We’re all proud of the work we do, about the problems we solve for those we serve. We should be. It’s a big part of who we are. So it’s natural that talking about our business is part of our life.
You can attend any gathering where people ask one another “What do you do?” and “How’s business?” and nearly every answer references ‘size’ — “We’re really busy” (that’s size) or “We have three new fleet vehicles” (size again) and “We added two more staff to our team” (size also). Yet, questions about the size of a business actually tell you very little.
The one thing almost no one in business wants to talk about is, indeed, the one thing that will tell you everything you really want (and need) to know. Crazy, but true.
The one thing almost no chef in business wants to talk about
Instead of talking about the size of a business, we need to talk about the health of a business. And chefs aren’t alone here. Almost no business owner — no matter the field — wants to talk about the health of their business.
How is the health of a business different than the size of a business?
Anyone can talk about their number of employees, gross revenues, or how many customers or fleet vehicles they have — but this information won’t tell you the one key thing. Are they profitable?
Statistics show that most people drastically overestimate the profitability of business owners. Why? Because they’re always boasting about the size of their business instead of delving into the state of its health. And that’s a crucial error.
Plenty of ‘sizable businesses’ run in the red, racking up debt — performing at lower than peak-capacity, wasting money and/or losing it. Size, therefore, is not the wisest indicator of a business’ success.
A sound business, on the other hand, is focused on growth, sales targets, revenue increases and profitability. (And it can be small, quite small even, as long as it functions in a healthy way.)
In business, size is less important than health
In business, size has very little to do with success. Health does. Here are two concepts a lot of independent chef owners tend to overlook:
- If you don’t know how to make a profit when you’re running a small business, you won’t know how to make a profit with a larger business. Getting bigger isn’t a solution if you’re not profitable.
- If you know what you’re doing, it’s possible (even probable) to achieve greater profits as a small business than as a large one.
Believe it or not, many independent chefs running a single-person business bring home more net profits throughout the year than restaurant owners. Yep. Like spy stuff, small is often the best.
Why the health of your personal chef or private chef business matters, now
Don’t get caught up comparing your small business with the appearance of someone else’s big business.
The uncertainty caused by this Coronavirus highlights just how hazardous it is to be preoccupied with the size of one’s business rather than its health. During these uncertain times a healthy business — lean, nimble, profitable — is crucial. Unlike brick-and-mortar restaurants (R.I.P.), working as an independent chef offers exactly this type of flexibility and opportunity. It’s the future, and thank goodness for that.
A wise woman once told me “blessed are the flexible, for they are never bent out of shape.” (Worked for American militias against the stuck-in-their-ways Redcoats, and it’s the same for businesses.) If you are small enough to adapt during uncertain times, you are better equipped to come out on top on the other side — and make a living getting paid what you are worth.
Put the health of your business before the size of your business
Okay, okay, so size does matter. But first things must come first. It’s what you do with your business that matters more than how big it is. So next time the question, “How’s business?” comes up, listen for signs of health rather than size.
See, when someone asks me that question and I answer “We’re really healthy right now! How about you?” — I love it. The look on the faces of a business owners when you say that can be priceless. (And it means they still haven’t figured it out) So try it sometime. Get healthy. Get lean. Leave the obesity to someone else’s business. They’ll ask you for tips in about six months.
So, chef, here’s to your health — and the health of your business!!