Why Are You in Business?

A long vacation provides a much-needed break, but still affords opportunities to get interesting perspectives on how entrepreneurs view their businesses.

We just spent a week with extended family on a beautiful island off the coast of British Columbia. A couple of lessons popped up, despite my desire to just take a break.

First: the couple who own the house we rented were very conflicted about being in the business of renting out their home. They live in the house most of the year, and rent it out several weeks a year to supplement their income. They designed and built the house several years ago. It has many personal touches. But they found reasons to be over several times a day to check on their baby. This was not exactly the "get-away-from-it-all" environment we had hoped for when booking a week on a remote island that is 10 hours and three ferry rides from Seattle.

The mixing of their home and lifestyle with a business venture clearly stressed them out. Toward the end of our stay, they shared that it was too much for them, and that they were going to sell the home this fall. Too bad – the views are great. 



Another revelation came when we were in a restaurant/bar/coffee shop, and my 13-year-old niece asked for whipped cream on her chai latte. (I know, I know…) Even though she had just put whipped cream onto my mom’s mocha, the barista said no. When we asked why not, she said that they don’t do special requests — "after all, we’re not Starbucks." Somehow, I had always thought that we smaller proprietors were the nimble ones, while the big chains were inflexible.

When we pointed out that she might get more business if they honored a few reasonable special requests, she said "we don’t want more business — this is an island."

Fair enough!



Andrew Field is President of PrintingForLess.com, known by its thousands of happy customers as "America‘s Print Shop." He works and lives along the Yellowstone River in southwest Montana.

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