What Tigers and Wolves Can Teach Us About Business

Updated: Dec 14, 2019

The business-world is a wild place inhabited by different kinds of people. What works for a more one person, mightn’t work as well for another one. A metaphorical look at marketing and building a company.


Photo: Mitul Grover

If you’ve observed the universe of businesses for a while, you might’ve noticed different kinds of founders: The more aggressive salesperson who is constantly on their phone gathering deals and partnerships – and the modest but well-prepared marketer who will try to figure out exactly who their potential customer-base is and sell their product in a very tailored, yet effective way.


These kinds of behaviours can analogically be found in the animal stories about tigers and wolves we used to read about as a child. While the lone tiger will prepare his attack very carefully, wolves will separate their potential victim from their group at the first chance they get. Both ways of hunting are effective – but in different ways.


🧭 Tigers and wolves – different strategies

Flipping these behaviours to the business side of things, tigers could metaphorically be seen as the more thoughtful group of business-makers – whereas wolves symbolize the outgoing businesswoman (or -man) we all picture in our head when we think about the typical salesperson. Both types of personalities can be successful in today’s world. Yet a lot of people’s perception still seems to be dominated by the thought that only one of those personalities can succeed. 


Though, what are we even talking about here? Let's borrow some definitions about introversion and extroversion from Susan Cain, the author of the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking here. She generally divides people more introverted people who charge their energy while spending time on their own and more extroverted people thrive among other people – thus the two generally have different thought patterns. But surely, we can't think black and white here. Every personality is different. Though, it's very likely that some founders tend to be better at planning and thinking through processes while others can pull off presentation after presentation without getting drained.


In order to become successful, you need to use your unique strengths correctly.

Each person has a unique set of skills and strengths – just like tigers and wolves do. And in order to become successful, you need to use your unique strengths correctly – again, just like tigers and wolves do. Sylvia Loehken outlines this very well in her book Quiet Impact. Her approach to building a business is quite comparable to becoming successful in the animal world.


🏔 1. Establish a territory

Predators like tigers and wolves live in a wide variety of different environments ranging from forests, plains and tundras up to cold mountains. They tend to travel far distances to find a suitable territory which isn’t occupied by another tiger. Once they find it, they mark it by strategically leaving their scent – and afterwards, they’ll stroll around like kings figuring out who the other inhabitants of the area are. 


Everyone needs a home – be it in the business- or in the animal-world. Photo: Tahoe

When building a business, you basically do the same thing. At first, you need to look for a suitable niche. You research, build partnerships, figure out who your competitors are and most importantly learn about your potential customers. You'll want to know where they live, where they hang out and what their needs and problems are. Based on this information you can create a business plan which contains the vision of the whole business.


🗽 2. Market your establishment

Similar to tigers and wolves defending their area from fellow predators, businesses defend their position in their niche. And in order to defend and even expand it, they try to become well-known. Nowadays, becoming well-known is mainly done by marketing which, in a lot of cases, can be a huge source of stress. Especially when the business is barely on its feet. 


Regardless, it's necessary to sell yourself – at best from the early stages on. For founders who don't immediately want to start throwing their business-idea into people's faces, Loehken recommends starting marketing in one's immediate circle of business partners and colleagues. Often, they might already know a particular field and help with spreading your word, Loehken argues.


📣 3. Practice and fine-tune your scream

Standing out in the noisy world we live in today is hard. Therefore, if a chance to pitch your business comes along, you gotta be prepared. Loehken recommends to “practice your scream” for when you need it. And by "scream", she means a small pitch or explanation of your business for a potential client or investor. 


Everyone has different strategies for getting messages out to the world. So do what you’re best at. 

Another recommendable aspect is choosing the right marketing method for your person and business. Different business-makers are good at different forms of marketing. A more modest founder might be able to create incredible blog- and social media-posts but not feel as comfortable attending five networking-events a week – while exactly that might be what a more outgoing founder loves. You'll need to find your way of communication. Everyone has different strategies for getting messages out to the world. So do what you’re best at. 


Nonetheless, you can’t neglect one side of the equation. You can’t only do social media posts and never attend networking events and vice-versa. Good marketing needs a combination of both – but with an emphasis on what you’re good at. Obviously, you can also just hire people who are good at the things you aren't. Then you'll solve this problem right away


🐅 3. Go for the kill

When a tiger spots a potential victim, he slowly sneaks towards it, hiding in the grass. He observes. And waits. Until the timing is just right and he jumps out of his hiding effectively killing his victim. Wolves approach their hunts a bit differently. Whereas they generally also attack out of the blue, they won’t do it as sneaky as tigers – they’ll come from an unexpected corner in groups, separating their victim from the rest of the group. In both cases, the predator gets what he wants.


A wolf won’t make a good tiger and a tiger won’t make a good wolf.

While this might be a bit of a far-fetched analogy for business, it’s still a worthy comparison. Selling products and services is an art. And while one founder might just grab is phone and talk to person after person for hours, another one will particularly specify their target group and sell their product as precisely as possible. Both approaches work. But you need to figure out what you’re good at. A wolf won’t make a good tiger and a tiger won’t make a good wolf.


📝 The takeaway

What this little analogy teaches us is to embrace what we can do best. Different paths lead to the same goal. Start doing and rest, the other side of the equation, will follow. During the process, you'll build up the other skills you need in order to be successful. Maybe, you'll even find your own, unique way of doing things.


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