Some time ago I stumbled on one of Wood Trekker's older posts: Is it Wrong to Profit From Your Hobby? and found it thought provoking. The premise of the article is that some people's attempts to monetize their hobby ends up doing far more harm than good. My off the cuff reaction was something along the lines of: well, if you want to make a *good* business out of your hobby, go for it, but if it's going to be a crappy one, forget about it.
Which begs the question: what's a good business?.
After a number of evening jogs spent rolling this question around in head, I've come the following conclusion:
A good business must do at least one thing: exceed expectations.
Do that and you're off and running. Fail at that, and forget about it. Sure, it might be helpful to set expectations, but that's not really required; people will bring their own.
Consider a lemonade stand strategically placed along a bike trail on a hot day. What's the expectations? The lemonade should be cold and drinkable. Does matter if it's created from a mix that's mainly sugar? Not at all.
Now suppose you want to sell lemonade at your high-end artisan restaurant, with the promise of all organic ingredients and a high price tag to match. Now the expectations have clicked up quite a few notches: for $9.50, this better be the best tasting lemonade I've ever consumed.
Both businesses and products can work. Both can fail. It's all about exceeding the customer's expectations.