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Business Insights from Andrea Hill

When a food supply dwindles, birds don't sit around waiting for it to reappear. They move on - quickly - in search of a new food source.

Are You an Opportunistic Feeder?

18 January 2014

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I enjoy bird watching. We have created a bird sanctuary of sorts on our land in Wisconsin, and we pay attention to how to attract a variety of birds and how to keep them healthy.

Business Lessons from Birds

One of the things we learned early on is that birds are opportunistic feeders. We were constantly worried that we would fail to provide enough food or put out the wrong food, and that as a result our little friends would suffer. But that is not what happens. When a food supply dwindles, birds don't sit around waiting for it to reappear. They move on - quickly - in search of a new food source.

Your customers are also opportunistic feeders. If you fail to attend to the reasons they do business with you, they will move along quickly in search of another source.

We also learned that we could attract the kinds of birds we wanted to observe by putting out the right types of food in the right places. We studied and planned, because we love being surrounded by colorful birds, playful birds, and song birds. By defining the birds we wanted to attract and then studying their preferences, we created an environment that delivers birdwatching pleasure every day.

You must also define the specific customer you wish to attract. If you don't, the results will not please you. Early on we attracted too many sparrows - which annoy the birds we wanted to attract - and raptors, which ate them. Bad planning or no planning can have miserable consequences.

Finally, remember that birds are evolved from some of the oldest species on our planet. They clearly have staying power. This is due to many factors, but being opportunistic feeders is one of their strengths. Opportunistic means more than just taking advantage of opportunities as they present themselves. It also means being on the constant lookout for opportunities. When food sources dry up, birds waste no time feeling sorry for themselves. Because even when times are good and food is bountiful, they scout for other nearby food sources constantly.

Apparently, success is for the birds. Let's learn from them.