How Raccoons Helped Me Make Better Business Decisions

Raccoons are a constant nuisance where I live. We couldn’t go a day without cleaning up the mess they make knocking over our garbage cans and rummaging through them for scraps of food. I don’t blame the creatures; they’re just doing what comes natural.

In my months-long battle to secure our garbage cans (and avoid the daily cleanup), I learned lessons from their commitment and tenacity. I applied what I’ve learned from these creatures to my own business, and it’s changed my business for the better.


These little guys do not stop. Every night, they arrived on what seemed to be a predetermined schedule—between 2-3am to be exact. They weren’t even deterred by our barking dog, who would hear them rummaging.

I started thinking about my own business and how committed I actually was, versus how committed I thought I was. Could I learn something from these scavenging animals?

Problem Solving

It’s well known that raccoons are smart—so smart they thwarted almost all of my attempts at securing the lids of my garbage cans. I tried bungee cords, and they simply unhooked them. I tried a specialized bungee cord contraption with a locking clip, and they quickly learned to knock the can over. This helped them get better access to where the lid meets the top of the can, allowing them to pry it open and get inside.

The last thing I tried was building an enclosure for the cans themselves with (what I thought was) a heavy enough top with latches to keep them out. Nope. I watched late one night as they teamed up, turned the latches, and lifted the top together using teamwork!

This got me thinking about my business practices and the problems that need to be solved. Problems I encounter myself and with my clients. It’s frustrating when you come up against a seemingly insurmountable issue, but these little guys reminded me that there is almost always a solution, even though you might need to step outside your normal comfort zone to find the right answer.

When All Else Fails, Move On

I finally found the solution to my raccoon problem. I made a simple adjustment to my garbage can enclosure by adding actual locks to the latches. Duh! In retrospect, I should have added those locks right away, but I took a shortcut hoping that latches would be enough.

After several nights of unsuccessful attempts to open the lid again, the raccoons finally moved on. We’ve been free of strewn garbage every morning for weeks, although I’ve been informed by my neighbors that the raccoons are now exploring their garbage nightly. I was happy to show them my solution and offer them my crude hand-sketched building plans.

This is also what I’ve had to do for some of the business techniques I was utilizing. I tend to suffer from “shiny object syndrome” and like to explore the latest marketing trends (or fads) to see if they work. Part of this process left me with dozens of unused WordPress plugins and online accounts to various services.

It was getting messy so I made a concerted effort to delete all the software I wasn’t using and all my associated accounts. Like the raccoons, it took me some time to realize what wasn’t working and to move on, but my business is much more focused because of it.

Dear raccoons, thanks for the lessons, and I hope you find the garbage can jackpot once again.