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MuffinsPicSeveral years ago, a colleague and I were having lunch. She shared news that she was quitting her boring job and starting a business. Because she enjoyed making muffins, she was opening a muffin shop where she’d serve coffee and muffins from 6:00 am to 2:00 pm and then enjoy the rest of the day off.

Carla (not her real name) borrowed funds to design and equip her little shop.

Rising at 4:00 am to bake the muffins and make coffee was fun for about 2 weeks, but soon Carla became weary of the early morning rush and preparation to open the doors at 6:00 am. Customers straggled in, and she barely made enough to pay the first month’s rent. The remaining expenses came out of borrowed money and savings.

Staff issues began to erupt, and soon Carla was spending more and more time at the shop, cleaning and planning and not enjoying afternoons off. Painfully, Carla learned that entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart.

Her love of baking muffins faded. It was no longer fun. When her taste in muffins didn’t match her customers’, they didn’t buy. Her shop was too small to meet everyone’s tastes and requests. If she featured blueberry muffins, it was a sure thing that customers wanted banana nut. The joy of serving the public lost much of its charm.

The lessons Carla learned were many, and she shared a long list. One of the outstanding lessons was this: never think that your hobby or passion is reason enough to launch a business. Carla realized that her love of baking muffins was not reason enough to launch a business. She also learned that knowing how to bake great muffins is not the same as knowing how to be in business.

After six months of what turned out to be an unhappy experience, Carla sold her shop – at a loss.

Why am I sharing this story? I’ve recently encountered several wannabe entrepreneurs and realize that they haven’t done their homework. They probably don’t know what questions to ask, and even if they did know the questions, they wouldn’t know who to ask. What the business books tell you and what the reality turns out to be can be worlds apart. In my book, Business-Building Referrals, I share my own story about believing that I could build my business through networking. I was a networking dervish. When I realized that I was spending money I didn’t have doing what the book authors were telling me to do, yet not generating much business, I was stunned. How could this be? I am a good student. I was following the rules!

Having learned the hard way myself, I am offering a complimentary Q&A to any budding entrepreneur. Call me at 813-486-2837 or e-mail me at Lorraine@lanebc.com to arrange for a 30 minute call. I will take you through a list of questions that can help you avoid having a “Carla experience”!

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