A cautionary tale for entrepreneurs:

A 20 year old Englishman was handed his uncle’s shoelace factory when he passed away. He was shocked to find it had been losing money for years. Determined not to let the factory shut down, he committed to learning everything he could to make the company successful.

One of his main competitors was a Chinese shoe lace company. He decided to copy everything he could, from their pricing and different colored laces, to the design of their website. But still, the business kept losing money.

So, to get closer, he organized a trip to China for his management to tour their factories. They came back with pages of notes on how their factories worked, and they implemented all the changes in their own factories. Still, they kept losing money.

Desperate, he managed to get some of his own people hired by the Chinese company where they worked for a year as spies, sending back all the inside information they could. He diligently implemented every tip and tool, but still, he kept losing money.

Exhasperated and on the verge of bankruptcy, as a last resort he called up the owner of the Chinese shoe lace company and said:

“I have a shoelace company in England, and I have tried everything to make money. For several years now, I have been copying everything you do in your company. I have had my people come and visit your company so I could learn everything you do. I even put spies in your company who sent back information to me for over a year.”

“I am impressed. That is very enterprising of you,” the owner said, “but why are you calling me now?”

“Because it is too much for me to bear. I had to call you personally because I will not stop until I find out how to make money from shoelaces.”

The Chinese owner replied “That is excellent! Keep on looking. And when you find out how to make money, please let me know. Because I still haven’t figured out how to make money either.”

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