What is your business?

I wanted to thank everyone who answered the question “what is your business?”  And the responses covered a huge range of activities.

Everything but the specific answer I was looking for.  It was, just a little bit, a trick question.    Teaching, crafts, transport, engineering…all sorts of things came up.  What I wanted to see was whether a very specific perspective one of my teachers offered me makes sense.   I’m not SURE it makes sense, but this was the only way I could think of to test it.

So here goes: what if all those activities were NOT your business?  What if they were your craft, your art, your hobby, your charity, your “give-away” to the world, your mission, whatever.   What is the difference?  BUSINESS IS ABOUT MAKING MONEY.   If you aren’t making money, its not a business.   And when you focus closely, then the following statement is, if not “true,” incredibly useful: You are in the BUSINESS of marketing and selling your skill, craft, or expertise.

Try thinking of it this way:  The skill, craft, or expertise is the PRODUCT OR SERVICE you sell.  But your BUSINESS IS MARKETING AND SELLING THE THING, not the performance of the thing.

MacDonald’s is the most profitable food service company in the world.  Anyone think that’s true because of their quality?   No.  It is because of their MARKETING SYSTEM.   Does anyone think the best movies make the most money?  Hell no.  What makes money is movies that are easy to market, have pre-existing audiences (hence, sequels and remakes and comic book films), are easy to explain, and translate across cultural lines.

The same is true in books, arts, or any other skill, craft, or area of expertise.  Anyone who thinks the McDojo at the local mall has the greatest level of martial arts training available hasn’t been around much. But the quiet little back-yard dojo teaching a lethal beautiful family art will quite possibly die almost unknown, because no one knows marketing and sales.  These things are neutral, neither good nor bad. But they get a bad rap BECAUSE they are morally and ethically neutral.  One can do good or ill.  One can promote something wonderful, or crap.

But if you want to make MONEY doing whatever you want to do in life, and to provide real value to the world, you not only need to be GOOD at it, you need to be good at MARKETING AND SELLING it, or yourself.  Or you will starve, no matter how good you are.  The one exception?  If you can find someone who IS good at marketing and sales, and convince them to lend you their skills. But then…that’s selling too, isn’t it?

No, if I’m right, there’s really no way around it. The “kid” part of you wants to simply play and be good at something she enjoys.  But the “adult” part of you needs to pay the ##$%% bills.  That part had better be good at bookkeeping, taxes…and sales and marketing.


So, question…does this make sense?










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