Do you know how to sell a sandwich?

People often overcomplicate businesses and business ideas when they are starting out.

One business that is both basic in its fundamentals and complex in its operation is a sandwich shop. A small cafe, selling food and drinks. It’s a simple business model; you produce physical goods and sell them to customers who have a need. The equation is, of course, more complex than that when you put it to work. I’ve known enough people who’ve taken on that challenge to understand that running a cafe is certainly hard.

But here’s one thing I’m 100% sure about. If you don’t have the business skills and understanding that it would take to start and run at least a moderately successful sandwich shop, you won't have success building any other kind of business.

This is what a business of any kind has to do.

1. Develop a product or service that you know will sell.

For a sandwich shop, this means working out what food your customers are going to want to eat, and when.

2. Attract customers and provide customer service.

You want to explain to the people who should eat your food, exactly why they should eat it. And then provide it to them seamlessly and without friction.

3. Sell your product repeatedly and gather feedback

The customers that you have should want to spread the word. And come back for more. And not leave you.

4. Cover your overheads and expenses

You have to take in enough money to pay for what it costs to run your shop, and have cash left over. This is the most important part. Does it sound too tough? It shouldn’t.

This is what your business should do. It should meet the requirements of a sandwich shop and hit their metrics and goals. These are the accomplishments that you need to be capable of.

There’s too much of a focus these days on businesses operating like something that isn’t a business. And sure, a company or startup should run lean, should iterate and should have a firm focus on learning. But that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be a company and act like a company. Because businesses that fail to do that aren’t really a business — they’re a hobby at best!


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