Are you hunting field mice or antelope?

- February 24, 2014 2 MIN READ

Is it time to stop letting small opportunities distract you from big ones? Here’s why your target market is not ‘everyone’.

The lion, the field mice and the antelope

A while back I was lucky enough to hear business guru Tim Ferriss talk about some of the guiding principles he credits with helping him become a mega-successful author and entrepreneur. (If you’re not already familiar with it, it’s worth checking out his book The 4-hour workweek, which folk on the Flying Solo forum often cite as one of their all time favourite business books).

A few months down the track, quite a few of his ideas continue to resonate with me. One of my favourites is the story of the lion, the field mice and the antelope, originally attributed to US politician Newt Gingrich.

As you know, the lion is the king of the jungle. His typical day involves lying around a lot basking in his regal glory and basically exuding power. Tough life, huh?

Mice aren’t nice

While all this is going on, numerous field mice scurry about in his vicinity. Any time he wants to, the lion could reach out with one of his mighty paws, swoop up a field mouse and help himself to a tasty snack.

But why would he bother? It turns out that for a lion, the energy involved in catching a field mouse is greater than the number of calories gained from eating it. It’s literally not worth his while to give the pesky little rascals even a morsel of his attention. In fact, a lion could chase and eat field mice all day, and end up worse off than when he got out of bed.

And in any case, while it may look as though all a lion does is loll about, what he’s actually doing is strategising and preparing to pounce on his next antelope.

Sure, catching antelope involves a bit more hard work than catching field mice. After all, they’re pretty speedy. Our lion might even break into a sweat. But the rewards are spectacular in comparison to field mice – a single antelope can feed a lion and his family for days.

Focus on what feeds you

The reality is that as a soloist, you’ll never be able to seize every single opportunity that comes your way. Trying to do so will consume more energy than it produces and will only distract you from bigger, more sustaining opportunities.

Furthermore, if you don’t allow yourself the time and space to step back now and then to strategise about your target market, you won’t be alert and ready to spring into action when your own personal antelope saunters by.

How does this sit with you? Are you targeting field mice or antelope, and do you have any tips to help you maintain your target market focus?