There are numerous ways to become an entrepreneur. If you’re Italian, you might be born to it. Just as homes stay in the same family for generations, Italian businessowners commonly pass their enterprises down to their children.

If your family made wine, there’s a good chance that you’ll make wine. Even some Venetian gondoliers are following the career path of their fathers and grandfathers.

As much as I love the Italians, I’m grateful that finding a career by inheritance isn’t such a common practice here. If it were, I’d be an electrician.

Paradoxically, there’s a Tuscan proverb that says, “Whoever does another’s trade makes soup in a basket.” Perhaps that doesn’t apply to family endeavors.

Although there are people who happily take over the family business, having one foisted upon you can be a disaster.

I met a man in one of my seminars who told us he’d spent his life grudgingly running a family business that he loathed. His sadness was visible, but even though he was no longer young, he was working diligently to make a new start and bring to life an idea of his own.

Even though families may not hand down a business, family pressure still plays a huge (and often unsavory) role in career choice. I frequently have people tell me, “My parents always told me I should work for someone else because it’s more secure.”

I want to counter with, “Would you wear your parents’ clothes?” Their thinking may not fit you either.

Every day I encounter people who are making soup in a basket, who are bored, inept or downright hostile because they are doing work that comes from a place other than their heart and soul.

Finding our personal right livelihood is too important to our well-being to overlook. We may choose to follow in our family’s tradition but only if we’ve come to know ourselves well enough to know that this is a perfect fit.

Clothiers talk about bespoke garments, meaning made-to-order clothes that are fitted to the wearer. I think it’s time to talk about bespoke businesses, one of a kind undertakings that are perfectly suited to the owner’s values, talents and dreams.

It takes a lot more time and energy to create such a business, of course, than to just pull one off the rack. Like a master tailor, we can only produce a bespoke business by knowing our personal measurements, making numerous adjustments, and investing pride in our work.

In a world that often seemed determined to do everything fast, creating a bespoke business requires a willingness and discipline to slow down, take things a step at a time, and pay loving attention to details.

The rewards for such willingness are huge, although they may not be quick.



8 Responses to “A Business That Fits Perfectly”

  1. Anna Barlowe

    There is nothing secure whatsoever about working for someone else these days. It means that your income and livelihood are not in your own hands, and that someone can take it away from you at a moment’s notice. I discovered that for myself, and am now trying to build sources of income that are both meaningful and secure for ME. It’s quite rewarding – I recommend it!

  2. Marianne Cantwell

    Hi Barbara this is fab as ever!

    My favourite line is: “Would you wear your parents’ clothes? Their thinking may not fit you either.”

    Always amazing that in a world where even our coffee is made to measure people are prepared to put up with an off the shelf job, to fit into someone else’s box for the bulk of every day.

    Love your take, thanks!

    Marianne x

  3. Sarada

    Hi Barbara,

    Absolutely brilliant. Like Anne says, why would you want your livelihood to be at the mercy of someone else? I too am setting up my own business that fits in with my own life, not the other way around. Yes, it’s taking a while, but it’s such a fun ride!

    Thanks again for this!

    Sarada x

  4. Bonnie Pond


    Just wanted to add my own great big YES! to having your own bespoke business. There is just nothing like doing work you love. It does take a while to build your own business and there are plenty of ups and downs, but knowing that I’m in charge of my life and my financial future is worth it. I truly believe that unless you work for yourself, EVERY job is TEMPORARY.

  5. Tim Grover

    I was buzzing yesterday with some new bespoke biz ideas and getting energized. Contrast that with an interview I had today with a lady about insurance sales. Great company, nice lady…but I found myself thinking I’d rather run myself over with a lawn mower than to work there. The Byrds’ song “I Wasn’t Born to Follow” keeps going thru my mind!

  6. Barbara Winter

    Keep humming, Tim. And please note Bonnie Pond’s comment about yours!

  7. jack

    Barbara, I love your comment about bespoke businesses. There is so much out on the web of ready-made businesses that speak of making big bucks in a very short time like under a month. Of if only it were true, because I would chuck the janitorial job I am currently doing and going to master some art skills, improve my German and possibly do some foreign language singing. Like of German or Italian songs. I think I could do justice to that Italian song called Santa Lucia. I already love that song called Edelweiss that was sung from that musical The Sound of Music.

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  1. A Business That Fits Perfectly | Buon Viaggio « The Hustler

    […] A Business That Fits Perfectly | Buon Viaggio: Barbara Winter talks about some of the impractical aspects of working for someone else, and touches on what it takes to create a bespoke business. As this economy wallows and as lay-offs continue to be a fear for many employed individuals, Barbara says some valuable things. […]