Sep 2 2004

What Does Business Feel Like?

Mariquita and I spent last Saturday helping out our cousins, Michael and Marianne, at their wine shop, Hudson Wine Merchants, in Hudson, NY. I wrote a posting about one of our other trips up there earlier this year on how running a two-person proprietorship is an awful lot like running a larger company.

Last weekend, my takeaway from working in the shop was in some ways the opposite. Yes, business is business, and yes, you worry about some of the same broad things when you run a business of any size, but it FEELS different to run a small retail shop. What does it feel like? Well, quite frankly, it feels like business. Here’s what happens at the store in any given 8 minute period, and what we in a marketing services business would call it:

– Customer walks in the door (Prospecting/Lead-gen)
– Michael greets customer, introduces himself, and asks her what she is looking for (Marketing)
– Michael shows customer two options, makes recommendation (Sales)
– Michael offers free tasting of a new wine he is offering (Market Research/Product Management/Loyalty Program)
– Michael shows customer something else that she hadn’t previously considered but is consistent with her request; she adds to her order (Upsell)
– Michael walks behind counter, rings up order, takes cash (Finance)
– Michael wraps up bottles of wine, includes his business card in the bag, says goodbye (Operations/Customer Service)

So in 8 minutes, Michael does by himself what it takes the 70 people who work at my company months to do with a customer. Obviously, things at Hudson Wine Merchants and things at Return Path operate on different scales, but somehow it just felt a lot more real watching the whole cycle happen so quickly!