Having a pet snake made us the most popular family in the neighbourhood - let me rephrase that - the most popular among the KIDS in the neighbourhood.
Our oldest son, Joey, not only loved all creatures but he could actually seek out, find (and capture) just about any living thing in the great outdoors.
It was like living with the Canadian version of the Croc Hunter!
When it came to getting a pet, allergies put the kibosh on bringing anything with fur into our house. So our reptile-loving boy chose a baby corn snake, the size of a pencil, as boy's best friend.
Slick the snake was a very docile, beautiful and fast growing creature who enjoyed squeezing the life out of dead mice and swallowing them whole at his infrequent meal times.
Slick was eating large mice and measured almost 4 feet long when Joey graduated from high school and ventured off to University. No snakes allowed in residence, unfortunately. So Slick became the family snake and we all pitched-in to keep him happy and fed.
I told people that Slick had never escaped his enclosure until one particular day, at feeding time, when that little varmint ruined our track record. That lazy Sunday morning we placed him in a high sided plastic bin, like we always did, and gave him some time to swallow his mousies. (he took his time)
Then we forgot about him.
The next time we looked in the bin, it was empty. Ooopsies.
I immediately rallied the troops and we started looking everywhere for our elusive pet. I mean, how far could he go on a full belly?
We looked and looked. When we had exhausted all the hiding places we could think of, my youngest son, Liam had an idea. He said “I’m going to think like a snake”.
He got down on the ground and started sliding around, looking at the world from Slick’s vantage point. It wasn’t long before he spotted a small hole the size of an average corn snake, under the counter, where our dishwasher met the cupboards - a hole we would never have noticed while standing up.
And sure enough, when we removed the face-plate from the machine, there was Slick, with a smug look on his face. (Getting him uncoiled and out of there is a story for another time.)
That rescue mission got me thinking about how changing your perspective - in your life and in business - can change everything.
When running your small business, are you looking at your product or service from the perspective of a snake, I mean, the perspective of your customer?
How often do you put your feet in their shoes, with empathy and take a good look at what’s keeping them up at night?
There’s one thing you can do to gain your customer’s perspective and a couple ways to do it. I don’t recommend getting on your hands and knees and crawling around on the kitchen floor - there’s a simpler way, I promise.
You could talk directly to your customers and the people in your target market or you could create a survey with key questions to really get the lay of the land, to find out how they see and what they feel.
It’s a great perspective to have and it can give you the insight you need to find your missing snake, or pivot your business to meet real needs in the marketplace.
Here are a few questions that you can ask - to get you started - to help you perfect your value proposition and differentiate your business from the competition.
Figure out what questions work for you and add to the list. But take the time, periodically, to ask your customers some of these questions so you can keep yourself, and your business, in check.
It’s your customer’s voice and perspective that can add real value as you work to increase your bottom line and create positive experiences.
And you don't have to lose a snake to gain that perspective!
Note: It's Joey in the picture but the snake is NOT actually Slick - it's about the same size but it's just another random large snake that Joey found in the woods and wanted to show us.
The Small Business Guide
Kim Houlahan is a marketing consultant who loves helping small business owners connect with their ideal customers.
Small Business Guide ~ Archives
6 Things You Can Do Now
Perspective is (Almost) Everything
Are You Sensitive to Customer Needs?
Got a Process for That?
Don't Get Attached!
Aim DIRECTLY at your audience
Know When to Ask for Help
3 Things you Should Never Assume
Avoid the Wild Goose Chase
Where do you Draw the Line?
Give'em a Memorable Experience