Entrepreneurs, Are You Hauling Buckets?
Once upon a time, there was a village on the banks of a fine, clear river. The villagers all drew their water from the river, and used it to cook, and bathe and water their gardens. Life was good.
During one particular rainy season, the river flooded. When the water went down, the river had cut itself a new channel, far from the village.
The wise village elders conferred and decided to hire someone to supply the village with water. Two villagers stepped forward and asked for the water contract. The village elders decided that a little competition might be a good thing, and issued both villagers a contract.
The first villager, John the Wise, took the new water contract and left the village, saying he would return to the village with great amounts of clear water. It would be many weeks before the villagers again saw John the Wise.
The other villager, Eli the Strong, seeing that he was the only one with a water contract, bought two shiny new buckets and set to work. Every day, Eli would take a bucket in each hand, walk to the river, fill his buckets, and walk back to the village. The villagers would all come and take some of Eli's water and pay him for it. Eli the Strong was happy.
Soon, however, the villagers wanted more water than Eli could carry in his two buckets. So Eli started making two trips a day, and doubled the amount of money coming in. Eli's wife was happy.
Again, the villagers soon demanded more water. So, being Eli the Strong after all, Eli fashioned a yoke for his back and bought two additional buckets. Eli could now carry four buckets of water on each round trip, and again the money coming into the Strong household doubled.
Each time the villagers demanded more water, Eli would come up with a way to make more trips to the river, and carry more buckets on each trip. Eventually, Eli could do no more and spent every waking moment on the road between the village and the river.
About this time, John the Wise returned. He surveyed the land around the village and made arrangements to cross some of the villagers' fields. He started laying down strange tubes, making one long tube from the river all the way to the village.
John would stand on the river bank with his bucket, and scoop water from the river into the tube. The water would run down the tube, and into a tank John built at the edge of the village.
Soon the village became accustomed to getting their water from John's tank when they wanted it, and stopped waiting for Eli the Strong. Soon Eli the Strong had to fold up his business, for there were no customers for his water.
John the Wise then hired Eli the Strong, giving him the money from every tenth bucket. Once John trusted Eli to continue pouring water into the tube, he disappeared again.
This time, when John the Wise returned, he constructed a strange wheel-like machine that turned in the river's current. With each turn of the wheel, water poured from the scoops on the wheel into the tube, so no one need stand and labor. The villagers had clear water whenever they desired, and in any quantity.
John then went to other villages and obtained contracts to supply water. Once the contract was in hand, he would build a pipeline and a water wheel, and move on again.
Soon most of the villages had their own pipelines, and John the Wise had enough money coming in that he no longer had to work to feed himself.
People came from far and wide to consult with John about the miracle of the abundant, clear water. Being John the Wise, he offered them all the same proposition. John would teach them how to construct pipelines and water wheels, and they would pay John the money from every one hundredth bucket. They paid someone like Eli the Strong from every tenth bucket, and kept the money for 89 of 100 for themselves. John further allowed them to teach the secrets themselves, as long as John was paid the money for every hundredth bucket produced.
Pipelines multiplied throughout the land, and John the Wise became John the Wealthy, and lived happily ever after...
What can we learn from this story?
When Eli the Strong received his water contract, he went from being an employee to being self-employed. In reality, Eli simply changed employers. His income was still limited by the number of trips he could make to the river, and the amount of water he could carry. And if he didn't carry water every day, he didn't get paid.
When John the Wise set up his pipeline, he was like an affiliate in today's Internet global village. He had a better way to do the work, yet his income still depended on his own efforts. His water wheel automated his business, like an automated web site. Yet he was still limited to that village and that river.
When John started building water wheels for others, it was like having his own affiliate program. Other villagers (affiliates) used his technology to profit themselves, and John made money from their efforts. John the Wise was also John the Business Owner.
When John started allowing those to whom he licensed his water wheel to in turn license it to others, John the Wise became John the Entrepreneur. John made money from the efforts of those he licensed the water wheel to, and from the efforts of wheel licensers he never even met.
And if you look back at the end of the story, John the Wise became John the Wealthy, and lived happily ever after.
My question to you, then, is this:
Are you hauling buckets, or are you building pipelines?
(c)Copyright 2003 by John McCabe
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