For our Foodie Friday Fun I’d like to challenge you.

A batch of Danish meatballs, also known as &qu...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Name a culture that doesn’t have a meatball on the menu. Chinese? Got a lot of them. German? Not even Klopse (see what I did there?). No, they’re pretty common everywhere, and why not? They’re a wonderful way to stretch meat as well as to make use of the scraps left when trimming larger cuts.

In most cultures, the meat is ground or finely chopped and some sort of panade – a moistened mass of bread – or breadcrumbs are added both for moisture and lightness.  The herbs and other seasonings are added, as is a binder such as egg.  The mixture is rolled into balls and then fried, steamed, boiled, or cooked in some combination of those methods.  Of course meat is optional.  Once can make excellent meatballs with beans and vegetables and bind them with soaked ground flax-seed in place of eggs to keep them vegan.  What does this have to do with business?

A lot.  First, meatballs are the common food across cultures.  NYC is the crossroads of the world.  Is it a coincidence that a place called The Meatball Shop has done really well here?  If I’m creating a product that I want to sell around the world, or at least to a diverse customer base, I look to the ubiquity of the meatball as a guide.  What do this culture’s meatballs have to do with other with respect to methods and materials?  How can that guide me from a product and marketing perspective (I’m looking for affinities here, not for the types of spice they prefer.  Are they more in tune with, say, England than with Denmark?).

Next, I look to the meatball to remind me that there is no one way to do anything.  Most meatballs are relatively simple although they’re equally simple to screw up by making them too dry or under-seasoned.  Keeping things simple prevents errors, as does clean instruction and detailed recipes.  That said, allowing people to do things their way and to build a better ball can move the business forward.  Embrace their mistakes and help them feel free to make them.

Finally, meatballs can be a bonus product created from the detritus of the main dish.  What can be made from the by-products of what you do every day?

Amazing what we can learn from something so simple, isn’t it?

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