Marketing & Small Business

A Rattlesnake’s Guide to a More Fulfilling Business

September 8, 2021


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Article by Colette Nichol, Solo Filmmaker and Story Strategist

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

If you’re ready for a more fulfilling business this year, keep reading. But first a story.

I’m walking up our 500-meter driveway singing songs from Aladdin to keep the snakes at bay.

How to Have a Fulfilling Business
Want to know how to have a more fulfilling business? Keep reading!

(I’m twelve, so I don’t realize rattlesnake aren’t like bears, and can’t hear a damn thing.)


It’s the middle of summer. Dry grass fills the banks of the driveway. 

I can hear the distinctive warning of the Crotalus oreganus, and I’m not keen on running into one. I’ve heard one too many weird rattlesnake stories about farmers sucking the venom out of their arms after getting bitten or slaying these poor creatures with whatever implement was in their hand.

I’ve also found the delicate dusty skin of many a snake on the granite ridge above the vineyard. They shed their skin a few times a year. And each time they do, they gain another ring on their rattle. 

This rattle is one of the keys to their survival as it warns off other animals they don’t want to interact with. 

Rattlesnakes are introverts, FYI. But what can they teach us about being better at business?

As business owners, we need to be more like rattlesnakes. But instead of shedding our skin, we need to shed the parts of our businesses that we no longer need.

A couple of years ago, it hit me that I wasn’t going to be able to grow my business while continuing with the aspects of it that were draining. 

I have a strong vision for where I want to take Story Envelope. There’s a full-blown 20-year-plan. I even have a 50-year fantasy. What I was doing at the time was interesting, but it wasn’t going to bring me closer to that 20-year plan. 

So like the rattlesnakes I grew up with, it was time to shed some layers.

What do rattlesnakes have to teach us about having a fulfilling business? Turns out, there’s a lot!

As a birthday present to myself, I decided to stop designing websites for clients. The work had been intellectually rewarding, but there were parts of that side hustle that were time, energy, and money leaks.

It was still a tough decision—especially because I wasn’t financially stable at the time.

But it was hugely liberating. After giving my website design clients fair notice that I was closing that portion of my business, it freed up time to do the kind of high-level thinking that I hadn’t been able to do before. 

If I’d continued saying yes to the website work I’d been doing, I don’t think I would be where I am now. 

Entrepreneurs love talking about how businesses today have to be nimble. You can’t run a bloated operation with layers of slow-moving management and teams that take years to bring a product to market. Well, you can, but it’s unlikely to thrive in today’s continually morphing business environment

One of the best questions to help you stay nimble as a mini business owner is this: 

Fulfilling Business Top Question: What does my business no longer need?

Maybe there’s a product or service that isn’t worth offering.

It used to be a big seller, but now it’s just taking up time and energy. Perhaps there’s a platform you no longer need to be using. Maybe you started using Twitter, and now you realize it’s not an economic engine and wastes your time. Or maybe you’re still offering a service that doesn’t align with your big vision. It could even be a business practice that is no longer valid—like discounting your services or undercharging.

A few years ago, I was coaching an artist who wanted to boost her online sales.

She was exhausted from creating one particular product that was highly popular. But it was hard work making the product and shipping it was a pain in the tush. So we decided to launch a goodbye sale for the product and take it off the market for a while. The goodbye sale produced a nice spike in revenue. 

And within a year, she felt excited about making this product again. 

The moral of the story? It pays to shed the layers of your business that aren’t working for you. And also, nothing is permanent. 

“ It pays to shed the layers of your business that aren’t working for you.”

You’re not a corporation with 5000 employees.

You can be nimble and you can take something off the market for six months and put it back on when the time is right. You can stop offering a service and bring it again if you want to.

A few years after I stopped doing website design, I took on a contract to overhaul the entire marketing and communication strategy for a private school. 

I knew that they needed a modern website.

I also knew that working with another designer would slow down the process way too much. So I just included website design in my pitch. Now my client has a responsive, high-functioning website. And I have a significant long-term client for whom I get to do challenging and fulfilling high-level work. Win-win.

In the moment, saying no to an income stream can feel deeply uncomfortable.

But remember, what you shed makes room for something even better. It’s nearly impossible to clearly see the next layer of opportunity when you’re stuck doing things you don’t enjoy.

So what does your business need to shed? 

If you’re into the idea of doing a full-on self-discovery journalling hour for your business, I’ve got more questions for you below.

Go get ‘em!

Have a Fulfilling Business with this Self-Discovery Deep Dive


  1. What business activities do you need to shed?
  2. What products or services annoy you way more than they should? Can you change them or get rid of them?
  3. Where in your business would you love to go deeper?
  4. What’s your creative zone of genius?
    —Is it writing, photography, video, public speaking, podcasting, drawing, design? Okay, now how much are you leveraging your talent? How much time do you spend creating content that you actually don’t enjoy making? Can you move into the area that you’re good at and away from the stuff that’s draining?
  5. What are you insanely good at? Can you do more of that?
  6. What comes really easy to you? Are you fully using that talent in your business?
  7. What do your customers really really want? Can you help them with that?
  8. Is there any way you can introduce greater leverage in your business? Would a new piece of software or an assistant or a new system or scalable product help you grow or save time and energy?
  9. Back to the beginning, is there anything in your business you can shed or shelve?

Learn Filmmaking and Get the Gear Guide

If you’re interested in learning filmmaking, check out the Solo Filmmaking Mentorship Program I created for aspiring filmmakers and video creators. It usually goes live once per year. So I recommend getting the Story Envelope Filmmaking letter which comes out a couple of times per month. That way, you can get filmmaking tips for free and find out when the filmmaking course is going live again.

Also, before you go, grab the Solo Filmmaking Gear Guide and Checklist for Beginners.

About the Author

Hi! I’m Colette Nichol. I’m a solo filmmaker and story strategist based out of rainy Vancouver, Canada. I’ve been making videos and micro films for small businesses and global brands since 2014.

Plus, I LOVE to help aspiring filmmakers pursue their dreams and start making films. This blog is designed to help you gain the knowledge you need to become a filmmaker.

If you want more, get on the waitlist for the Story Envelope Academy Solo Filmmaking Mentorship Program. It opens up one time per year and is the best way to become a filmmaking or video pro fast!

CLICK HERE to get on the solo filmmaking mentorship waitlist.

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