Simon Carr: The Kitchen Capitalist

It works! It works! Oh doesn't work
Click to follow
The Independent Online

The file took forever to download; the only reason it arrived is because I forgot about it and started on the rest of my inbox. That's the tragic flaw, the vicious mole, in the enterprising mind. One thing leads to another. Distractions multiply (and particularly with age - oh look! A sock!). You start doing something and you end up doing something else. You start with a manufacturing project in China and you end up along the way with a website of parliamentary bits and pieces. At every moment, the great Nile of the enterprise is presented with a delta of opportunities. When I discovered...

Damn it, I'm off again. The point is that a video-file suddenly appeared on my desktop. Ping! It opened itself, obligingly and showed a marvelously cute little object with beautifully tooled features. I recognised it. I knew what it was. I cautiously pressed the right-pointing triangle and we were suddenly on the other side of the world. There were Chinese voices. It sounded like an angry crowd. There were three of them in an office conversation. The camera jostled as we circumnavigated the object - and through the office hubbub came the voice files I had written and recorded and had programmed in and...

The path to this moment has been a long one. Ah, it sounded so intriguing! I haven't felt like this since my three-year-old won a foot-race. It works. That's the point, it works. It's sweet, cute, it's useful, and it talks in all sorts of ways.

I was so sunk in admiration of everything to do with this project that I didn't register Warren's next e-mail. The words seemed to imply that the power supply is interrupted when switch number two is open. Or shut. Or welded to the wrong point. But it works! Nothing could spoil my happiness. My object is operational! When I finally realised that it didn't work, the spiral down from Alpine heights to submarine depths was long and interesting.

But the journey is finally complete. The view from my hole is limited but good. Because now I know what to do, business sense aligns itself with common sense. If you want to make a lot of money by selling things, just find something to sell. The world is full of things at bargain-basement prices. Source them. Open something called China Warehouse. Sell slate at a 10th of the retail-price per ton. Sell quad bikes for £750. Sell... I'm off again. I'm down the delta. My Christmas novelty has spawned a chain of regional warehouses.

We have to keep going. That sensible way of eliminating levels of risk rules out the deepest motivation in the whole thing. The driving force is the creative process. It's seeing the thing, your thing, the dream made real. Otherwise it's not worth the candle. Of course, it may not be worth a candle anyway.