I was recently reading an article concerning Cannabalism in the Jamestown colony. Yes, our forefathers apparently feasted on each other during a terrible winter of the colony (mmmm…fava beans). But what I found intriguing, enough so to write an article about, was WHY they ended up there. No, not because they were hungry and that recently deceased daughter looked sumptuous. It was because they were bad businessmen.
The colony has initially made “friends” with the native Powhatan tribe. But due to drought and general lack of knowledge of farming, food supplies were scarce going into winter. So what do newly-arrived Europeans do when times get tough? They raid their Powhatan neighbors for food. You can imagine this pissed off quite a few folks. So the Powhatan retreated back with a knowledge that they would be just fine (having lived there for, oh hundreds of years) with a general attitude of “No Soup For YOU!”.
Enter the “unthinkable”. Actually, not quite unthinkable, as they did it, as have several others before and since in a bid to survive. And while I applaud their resolve to see their venture be successful by any means necessary, hindsight provides some clear lessons that are as applicable today as they were then, for business or colonizing a foreign land.
1) Think the Unthinkable. Plan for contingencies. Like bad weather. Or drought. Or loss of income. Granted, charbroiled thigh perhaps shouldn’t make the list, but damn well have a Plan B and C.
2) Listen to Experts. Like the Powhatan. Or the folks down the road that have been doing this day in and day out. Don’t get caught up in your own arrogance or belief that what you are doing is a game-changer. Even the game-changers have limited life spans (witness any technological breakthrough in the last 100 years).
3) Don’t Piss Off Your Suppliers. You need them. They don’t need you. And when you do piss them off, they will sit back and watch you suffer.
4) Do What It Takes To Survive. So you’ve screwed up the situation, a real FUBAR. Buckle down. Batten the hatches, and do whatever it takes, even if it distasteful, or against your beliefs. Even in our enlightened age, Cannibalism is NOT illegal. (Look it up; I did)