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Archive for September, 2013

The Investors & Partners Trade-Off

Monday, September 30th, 2013

When people talk about chasing investors for their business idea it often sounds like they’re chasing after free money. But the simple fact is there’s no free lunch in business.

Investors aren’t gift givers. Investors supply the capital to get your idea off the ground with an expectation of getting their money back with a premium.

They’ll ask you one big question: “What’s in it for us?” Equity in the business? Control? Or cash?

If they’re a smart investor they know exactly how to calculate their expected return multiplied by an appropriate risk factor. And they’ll compare that to alternative investments. The only way you can really beat the smart investor down is to get them on board with your ideas – where they accept greater risk or less returns because they believe in you.

But this is where the trade-off occurs. You have to also ask yourself what’s in it for you?

Without an investor you could possibly bootstrap your idea. Slow growth. True. But you retain ownership of the business and control of the direction your idea takes. Any cash in the door can be fed directly back in without the pressure of returning that $20,000 with interest to the investor.

Bringing other people into your idea can be as difficult. What if there’s a tussle for control over the business’ direction, but they own all the assets or you owe a significant amount of money? It’s not hard to find examples in business where passionate people find investors or partners who end up redirecting the business to another direction and booting the original person out onto the footpath.

For Morgan’s Barn Mead the bottom line is about the direction to take our ideas and retaining our ethos that there are no rules in Mead Club.

And it’s a major concern, at least to me, that making good mead doesn’t pressure us towards entering the market as just another faux-wine traditional mead follower. That market is well served and constantly filling with new entrants. Rather, we’re about carving a niche and owning it. Not just with brand and story, but with innovative products.

Investors and partners will always be a temptation. But you have to choose those paths carefully.

The True Art of Being Boring

Saturday, September 28th, 2013

Have you ever noticed how people who say you bore them in a conversation always believe they’re interesting? Oh you might sit there and endlessly listen to the drivel and tripe of their personal adventure to somewhere you’ve never travelled, but then you mention a camera or a photograph. Or something about humanity. Politics. The environment. Global Warming. Science. Or, dare we mention, prison.

I’m a collection of eclectic taste and experiences so this is a regular challenge for people around me. We’ve got a word in our home called factigue. Because I love to find out things about things. I’m a researcher by nature and an information sifter by obsession. And I take great interest in the stuff below our normal attention – below football and motors and shopping and what I consider the gnawing banal.

And I live in a house and among people less than fixated on the future of the mead industry. But I talk about mead incessently… what it can be and the production techniques and the manner of distribution for business model x in a far-away part of the Globe.

The same boringness applies to being an amateur photographer. An eye lift. A look. An escape into other rooms. To our friends and family an eyebrow raises and they say “Oh you shoot photographs.” But there is never the question to look at my work (or, for that matter, to taste the mead). We’re all amateur photographers; one bazillion pictures to the camera. The danger is in clarification – I shoot film. Yawn. Disembark the slow train of Steven’s boring film topic.

I’m also passionate about prisons and the social issue of crime because I served a decade and a half in prison as a younger man; it’s a fundamental aspect of my character. My old friends. My family relationships. The majority of those tick-boxes you’d need to understand my screwed up worldview. This quirky behaviour strings directly back to the politics and fist fights in Risdon Prison’s hard yards. The mental grind of sixteen hours a day in cells and an occasional month in solitary. I’m an adept self-conversationalist.

All of that is boring to the average individual living an exciting life riding their train to work with iPhone earplugs every morning. With their book or their dream; or their religion or yoga practice. Those inane elbow crushing conversations where I have to endure the polite serendipity of having found myself at their mercy.

So when somebody says to me “Could you not tell me those stories; it’s not my life and I’m not interested in those things,” it strikes me as disingenuous. Conversation and stories aren’t about being entertained – they’re about unfolding relationships and developing an understanding. They’re components of culture.

What they’re really saying is “I don’t want to know you.” It’s a statement about personal effort. Not quality.

Something to consider in work and personal life is that the true art of being boring is to realise that your stories are as mundane or irrelevant as the next persons. In the context of the next person’s divergent interest and experiences. Unless they choose to make the effort and listen.

Our Sad Personal Story about East Africa

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

In recent days we lost Lindy’s son Ross, 32, and his eight-and-a-half-month-pregnant partner Lief Yavuz to the Shabaab terrorists inside the Westgate shopping mall at Nairobi, Kenya. They traveled to Nairobi for the medical infrastructure that would bring their new baby into the World. They were in Westgate after attending a pre-natal class.

Ross Langdon, Christmas, 2009

I’m not sure what I was doing at the time they were killed. Most probably I was excited about shooting photographs of the Tall Ship Festival. The film negatives will be very difficult to process and scan because of their relationship to our loss.

On the Sunday morning I was unaware they were in Kenya. I was unaware about anything unfolding in Kenya. Eventually Lindy told me Ross and Lief had been to a pre-natal appointment near Westgate. Their hotel was over the road. It was natural they could be having lunch at the mall.

And then our telephone didn’t ring and the email to say they were safe and well never arrived. And the Tasmanian sky turned darker through dusk into night.

I’ll never believe I was supportive enough in those hours. Perhaps through denial. Or my own ignorance. Until that night after many frantic phone calls she said “They’re all dead.”

A tear comes to my eyes as I type those words. It’s so difficult to believe in the vibrancy of a Tasmanian Spring.

Yet I’m not angry at Islam or young men and women seduced in their poverty and lack of opportunity into doing this deed. Young men recruited from the fringe. Disenfranchised. Manipulated.

I’m just so very sad for the ripples of their actions around the World. And our loss of Ross and Lief.

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark and I live in the Derwent Valley in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a mazer & a yeast farmer (making beer, fruit wine and mead as by-products of continuous improvement in my farming practices). I'm a photographer, although my film cameras are currently silent. I do not tolerate idiots. I do not tolerate bigotry. I do not tolerate excuses. Let's be clear, if you sit with my enemies you my are my enemy for life.

Blogger. Thinker. Brewer. Drinker. Life partner to the amazing and incredible Megan.

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