It can be easy to say YES to everything when it comes to growing and running your business.  There are endless opportunities to pursue and most business owners try as many as they can.

It’s something I see often when working with my clients.  They start off all over the place, trying everything they possibly can to grow their business, while getting nowhere.  

Nothing gets done and they lose all focus and efficiency.

Avoiding this seemingly endless circle can be remedied by applying something known as the Hedgehog Concept.  This simple concept can help unlock incredible growth and opportunities.

A business owner looks to grow her business

So what exactly is the Hedgehog Concept?

Business consultant, researcher, and author, Jim Collins, talks about it in his book, “Good to Great”.  He applies this concept, based on an old Greek parable, to business.

The parable states:

“The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.”

The fox is smart.  He has the ability to try many things to reach his goal, which is to catch the hedgehog.  He tries each of these things in turn, but nothing helps.  He fails every time.  The hedgehog is able to avoid an undesirable end result.

The hedgehog survives because he does just one thing, and does that thing perfectly – protecting himself by curling into a ball. 

So how does this relate to business?  

Let’s compare two different businesses.  One focuses on many things at the same time, thinking that the more they do, the more likely they are to reach their goals.  The other focuses on just a single vision, a core strategy.

The first business ends up having too many things going on at once and loses their focus altogether, never reaching any of the goals they set for themselves.  The second however is able to slowly and steadily get where they want to be by staying focused on one thing and one thing only.

It’s not about being crafty and cunning.  It’s all about the art of simplicity.  The idea is that by simplifying the world around you and focusing on one vision, by being consistent with one idea, you can achieve greatness.

The process starts by focusing on the three circles.

The Three Circles

The Hedgehog Concept is broken down into three main concepts – passion, talent, and profitability.  You can help your business by asking yourself three questions:


What drives your economic engine?

A business needs to understand the need for sustained cash flow.  Think about what generates the most revenue.  Your long-term success comes from the products or services you share with others that earns you the most money.


What are you most passionate about?

When it comes to what you’re passionate about, it needs to be that thing that gets you up every morning.  It’s something that excites and motivates you beyond anything else.  


What do you and your organization do better than anyone else?

Surprisingly, what you’re best at may not be what you’re doing right now.  Even if you’ve been doing the same thing for years, it doesn’t make you the best.  This is not a situation where being “OK” at something is not the goal.  You need to think about your strengths and weaknesses to fully understand what you truly excel in – more than anyone else.  That may mean changing what your business does altogether in order to be successful.

Once you have answers to all three of these questions, find where they overlap.  That is your “sweet spot”.  Your organization’s Hedgehog Concept.  This central idea will help guide your overall strategy.

Making It Work For You

What makes the Hedgehog Concept work so well is it allows us to say “not right now” to anything that falls outside of our goals.  You’ll work better without all of the distractions.

It’s important to share this concept with everyone that works within your organization.  Be sure to involve all areas of your management team.  In fact, you may find that you need to completely revise your existing strategy to create a better focus that reflects your economic capabilities, passion, and true talent.

You will essentially create a mantra that states that everything you do within your business will fit within your Hedgehog Concept.  If it doesn’t fit, then you simply won’t do it.

What ends up happening is you become more self-aware, and that will guide the decisions you make each day in your business.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is it pays to be a hedgehog when it comes to your business.

Remember, consistency is key.  Don’t get down on yourself if you don’t get where you want to be right away.  This is a process, and like any process, it takes time.

Keep learning and growing!