With Special Thanks to Brian Clifford (Head Boy)
Many moons ago, in a school far, far away, I rose to the dizzy heights of entrepreneurship by buying cigarettes at the beginning of term, hanging onto them until mid-term and selling them at an outrageous profit. I then celebrated by stealing eggs and having a fry-up in the woods. I was even able to full fill my role as a hunter-gatherer by killing pheasants and mailing them to my dad in an old shoe box full of holes - and maggots. He was not pleased.
I thought I had reached the heights of creativity and risk when two of us (Roger E?) crept into the boiler room under the orangery to watch the girls changing when they used the swimming pool. Peering up through the wooden slats produced great excitement and gave me a cricked neck, but expecting to be caught any minute generated feelings of pure terror - and is not a great way to introduce anyone to the fairer sex and womanhood. The risk of being expelled and reading about it in the News of the World, never mind what long term effect it might have on the girls only added to the risk and excitement. Unfortunately, now when I get excited I end up with a crick in my neck!
However my crowning glory was when myself and another student (John Stanley) started a betting bookie business. We used 'starting odds', accepted the bets, made paid outs, etc, on all the horse races listed in whatever newspaper was delivered to the library. This resulted in the racing forms missing from the newspapers and a rush of kids to the library every Sunday as they checked the racing results. Curiosity was raised and this had to stop.
This Business Model covered all the basics i.e., a unique selling proposition, a monopoly market, easy marketing, minimum infrastructure etc. All the pieces were there, and the business actually generated a profit - kept in an old tobacco tin in my pocket. This was my first of many forays into being self-employed - and only made me hungry for more. The problem was that I was so pleased with myself I had to share it with someone - preferably someone senior, who would understand how clever I was, who would make me a Sub-Prefect on the spot and give me all the respect I deserved. So, one day, by the billiard table I decided that I would run this by Brian Clifford (Head Boy) in a very roundabout way without spilling the beans.
I am sure Brian wasn't the least bit interested and was wondering why this snot nosed kid was telling him all this. But he cajoled all the details (a lesson in proprietary information remaining proprietary) and his response was that I had to shut down the operation. I was horrified - all I was looking for was a pat on the head and some sort of medal. I wasn't doing anything illegal, no harm was done, no kneecaps broken, and I was exposing math, sports and financial management to a new segment of the school populace. But to no avail, shut it down he said, and so I did.
Since then it has taken many years of therapy to stop looking for approval from everyone I meet, and overcoming any subsequent rejection.
I have now made (and lost) many a small fortune and thought I would share how a Head Boy at Kings School played a role in helping me cut my teeth as an entrepreneur.