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Knowing where to tap the hammer

Updated: Dec 8, 2022

You may have heard this story before, but please indulge us.

There was once a rich businessman with a broken beloved car. Despite several attempts, he was unable to fix the engine of that car. He called several engineers but no one was able to fix it. Finally there was an old mechanic who visited him. That old guy inspected the engine and asked for a hammer. On the front side of the engine, he tapped a few times with his hammer and brrroomm…brroom…It started working! Next day, the old mechanic sent his invoice for $1,000. The businessman was shocked.

He said, “This was merely a $1 job. You just tapped the engine with your hammer. What’s the reason for $1,000 that you are asking?”

The old mechanic said “ Let me give you a detailed invoice.”

The Invoice read:

Tapping the engine with hammer: $1

Knowing where to hit the hammer: $999

It was his experience which made him hit the right spot.

What is the take away for growing businesses? Simply, there is no substitute for experience. We see many businesses that are initially successful but as they grow the complexities of growing the business out pace the capacity and knowledge of their leaders.

Do you have a leadership team to help you grow your business? If not, you should invest in one. If you do, do they have the proper level of experience for the current and foreseeable future of the company? As an example, your brother in law might be a great guy and an outstanding bookkeeper. A CFO is different from a bookkeeper and a CFO with experience is priceless.

What is experience? It is years of crafting your trade, making and learning from mistakes, listening and watching and learning from others, experiencing events and markets that occur infrequently, seeing situations countless of times at countless number of companies, etc. Trying to save a few dollars by making do with a lower level role player much less a proper level role player without the experience is risking more than the dollar you are saving. In our story, the price of experience is what brought the car back to life. You need people on your team with the experience and knowledge to know where to tap the hammer.

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