Why Most Advice on what Ball Python Genes to Work with is Garbage

I often see threads or receive messages asking with what ball python genes a beginner should choose.  In forums, the most common answer given to this question is to simply choose the genes you enjoy and work with those. The reasoning typically given with this answer is that no matter what happens, you will produce snakes you enjoy looking at. Well, that is partially true, but I'm going to tell you why I would never suggest that route if your intentions are to make a profit. 

One of the problems with the above approach is that even when working with only your favorite genes, you still end up hatching out many snakes you may not want to work with. For example, I still hatch out normals as a byproduct of my intended genes or combos. I sure as hell don't want to work with normals as part of a business. Yes, they are still beautiful, and yes they are still animals, but a major point of most businesses is to make a profit, and it is very difficult to make a profit with these byproduct genes. So, even if you purchase your favorite genes, it's likely you are going to be hatching out genes you don't want to work with anyways. 

Let's get to the most important explanation. I'll start this off with an anecdote. I am currently building a new business and website, and in the process I was interviewing marketing companies. One marketing company I was speaking to mentioned to me that they also offer complimentary website design with the purchase of their higher tier package. They do this because they have built hundreds of websites in the past and they simply provide you with a dozen templates to choose from, based on their best previous work. They pick the templates not based on their designer's opinions of what looks best, not on how the customers rated the designs and functionality and not on any other inconsequential reasoning. They chose the templates to make available based on conversion rates. Simplistically, conversion rates are the rates at which visitors become customers. In other words, it does not matter what the owner of the company likes, it does not matter what the designers like, it only matters what the customers like. That is how this marketing company decided what website designs were best. One would be prudent to follow the advice of this company. 

For some reason many ball python breeders don't like to view the ball python business as a business. Perhaps this is because for almost everyone it started out as a hobby. I think, unless you want to continue breeding snakes as a hobby, you should stop treating your business as a hobby. So, your favorite gene is the Black Pastel? Well, get a pet Black Pastel and hold it every day, staring longingly into its eyes. But for heavens sake, don't produce Black Pastels and expect to make any money. After all, you are not breeding most of these snakes to keep for yourself. So, it doesn't matter what you think! Owning a business doesn't mean you're working for yourself. What it really means is that you are working directly for your customer. 

I've never heard a stock broker suggest to his client that he pick the stocks to buy based on what companies he likes. That would be ridiculous. You purchase companies based off of a system of performance, almost always included is profits or some alternative measure of profits, atleast in any fundamental approach. 

Now, before you go off saying Mike Freedman doesn't even like the snakes he breeds, let me tidy this up a bit. I slightly over exaggerated the above paragraphs to make a point. The great part about ball pythons is that most of the genes, atleast to me, are awesome looking. I bet most of you agree. So, by starting off your ball python breeding company by choosing trending genes doesn't mean you're going to be working with snakes you don't like or that aren't attractive. Afterall, they are trending or popular because they DO look awesome.

The other great thing about working with snakes is that we get to choose a bunch to work with, not just one snake. So, you can get 80% of the trending genes and 20% of the stuff you really love, despite the current state of the market. This way, you can make new combinations with your favorite genes that might really change how people see that gene. 

Finally, don't have a stigma when it comes to animals and money. There is nothing wrong with making money off of animals. Only when people put money before the health and happiness of the animal does it become a problem. Without money, you cannot convert your hobby into something that pays your bills. If you are not paying all of your bills with snake sales, you cannot breed snakes for a living.