Marlena De Blasi was settling nicely into her new home and business in St. Louis. Besides being a food writer and wine consultant, Marlena was the chef in her own restaurant.
That all changed on a trip to Venice where she attracted the attention of a banker named Fernando who was certain she was the woman of his dreams. Although he spoke almost no English, he made his intentions known and within months Marlena had uprooted herself to join him.
She recounts this improbable love story in her delightful book, A Thousand Days in Venice. The subtitle could be Love is Bigger Than Culture Shock.
Once they have survived Italian bureaucracy and a reluctant priest who isn’t sure he wants to marry them, the couple begins their new life together.
One day Fernando announces that he’s tired of working at the bank where he’s been employed for 26 years and wants to work with Marlena. Apparently, our resourceful and adventurous heroine didn’t just awaken love, but also Fernando’s sleeping entrepreneurial spirit.
The account of their new venture is recorded in her second book, A Thousand Days in Tuscany.
In many ways, Marlena De Blasi is a classic entrepreneur with a willingness to try new things and create new income sources. In fact, one of her mantras is “always a beginner.”
As a result, her businesses are kept fresh and vital by the introduction of new profit centers.
Multiple profit centers, as I’ve been saying for years, are the key to growing a business. Every time you add a new product or service, you’re creating another profit center.
Although the idea of multiple profit centers is highly appealing to those who think that business is just about making money, the concept is equally interesting to Renaissance souls who have numerous ideas and interests.
As James Dickey pointed out, “There are so many selves in everybody and to explore and exploit just one is wrong, dead wrong, for the creative process.”
Whatever the motivation, mastering Multiple Profit Center creation is essential to running an inspired business.
If you run your business on the assumption that it is a vehicle for innovation and fresh thinking, profit centers seem to bubble up naturally from your creativity. When these different profit centers involve a variety of activities, synergy is generated.
For instance, running a restaurant, being the chef and writing about food all come out of a passion for gastronomy, but each has its own requirements and activities.
As you build your collection of profit centers, you’ll find that some are going to be bigger than others, some the mainstays of your business, and some will be periodic. Since entrepreneurs adore new ideas, this keeps their imagination in high gear.
Charles Handy is another advocate of developing multiple profit centers. “Think of it this way,” he advises. “You will have a portfolio of work like an architect has or your stock portfolio. No prudent investor puts all his savings into one stock and no sensible business goes after only one customer.”
Multiple profit centers are the antidote to putting all your eggs in one basket.
No matter whether you call them passions, projects or profit centers, they’re not just the building blocks of your business: they’re the life blood.
Creating a business that engages you physically, intellectually and spiritually is a richly satisfying—and highly individual—undertaking.
And when one idea has served its time, there’s a new one ready to take its place.