I'm sure that some of you read the title and thought that possibly Gerber has finally lost it but in reality, the title is here to inspire you. You see, about 90% of you readers saw "chicken trucks" and thought of some 18-wheeler hauling a load of chickens to their doom.
Not at all!
Chicken trucks are about opportunity.
See, a Chicken Truck is not, contrary to popular opinion, a truck that hauls chicken, it was a truck that was created to grow business - and there is the lesson for you, Dear Reader. Seeing opportunity and then taking the steps to seize it.
In the 1960s, there just so happened to be a series of taxes and tariffs placed on certain imports and signed into law by President Johnson. The catalyst for this was actually due to America exporting inexpensive chicken to Europe and being slapped with tariffs, so the U.S. slapped back. The end result is a law still on the books today that essentially places a tariff of 25% on any light duty truck imported into America.
And yes, it's called the Chicken Tax and the companies that successfully dodge the tariff are said to build "Chicken Trucks."
Now, about the time that I really began helping to fix broken businesses in earnest, the late seventies and the early eighties, Toyota, Nissan, and Subaru knew and understood that America is the world market for trucks and all had determined how to import trucks without paying the tax. In some cases, they imported just the cab and chassis and completed building the truck in the United States, in others, like Subaru's Brat - a truly bizarre vehicle that was wildly popular in the late seventies - they labeled it a passenger car by placing functional seats and seatbelts in the truck bed.
In every case, the vehicles sold like hot cakes and helped to increase the perception in America that smaller, fuel efficient trucks had a place at the table with American buyers.
What makes this noteworthy for you, as an entrepreneur and small business owner is that as you build and grow your own business, understanding the market and the opportunity that an emerging market can offer you can completely change how you're able to do business. In a modern component of the Chicken Tax, many of those Japanese manufacturers moved the entire production to America while others have partnered to complete the construction of the vehicle here in the States.
It's ironic, too, to see how the pickup truck, once relegated to work and hauling duty, has become the most expensive vehicle on the car lot. Sure, that is the result of changing tastes in America, but it is also the logical result of a series of decisions made by manufacturers and designers that understood not only how the truck fulfilled a utilitarian role, but could easily be built more luxuriously.
What does it mean to you? In short, where there is a need, there is a way to fill that need. I've discussed many times over the years that no single individual decided in 1980 that we, collectively, needed the internet and email, but men like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates understood that better communication would have a tremendous effect on efficiency in business. They set about NOT to build one gadget or widget, but an entire technological base from which to market the technology they were developing.
What is the chicken truck you're building? Who's to say? It begins with the Dream, Vision, Purpose, and Mission and your own desire not to create a carbon copy of what others have done, but to solve the real problems that your clients need solved. When you decide to begin dreaming and building your business not for yourself but for others you are able to see how you truly can create something of value.