The Fables of Aesop

(Answers to the Pop Quizzes are in the comments.)

Bugs in Business

Once upon a time there was an aunt, no, not that kind, a little black ant with six legs and three body segments (Pop Quiz: name them!) and her name was Althea. Now, Althea was a very industrious ant, as most of them are, and had started her own business catering lunch to the other ants as they worked in the fields and picnic sites. Every day, she packed teeny tiny sandwiches, chips and fruit bits into minuscule baskets to take to the ant workers.

Around the same fields and picnic sites, there was a grasshopper named Gordon who had started a little thing on the side. He serenaded the picnic tables with his repertoire of covers of those great summer songs like “Good Vibrations” and “Soak up the Sun.” Gordon was very good at singing and the patrons paid well for him to move along to the next table. (Second Pop Quiz: how do grasshoppers make their song?)

Bugs in the Books

Althea’s food was so good all the working ants were happy to have it and paid well for the service. Her business was going nicely. At the end of every day, she sat right down and wrote all the day’s income and expenses in a diminutive ant-sized ledger where she kept track of her business.

But, sadly, Gordon wasn’t organized at all with his business or records. He just pocketed whatever he was paid for the day and then went carousing at night with his bug buddies – Boris the bedbug and Frank the firefly. Every day, he started again with empty pockets but a song in his, um, heart.

Bugs in Need

After a time, there were so many workers in the fields and on the picnic tables that Althea couldn’t prepare and deliver enough food for all of them. The ones who were left out had to manage with crumbs and leftovers from the day’s work. They pleaded with Althea to please expand her business so they too could buy from her.

Well, Althea was very careful with her money and wanted to make sure that she would be able to keep her business healthy if she bought the fancy new food cart she had her eye on. It had power assist locomotion, extra warming bins for hot food, a freeze bin for icy treats and streamers on the handles. It would easily double the number of worker ants she could serve but it was pricey!

One rainy day there weren’t many picnickers to annoy, that is, serenade, and Gordon had yet to gain anything from his work. As midday approached, he was getting hungry and saw Althea delivering to the ants.

Bugs in a Bargain

So, Gordon sidled up to Althea and asked for something to eat. Of course, he had nothing to offer in exchange except a sorrowful look and a song, of sorts. Now, Althea was an industrious ant and saw the value of hard work but she had a tender heart too. After listening to Gordon’s sad story, she thought for a moment, her antenna wiggling in concentration, before she offered Gordon a deal.

Because she had been keeping such good records, Althea knew that she would be able to afford the fancy new hand cart if she could just find a way to lengthen her delivery hours.

“Gordon, it seems to me your style of entertainment might be better suited to the night shift,” she said. “Would you be interested in spreading the word and delivering baskets at night?”

“If you’ll throw in dinner and a snack, it’s deal,” Gordon exclaimed. “I’ll start by letting Boris and Frank know about my new gig. This’ll be great!”

Bugs in Partnership

As the afternoon went on, the rain cleared, night fell and Gordon started his new job as evening shift food sales to the bugs that worked at night. Althea had been looking for a way to expand and, while Gordon wasn’t the best at organization, he was stellar at sales and marketing. Now, both Althea and Gordon could work happily ever after with each of them doing the thing they did best. And Althea placed her order for her new cart with streamers on the handles that very day!

The moral of the story is that good records help you make good business decisions.

Let me know if you have any other lessons to add or a story to share – let’s hear your side in the comments! Check for the answers to the quizzes and for the error in the drawing.

Creative Commons License photo credit: dierken