A Swallow Disaster

By Steve Michaels

Living in the country in Montana affords me the opportunity to not only see and feel the changes in seasons, but also to see the diversification in wildlife that each season brings. Spring is one of my favorites because of all the different species of birds that flock to our small valley. We put out bluebird houses and although we see a few bluebirds, the houses are usually overtaken by the barn and tree swallows. It is interesting; one day there are flies buzzing around the house and barn then the next day they are gone, a sure sign that the swallows have arrived and spring has come.

Every year, I take the houses down and inspect them. This year as I was putting one back up, there was several pairs of swallows surveying the area ready to move in. In fact, I was not gone for more than thirty seconds when the bickering started. The fights over the birdhouse start with trying to get control of the house. There is dive-bombing with near-miss encounters, swoops, and other aerial acrobatics that would boggle the mind. This is a serious battle in the bird kingdom.

In this particular instance, two males actually locked beaks and dropped to the ground. They thrashed around trying to get on top of one another to gain control. The fight lasted a good two minutes with both birds unaware of their surroundings. But impending danger was near when our barn cat spotted the commotion from a nearby clump of bushes. With the stealth and speed of a wild predator, the cat sped over to the fighting birds and within a split second, both birds were history. This was just another saga of life, death, and survival of the fittest here on the ranch.

You may say to yourself that this is heartless and cruel but when it comes to wildlife and nature, that is the way of life. The cat saw an opportunity for an early morning meal and his instincts took over.

Look at your company. You have fellow competitors who are vying for the same clients that are in your market area. There may be a large hospital complex or an important account that you have had your eye on for some time. You call them, send them your business proposal, and may even “wine and dine” them to get their business. But sometimes when a business owner has their blinders on and focuses too much on winning, they become unaware of the many other competitors and choices the potential account has.

The lesson to be learned from the swallows is to not be so attentive on winning an account that you are oblivious to other things that are going on around you. In the battle to win the account, you may lose the war. In the competitive spirit of two rivals, you have to remember that the account, unlike the birdhouse that is stationary, also has options and may in the end elect to forgo your service and get an internal voice mail system or keep their messaging in house. In the overall picture, keep all of your options open, be aware of your surroundings, and know that there is plenty to go around. There is more than one birdhouse or account out there and it is not worth losing sleep, worrying about, or dying over.

Steve Michaels and TAS Marketing have been serving the TAS industry in the mergers and acquisitions arena for over 23 years with over 220 businesses sold. His years of experience have widened his scope and experience in buying and selling businesses nationwide. He may be contacted at 800-369-6126, tas@tasmarketing.com, or visit www.tasmarketing.com.

[From Connection MagazineJuly/Aug 2002]

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