23 July 2018
This weekend I watched a movie called The Founder, which is about the start and growth of McDonald’s. It’s a fascinating film, and I would highly recommend it to any entrepreneur.
There’s a pivotal moment in the movie that I knew I had to share with you. It’s about midway through the story when Bruce Wayne (aka Batman aka Michael Keaton aka Ray Kroc), is successfully franchising McDonald’s, but due to his contract with the McDonald’s brothers and the expenses of running the chain, he’s losing money.
So Bruce Wayne meets with Ryan from The Office (aka B.J. Novak aka Harry J. Sonneborn). I’m not sure how the meeting when down in real life, but in the movie, Ryan looks at the McDonald’s accounting and says, “You don’t seem to realize what business you’re in. You’re not in the burger business. You’re in the real estate business.”
Bruce Wayne replies, “I’m Batman.”
Okay, I made up that last part. The first twist was enough for me. Here’s how it works: McDonald’s buys the land on which its franchise restaurants are built. It then leases the land to the franchisee at a profit.
Sure, McDonald’s makes some money from burgers. But in the US in 2015, it also made $3 billion dollars from rent alone.
Wow. That completely changed the way I though about McDonald’s. And it made me wonder if my company, other publishers, and Kickstarter creators should be asking the same question: What business are we in?
There’s certainly the Simon Sinek version of this answer, which focuses on why you do what you do. At Stonemaier, our “why” is that we seek to spread joy to tabletops worldwide.
But what business are we in? Customer service? Publishing? Design? Development? Visual design? Marketing? Project management? Localization? We dabble in so many different areas.
I know what businesses we’re not in: We’re not a promo company (we make promos, but Meeplesource and our localization partners do everything else). We’re not a realistic resource company (again, we make them, but Top Shelf Gamer handles everything else). We’re also not a Kickstarter company–our last campaign was in 2015.
So I don’t yet have a revelatory answer for us. But I thought it was still worth telling the story and raising the question for you: What business are you in?
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