Saturday, July 10, 2010

Finding Your Bread & Butter

I’ve just returned from California where I enjoyed a wine tasting at Chateaux Montelena in Napa Valley.  This winery has a very interesting history that was told in the movie “Bottle Shock”.   Part of that history was told to me by the gentleman pouring the wines.  He told me that way back in the beginning of the winery the owner wanted to produce red wines - but reds take years to produce and the winery needed cash flow to tide them over before the reds were ready to be bottled and sold. So they started producing white wines including chardonnays because they take much less time to produce and could generate cash flow for the winery while they waited for the wines they became famous for to be ready for sale.  

I thought this was a great example of the challenge many businesses are faced with - especially these days!  Most business owners get into business because they are passionate about doing or creating something.  But sometimes what we love to do isn’t enough to pay the bills.  It’s critical to survival to find the “bread & butter” income in your business to allow you to keep the business going so you can do what it is you are passionate about.

While in California I was talking with a friend of the families who specializes in painting murals in homes.  She has worked in some of the most beautiful homes in San Francisco and the bay area.  At one time she did work for Barry Bonds.  I’ve seen her work and it’s stunning.  She is so talented and has been in great demand.  But she told me that in these times one of the things even the wealthy are cutting back on is her mural work.  She still gets work, but she now has to supplement her income by painting anything!  When I met her she was painting the railings on my cousins deck.  She loves to paint and is not one to complain telling me, ”these days any work is good work.”

Whether your business is wine making, painting, or anything else for that matter your success will depend on your ability to generate revenue and to be able to adapt to the changing economic times.  You must determine where your “bread and butter” income will come from.  It may not be from something that you are most passionate about doing but if it can keep you in business so you can go about doing the part you love to do most.  It worked for Chateaux Montelena many years ago, it’s working for my artist friend and even in these tough times it can work for you.  An occasional glass of wine to go along with that bread and butter can’t hurt either!

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