“He who loses money, loses much; He who loses a friend, loses much more; He who loses faith, loses all” Eleanor Roosevelt
Lately I’ve been thinking quite a lot about business models. I have to admit.. I’m not the best with money. And maths was never my favourite subject. But, in dire times – if I have no money I have learnt how to survive. And if I have a bit – like any girl – my list of ‘need’ grows longer than a neverending till receipt.
As an only girl growing up with three brothers (Daniel, Nick and Luke) I learnt to survive. From an early age ‘that’s not fair!’ became part of my vocabulary. It wasn’t really explained to me why my big brother had two sausages on his plate and I had one. Of course I knew I was a girl – and that they were boys… but my brothers sly grins as my Mum would stockpile their plates told me that they were definitely getting a better deal than me.
When my big brother Daniel landed himself a paper round delivering the Observer at £5 a week this would be mine and my siblings first lesson in business. As second oldest and being a girl I was not yet allowed to roam the village streets. And so my brother Nick – who was two years younger than I was signed up to help (cue the ‘It’s not fair!’).
And so….for a Mars Bar a week Nick was happy to do the whole paper round whilst my big brother Daniel sat playing on his Commodore 64. I would sit quietly reading my book What Katy Did like a good girl should….observing from a distance when my little brothers eager face poked round the front door after a gruelling paper round shift to receive his payment of a Mars Bar. My older brothers sly smile as he handed over the 25p chocolate dream to an eager to please wage slave. Making a nice profit of £4.75 a week for sitting on his arse and dictating my big brother was on his way to getting a pair of swanky new Nike trainers. My little brother seemingly none the wiser.
It wasn’t until a couple of months in…that my big brothers dream business model began to show cracks. My younger brother, not so thick after all – Nick – had started to suss out what was happening. A clever yet equally sly young boy that he was – my older brother had no idea. So when Daniel received a phonecall from the Observer saying that they’d found the weekly papers dumped in a bin down the road and that nobody in the village had received a paper in weeks there was only one word being bellowed through the house that eerily cold Friday morning and it was my younger siblings name… ‘NIIIIIIIIIIIICCCCCKKK’..….
Shockingly my big brother managed to hold on to his job as Paperboy. And guess what – I was finally entrusted to take on the wonderful role of Papergirl. I learnt very quickly that the reality was not as fun as playing the actual game (Paperboy) and that what I thought I had wanted all along wasn’t actually that great. And that really I hadn’t been missing out on anything at all. A lesson that I am consistently reminded of in many aspects of my life.
One Xmas (my Mum will be so embarrassed if she reads this and in fact so am I) my brother Nick showed me a sly sales trick. Knocking on the doors of every house we delivered to smiling graciously we would hand over the weekly paper and and wish our customers a ‘Very Happy Xmas’. Seeing our honest and very cold faces their response would almost always be ‘ooh happy xmas thank you ooh wait there a minute’. Then out would come their £5 notes. Of course both Nick and I by now already on a measly 10 percent share each of the paper round business for our 100 percent effort had by now – already learnt that informing my big brother would mean at least a 75 percent cut. Each.
However, when I was younger there was usually one thing that always happened. My older brother…bored with coding on the Commodore and isolated by his own greed and thirst for power would usually get jealous of my brother Nick playing with me in my A La Carte Kitchen. Both of us by now fed up of his selfish cheating ways (I mean who wants to play Monopoly if you’re never going to win?). He would always come retreating back to the sibling fold usually with a hands up ‘ok soorrrry sorry have another Mars Bar’.
The most disappointing aspect to growing up is finding out that not much changes up here in the wilderness of being a grown up. But of course there is a flaw adapting what I learnt as a child into my knowledge as a young aspiring business woman (who would surely get turned away from a bank if I tried to use this as a pitch for borrowing money). It’s the disappointment of finding out that the care you receive in the fold of sibling rivalry does not actually compare in that of the real world. And that the people you might look up to or look to for inspiration are not always as they seem. We are all capable of greed, selfishness and many more negative traits. But what gives me hope is that the human race is also capable of so many positive traits too. All it takes is looking in the right place. You might just find it’s staring you in the face.