Simon Carr: The Kitchen Capitalist

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The Independent Online

The story so far: the author has sold his house to finance a manufacturing project in the hope of making a small fortune to finance his old age...

Now we are in someone else's production schedule it seems different. We are caught up in a larger machine and our little feet have been lifted off the floor. From this height we suddenly get the first glimpse of entrepreneur heaven.

It's the glimpse of the project producing more energy than it consumes.

Let us just luxuriate in that. It is the moment when, after years of buying for them, shopping for them, cleaning for them... that your children start paying rent. They cease to be a burden and become a support. The cost centres turn into revenue streams.

But real entrepreneurial heaven is when a business produces more money than it consumes. That happens so rarely. Profit should be the driving force of business, but frankly, it's such a remote idea it ceased to propel me half way through the journey.

Now we are moving into the most dangerous phase of all. When things start running happily, start-up types like me lose interest. When the passion, drama and power of the revolution turns into the bureaucracy of government administration. When the hacking and slashing turns into the soothing and smoothing. I hate that. I'm a hacker and slasher, not a soother and smoother.

The fellow who started up Woolworths revealed the secret of huge wealth. Just do the same things every day, and occasionally do them a little bit better than the day before. I'm sure this is the secret of success. It isn't a matter of brilliance, genius, sparkle - even in this glittering world. It's a matter of regularity, reliability, predictability.

So here we are on the brink of the dangerous phase. I have to keep my primal, disruptive feelings to the fore. I have to veer away from the seductive sense of impending success (God knows that's easy enough). Perhaps I should apply myself to the costs with an artificial ferocity, just to get the pioneering spirit back. When you are suffering it seems more normal to make others suffer.

So, this upcoming trip to China, to supervise the production, maybe we can get some of the passion and horror back by flying cattle-class.

If I offered you £800 to sit in a slightly less comfortable chair for 10 hours while you read and watched TV and practised going in and out of Zen trances - would you take the money? Or would you insist on champagne and more legroom? Is temporary discomfort worth £800? What else would you do with the money? (Put it into advertising.)

The trips I've enjoyed most have been the cheapest. Business-class travel looks the same everywhere - you still see how big the world is in the back of the bus where poor people kill chickens and cook them over open fires. That's what we need to need, to lift us out of our rut. Isn't it?