Core competencies and focus: Beaver Begone vs. Exterminator Inc.

Is your business built around your bread and butter? These days, everyone wants to be bigger, stronger, faster, and everything to everyone. Is your business suffering because of that?

On the way back from the beach, we saw what looked to be a deceased hog in the back of a truck. Granted, we were in a relatively undeveloped NC town… we weren’t shocked… but a bit curious I guess.

As we drove closer to the truck, we realized that it was a gigantic beaver… I’m talking oompa-loompa sized beaver. As the truck pulled into the local Piggly Wiggly, we conversed about what a beaver has to do to deserve such a fate and also what kind of person parades around town with a giant beaver (TWSS)? Was he stopping at the local grocery store to get some spices to cook the beaver? Was it one of those it’s coming right for us kind of things?

I began to beat myself up over not capturing this epic moment on camera or video (no texting while driving folks) and we decided that this merited a U-turn.

Immediate left, swerve through gravel, dodge a shady guy on a bike, back in the game.

The unlucky beaver now sat in a Hardee’s parking lot while the victor chatted with a local. Evidently, Jalepeño Thickburgers are the trophy meal of choice. We sneak around to his truck… and capture this golden picture.

Beaver Begone

That is right my friends.  Phil makes a living killing beavers.  Write that down. This leads me to a bit of Strategy 101.

What is a core competence?

Obviously, we could search for the best definition… but I’ll take a stab. A core competence is a competitive and sustainable advantage that drives value. In dumb guy speak, a core competence is something you do or make better than others, for a long time, that people want.

  1. You have to be better at something.
  2. You have to be able to sustain that advantage for some reasonable amount of time.
  3. People have to want it and preferably pay for it.

Faster, cheaper, stronger, bigger, cooler, and even lighter can all be core competencies. Most companies only have one core competence… this means that most (successful) companies focus on what they do better than you. This is what I like to refer to as focus. Yes, it is one of my favorite words. Yes, I use it a lot.

Focus is awesome.

Think about a relationship you’ve been in… you can’t do everything perfectly. I mean sure… you can cook a five star meal, belt out the newest John Legend track, arrange your own floral bouquet, dance like Michael Jackson, and identify every bird known to man, but odds are… he or she will remember one key thing about you. He’s nice. He gave me his jacket. He made me laugh. Or he tripped and fell and acted like he did it on purpose.

You have to focus on your strength(s).

Phil knows beavers.

I haven’t met Phil, but if I ever have a beaver problem… I’m calling Phil.

Sure, Exterminator Inc. can get rid of beavers, snakes, lions, tigers, and bears (oh my)… but if it is a beaver… I want the beaver guy.

Key Takeaway: We all wear multiple hats, but find your core competence and focus on it.


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