A Watery Tale

I read this storey on holiday and thought it was pretty appropriate to my way of thinking about this money making Internet lark.

Once upon a time (I’ve always wanted to start a post with that) there was a village out in the sticks and the closest water supply was 2 miles away. So the head honcho in the village decided to contract the job of fetching the water out to 2 different villagers, lets say John and Jim.

John was a hard working sort and get on with the job in hand straight away. He bought himself a couple of buckets and each morning before the village woke he’d do multiple trips to the local watering hole, fill his buckets and carry them back to ensure everybody had enough water for the day ahead. As Jim had gone AWOL John had a captive market and was making a healthy profit.

This went on for a month or so, John was happy counting the cash even though he had a slightly aching back. After the first month Jim returned to the village, a work gang in tow and a load of pipes and began work on laying the pipes from the water hole to the village.

After a few weeks Jim was able to offer the villagers unlimited, cleaner (you don’t get many flies in pipes) and cheaper water on tap. John not to be out done bought more buckets and covers for them and hired his brother to help him carry more water every morning but he was fighting a losing battle.

Jim went on to create an affiliate program to sell his system to other local villagers, whilst John got a job.

I may of embellished the last sentence slightly, but who would you rather be John or Jim? And the moral of this tale is…

About Al Carlton

Al quit the 9 to 5 rat race in January of 2007, before then he was a software engineer and systems architect of financial system. Nowadays Al spends the days running his various businesses and experimenting with different ideas and opportunities.
Al can be found on twitter at AlCarlton.


  1. The moral is to seek the opportunity of spotting any gaps in a market and capitalise on them

    good story Al

  2. The moral could also be John should have signed the village up to a long term contract while he had the monopoly 🙂 – or more likely that if you take the time to do a job properly it can pay better,for longer with less overall effort if you put in the hard work at the start and play smart.

  3. Interesting analogy.

    A thought provoking post….

  4. it s not the first who win but the one who think different…I m not advertising…

  5. A good little story, but you forgot the ‘are you sitting comfortably… then I shall begin’ 🙂

    Maybe John should diversify into pipe maintenance or supplying the tools to set up the pipelines to Jim.

  6. Interesting post Al. Definitely goes along with the underlying message in previous posts about hard work up front, and then sitting back and raking in the profits. Also goes along with implementing automation for value creation.

  7. My thinking is along the same lines as Carl’s. I remember when I read it on holiday. I will follow Garry’s afvice and intro with the next tale I come across 🙂 .

  8. The moral is, be the head honcho and you don’t have to do any work 🙂

  9. Webjourneyman says:

    Still if it had not been for John the villages would have died from thirst before Jim was ready with his pipeline.

    To understand correctly; John is the wage slave who punches in at the office/steelmill every morning and Jim is the self employed netpreneur who made less money in the short run but more in the longer?

    Killer name for a blog of this type btw.

  10. The moral of the story is what was left out of the picture. John probably got away with charging more for the water as the ‘perception’ would have been it was harder to get. In the long haul Jim’s water sells for less, as people know it is easier to get.

    Both John and Jim would have made more loot if Jim just ran the pipes to John’s house, and took it out from there in buckets :p

  11. Yep, Jim runs the pipe to John’s house, John bottles it and sells that at a premium to consumers and sells the buckets to the trade at a bulk discount while securing a long term contract …job done 😉

    • Yeah, it’s all about building your own ‘polymorphic revenue’ stream. Since Jim only ran one pipe to Johns house, he cuts maintenance costs on the pipe. Selling in only bottled not only allows for the premium price of the water, but allows Jim and John to insight public opinions later telling them they are not ‘green enough’ and need to recycle the bottles (of course Jim owns the new recycling hole). All the while John’s wife is working on a water purification system and messing around mixing crazy things together to sell flavored water next year. Of coarse John’s wife is no scientist, and the new ‘flavored water’ will likely cause serious illness eventually. Which makes it a good thing for Jim’s uncle medicine man who runs who is the only pharmaceutical guy in town…. jeez, I need some sleep…

  12. Great story – work smarter, not necessarily harder! 😉

  13. I used to be the guy carrying the buckets 😉
    till three years ago I got a real job first time ever in 25yrs & was amazed when the boss said it was ok to take a week or 2 to setup a small studio & learn how to take photos & edit them .`. saving a whole bunch of toime going foward. I have embraced this in all areas of my life & am just starting to reap the rewards.

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