Chances are your family are sick of hearing about your business, so why not regale them with some funny stories from other people in business?
My Business has spoken to hundreds of business owners throughout the year, and while many of the conversations are about serious matters, there are plenty of light-hearted moments that also arise.
Here are some of our favourites from 2016 – we’ve had a chuckle retelling them over the dinner table, and we hope you will too!
My Business ran a story on April Fool’s Day containing four quirky tales from business – all but one of which were true. We asked our readers and suppliers, friends and family members to spot the made up one – and funnily enough, most people got it wrong.
Check out the story if you missed it or simply want to relive the fun. Hint: The answer is revealed at the bottom of the page, so don’t scroll down too far before you’re ready to know if you’re right!
An off-colour moment
In an appearance on the My Business Podcast, former NRL player and now managing director of Garlo’s Pies, Sean Garlick (pictured right), revealed one of his comical misadventures in the early days of his fledgling business.
“The time that we thought we'd try a new thickener and it was a powder,” recalled Sean.
“[Nathan, his brother and business co-founder] goes, ‘Oh, this is going to great. We could put this in right at the start rather than at the end [of mixing]. This is going to save us a lot of time. It's just easier.’ We made all these pies, it was great.
“We even sent them out, but we didn't realise something happened and it sent them green! It was like a fluoro green inside and people bit into it and it tasted fine, but it just looked terrible.”
Bong for your buck
Those who work in real estate have more than their fair share of funny stories. Afterall, your place of business is inside other people’s homes.
One agent recalled an incident with a particularly happy buyer:
“I once had a tenant away for the weekend, so his mum went around to clean his property before I had an open for inspection,” the agent says.
“She inadvertently used his bong as a vase. Never had a buyer laugh so much as they were signing the contract then and there!”
Another agent described an encounter with an all-too-common source of misadventure – a pet.
“[A] very posh buyer insisted on bringing her little handbag dog into the house. Much to my horror, she put the dog down on the white woollen carpet and it did a huge poop,” says the agent. But that was by no means the end of it.
“The buyer then trod in it!” the agent says.
“I was trying to get her to take her shoes off and go outside, and then the dog ran off up the hall and she chased it around, leaving a poop trail all through the home.”
Head above the rest
“Customers are quite funny,” a pet supplies retailer told My Business.
“We used to sell frozen chicken necks, and one time a customer brought it all back and said ‘I can’t feed this to my dog, there is a head attached to the neck!’ We didn’t have the heart to tell her that, in fact, ‘Where do you think chicken necks come from? And the head is actually the more nutritional part of what you’re feeding your dog anyway!’
“So we just gave her back her money and smiled.”
One story on the My Business site that generated quite a buzz was about bizarre tax claims that business owners have made.
While some of the attempted claims were obviously wrong, our favourite was one which – apart from being flagrantly improper – did manage a round of applause for a sense of imagination.
The accountant explained that one of their clients, a sales commission agent working from home, drew a red flag from the ATO after he submitted claims in excess of 30 per cent of his annual income. One such claim in the amount of $5,388 had been made out to his son for ‘secretarial services’.
“When asked for a reason, the agent noted that his son would ‘answer the phone on occasion’. The seven-year old boy was not available for comment as it was his nap time.”
A picture tells a thousand words
It’s an age-old saying that a picture tells a thousand words, but there are definitely some things for which a thousand words are simply way too much detail – as a software developer discovered the hard way.
“I have employees based in several countries around the globe. At one point, one of my Asia-based employees pre-emptively requested he be allowed a week of sick leave,” he recalled.
“However, when I reminded him that a medical certificate was required for all extended periods of sick leave, as per the company’s policy, he instead produced detailed photos. His ailment? Haemorrhoids.
“Incidentally, he no longer works for the company.”
The name game
Sometimes it’s not an incident that brings a smile to your face, but simply the name of a business, which plays on words to either reveal exactly what it does or make a statement about its identity and ethos.
My Business discovered that when we came to interview the founder of a franchised pasture-raised egg farmer, who decided to call their business BumNuts Australia.
“The 'bum nuts' is something that my husband's family had always called [eggs] for years, so it was such an Australian name,” explained Theresa Robinson.
“We had to toss it up for a little while, because where we're situated, we're right next to Canberra with all of the public servants and parliament and everyone is politically correct, and so we weren't sure whether it was going to go down too well, but we did it anyway. You can't take farm life too seriously.”
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.