Swimming With Sharks: Why You Should Considering Partnering with Some Bigger (or smaller) Fish

When it comes to being a small business, it’s easy to feel like a tiny fish in a big pond. But like the small Pilot and Remora fish in the ocean, getting noticed by bigger fish can create a relationship that’s beneficial to both parties.

Let’s examine this relationship out in the wild.

The Oceanic Whitetip Shark, a common predator in tropical and subtropical waters, preys on wounded or sick animals since it is slower-moving. Despite it’s lack of speed, it is a worthy villain, typically measuring around ten feet, with the largest recorded Whitetip being thirteen feet long and 370 pounds.

Being able to smell one drop of blood diluted in millions of gallons of water makes them astute hunters, and natural carnivores for other ocean animals (and humans) to fear.

In fact, they have been named one of the “most dangerous” sharks because of their tendency to make lunch of shipwrecked and aircraft-wrecked passengers. During WWII, Whitetips were thought to have killed most of the 1,000 passengers of a sunken Nova Scotia steamship. Only 192 survived.

Nevertheless, to Pilot and Remora fish, Whitetips are considered the perfect partner.

While Remora fish use their suction cup-like heads to attach onto the Whitetip, Pilot fish swim alongside them like small dogs. Naturally, with a Whitetip for a buddy, Pilot and Remora fish have nothing to fear from other predators — sort of like being friends with the school bully.

But why would a Whitetip — one of the scariest animals of the open ocean — be friends with two shrimps (hypothetically speaking, of course — these are fish, not crustaceans)?

As it turns out, Whitetips like Remora and Pilot fish because they relieve it from parasites. Remora fish actually attach to the shark’s skin to remove parasites and other debris that are living there. Likewise, Pilot fish keep the water around the shark clean by eating its bodily waste and parasites.

Interesting enough, Whitetip sharks aren’t the only sharks using smaller fish as a cleaning crew. To breathe, sharks must always be in motion, but Lemon Sharks, for example, will slow down and stop their respiratory systems for up to 150 seconds so that cleaner fish can inspect their bodies, and even inside their mouths. Now that’s an impressive toothbrush!

With this kind of symbiosis happening in the wild, it’s no wonder small and large businesses are coming together to form bonds that are beneficial to both parties.

Small Businesses:

As a small business, you know that no matter how wonderful and unique your product might be, growing your company will likely take a long time.

One way to accelerate that process and gain rapid trust from your consumers is to establish a deal or partnership with a large company. Being able to put that stamp of approval from a bigger, more well-known company on your website is like saying to the world, “Trust me! I’m credible!”

Plus, if your shark is particularly invested in your company, they are likely to refer you to other sharks swimming in your waters.

An example of this is Green Tomato Cars, an environmentally-friendly minicab company. After achieving some good publicity at the launch of their business, James Murdoch from BskyB thought he’d give them a shot. Fortunately, his chauffeur had a lot of positive things to say about the company, and Murdoch was hooked. Green Tomato Cars was called into BskyB to present, and after that, were swamped with business from the staff there. Additionally, they were referred by BskyB to other clients and partners, allowing them to grow their business and become a bigger fish.

Big Businesses:

While it might be easy to write off the little guy, there’s no doubt that small businesses can work wonders for you.

In today’s market, small businesses move up much quicker than large ones, making their future potential as partners priceless. As startups, these smaller businesses are able to be more creative and daring, and usually more innovative. The benefits you will reap initially might be small, but later, who knows? You might just find yourself in cahoots with the biggest shark of all.

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