Knowing Where to Tap

There’s an old story about a sawmill operator whose sawyer one day reported that the powerful saw no longer worked and production halted. Frantic, the mill owner contacted the saw’s manufacturer, even though the warranty was long over, and the manufacturer sent in an expert.

The expert looked at the saw for several minutes before taking a small hammer and giving it a few taps. The mill owner received a bill for $1,000. Outraged, he demanded an itemized statement. The revised bill came back, saying, “Tapping with a hammer, $25. Knowing where to tap, $975.”

Apocryphal or not, the story is a good illustration of the value of expertise. If a business gets a little off track or just seems to plateau, a business analysis performed with professional expertise can discover unrealized company strengths and uncover ignored flaws. Just as a homeowner gets used to dings in the door jambs or lights that don’t work, business management, over time, can get used to working around problem areas or systems, outdated job descriptions, and lack of focus.

Say, for example, your company has used QuickBooks for years, but you’re suddenly encountering bottlenecks with consolidated reporting, problems with importing payroll or other data, generating on-time billing, and other issues. It’s not uncommon for talented managers to figure out workarounds for these and other accounting issues, but the underlying problem isn’t solved. It only receives another layer, while your business may need a new accounting program. QuickBooks is a fine program, but it has its limits. Knowing what’s out there and how they might apply to individual businesses take a certain amount of expertise.

Accounting is just one of the many areas that, while it may be a problem, may also be an indication of success. Success breeds growth, and growth breeds facing old comfort zones. We think that knowing where to tap will help your business get to another level.

Remember, running a business successfully does not need to be complicated.  Keep it simple!

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