Smoking Out The Anti-Capitalists

Discussing the merits of running a ‘lifestyle business’ over the weekend, when you know you could make more money working for yourself alone, reminded me of a conversation I had earlier this year.  After a thoroughly enjoyable lunch in glorious 36° sunshine in Cape Town’s Northern Suburbs, a good pal of mine asked me about my current business plans.  He runs a successful transactional intranet outfit himself, and was wondering what my grand scheme was.  I outlined some of the growth I aimed to accomplish throughout the year, and he asked me what I thought was wrong with a so-called ‘lifestyle business’ approach, and recounted this fable….

A successful fella (probably a stockbroker from New York) found himself walking along a beach somewhere in Europe (Greece, perhaps, after concluding a deal nearby and about to return home).  He saw a fisherman bring his boat ashore, and step out with a handful of fish over his shoulder.  It struck the Yank that the boat could carry plenty more fish than the mere string-load evident.  So the two men got chatting…..

“Fishing not so good today?” enquired the Seppo, “fishing was fine” answered the trawler.  “So how come so few fish?” the American quizzed, “these are all I need,” the fisherman contentedly smiled and continued, “I keep a few for myself to feed my family, give a couple to my neighbour – he can’t fish for himself unfortunately – hand one to the school for their lunch, and take the last couple to market and sell”.

The American was aghast.  “You know what you need to do,” and you could feel a tide of passion about to well up. “Next time you go out, fill your boat with fish, you can fit ten-times the amount in your vessel.  You sell all the excess at the market and start to make way more money.  Then in a short while, you can afford to buy a bigger boat, catch yet more fish, make even more money going to market.  Then you can take someone on to help you run the boat.  In time, you’ll gain another boat, and train up someone to run that for you.  The profits from the extra market sales will mean you can buy a whole fleet of boats.  Then you can buy an even bigger one, and start deeper sea trawling.  Before long, you’ll be able to buy a processing plant, and make yet more money still, often cutting out any middlemen.  You’ll find more markets further afield, and eventually build a storage plant too, so your fish get sold around the globe.  You’ll make millions, and then you can retire.”

“Retire?” puzzled back the fisherman, “and then what’ll I do?”  “Simple”, replied the chuffed American, “you’ll be able to fish everyday”. 

“But I do that already…..”

So, next time someone questions why bother with progress, you can pick the holes out of this tale 🙂

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