Tips for Business Start Ups: when should your hobby not become your business?

Colin has been a long time gardening hobbyist; he has dabbled in potted plants, sells the odd apple (and when I say odd, I mean odd strange, not odd occasional), designs all manner of green houses which sit in a Tesco bag under his bed and over the years has built a useful income for himself selling a disparate variety of plants, fruit and vegetables all from the comfort of his ramshackle garden shed. It’s been a labour of love for him and has been a hobby which has eaten up most of his time and not a small part of his income. If he were to do a cost benefit analysis he would probably demonstrate to himself that he was losing money hand over fist by the day, but that’s not important: he loves it, and it loves him and every one in the garden is happy.

Unhappily though, Colin has been persuaded that his hobby could become a significant business opportunity. Someone’s whispered in his ears too many times that if he could write a business plan, that if he should have an accountant, that he would then be driving a company car – all on the proceeds from the activity in his garden shed. He’s now staring at that run down shed and wishing it were more than it is: thinking it could do with a coat of paint, that it needs a receptionist and thinking, isn’t it about time he got serious with a brass plaque just under the window so that others down the allotment knew that he’s now a bona fide horticulturalist?

Colin unfortunately is so woven into his hobby that no amount of business cards, plans or acumen is going to convert this activity from a much loved hobby to a rational, calculated business. He loves it too much: he knows so much about the intricacies of his potted plants, their soil demands and how the sun shines at a particular angle on a Tuesday afternoon that he’s unable to distance himself from the nitty gritty of his garden and recognise that whilst some of the plot has business potential – much of it doesn’t. Some of the shed needs knocking down and rebuilding on the roadside; some of the ground needs concreting over, rather than left as an unending sprawl of wild flowers, interesting herbs and strange tendrils that no-one knows what they’re called, where they come from and where they’re going (aka weeds to the rest of us).

Colin’s hobby is just that – a beautiful, varied and delightful way of passing the time of day and bathing in the sunshine. It’s not – and won’t be with Colin in charge – a business. And neither should it be. The difficulty for Colin is to recognise this, step back from dressing up in suits and put back his garden gloves and continue to love what he does, has done, and will do for the rest of his days.

Loving your hobby is one thing: but you can love it too much for it to become your business.

Tips for Business Start Ups: what watering the allotment will tell you about your place in the business ecology.

You’ll know when you have an allotment that water is a pretty important commodity which, in this climate at the moment, runs out pdq.

So you take to watering the various plants on aforesaid allotment and realise quickly that the trees require a damn sight more water than your average marigold. They drown in the stuff; give them a tub full and it’s gone and they’re screaming in their own plant way for more. It doesn’t stop, their need for water, because they’re so damned big and greedy.

But they are what they are: trees. And they demand a lot.

Businesses are like that in the ecology they inhabit. Like it or not, there will be a tree in the midst of your business ecology which is soaking up resources which you could do with. You could do do much more with what they demand. We all know that, but the fact is, they’re a tree and you’re a marigold. You both have an equal right to inhabit and thrive in your mutual economy but they will always need more than you.

Trees in your business world ? Get over them. They’ll be here long after you, unless you take an axe to them – but then just watch how the whole climate suffers.

He’s Behind You! – the Twitter Panto Bible

The Christmas Panto this year is a new form of Christmas entertainment as it’s composed entirely through contributions from Twitter. We’re offering prompts advice and input as the story continues and performance day gets closer.

Contributions should be no more than 160 characters please: any more than that will result in us exerting unilateral editorial decisions 🙂

We’re up and running and now it’s over to you!

THE PREMISE
Panto Land starts here:

Once Upon A Time there was a very, very kind caring and considerate BANKER, Heinous, who spent her lifetime looking after other peoples financial problems. She had a vast collection of piggy banks which she regularly tended with great care and affection.

Set in the ancient town of Royal Gluttonnee Bloater, Heinous tends to the rich, the poor and the ultra-poor without favour, prejudice or discrimination. Times are good in Royal Gluttonee Bloater with everyone being able to get some piece of the action. Plates are full, Christmas stockings are full to bursting, shops are bursting to the seams with food from all corners of the world and everyone’s living in the best of all possible worlds.

Once a year the town congregate to their national anthem – Piggies make the World go Round and party to the early hours of the following week. Life couldn’t get any better. Could it?

In the heart of the town though, there is a dark dark dark place which many know about but which few admit to knowing about: the House of the Porkie Pies.

Here, people furtively visit for all sorts of devious purposes: to take revenge against their neighbours in the Garden of Nede, to distort own public profiles in the Corridor of Distorting Mirrors or to damage the reputation and honor of complete strangers in the Kitchens of Teflon.

Many more scurrilous activies have been reported across the town in recent years and their incidence seems to be increasing. A rumour is spreading that disturbing forces in the House of the Porkie Pies are not happy. Quite what they’re not happy with is not clear. Quite who that Some-one is, is also not clear. But Some-one is Not Happy. And Some-one has made it clear that Something Must Be Done. That Some-one has somehow managed to start a feeling that things are not quite right in the town… that there may even be a crisis in the brewing… Whatever the truth of the matter, Everyone is becoming more and more unsettled by the actions of Someone and are beginning to cast around for Anyone to pin the blame to.

NEXT STEPS (in postings of no more than 160 characters please)

THE CHARACTERS

THE BANKER – a young woman called Heinous. She is bright, careful, is concerned for the planet and drives fast cars. Heinous pronounces her name ‘Heenous’ and gets upset when people call her ‘Haynous’ for obvious double-entendre reasons.

FAILURE is there waiting in the shadows to pounce on poor suspecting people trying to make their way in life http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BKg0z2zmUs

FAILURE is teamed up with another character called GREED, both of whom are nasty characters whose names/titles sum them up as panto baddies. However, you would not know this from their first appearances. They are docile, mild mannered and give to charity.

HONEY is named, not because of her hair or personality because she does tend to stick to people, often outstaying her welcome.

Male Hero: FLASH BUTTONS. Handsome, eligible, yet slightly vulnerable aspirational racing driver, fan of the Antiques Roadshow and son of the wealty, bullish but increasingly influential Minister for SustainabilitY, called VIRIDIAN. VIRIDIAN strongly objects to his son’s chosen sport and as a result, has cut FLASH out of the Will. Never terribly careful with money, FLASH now finds his only two motivations to continue racing are his dream of one day owning a team with his name on while continuing to add to his collection of fine china, especially his beloved, treasured, Piggy Banks.

It has not however been the most successful of seasons for Flash. Constantly harried by the judges and with the Ruber Taurus team carrying all before them, Flash has got himself in with a bad crowd, including FAILURE and GREED yet the attentions of the sweet girl called HONEY have led to the occasional sticky situation and a meeting with a rival gang led by STRENGTH and his trusty lieutenants HOPE and PROSPERITY.

Although FLASH doesn’t want to push HONEY away, and may indeed have great difficulty in doing so, he has found himself longing for someone who knows about money. Someone who loves fast cars. And Piggy Banks.

MERLOT Merlin the Magician has a cousin. MERLOT. Merlot is widely travelled and became very popular in most countries from Chile to Australia but he felt most comfortable in Europe and helped keep a little place in France called Château Petrus. He was accustomed to blending in, just playing a supporting role, but as his richer and smoother friends drifted out of fashion, Merlot became the reluctant darling, the easy going, ever reliable life and soul of the magical wizard parties. But time and loneliness started to take its toll.

With little genuine companionship, a public highly sceptical about even the existence of wizards and only the European Central Bank crying out for a magic so powerful that not even his more clever cousin, MERLIN, could conjure up, MERLOT started to feel cold, became thin-skinned and prone to a variety of ailments. For solace, he turned to drink, but when tipsy he had trouble remembering spells, in particular the right spells, which only caused him to drink more.

After yet another spell had gone strangely awry, he found himself waking up in a very full recycling bin listening to the most beautiful voice he had ever heard. What was she singing about? Something about a Banker? As he climbed out of the bin and pulled an empty bottle of Rosé from his nostril he thought ‘What’s wrong with these peoples taste-buds?’ But MERLOT could feel cool soil beneath his feet and a warm sun on his cheeks. His journey towards salvation had begun. MERLOT’S first stop however was to find some trousers to cover his cheeks.

Eventually, MERLOT might run off with HONEY, have two children called CINNAMON and NUTMEG and live happily ever after in an orange grove making mulled wine. What could be more appropriate around Christmas time?

MISS MARPLE AND HER FAIRY GOD-SONS

Our fairy god mother – MISS MARPLE – is the antithesis of the traditional fairy – she’s Amazonian in stature with a heart and guts to match her ample physique. Rubens could have learnt a thing or two about the larger woman had he met Miss Marple.  Tinkerbelle she ain’t.

Her trusty sidekicks – the fairy godsons – Girl Elvis and Boy George – are a god send to her, procuring her every need and providing her with the fleet footedness she used to possess in her dancing days which are long gone although she doesn’t accept that. Whilst clearly the fairy godmother of the piece, her flying abilities are not apparent until the end of the story when she will fly, unaided, over the whole town dispensing her grace and favours to the grateful town citizens. Previous efforts at flight have been constantly thwarted by all manner of distractions.

She’s a classic fairy godmother dispensing goodness love and affection to everyone who needs it, righting wrongs and putting the misguided on the straight and narrow.

Named Miss Marple after her favourite flavour of smoked bacon (marple tree leaf) she revels frequently in all things sticky and sweet. She is also – of course – a classic sleuth who will be able to solve any intractable problems the other characters generate.

Who are the other characters in this story?
How do these characters communicate? Speak? Move? Gesture?
How might these characters interact?

YOU CAN SEE A SCRIPT SCRAPBOOK HERE: https://drnicko.wordpress.com/2011/10/30/hes-behind-you-the-script-scrapbook-of-the-aspire-twitter-panto/

This will eventually turn into the final script. Please feel free to add script between the characters as you see fit. Please note you cannot add script until characters have been accepted.

Authors and contributors (in order of appearance)
Ged McKenna
Angela Morris
Nick Owen
Alan Bradbury
Clare Bentley
Owen Hutchings