Business Advice

Finding your core function: What businesses can learn from bees

Matthew Elmas /

business lessons from bees

The humble honey bee might have some valuable business lessons to teach us.

Bees are great at making honey, that’s what they do. But there’s more to a successful hive than a great product, just as in the world of business.

As it turns out, there may be a few lessons business owners can learn from the humble honey bee.

That’s according to entrepreneur and consultant Mike Michalowicz, who has penned a blog post about how hive culture helps bees achieve rapid growth.

Being a bee isn’t easy. Hives are fragile and require a delicate balance of temperature control and access to food in order to thrive.

Adverse weather, predators and disease can destroy colonies outright, making working effectively, and efficiently, crucial.

As Michalowicz explained, bees have a simple, yet surprisingly effective, organisational structure to drive success.

“Each bee in the colony knows it needs to do just two things, in the same order, every time. First, each bee must ensure that the queen bee is protected … then, and only then, the bees go do their primary job [producing food],” he wrote.

Queen bees themselves are unimportant, Michalowicz posits, but the role they serve — the queen bee role (QBR) — is crucial.

How can this help business leaders? Well, as Michalowicz explained, every business needs a QBR. It is a core function so central to survival that it must be satisfied before anything else.

Michalowicz pointed to one of his clients, Cyndi, who found themselves drowning in the workload of a fast-growing business, as an example.

After some discussion, Michzlowicz client decided communication with clients was her businesses’ QBR — delivery clarity, focus and, of course, increased revenue.

“Just as laying eggs is the QBR for bee colonies, proactively communicating with clients is the QBR Cyndi identified for her company. What single action does your business hinge its success on? That’s your QBR,” Michalowicz wrote.

After realising she was spending only 5% of her time communicating with clients, Cyndi began delegating tasks outside of her QBR, sustainably growing her business without losing control of its most vital function.

“I can’t believe it,” she said, “we are growing faster than ever, and the business is running smoothly.”

READ MORE: “Show me the honey!” How being found by bees, inspired this GPS-enabled, thief-proof, beetle-trapping hive

READ MORE: Aussie supplier stung with $30,000 fine for honey not made from bees

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Matthew Elmas

Matthew is the news editor at SmartCompany.

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