The Water Margin guide to business


The Water Margin

The expression “small business” has many meanings. There is no way of knowing whether we mean a business with fifty employees or just one person on her or his own. What I am going to say apples to the smaller small businesses although slightly bigger businesses may benefit too from that magic word “cooperation”.

I believe in sub-contracting what I don’t like doing and maybe don’t do well. I believe we can benefit others through channeling work to them while making a profit in their contribution as well.

Sometimes there are some quite large projects that we may baulk on taking on on our own. As a tax practitioner and business adviser, I might with a large project such as a share scheme introduce to a client one of my tax adviser friends, perhaps also a solicitor or lawyer, and perhaps a financial planner.

In the past with a large project I have engaged a franchise expert, a lawyer and a health and safety specialist to work on a project for me. In fact aside from a little project management I did little of the work, and I could not have done any part of the project on my own.

Many people are afraid to take on what sounds a large project if they are a very small business. I think that if you have a good network around you and can get the right team together, you can do a better job than much larger businesses.

The only real issue is the level of risk just in case something goes wrong. If the worst case scenario occurred, would everyone’s insurance cover it? Remember that you don’t have to have done anything wrong to get sued because some people have an eye for the main chance.

Given that proviso, though, and if we use sound judgment we can deliver premium work and exceptional service because we can give the attention of a small business and small business people as against somebody else’s managers and employees with other distractions.

It’s not just joint ventures, though. We can impress all our clients by bringing in specialists in our network without any formal agreement. If someone needs a financial adviser, I know several and would pick the most suitable one. If they need health and safety I know just the people. If they need sales and marketing… We can deliver just what our clients require much better than large corporations.

Do you remember the 1970s TV series (based on ancient tales from China) called The Water Margin? It started with a quotation:

“The ancient sages said “do not despise the snake for having no horns, for who is to say it will not become a dragon? So may one just man become an army.”

That is true for all of us in business because even when we are small. One just woman or man can become an army and deal with very profitable large projects. It is all about who you know and can enlist to help you.



Here is the opening sequence of a vintage TV show.

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