My blog aims to introduce business concepts that work in the business world to the blogging world so an article on the Hedgehog Concept fits perfectly with my blog’s message and the needs of my readers.
I was surprised a few years ago when I bought an internet marketing course (which will remain nameless!) which was essentially a series of videos from a conference aimed at internet marketers. I watched as they did a one hour session on the Hedgehog Concept and it appeared to be a totally new concept to the audience. I couldn’t believe that none of them had heard of it before!
If you’ve never heard of the Hedgehog Concept, then read through this article to get a feel for it, and then go and buy Good To Great by Jim Collins and learn more. It’s well worth it!
If you’ve never heard of Good To Great and Built To Last, they’re a series of books that are based on years of research of successful companies. The authors set out to determine what makes some companies perform substantially better than their peers over the long term. The Hedgehog Concept is one of the discoveries they made.
What is the Hedgehog Concept?
The concept is a way of developing your blogging (or business) strategy.
Jim Collins says it this way:
The essence of a Hedgehog Concept is to attain piercing clarity about how to produce the best long-term results, and then exercising the relentless discipline to say, “No thank you” to opportunities that fail the hedgehog test.
It looks at three concepts and how they mesh together:
- What are you passionate about?
- What can you be the best in the world at?
- What drives your economic engine?
It’s best demonstrated in a diagram like this:
There’s a place where these three circles intersect, and that’s the place you want to be.
Let’s go through each of the three questions and learn more about the Hedgehog Principle.
What are you passionate about?
For me, I love learning more about running successful businesses and passing that knowledge on to other people. I also enjoy playing guitar and I coach my son’s soccer team.
So I could blog about a number of things.
But what about you? Stop reading for a minute and write down the answer to this question:
What are you passionate about?
Now that you’ve done that, let’s move on to the next question.
What can you be the best in the world at?
This is where you begin to filter through your answers to the first question.
Whilst I love soccer and coaching my son’s team, I know I’ll never be the best in the world at it! But it is possible to break this passion down a bit and look at a niche within it. So I’ll never be as good as Sir Alex Ferguson or Arsene Wegner, but maybe I don’t need to compete in that niche. Perhaps there are opportunities to blog about coaching junior soccer teams or a particular age group?
When it comes to this blog, I knew right from the start that there were many blogs that aimed to teach others how to make money on the internet. It’s a saturated market! But within this market are many niches, and that’s the strategy I’ve chosen to take.
My niche is aimed at people who have blogs that are currently hobbies, but they’d like to turn them into successful businesses that provide sufficient income so the blog can support their chosen lifestyle. There’s a lot less competition in this market, and I’m well qualified to help people in this area.
So can I be the best in the world at it? That’s an aspirational goal and some people would feel that it’s only suitable for big companies to consider. The reality is that those big companies were once little companies who dreamed big.
So if the concept of ‘best in the world’ is a bit daunting for you, change it to ‘can I be recognised as an expert in this area?’ – it’s a bit simpler, but still serves the purpose.
Don’t underestimate the power of the niche! I’m working on an article about this, but differentiating your business is a great strategy to consider. And one of the best ways to differentiate is to find a niche and focus on it.
So again, stop what you’re doing, grab your notepad again and work through your list, looking a niches that you can be the best at.
Now it’s time to bring it together and move onto the third question in the Hedgehog Concept.
What drives your economic engine?
This question may not be relevant to you. If you only want to blog for the joy it brings you, and you have no desire to make money from it, then the answer here doesn’t matter. But if you want to make money from blogging, this question is very important.
Can you make money from it? That’s the question that needs to be answered.
The best thing about the internet is that it enables you to reach a huge amount of people globally. Are there enough bloggers in my hometown who want to turn their blog from a hobby into a business? I don’t think so. But I know that globally there are more than enough people who fit that criteria. So my blog ticks all three boxes. Yay!
This is a crucial question to answer. You need to be very clear about how you’ll make money from your blog.
And you need to be realistic about the answer. You must make sure that within your chosen niche there are enough people who are willing to buy whatever products you create that can help them. And, not only do you need to sell these products, but you need to make a profit in the process.
Go back to the Jim Collins quote I posted earlier – he talks about being able to say ‘no’ to things that fall outside the hedgehog concept. So in your business you need to sell products that are profitable and stay away from ones that are not (unless there’s a deliberate strategy there to up-sell those customers).
So, back to your pen and notepad and answer this question:
How will you make money from your chosen niche or idea?
How the Hedgehog Concept has helped me
I’ve used this blog as an example in this article to show you how I’ve applied the Hedgehog Concept to this business. But I’ve also applied it elsewhere.
Around 18 months ago I was thinking about this concept as I was engaging in one of my passions – playing guitar. It got me thinking about starting a blog on guitar playing. It’s something I’m passionate about, with my web marketing knowledge I’m sure I can become well known in the guitar blogging sphere, and I can make money from it. Note that I didn’t say I could be the best guitar player – that’s not the area I’m in. I do think I can become one of the best guitar bloggers – I’ve been playing for over 30 years, I can write and I know enough about internet marketing and social media to promote my blog.
So I’ve been working on a guitar blog. At the moment I’m just concentrating on adding content, but I’m also looking at product creation and promotion as a means to make money from it.
The point is, that playing guitar is something I love doing. If I could quit my job today, I’d happily sit at home in my home studio playing guitar and recording. I’m passionate about it.
- What are the things that you’re passionate about?
- Are you blogging about the right things, or do you need to stop doing things you’re not passionate about and change?
What do you think about the Hedgehog Concept? Please leave a comment below and let me know if Jim Collins’ Hedgehog Concept is something you can use as part of your blog strategy.
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