Essential reading for retailers and suppliers in the home improvement market
Shooting from the Hip is written by a number of different people in the DIY, hardware and garden market. Writing anonymously, they share their day-to-day experiences and, writing anonymously, are able to air any frustrations regardless of commercial considersations. I used to think that Mark Knopfler in Dire Straits sung 'get your money for nothing and your chips for free'. Quite why he would sing about getting free chips I don't know. Free money and chips - does sound good though.

Of course now I know it's 'money for nothing and your cheques for free'. It's a song that compares a normal working life of lugging things about and grafting to that of being a rock'n'roll guitar player in a band. But, to my mind, there are lots of other people, companies and organisations that seemingly get free money. In this I would include, insurance companies, banks, the business rates people, the council in general, the VAT man, road tax, speed cameras - need I go on?

I know we get bills paid by the insurance company if things go wrong and the multitude of taxes pay for nurses and schools, but I just feel sometimes, as a businessman, that everyone wants a piece of you for doing very little; and woe and betide you if you don't pay your dues.

When you setup or take over a business, you take a chance and stick your head above the parapet of normal working life. You take risks and are prepared to sink or swim under your own volition and creativity. If you make a go of it, yes you can earn a few quid, but so you should! It's a reward for employing people, contributing to the exchequers pot and genuinely contributing to your local community and society.

However, sometimes it feels as though you are rewarded with brown envelopes and aggravation. You'll never know what it's like to run a real business until you've sat at your dining table at home, surrounded by paperwork and bills , wondering how the hell you're going to pay them.

We've got a VAT bill coming up at the end of the month. It's the money you thought you had, but don't tax. Does anyone out there actually look at their bank account balance and think "some of that's the taxman's"? I don't. I know I should, but I think "some of that's for a holiday" or "some of it's for going down the pub" - that's what I think. So, when the dreaded VAT bill comes around every three months, my mood drops a little and I sign more money away. I know it's not mine really - but it felt good for a while, whilst I thought it was.

I do a lot of work in London and drive a van down there, along with thousands of other van and lorry drivers. It is of course where, by and large, insurance companies, the Government, legal firms, banks and other office bound businesses have their headquarters. But what do they all do in all of those plush offices? Generally they just complete forms and sheets of A4 paper, post them out in brown envelopes and produce nothing more than that. For the most part, those vans and lorries driving to London go in loaded but come back empty.

Nothing is produced in the city of London other than bills and paperwork. But it's where all the money is. So are we all in the wrong business? Should we have all taken the easier route and joined the masses on the trains to London everyday?

No, I don't think so. I like the fact that I only have to wear a suit for weddings, and I like the fact that we are involved in a real business, selling real things that people want, need and feel better for getting their hands on. We're helping people maintain and improve their homes. The idea of putting a suit on everyday and jumping on a train to London five days a week would drive me to insanity. The Rise and Fall of Reggie Perrin was a great programme and I think summed up what that type of work does to most people.

So, we will carry on and pay our VAT bills and our tax bills and our business rates, etc, etc. An office job isn't for me. Mind you, being a rock'n'roller would have been good and I kid myself that that was my true vocation. But I think this balding head and beer belly has put paid to that. I blame Dire Straits for making chips sound so attractive.
View User Profile for An independent retailer Shooting from the Hip is written by a number of different people in the DIY, hardware and garden market. They share their day-to-day experiences and, writing anonymously, are able to air any frustrations regardless of commercial considersations.
Posted by An independent retailer An independent retailer | 4 November 2013 | 17:04 | More from: Shooting from the Hip


Published prior to March 2014
By Andy
My son, then aged about seven, thought it was 'chips for free...' I didn't think it was worth correcting him :)
Published prior to March 2014
By Justin Panther
...the set-up to this article would work a lot better were it not for the fact that the lyric is actually 'money for nothing and your chicks for free'.
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