Business Fundamentals are Fundamental
May 6, 2021
Written By: Ernie DiBenedetto, Vice President, Sales & Strategic Partnerships
Category: General | Retailers

The business strategies that made you a great business in 2019 can help you rebuild to be an even greater business again in 2021.

Many years ago, at one of my first jobs, there was an “old guy” (probably in his forties) that always used to say, “business fundamentals are fundamental.” As a young pup, I thought that was just some corny line that old people would say. Now, as an “older than old guy,” and after experiencing the events of the last year, that line rings truer than ever. As we face and overcome the new challenges brought on by 2020, remember that the business strategies that made you a great business in 2019 can help you rebuild to be an even greater business again in 2021.

In my wildly successful first blog (*wink, wink*), Small Business Operators Are Like a Box of Chocolates, I wrote about a couple of these fundamentals and how Fintech can support a retailer’s business strategy to drive better profitability in their alcohol program. But for those retailers navigating the reopening process, it will take a comprehensive refocusing exercise across the entire business to successfully reopen and regain the success they once knew. Retailers have to reimagine everything from the core business strategy, value proposition, and customer service to management, staff development, marketing, operations, and most importantly performance and decision measurement.

In the past month, I’ve talked to over a dozen small and mid-sized businesses (SMB) about their current operating disposition, reopening strategies, and general business health. On several occasions, I’ve heard the retailers referencing their reopening strategy as a “business reset” or “full reset.” A couple shared that they executed a complete overhaul on their business strategy and shifted core offerings to fulfill new market demands. In all cases, these operators first recognized a need to change their proven business models to meet the demand of the times, then executed great decision-making and a lot of hard work to implement the changes. These operators are a beautiful example of the proverbial saying, “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade!”

My point here is that driving a successful reopening can’t be achieved with just an optimistic outlook on your business and the markets. Right now is the time to take a real focused look at your business and make some honest assessments about what aspects of the business you can maintain, what aspects you can evolve for the times, and what aspects need to be terminated. Effective problem-solving starts with asking good questions and finishes with making some hard (sometimes risky) decisions.

As an owner or CEO of an SMB, you may feel like there’s no one above you that really understands the business enough to provide constructive answers to your questions about current business challenges or reopening strategies. Well, you’re absolutely right. The people you should be turning to for solutions are all below you or trickling back into your business each day as things open up.

From your managers to your busboys, from vendors walking in your back door to customers walking in your front door – these are the people that will help guide you to the next evolution of your business.

Now, there’s a good chance that the thought of you, the business owner, asking your staff, vendors, and customers questions about the company’s direction may make you a bit uncomfortable. But if you can check your CEO title at the door, prepare yourself for honest, unscripted, and sometimes ugly answers to your questions, you may just find that spark for which to rebuild the business around.

It’s important to point out that the questions to be asked of your staff, vendors and customers should be open-ended questions that inspire out-of-the-box thinking and problem-solving. To a manager or staffer: “If you were the owner, what would you change in the business to help us evolve?” To a vendor: “Are you seeing any hot products trending upward with other merchants you deliver to?” To a customer: “What other businesses like mine do you use and what do you like about them?” Ask a better question. Build a better business.

One last point before I close this out: This business reset thing ain’t gonna be easy!

Remember when you first opened your doors? The long days. The long nights. The countless number of challenges you navigated on a daily basis to get the business dialed in. The “gamechanger” decisions you made in a moment of time that a year later left you wondering, “what the hell was I thinking?” Well, step into my way back machine. I’m sure this isn’t what you planned or wanted to do at this stage in your entrepreneurship, but you’re going to have to reach back to those days and rekindle that startup mentality to pull this off. You did it once. You can do it again. Face it head-on and take no prisoners.

Best of luck with your American dream. I’m in awe of what you do on a daily basis to serve your customers, employ your staff, and put food on your table. Go get ‘em. And if you have any questions about Fintech and effectively managing your alcohol program or feedback about reopening or resetting your business, don’t hesitate to reach out to me.

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Don’t miss the chance to hear from Ernie during Fintech’s live webinar, Save Time and Money with Fintech Payments, on May 12 at 2:00 PM EST. Space is limited, register today!

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