Are you focusing on your Queen Bee Role?


There are all kinds of inspirations out there.  Just ask author, speaker and business growth expert Mike Michalowicz.  He’s been inspired by the process of growing giant pumpkins (The Pumpkin Plan), dinner plates and dieting (Profit First) and how bees are able to quickly scale their hives (his latest book – Clockwork).

It’s that latest one that I’ve found to be really interesting (although the other books are great as well).  The gist of the idea came from Michalowicz listening to an NPR interview of a bee keeper who explained that bees are able to quickly scale their hives because every one of the bees focuses on protecting the queen (and her ability to lay eggs) above anything else they might do.  That leaves the queen bee with all of the possible resources she needs to lay lots of healthy eggs – thus ensuring the rapid, healthy growth of the hive.


Wait… how does that apply to business?

The transition of bee behavior to business wisdom is actually pretty direct.  Just like the hive prospers because they’re maximizing their MOST important activity, a small business will see growth if they successfully focus more of their time on the one thing that makes them stand out.

And note – we’re talking about an activity, not an individual.  If that particular queen doesn’t fulfill the role (laying eggs), the hive will get another one.  And in business, the activity can (and ultimately should) be performed by many people.

Of course this assumes that there is a Queen Bee Role (QBR) in your business and that you can figure out what it is.  Michalowicz defines the QBR as the core function in your business that your success hinges on.  If your business was a football team, your QBR is the ability to move the ball down the field.  So great teams do everything they can to protect and build that ability, even at the expense of other parts of the game. (shout out to the 2018 Chiefs…!).  😉


Some examples…

Michalowicz shares a few different examples that might help you wrap your head around the idea.  The first one is an accounting firm where the QBR is proactive communication with clients to make sure they understand and feel good about their financial situations.  When that happens, clients are happy to pay on time and they generate referrals – which leads to a successful and growing business.

Another example is the Savannah Bananas – a minor league baseball team whose top priority / QBR is generating new, fresh entertainment for the fans.  The more fun the fans have, the happier they are, the more likely they are to tell their friends and come back.  The franchise prospers.

The last example is an urgent care emergency room.  An effective ER will focus on the quick diagnosis and treatment of patient issues by the doctors.  If everyone in the facility protects the doctors’ time to make that happen – the ER is going to perform well.

Really successful businesses understand what makes them stand out and they proactively make sure they are doing everything they can to do more of that thing.  Average businesses might do some of the right thing some of the time, but they’re not doing it on purpose and they don’t do it enough to make a difference.  Think about a restaurant that only sometimes creates a great experience but it often just average – that’s a restaurant that’s going to struggle to get new customers.


How do you find your QBR?

For some businesses, understanding your QBR might be easy.  It’s the secret sauce that the owner brought to the table and has built the business on.  If you already know what your secret ingredient is – then your focus needs to be on figuring out how to do more of it – and if you’re the owner, how to get others to do it instead of you.

If it’s not so obvious, the author recommends backing into your answer by doing an exercise with your team (or by yourself if you’re a solopreneur).  Have everyone write down on post-it notes the top 6 activities that they do for the business.

Out of those top 6 activities – cut out 1/2 of them that are the least important to the long term success out of your business.  That leaves each person with 3.  Rank those 3 and drop the least important… that leaves you with 2.  From there it’s pretty much a subjective exercise to figure out what your Primary Activity is – which of those 2 activities really drives the bus for your business (or at least for that job or person).

Once everyone has a primary activity – then repeat the exercise as a group and narrow all of those primary activities down to the 1 most important role in your business.  If you’re struggling with figuring it out, – it tends to be something the owner or the highest paid employee does.


Are you protecting your QBR?

Once you’ve got a pretty good idea of what your secret sauce is, the question to ask yourself and your team is whether or not you’re doing the absolute best job of protecting and nourishing that activity.  If you’re the owner and you are the one person that does that work – have you cleared out your schedule and your responsibilities so that you’re spending most of your time performing that role?  Or does it tend to drop off when things get crazy busy?

Would doing more of your most important thing drive more business in your world? If the concept is right – the answer is yes.

I’m not completely convinced that this model applies to every business.  But it does seem to apply to a lot of them – and it certainly explains why a lot of business owners struggle as their business grows.  They lose focus and the time to do their most important thing… and the business pays for it.

What do you think?  Does this idea make sense to you? Have you read Clockwork?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Shawn Kinkade   Kansas City Business Coach