A story of pumpkins

Dany Marquis

Once upon a time, Number 1. Actually, his name wasn't Number 1, but I don't want people to recognize him so I decided to call him that to simplify my story. So once upon a time, there was a man called Number 1, who became unemployed when the factory that employed him closed. And as Number 1 hated unemployment and was an optimist, he turned the page and decided to do what his father had taught him: grow pumpkins.

He had land, a little machinery, and he was a valiant man. But once launched, the land turned out to be less fertile than expected. All the same, the meager harvests were of excellent quality. Less yield, but good pumpkin. He said to himself that he should increase the cultivation area to increase production the following year. Number 1, who had then bet everything on his land, spat in his hands and continued to work. The ox is slow, but the earth is patient, he said to himself. She will end up being more generous. The onlookers who passed by watched him work tirelessly, and they ended up becoming interested in his work. But how valiant he is, they all said in their hearts! Plus, he has kids! We will encourage him:

- Hey! You, over there in the field, can we buy products from you? What are these, pumpkins? A kind of city squash?

This sudden burst of interest and generosity was first perceived as a glimmer of hope in the heart of the budding entrepreneur.

- Yes, yes, there you go! Look. The best pumpkins in the world grow on my land, the flesh is soft and sweet like honey. My pumpkins are nutritious, perfect for making soups and even the most exquisite pies. I can give you the recipe if you want.

- That's nice, but we think you're valiant, we want to encourage you.

And it was by exchanging a few pumpkins for a handful of banknotes that a strange feeling arose in the heart of the entrepreneur that he would have had difficulty naming. Encourage me? But what do they mean by that? He figured at least he was starting to make sales, bring in cash and actually do business.

Day after day, his customers remained as kind as ever, filled with admiration for all the work accomplished. The entrepreneur managed to sell part of his production and, with the money earned, he paid himself a meager salary, then reinvested the balance to improve his harvests.
The years passed and the subtle feeling grew and took more and more space in his heart. His customers encouraged him, but it seemed to him that it was almost out of pity. One day, a client even asked him why he continued to work so much. “You could be paid a lot better if you worked for a public institution or organization,” she told him.

It was true, he admitted, and he remembered La Fontaine's fable of the dog and the wolf. He replied that he had already earned much more in his former life, when he was an employee, but that he was very proud of his current job. That he loved his freedom and that he was patient. He explained to him that a doctor must study for more than ten years before having a good salary, and that he was giving himself time to succeed. The customer nodded her head, but her face adorned with a half-smile said a lot about her thoughts...

I am betting on plowing my land for ten years and we will see if I am right, he said to himself. That same evening, after having stayed in the field longer than usual, with a heart full of doubt, Number 1 returned to his house, to his family, his oasis of love. One day someone will notice the quality of my work and things will change. Let's be patient! And as if, while he was whispering these hopeful words to himself, someone had heard him, God, the Devil, the Universe, the Great Gazou, difficult to say, but, the next day , a new customer showed up at the farm. About 60 years old, he walked with a confident step and commanded respect by his simple presence. You could imagine him straight out of an adventure novel with his handlebar mustache and cotton twill safari jacket with rolled sleeves. He had strolled around the merchandise before saying to Number 1 in a strong British accent:

- How much are your pumpkins, friend?

The buyer chose a few, paid, without saying anything other than a rolling goodbye. The next day he came back all smiles. His accent was very pronounced and he spoke in a jerky manner, as if he were translating in his head before risking speaking:

- These are truly the best pumpkins I have ever eaten. How many can you produce per year? And at what price do you sell them to me?

And what followed was a discussion about pumpkins. For the first time, Number 1 spoke with a customer who really knew pumpkins. In the week that followed, a lawyer called him to define the terms of the agreement: price, payment terms, transportation, quality standard, etc. Then he signed a contract. It was very quick.

Thus ended his best sale, the one which guaranteed him to sell a large part of his pumpkins and which had just guaranteed him and his family a salary for years to come. But, the most important thing is that deep in his heart, he felt that this mysterious man had not encouraged him. No charity, no pity. He had treated him like a professional supplier and recognized the quality of his pumpkins. He was grateful that his regular customers supported him, but he felt like they were doing it out of charity, and he felt guilty for feeling that way.

This was then the beginning of a win-win partnership with the buyer which became very profitable for Number 1. The years of misery began to be transformed into pleasant memories that the children enjoyed recalling around the table.
Because Number 1 had since moved house, bought a new car and was able to put money aside for his children's studies. Above all, he could walk with his head held high in the village, because he had, in a way, won his bet. He earned a good living, thanks to his pumpkins, his local customers and his contract with the buyer with a British accent. And this, after ten years of hard work. Like a doctor after long studies, he generated his own salary. He was autonomous. He was proud!

But one day, a man from the neighboring village also found himself unemployed. Let's call him Number 2. The latter has been buying pumpkins from Number 1 since he started. To encourage him, since he, Number 2, had a big job. But now that he had lost his job, he no longer encouraged her. He envied her. And he told himself that he too was capable of doing the same. That he could feed his family by selling pumpkins! His father had also taught him how to do it. And he began to cultivate his own land. I would have done just as much. You know, everyone is free to grow pumpkins: Number 1, you, me... All you need is a little soil and the will.

And now in the neighboring village, a new pumpkin farm has emerged. The customers, seeing that Number 1 was earning a good living, decided, in a spirit of fairness, to turn to Number 2, in order to encourage him in turn, and to give him a chance. Especially since the pumpkins produced by Number 2 were as good as those from Number 1.

And the west winds finally blew this strange news into the ears of the buyer. A new pumpkin producer has set up shop, and he is as good as Number 1. The buyer immediately came over to take a look. Observation, same quality. He then made Number 2 an offer:

- Can you provide me with the same quantity as Number 1? And the same quality? But, a little cheaper?

Number 2 thought of his family and agreed. The buyer's lawyer contacted Number 1 to tell him that the contract was terminated according to a somewhat vague article in the "competitiveness" section. Number 1 was furious.

When local customers heard the news, they were just as excited. They then left the fold of Number 2 to return to buy pumpkins from Number 1. But Number 1, to provide the demand required by the buyer, had been obliged to take out certain loans in order to buy machinery. And without the buyer's income, even with sales from its local customers, Number 1 was unable to meet its financial obligations and had to declare bankruptcy.
Some dirty tongues said that he had thought too big, and that his ambition had pushed him to ruin. The customers, saddened by the fate of Number 1, then turned to Number 2 for fear of seeing the last pumpkin producer in the area disappear. So, despite the dirty trick he had played on Number 1, the local customers cheered him on since he was last. In any case, rumors were circulating that Number 1 was a bad manager, so what happened to him was not entirely Number 2's fault!

And Number 2, who was not a bandit, was very sorry for Number 1's bankruptcy, but it only took one look at his children to convince himself that he had made the right decision. He told himself that he had to work harder and be more competitive so that no other pumpkin producer in the region would see the light of day. He borrowed more money to build a modern and efficient factory. He purchased machinery to optimize his harvests. He received grants, government guaranteed loans and tax credits to make his pumpkin farm a leader in the country. He was cited as an exemplary entrepreneur. This Number 2 was a daring man. And even if some envied him, no local man had the pretension of being able to do the same. He had played his cards well.

However, while Number 2 was building his business, the west wind continued to blow in the buyer's ears. A warm wind, which had led him to look further south, beyond the border. To a country where it's hot. Where there is no winter. And in this country, there lived a man, a father, proud, hardworking, always smiling, who wanted his children to go to university one day so that they would know something other than the hard work of the land. 
This man, let's call him Number 3, also produced pumpkins. It was renowned in its country for producing large, fleshy ones with soft, honeyed flesh. His farm could produce a lot. He worked hard and was humble in his needs. The same was true for his employees. They treated them well, by his country's standards. They were all hardworking and all wanted to provide for their families. When the buyer arrived in his country and met Number 3, he told him that he could provide pumpkins of better quality than any producer in the world, and at half the price. The buyer was impressed by the facilities and professionalism of Number 3 and noted that his pumpkins were really of excellent quality. He immediately signed a contract with Number 3, who organized a superb party with his employees and their families with a banquet in honor of the buyer. And first thing the next day, the buyer instructed his lawyer to cancel the contract with Number 2.

Number 2's universe collapsed. And although his local customers encouraged him, there were not enough of them to support all his financial obligations. He had to go bankrupt. 
Some dirty tongues still said that Number 2 had thought too big. That his ambition had pushed him to ruin. Him too. Ambition kills, that's what they kept saying to anyone who would listen.

Additionally, rumors were circulating that Number 2 was a worse manager than Number 1.
And as for our local customers, they, scandalized, no longer knowing who to support, turned to the local grocer, whom they knew well, to ask him to do something. We must encourage local purchasing, they all said heartily to the grocer. And the grocer, full of good will, tried to buy pumpkins locally, but in vain. No longer knowing where to buy some, he asked his fellow grocers who told him about a buyer who had some to sell.

So he turned to the buyer who offered him the pumpkins from Number 3. The customers, a little confused, said to themselves that at least they were encouraging the local grocer who worked hard and managed a large team of employees. , including several students. It's really terrible to manage students. You have to be strong. We're going to encourage him, the local customers said to themselves.

This story is of course fictitious and the pumpkins can be replaced by many products or services. What emerges is that from the top of the stands, once the game is over, it is easy for spectators to pass judgment on the actions of the entrepreneurs. On the other hand, it is clear that despite work, good will and sound management, sometimes, as in any good adventure, unforeseen events can arise at any time.

So, despite everything an entrepreneur can do to prevent these unforeseen events, he is never 100% safe. When an entrepreneur is successful in his professional life, he is often credited with great skills and values ​​in his entrepreneurial journey.

But we often forget that if he arrived safely, it was because he was, yes, hardworking, full of good will and managed his business healthily. But, he also had a lucky star that protected him. And this star is impossible to buy.

Danny Marquis

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published