This Foodie Friday, I’d like to talk about recipes. Every family has them, as does every great chef. Obviously, the difference between the results those two types of cooks deliver is large, even if the recipes they use aren’t really all that different. What’s the difference, then? The answer is a good business point.
Let’s think about music for a second. The musicians are combining their ingredients – the various sounds their instruments can make – based on a recipe given to them by the composer – the sheet music. Just because you have the sheet music doesn’t mean you can play the tune. Listen to even an accomplished high school orchestra and compare the results of their playing a symphony to the New York Philharmonic or any other world-class orchestra playing the same piece. They’re quite different. Successfully completing the recipe – making beautiful music – takes practice and technique.
It’s the same with food. You might wonder why many great chefs share their secret recipes so freely. It’s because they can give you the recipe, but that doesn’t mean you can cook the meal. You make lack their skill, you may lack the quality ingredients they use, you may be missing the tools they have (try comparing a steak done in a home broiler which might be 500 degrees to a steak house steak done at 1000 degrees). I can almost guarantee you that what you produce and what they produce, even following the same recipe, will be very different.
That’s the business point too. Just because you think you understand a successful business doesn’t mean you can replicate it. I can explain my business in great depth, but that doesn’t mean you can start one up to compete with me. The key for any of us in business is to develop the things that are difficult to steal. Your team, your culture, and your relationship with your customers and partners are good places to start. Amazon didn’t have the first online store, but the product they produced from the same recipe as others was just better. The iPod wasn’t the first MP3 player, and there were many issued after it, but none with the same success even though the recipe was basically the same. There are many other examples.
Great recipes are a basic requirement for success in the kitchen and in business, but don’t make yourself crazy protecting them. Focus on what makes you really better. Agreed?