One of the biggest lessons in business I ever learned came from the landlord of my first shop. A grumpy man in his fifties at the time, he owned the covered walkway in which my lovely, two-storey shop was situated and he charged a rather extortionate premium for the pleasure of renting it from him.
I sold painted furniture and my interior design services, alongside an old fashioned tobacconist and chocolatier, a pair of madcap (occasionally drunk) middle-aged sisters who sold lingerie (remind me to tell you the story of the day they nipped into my shop at closing time, thoroughly squiffy on a sneaky bottle of gin and proceeded to buy a paper mache sheep so big they both had to carry it back to their shop, and then returned it mortified and sober the next day) , a funky clothes shop, a darling nursery shop run by a older lady who adored babies but had not been blessed with her own, and a large coffee shop from which we all procured daily breakfast muffins and grew fatter in the process.
We were a tight-knit group: at once proud of being situated in the most prestigious walkway in town and utterly unable to make our businesses work because the ratio of traffic to rent was more than somewhat skewiff.
One day I took it into my head to go bouncing into the landlords office to beg for understanding and a reduction in the silly rents making business impossible. And there he sat, looking smug, and questioning why I didn’t turnover my stock faster and I said it was because I couldn’t afford it, and he said oh but Alison, you need to speculate to accumulate and have you thought of stocking companion sets and I, who was just twenty three at the time, had grown up with gas fires and had never heard of companion sets, so dismissed this idea immediately, but the need to speculate to accumulate stuck in the same way that I had come to understand, from my Father, that it is physically impossible to be LOST: you are never lost, you simply don’t know where you are and as all roads eventually lead to the same place, there is no doubt that you will find your way out- which may just be the most wonderful attitude to leading a worry free life that I have ever heard!
And so I went away and considered speculating to accumulate, but finally decided that there is no point throwing good money at a bad situation and one by one our little community shut up shop and the landlord who clearly hadn’t understood his very own principle, found himself dealing with lots of empty units and to let signs that stayed up for a terribly long time, while his lovely, gentle secretary quietly ripped him off to the tune of squillions and eventually went to jail.
I tell you all this because now that I am older and infinitely wiser, I have come to appreciate the art of speculating to accumulate. I buy good shampoo to accumulate glossy hair. Decent make up not chucked into the trolley at the supermarket. Quality moisturiser. I have given up skimping on food and now put my food bill first and foremost in my budget because food IS health and that my friends is that. I choose appliances at the very top end of my budget instead of believing that skimping will afford me shoes as well, when all I really accumulate is domestic stress and unpredictable financial heartache. Though I have never really believed in the joys of frugality, I now completely reject it in favour of accumulating the kind of peaceful domestic and personal existence I crave: throwing what little money I have at things I both authentically desire and need, and teaching myself day by day to let go of the things I don’t.
At home then, I have speculating to accumulate off pat. Thank-you Mr Landlord. I do hope that nice secretary didn’t bankrupt you. But in business I have always struggled. I worry that speculating to accumulate will leave me unable to feed my son, or keep the roof over my head. I see other bloggers speculating willy-nilly on systems that double both their time and their income and convince myself they must have trust-funds or ludicrously rich husbands, and still I struggle on trying to do everything myself, when a little accumulative speculation would actually go a long way.
So recently I have been re-thinking my strategies. The rather expensive theme here on Brocantehome has speeded up my blogging life no end. Purchasing YNAB has transformed my budget. And there is a system that would automatise all of the procedures I currently have to implement myself, that all the cool ladies I know in blogging are using to propel their businesses into the stratosphere, that would indeed transform my working day: a system I have been dithering about buying for six months now while faffing about, trying out a hundred different much cheaper options that have simply caused me no end of grief. So here it is – make or break time. Time to speculate to accumulate and hopefully make life easier for all us.
Do I go for it, or sit here on my ten year old laurels and fret a little more? Would life have been different if only I had stocked those darn companion sets??