Business in a cold economic climate: lessons from a squirrel

The winter landscape provides a fitting metaphor for the somewhat bleak economic climate in which we find ourselves. At a first glance, there’s no growth and everything seems to be dead or dying off.

So what should we do? Well, whilst no one can deny that times are hard, I’m getting a bit bored of people whinging about the whole sorry scenario, and I think we can take some lessons from nature itself (as outlined in my most recent Youtube clip at and also from the humble squirrel. Yes, really. The squirrel.


Squirrel lesson number 1 – put something by

Now, there’s an element of uselessness in this point: if you’ve not already put something by and prepared for the winter, it’s probably a little bit late to start thinking about it now. That said, it’s better to do something than nothing.

Squirrels are harvesting nuts and stashing their spoils at every possible opportunity right up until the last minute. Even during the winter, if they find something, they’ll not eat it all at once; they’ll keep a bit for later.

What resources can you call upon in this economic winter? What have you or can you put by?

Squirrel lesson number 2 – don’t hibernate

Stay awake and keep moving. Squirrels don’t hibernate … and nor should we. Tempting though it might be to sit tight and wait for the government / banks / local authorities / lotto to come to our rescue, it’s a dangerous strategy, and if we’re completely reliant on these outside forces we might well go to sleep and never wake up.

There’s life out there, we just need to go and find it – like the squirrel.

Which markets seem to survive the economic storm? Where are the evergreens? What about those markets that you didn’t bother with before because times were good and you didn’t have to … is it worth re-evaluating them now?


Squirrel lesson number 3 – learn new skills to get to the best rewards

Squirrels are relentless. They don’t sit around wondering where all the food has gone, they go out and look for it. Sometimes that food is exactly where they left it (just as well they put something by in the first place).

Sometimes,  though, they have to go beyond their natural territory to find the best food. Moreover, they have to be prepared to work it out and develop some new and surprising skills in order to get to the best rewards (nutrient-rich hazelnuts), as evidenced by these astonishing clips …

So the question is, in economic and business terms, not necessarily about how cold it is and how scarce the resources… but what are you prepared to do to go out and get what’s still there?

Don’t lie down and hibernate.  Be opportunistic, and forage effectively.


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