Why business is like a three-legged stool

If you’ve ever tried to milk a cow using a three-legged stool then you’ll know how difficult it is. For those of us that haven’t we can only imagine.

But your business is very like a three-legged stool. For a start it supports not only you but your aim.


Your business has three legs that you have to make sure are in place. Strategy, Finance and Technical.


If you’ve read Michael Gerber's book The E Myth (and if you haven’t you should) you’ll know that the vast majority of people who start businesses are really good at the technical. Whatever it is they do, be it cake making, bricklaying or cow milking they’ll be excellent at it.


Where people fall down is on the strategy and financial side. And let's be fair it’s not something they generally teach you at cow milking college.


It’s true to say that not everyone wants to become a super accountant finance brain. It doesn’t float everyone’s boat. But the truth is, just like a stool you have to have all three legs because it takes an awful lot of effort to stay upright on the one-legged variety.


The trick then is to identify which areas you need help with and either get some training or get someone to do it for you. Of course, I would say that wouldn’t I because it’s what I do. But think about the benefits of having someone teach you how to set the strategy for your business, or be able to talk over your ideas with someone with different skills and abilities.


If you really really don’t want to do it yourself then you can get someone to do the icky business management thing for you. Find yourself someone who is good at the things you don’t want to do and employ them part-time to look after all of the envelopes that plop through your door. If you’re a small business then you probably won’t need them for more than a few hours a month.


Think about all that time you spend staring at accounts. You could get someone else to do that for you and tell you the bits that are important. Meanwhile, you have more time left for cow milking!


5 questions to ask yourself before making a decision


1 Do I really need to make this decision now? Somebody once said that it’s a legitimate decision to decide not to decide. What that means is that you may choose not to actually take the plunge and may wait for more information or until the picture gets clearer.


2 How does this get me closer to my goal? Assess your intended course of action against the aim of your business. Does it help you to achieve? If not then maybe you should reassess.


3 How would I explain it to shareholders/my family/a journalist? Imagine how you would articulate why you went with your choice. You could even go somewhere quiet and talk it through with yourself. Does it sound stupid? Do you find it difficult to convince yourself? if so then you’d find it difficult to convince others.


4 What things are causing me to pause? Write them down. Don’t think about the decision itself rather than the things that are going on around it. Is it actually the other stuff that is making you feel uneasy.


5 Should I take advice? We tend to be really hard on ourselves and think we should know everything - but why? If you have something to consider then it may well be money well spent to sit down with a professional and go through the options.


Once you’ve made your decision then don’t beat yourself up about it. If you ask these simple questions beforehand then you can be confident that you chose the option that looked best at the time, even if things turn out very differently in the end.


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