Mastering the Business Part of Business

Not long ago, I interviewed a man who owned some franchised ice cream shops. He had a great story: It turned out that he had been in business for 15 years and had gone from working in one of the shops during high school to managing it in college to eventually buying one and then owning five.

Upon speaking with him, it was obvious why he was successful. First, he loved his business and product; he believed in it. Second, he understood business – the hiring and firing, the managing and accounting, the whole ball of wax.

I asked him about another one of the franchise’s stores that had recently closed up down the road a bit. I was surprised it went out of business as it was in a great location and seemed busy all summer. “Sure, I know that store,” he told me. “The owners were stupid.”

I had grown accustomed to his directness and so I simply asked what he meant. He said:

“I got to know the husband and wife owners pretty well over the course of a year. Sure, they were busy all summer, but they knew nothing about budgeting. They didn’t realize that all businesses, but especially an ice cream shop, have cycles. They made money and spent money all summer and never saved for the winter. They had no budgets. So it’s no wonder they went out of business in less than two years. They didn’t know how to run a business.”

His comments reminded me that doing that passionate thing you love is only one part of your business. Most people who end up working in small business do so because they love the business and are interested in the industry. But by the same token, most usually have little formal business training – no MBAs, no business internships, nada. They work in, or own, a small business because of passion.

But passion doesn’t pay the bills.

For any small business to be successful over the long haul then, it must master the business part of business. That means becoming proficient in the legal aspects of business. It means using tools like the ones offered by my friends here at Concur Breeze that enable you to easily get a handle on expenses. It means becoming skillful at marketing, social media, advertising and all the rest.

While that all may sound rather exhausting, at least it won’t be boring. And you will live to sell an ice cream cone another day.

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