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Are You Hunting Elephants or Chasing Mice?

Updated: Aug 7, 2023

How Hunting Elephants or Chasing Mice in Business Can Help You Achieve Your Goals


In business, there is often a trade-off between chasing small, quick wins (mice) and pursuing larger, more significant opportunities (elephants). Both approaches have their own advantages and disadvantages, and the key is to find the right balance between the two.


I can still recall when I first started to think about this exact question.


We began a scaffold rental business and decided that we would only focus on large (elephant)projects. Our first rental was providing the scaffolding and setting it up, for what was then, one of the largest construction projects in our city.


We didn't own a lot of scaffolding at the time and had to subrent from a competitor. They focused on smaller projects and customers (mice) Every time we would go to pick up more scaffolding, there would be a lineup of customers and a flury of their own delivery trucks, loading and unloading orders. They were not marketing, having to chase new jobs or competing on price but they still had a lineup of repeat customers renting from them every single day. That's when I knew that I was in the wrong business for hunting elephants and needed to start chasing nice.


When we started Cody Party, we knew from day one that we wanted to chase mice. When we started Better Software, we started off chasing mice (individual small business owners) and ended up hunting elephants (Franchisors) because it was more cost-effective. Chasing mice would have required a self-onboarding process and a massive amount of marketing spend. With Ruckify, we were laying the foundation with mice and just starting the transition to elephants like Bombardier, New Holland and Staples when I left the company. At Marketplace Studio, we are hunting elephants because we already have the marketplace credibility and it's a more efficient way to market. Bunking.com, is all about chasing mice until we build a strong community, and we can then look at elephants.


A few things that we always consider are as follows:


Chasing Mice:

  • Quick wins: Focusing on small, quick wins can help to keep cash flow steady and maintain momentum in the short term.

  • Low risk: Smaller opportunities tend to be less risky than larger ones, so chasing mice can help to minimize the risk of failure.

  • Limited potential: While chasing mice can help to keep the business going, it may not be sufficient to achieve significant growth in the long term.


Hunting Elephants:

  • High potential: Larger opportunities tend to have higher potential for growth and profitability, so hunting elephants can help to drive significant growth in the long term.

  • High risk: Larger opportunities also tend to be more risky than smaller ones, so hunting elephants can expose the business to greater risk of failure.

  • Long-term focus: Hunting elephants requires a long-term focus, longer sales cycles and a willingness to invest time and resources into pursuing larger opportunities.


It's important to find a balance between chasing mice and hunting elephants in business. Focusing too much on small, quick wins can lead to a lack of growth, while focusing exclusively on larger opportunities can leave the business exposed to high risk. A good strategy would be to chase mice in order to keep cash flow steady or build credabity, while also dedicating resources to hunting elephants for long-term growth.


Additionally, it's also important to consider the business environment, industry trends and your company's capabilities. For example, if the market is uncertain or highly competitive, it might be more appropriate to focus on quick wins. On the other hand, if the market is stable and you have a strong team, then focusing on larger opportunities might be a better strategy.


I’d say chasing mice and hunting elephants are both important strategies in business, and the key is to find the right balance between the two. It's important to keep cash flow steady by chasing small, quick wins, while also dedicating resources to pursuing larger opportunities for long-term growth. It's also important to consider the market and your company's capabilities before making a decision.


Happy Hunting

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