Tips for Business Start Ups: try not to reinvent the wheel.

Tina and Toni came to see me today, bubbling over with effervescent excitement. They could hardly contain themselves with their business proposition which they assured me had been focused grouped, road tested, demolished, rethought, redesigned and reconstructed to death.

They tentatively placed a large black box on the table and swore me to secrecy. This idea – this product – this concept – was going to blow my mind, and along with everyone else who had benefitted from it, I would be converted instantly from curious sceptic to sun worshipping zealot, such was the paradigm destroying nature of what I was about to receive, once they had opened the box.

I held my breath as they gingerly levered open the lid and ceremoniously lifted up on high the contents of the matt black box.

“It’s a wheel.” I said.
“Isn’t it beautiful?” Whispered Toni.
“Have you ever seen anything like it?” Tina asked urgently.
“Yes. It’s a bicycle wheel. It goes around and around, around and around…” They interrupted me before I could get into full song.
“But don’t you see it’s potential?” Toni looked shocked. “You could put it on a large container and attach a couple of donkeys and before you know it you’re moving heavy loads unimaginable distances.”
“With a bit of effort, you could transport many people, many thousands of miles at all times of day.” Tina was incredulous that I wasn’t impressed.
“It’s a wheel. You’re trying to reinvent the wheel. It’s already been done – very successfully, over thousands of years.”
“But it’s not just a wheel!” They chimed in unison. “It’s a neo-wheel which goes forward…” And here was the killer line… “And backwards.”
“At the same time?” I asked. They looked at me with something resembling pity which soon turned to contempt.
“You don’t get it, do you?” Toni hissed.
“Call yourself an advisor?” sneered Tina. “You know the story about Decca and the Beatles don’t you?”

I hung my head in shame – this is every business advisor’s worse nightmare – taking the role of Decca and sending their prospective golden geese off to Parlaphone.

I capitulated. “It’s a very interesting proposition” I said weakly. “I can see its potential, now you come to mention it. I guess it’s always difficult to see genius in the room when it looks like a bicycle wheel.”

They warmed to me by now and smiled back. We were going to get on fine, them with their neo-wheel and me with my sense of professional foresightedness still intact.

Watch this space – the invention of the last 3000 years will be in a street near you soon. And I was there to help make it happen.

Author: drnicko

Awarded an MBE for services to arts-based businesses, I am passionate about generating inspiring, socially engaging, creative practice within educational contexts both nationally and internationally.

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