The Myth of the Accidental Business

There is a myth out there about business startup. It is perpetuated by magazines like Taste of Home, and other sources that tell stories of small business startups. It goes something like this:

Betty Jean loved to make salsa. She gave salsa to her friends and family for Christmas, and pretty soon people started to ask if they could buy it from her. So she started selling it at craft fairs, and demand became so great that she finally added on a commercial kitchen to the back of her house, and now business is booming.

Makes it sound easy, right? Like you can just lazily indulge in a hobby, and business will come your way without even trying, and people will pay you to do what you’ve always done.

Only problem is, they left out half the story.

Betty Jean spent weeks making the stuff for her friends and family at Christmas. She prepared sampler bottles for everyone at the company where her husband worked, and distributed them at the Christmas party, or sent them to work with her husband. Her husband loved her salsa, and was a great talker. He talked to everyone, and kept asking Betty Jean for more salsa to give to his clients as thank-you gifts. In fact, he gave salsa to everyone he met, eventually. He always thought she could sell it and researched the legal and financial requirements for going commercial long before Betty Jean was sure that is what she wanted to do.

Betty Jean started working the craft fairs – again, working for weeks ahead of time to prepare. She created her branding and worked on a clever slogan. She bought the decorated jelly jars instead of the plain ones, and put cute stickers on the top. She experimented with various pricing and sizes to work out what people really wanted most.

By the time Betty Jean went commercial, she and her husband had BOTH been working hard on laying the foundation. In fact, they’d done more work BEFORE she expanded to a commercial kitchen than many business owners do AFTER they have already obtained a business license.

It didn’t happen accidentally. It happened because they started out putting a lot of effort into it, and when they realized it was a practical opportunity, they pursued it and continued to work on it. Demand from friends and family didn’t happen by accident. It happened from a lot of work – work to share it, work to let people know what she could do. Demand from friends and family just let them know the market really WAS there.

Business never happens accidentally, and it never happens easily. It always takes work.

So the next time you read one of those fairy tales about someone just happening into business without really meaning to, don’t believe it. Read between the lines, because there was a lot of work and effort put into it, whether they intended to form a business from it initially, or not.

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