When I was young it was somewhat uncommon to see a Canadian goose in my neck of Indiana. I can recall one of my more colorful uncles going to great, mostly unsuccessful, lengths to get a pair of geese to nest on the ponds of his property. It was a real treat for a central Indiana Hoosier to witness “wild” geese coming in for a landing. Very cool.
Today, central Indiana Hoosiers are not so excited to see these beautiful birds. They have become domesticated. They live around subdivision retention ponds waiting to be fed. Some of them have forgotten how to migrate. Some of them are so foolhardy that they won’t even move out of the way for an oncoming car.
So how did something so novel become a nuisance?
1. They stayed too long in the same place.
2. They became too comfortable with their surroundings.
3. They became content with the amount of food they were given.
4. There were too many of them.
5. They were all doing the same thing.
Businesses often times go the way of the wild goose. They find a pond that is comfortable and they forget to move on. It is very tempting for us to rely on too much of a good thing. We find that really great customer and move in for the long haul. Why shouldn’t we? Creating mutually beneficial relationships is one of the cornerstones of business growth. It becomes risky when the relationship becomes the most significant aspect of your business plan. You find yourself dedicating most of your strategic thinking towards that relationship and not your own business. For a while this will be a pretty good deal for your customer. They will love having geese on their pond until they are inundated with geese.
Just don’t forget why they wanted you on their pond in the first place. You were different—full of new ideas, services, or products that made their business better. Your outside perspective was valued and well rewarded. You gained this knowledge by the experience you garnered outside of the relationship. You were exciting and wild.
So if most of the growth your company is experiencing is within one customer’s pond, don’t forget to explore new ones.
It’s easy to become boring, predictable, and lazy if you don’t take flight once in a while.