Back at the Taskmaster Ranch, Old Taskmaster is dozing off in the lounge chair in front of a warm fireplace.
On the idiot tube is yet another one of those disgusting commercialisations of Charles Dickens’ classic novel A Christmas Carol that entirely miss the point of the story. This particular one features characters from Alvin and the Chipmunks. Or perhaps they are Rescue Rangers? Anthropomorphised rodents all tend to look alike after a Brandy Old-Fashioned or four. Bah humbug!
All of a sudden, from behind the curtains, a phantom apparition appears. It’s an old business partner named Jacob warning that the ghosts of three failed ventures would be visiting Taskmaster Ranch that night, carrying lessons from start-ups past, present and future.
The first ghost takes Old Taskmaster back to the widget workshop in the garage, where that first minimum viable widget was built.
“Remember feeling inspired by Eric Ries’ The Lean Start-up? Many businesses lose their way by becoming unnecessarily bureaucratic as they grow, losing the tight fiscal discipline they gained as start-ups. Don’t let it happen to you!” says the ghost of start-ups past.
“Get it done – as you did yesterday!”
A second ghost then visits and takes Old Taskmaster to a desk in Taskmaster Towers where Old Cratchit from accounts is busy plugging numbers into Excel. He’s one of the staff working between Christmas and New Year after a tough year at work.
“Do you think staff retention rates are helped when long-time employees like Old Bob here feel underappreciated? Remember that wishing your staff members a Merry Christmas and thanking them for their hard work this year is free, yet lets your staff know you value them!” says the ghost of start-ups present.
“Going further, it might be also worth a small gesture of goodwill, such as leaving all your employees a card on their desk with a personalised thankyou note and a candy cane.”
“Get it done – today!”
A third and final ghost appears. Old Taskmaster is shocked as a Taskmaster Enterprises director – a Mrs Dilber – sells the ailing remains of the company to an old ‘fence’ named Snoqualmire for a pittance.
“This is the fate of a business without a big picture vision” says the ghost of start-ups future.
“A compelling big picture vision is important for keeping up the faith of your investors, directors, staff and other stakeholders. In many sectors, the Christmas/New Year slowdown is the perfect opportunity to pause and reflect. This is a great time to focus on the big picture issues, including changes in your industry, long-term growth, succession and exit strategies.”
“Get it done – for the sake of Christmases yet to come!”