Is Your Business a Kite Builder or a Hamster?

Spherical Kite

Spherical Kite (Photo credit: Syntopia)

Last week, in a comment on my post How to Legally Steal Great Ideas,  Tom Bentley followed my suggestion to combine ideas and came up with “hamsters lecturing to an audience of kite builders.”

At first, I laughed.  Then, I thought about if for a minute and it gave me an idea.

So, Tom, this post is for you!

Spinning your wheels or growing a business?

Hamsters and kite builders would seem to have little in common with businesses.  But I think they can both teach something (at least metaphorically).

Hamsters are known for climbing into wheels and running in circles.  They expend quite a bit of energy too.  And all they do is go round and round and round. There’s plenty of activity, but not much forward progress.  They don’t look up or around much.  Just straight ahead, on the wheel, over and over again.

Signs you may be a hamster

If you’re a hamster business, you may be doing the same thing over and over just because that’s the way you’ve always done it.  You spend money traveling to a trade show, post updates to Facebook or Twitter, or do the same promotions every year.

Hamsters don’t test (they just run).  They also don’t check to see if they’re getting business from the trade show, or stop to change their strategies or product offerings.

Spending hours on social media without a particular purpose or strategy is like being a hamster. Just going round and round and round.

Hamsters do have one strong trait though.  They are persistent.  They’ll go on that wheel and keep going and going.  Use that persistence to your advantage.  Just don’t be as narrowly focused as the hamster.  Test new landing pages.  Try a different pitch at that trade show.  Listen to your current clients and find out if there are additional problems you can solve for them.

Signs you are a kite builder

Kite builders behave differently.  They have more “vision” than hamsters do.  They love new ideas and new designs.  They want bigger kites.  Or faster ones.  Or kites that are more complicated or difficult to fly.

Unlike hamsters, their actions are tempered with real-world testing, and lots of trial and error.  After all, if your kite design isn’t just right, you’ll find out pretty quickly when it crashes. They look up quite a bit (rather than concentrate just on what’s right in front of them).

Hamsters don’t have to worry too much about physics and structural engineering (unless they eat too much hamster chow and get too  big to run on the wheel).  A 900 foot kite may be a great idea, but it has too much drag to fly.  If a kite isn’t built solidly enough, a strong gust of wind can tear it to bits.

A kite builder’s downfall is focusing too much on the sky and not enough on that really big tree in the way.  It can be easy to get distracted by something bright and shiny…ooooh spherical!…and not see what’s right in front of you. Go for the big ideas, but watch out for that tree!

So, which are you?  Hamster or Kite Builder?


2 thoughts on “Is Your Business a Kite Builder or a Hamster?

  1. Thank you Tom. I’m honored.

    We’ll just keep mum about the likelihood that there are other posts about hamsters and kite-builders. Shhhhh.

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