My Hedgehog Concept

Do you ever notice how you appreciate a gift just a little bit less than if you bought the same thing yourself? If someone gives you a book it might sit on your shelf for a year before you crack it open.

Curtis McHale gave me a copy of Good to Great and it took me a while to get started. I'm only 1/2 way through and it's awesome. I'm kicking myself for not getting started earlier. The book is about the strategies companies use to become great. There are too many strategies to talk about in this post (go read Curtis' review for that) so I'm going to highlight my favorite one, The Hedgehog Concept.

The HedgeHog Concept

Imagine you're given the choice to either be a fox or a hedgehog. Which would you choose?

Foxes are crafty, sly, & fast while hedgehogs are simple and maybe even a bit boring. The fox may think of dozens of ways to try to trick the hedgehog but in the end the hedgehog can always curl up into a little ball surrounded by spikes. Eventually the fox leaves to find other prey and the hedgehog continues on his merry way.

The author, Jim Collins, argues that the leaders of great companies are hedgehogs. They take a complex world and simplify it down to it's most basic components. Once you figure out what you're good at (turning into a ball of spikes to protect yourself) do it over and over and over again until you win. Constantly analyzing a complex world to come up with crafty solutions to catch a hedgehog is draining. It's better to find your hedgehog concept and own it.

How To Find Your Hedgehog Concept

You can't just find any old idea and expect that to transform your business. You have to pick the right idea. There are three important parts to pick a good hedgehog idea:

  1. What can you be the best at?
  2. How can you make money?
  3. What are you passionate about?

When you find what's in the center of these three ideas and you keep working at it you'll find your hedgehog concept.

My Hedgehog Idea

What I can be the best at:

  • Developing plugins for WordPress
  • Writing books on setting up websites
  • Writing articles about useful resources for building sites
  • Helping people setup their own site

How I can make money:

  • Developing plugins for WordPress

What I'm passionate about:

  • Developing plugins for WordPress
  • Writing books on setting up websites
  • Writing articles about useful resources for building sites
  • Speaking about setting up your own website
  • Creating video courses to setup your website

Passion + Money + Expertise

You'll see that I highlighted developing plugins for WordPress in each of the three categories. That means that if I really wanted to maximize my side business I should focus exclusively on building plugins. It doesn't mean I can't refocus later or occasionally experiment outside of that market. But I should focus on building plugins.

Passion + Expertise

Thanks to blogging for the last couple of years I'm decent at technical writing. That means I could write books, or do affiliate marketing on my blog. I actually tried both in the past year and didn't have amazing results. With affiliate marketing I made almost no money and writing a book is agonizingly slow. I've spent the past 5 months writing the book with at least another month in front of me. In that time I could have built plugins that make 10x the revenue I will be generating from this book.

It's not that affiliate marketing and writing a book won't make any money it's that I can write a plugin that makes as much money as the book in 1/10th of the time.

Passion

I love public speaking. I'm still not amazing but I'm working on it. It's something I can continue to explore and who knows maybe I'll be an amazing speaker that can charge $10,000 per conference. I'm leveling up my skill but the effort I'm putting into it is personal rather than professional. From a business perspective it isn't worth the time investment.

I love the idea of doing a video course on setting up a website but I haven't tried it out yet.

Expertise

In my 2013 review I had two client jobs and they went OK. I'm good at getting the job done but I don't enjoy the process. I love helping people but the whole deal negotiation process is something I don't enjoy. I know that are people that have hacked the negotiation process like Curtis and Daniel but I haven't learned that skill and that kills any motivation to get into that field.

What I'm Going to Do With My Hedgehog Idea

If I were a business I would put my head down and start cranking out plugins.

but

I'm not a business. I love exploring business ideas on my blog and in my free time but the keyword is free time. In my free time passion rules all. I'm going to keep trying different things in that list even if they don't make money or even if I don't do the best job.

I love this hedgehog concept. In the end it's all about focus. You have to find spend the time and energy to focus on something and then don't take your eye off of it until you knock it out of the park. I'd rather be the hedgehog that is productive everyday rather than the fox that's constantly trying to outwit the hedgehog.

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