“Money for Nothing” is one of the most popular songs of the English rock band Dire Straits. The song is about musicians who have achieved fame and wealth from doing what some people think is “easy work”. According to Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits, the song’s lyrics were inspired by the comments of a delivery man he met at an appliance store in New York.
Knopfler stated that while he was at the back of the store, the deliveryman, whose job was to move appliances, was busy watching MTV on the TVs displayed at the store. The deliveryman felt the MTV performers received money for doing absolutely nothing. And on top of that they got “chicks for free”.
We got to install microwave ovens, custom kitchen deliveriesMoney For Nothing by Dire Straits
We got to move these refrigerators, we got to move these color TVs
See the little faggot with the earring and the make up
Yeah, buddy, that’s his own hair
That little faggot got his own jet airplane
That little faggot, he’s a millionaire
The Courage to Perform
A new business owner is a bit like a novice stage performer. You have courage, ambition and desire. In the beginning, you may be performing in front of an empty room or in a room with a very small audience. If you’re lucky, those fans will be your friends and family. But if your friends and family are anything like the ones that I’ve encountered, they probably expect you to perform for them for free.
Now imagine that you are a new business owner. You’re looking for either a customer to generate revenue or some capital to actually launch or start the business. For capital, you would look to investors and maybe even to your friends and family to infuse some capital into your venture. From an accounting perspective, these two transactions are very separate.
Now, if someone wanted to support you in starting your business–whether it’s as an investor or as a customer–how could they support your business? Does it have to be a purely monetary transaction? No. They can offer their help with website design, legal advice or photography skills. These are all the ways in which we can help people, not with our money–but with our time, our effort and our energy. This is also a valuable form of help. In that same way, employees are there to help the business achieve its goals.
Did the deliveryman who inspired the song tell his friend–in this case, his employer–that he would help them and support them in their business? The answer is most likely a yes–even if it was a ‘yes’ given extremely grudgingly if only to pay the bills.
Now imagine you are a genuine friend of the person who is performing that day. You know it’s their first show and it’s really important to them. How would you support your friend?
Your friend, as a new business owner or even stage performer, has been courageous enough and big-hearted enough to get up on that stage. Be proud. It is not easy, you know, to get up on that stage and perform in front of an audience–no matter how big or small. If he or she wanted the easy path, they might have chosen another profession where they didn’t have to contend with the criticisms of friends, foes and even strangers.
Let’s say you are that half-hearted friend who shows up only because your friend is performing. But deep down, you don’t believe in the work that your friend is doing. You try your best, but you really think that your friend’s work isn’t worth anything. Your friend even offers to perform for free for your birthday as a gift. You accept this offer. And then you tell your friend you don’t like the type of music that he or she is playing.
This is a very very common scenario. A friend needs your support, your patronage or your assistance in someway–but it’s just not your thing. You should probably be quiet, and I mean really quiet, about that. In fact, don’t even mention it. You know, there are a lot of jobs out there. You may not like accountants, but every business owner and band needs one. So if you happen to have a skill your friend needs, then help them out–if only it is to balance the books.
The last thing you want to hear from your friend is, “You were in a position to help me and you didn’t.”
Now let’s come back to that deliveryman, that employee. Instead of doing the job that you were hired to do, you were watching MTV and were under the highly false impression that rock stars made easy money and got chicks for free.
Don’t be that person–that person who wants money for nothing and chicks for free. Your next birthday, your friend won’t be there to perform. You’ll need to go through their agent–and by then, it most certainly won’t be free.