Investment Update – Autumn 2013 Australian Federal Government Budget – May 2013

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Burd the egg farmer

This article originally published in The Northern Daily Leader on 20 April 2013.

An American management consultant was on a business trip to Australia and went for a drive through the countryside on his day off. Driving through the Tamworth region he spotted a small farm stall on the side of the road, with a hand-written sign advertising fresh eggs. The egg farmer, Burd, stood smiling behind a counter packed with fresh eggs of all shapes and sizes. The American complimented Burd on the quality of his eggs and asked how hard it was to farm eggs. Burd replied “Not very hard, a few hours a day maybe”. The consultant asked why he didn’t work harder and produce more eggs. Burd said that he had enough to support his family’s needs and a little to sell from the farm stall. The consultant asked Burd how he spent the rest of the day. Burd replied “I sleep late, check my hens for a while, play with my children, have an afternoon nap with my wife, and stroll around town each evening where I have a few beers and play guitar with my friends.  I have a full and busy life.”

The American consultant scoffed and said “Burd, I must tell you, I am a very successful business consultant and I can help you. You should work harder at producing eggs, and with the extra money you should buy a larger shed to house more hens. With the money from the extra hens and bigger shed you can build even bigger sheds and buy more hens, and eventually you could be the biggest producer in the region. Instead of selling your eggs to a middleman you would sell directly to the wholesale retailers. You could expand into bird meat production, integrating your business vertically across the entire supply chain. You would control the product, processing and distribution for the entire industry. You would need to leave Tamworth and move to Sydney to run your national operations, and eventually to New York as your business expands internationally.”

“But,” said Burd, “how long will this take?” The consultant replied “Probably 15 to 20 years.” “And what then?” asked Burd. “That’s the best part!” laughed the consultant,  “when the time is right you would announce an IPO and we would list your company on the stock market. You would be a very rich man, you would make millions!”

“Millions? And then what?” asked Burd. “Well,” said the consultant, “then you would retire. You would move to a quiet country town where you would sleep late, manage a few hens for fun, play with your kids, take afternoon naps with your wife, and stroll around town in the evenings where you could drink beer and play your guitar with your friends.” *

*With acknowledgment to the unknown person on the internet whom I have shamelessly plagiarised.