up in the latest flash unless it helps you tell your story and sell your brand.

Penultimately,  fight for what is yours. If you find yourself in the elephant graveyard and surrounded by hyenas – fight your way back to the pride land. Don’t be afraid to call on friend for help.

Lastly, honor the past. Mufasa and Simba are sharing a moment under the stars and Simba is learning the lesson of his heritage.  The greatest strength of a small community is the shared experience of the past that brings people together in a common cause. Use that experience and cause to bolster your brand and reinforce your niche. 

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