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Starting a Business Parable from Old Hen
Who will help me with my new idea?
You are excited about your new idea. In fact, you are so excited that you tell the next person you meet and fully expect them to get excited too. However, the problem that many people find, is that perhaps, they will like your idea and would love to reap the rewards and benefits of it too but, as so often is the case, they don’t really want to get involved. The classic story of The Little Red Hen is well worth reading before spilling your guts. They key to getting help with your new adventure is presenting your idea to the right people at the right time and, in the right way. The lessons learned through the simple story of the The Little Red Hen help teach the importance of planning, marketing, and presenting your new idea.
The 'Little Red Hen'
Once upon a time, a mouse, a cat, a pig, and a little red hen lived on an old farm on a flowery hill surrounded by fields of golden wheat. One day, the Little Red Hen found some grains of wheat scattered in the barnyard. "Look, look at what I've found!" she said to the other animals. "Who would like a hot fresh loaf of bread?”
The Little Red Hen
“Oh, I would!” said the mouse.
“Oh, I would!” said the cat.
“Oh, I would!” said the pig.
And then, they all laid down to take a short nap only to be woken up by the little red hen who was still very excited about the thought of a hot baked fresh loaf of bread.
“Great!” said the Little Red Hen "Who will help me plant these grains of wheat?"
"Oh no, Not I!" said the mouse, "go ask the cat".
"Oh no, Not I!" said the cat, "go ask the pig".
"Oh no, Not I!" said the pig, "go ask the mouse".
"Fine, then I'll do it myself," said the Little Red Hen. And so she did. She dug some holes and carefully planted each seed. She also placed a wooden stake in the ground with a picture of a loaf of bread attached to each one. The Little Red Hen also also knew that the seeds would need water to grow tall and strong and once again ran to the barnyard and asked for help. "Who will help me water these seeds?" asked the Little Red Hen.
"Not I!" said the mouse, "ask me tomorrow".
"Not I!" said the cat, "I'm busy right now".
"Not I!" said the pig, "the seeds don't need water, besides, it might rain".
"Then I'll do it myself," said the Little Red Hen. And so she did. The Little Red Hen watered the soil and waited patiently for the wheat to grow. When the wheat was tall and golden, she knew it was ready to be cut. "Who will help me harvest the wheat?" asked the Little Red Hen.
"Not I!" said the mouse, "I'm too small to help you".
"Not I!" said the cat, "you can't make bread out of wheat".
"Not I!" said the pig who simply rolled over and went back to sleep.
"Then I'll do it myself," said the Little Red Hen. And so she did. The Little Red Hen's basket was soon filled with wheat. "Who will help me take the wheat to the mill to be ground into flour?" asked the Little Red Hen.
"Not I!" said the mouse, "I don't have any money to pay the miller".
"Not I!" said the cat, "I don't like your idea anymore".
At this point, The Little Red Hen couldn't even find the pig to ask him.
"Alrighty then, I'll do it myself," said the Little Red Hen. And so she did. The kind miller had seen all the work she had done so far and gladly ground the wheat into powdery, velvety flour, and didn't even charge her. The Little Red Hen thanked the miller and then carried it home in a rough brown sack. "Who will help me make this flour into bread?" timidly asked the Little Red Hen.
"Not I!" said the mouse, "besides that, it's taking to long, you are wasting your time".
"Not I!" said the cat, "see if you can get the miller to help, he will probably do it for free, hee, hee".
"Not I!" said the pig, "the farmer will probably bring me some food, he has plenty, I'll just wait".
"Then I'll do it myself," said the Little Red Hen. And so she did. The Little Red Hen mixed the flour into sticky dough and kneaded it into a smooth loaf. "Who will help me chop some wood, start a fire, and put this bread into the oven to bake?" asked the Little Red Hen.
This time, not the mouse, not the cat, nor the pig even responded. The Little Red Hen saw them huddled together on the other side of the barn yard laughing and pointing in her direction. She thought that yes, maybe they were right. Maybe this whole idea was a bad idea. Perhaps, she should just forget about making a loaf of bread and just go join them and laugh at her idea too.
But, she didn't.
"Then I'll do it myself," said the Little Red Hen. And so she did. Soon the kitchen was filled with the delicious scent of baking bread and the smell drifted across the barn yard. The other animals came to see what was happening and watched as the Little Red Hen took the warm, crusty loaf out of the oven, and set it on the table. She saw the mouse, the cat, and the pig with eyes wide open staring in through the window. "Who will help me eat this fresh, tasty bread?" asked the Little Red Hen.
"I will!" said the mouse as he jumped through the window and sat down at the table.
"I will!" said the cat as she jumped through the window and sat down at the table.
"I will!" said the pig as he jumped through the window and sat down at the table.
"Oh no you will NOT!," said the Little Red Hen. "You didn't help me plant it, or water it, or harvest it, or mill it, or bake it. I have invited the miller to come over and help me eat it" And so she and the miller did just that.
The very next time the Little Red Hen found some grains of wheat, she didn't even have to ask for help. The mouse planted it in the rich, brown soil, the cat watered it carefully every day, and the pig harvested the wheat when it had grown tall and strong. When the dough was baked, together the animals sat down and ate the fresh, warm bread. It was delicious! While they were eating the bread, the other animals listened intently to The Little Red Hen's new idea and looked carefully at her plan. Later that day, they all visited the miller who also became excited about selling their wonderful loaves of bread.
Put your ideas to work
Bring your idea to life!
The other way of looking at the story of The Little Red Hen, is that even with a good idea, and not getting the immediate help you need to bring it into fruition, sometimes the help you need is a good plan and good presentation. And yes, in the story, the other animals were just lazy but, in real life, creating a good plan before you share your idea is critical if you want legitmate help. You need to start with a good business plan. A software program like Business Plan Pro will lead you through the process and help you create a presentation that will attract the "right" people.
Giving Up on Ideas
Was the Little Red Hen wrong for not sharing her bread?
Water your seed
Obviously, if you have read the original The Little Red Hen, you'll notice I've taken some liberty. My version is filled with opportunities to "read between the lines" and is meant as an illustration to disscuss not only the initial approach of The Little Red Hen, but also to relate to the responses of the other animals. Don't be discouraged when other people "naysay" your ideas. Your idea seed was gifted to you. Plant it, water it, and harvest it...but do it in the right way!