Don’t Count Your Chickens Before They Hatch

Reading Time: 5 Minutes

There’s an old fable from Aesop that goes like this:

“There was once a young milk-maid who was coming home from milking her cows from the pasture with a pail of milk on her head. On her way home, she began to think ‘I’ll make cream and butter from this milk, sell it at the market, and use it to buy eggs. When the eggs hatch, I will have a great chicken farm!’  

The milk-maid continued to think ‘I will sell some of my chickens and use that money to buy a beautiful dress! Seeing my dress, boys from all around will admire me, and I will turn them away by simply tossing my head at them!’ 

She was so caught up in the daydream, the milk-maid immediately tossed her head, imitating what she would do. However, she had forgotten all about the pail on her head and it came tumbling down, breaking and spilling milk all over the ground. 

She grieved ‘Oh no! I’ve lost everything!’ 

The moral being: Don’t Count Your Chickens Before They Hatch.” 

While I’m sure most of you aren’t over-ambitious milk-maids walking home from milking your cows, this classic fable holds an important lesson about spending. It holds as a clear warning that it’s unwise to spend money you don’t have. 

It’s easy to get caught up daydreaming about what you’re going to do with all the money you’re going to make from your latest client or sale. The chain of events is simple as it generally follows an “I’m going to do [this] with [this amount of money] so that I can do [this thing] to earn me [next amount of money] so that I can get [this cool thing], etc.,” formula. The thought process depends entirely on the use of money that isn’t in your possession which all crumbles if the money either isn’t as much as you predicted or doesn’t come in at all. 

This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t be optimistic about your business or dream about where you’d like to be in the future, those are both positive things. It is to say that you shouldn’t be impulsive with your spending and engage in risky purchasing behaviors. 

It can be good to dream, plan and strategize for your business. Conrad Hilton’s book, “Be Our Guest,” had examples of him dreaming up new ideas, hotels, and businesses all the time. But he didn’t just go spend money flagrantly. He took the time to talk with trusted advisors, business partners and contemplate via prayer.  

To be clear, there is a difference between spending money and investing money. When you go into a ‘spending’ mindset towards money-making (or time-saving) tools, you disregard the value, cost, and create unreasonable expectations.  

Don’t Buy Things Assuming They Will 100% Make You Money

There are many amazing products and services all over the internet that promise great success and instant profit increase. That doesn’t mean it’s true. It is well worth your time to make sure you fully research whichever product has your eye. 

There are so many products that fill specific purposes that, while their advertised clientele may have seen a boom in business, it might not transfer over to yours. 

Let’s put it this way: 

If you decide that you want to hatch chickens, you need to get the right kind of eggs. You may have a perfect incubation system, a beautiful chicken coop ready to be occupied, and an ideal set-up for collecting eggs. But without eggs that will actually hatch, all of that work has been in vain. 

If you go to the grocery store, buy a dozen eggs, and put them under an incubation lamp, none of them are going to hatch. This is because grocery store eggs aren’t fertilized. Eggs sent to the grocery store are sent there for the exclusive purpose of being used as food, not for hatching. 

Likewise, if you buy a program for writing great email newsletters but your business doesn’t have proper content for email marketing you’ve basically wasted all of that money on a program that won’t help your business.  

At Pullman Marketing, we routinely suggest avoiding certain digital marketing channels. We do this because as we evaluate your business, we want to make sure each channel has the right kind of customers, is an easy fit for your business, and will noticeably increase your profits Learn More. 

Make Sure You Have Researched Proper Product Market Fit

When we look at product market fit, we are looking at making sure your product, hopefully, a minimal viable product, your target market, and marketing messages are all working synergistically together.  

You may have found an amazing product or idea that you think you can sell to your customers. But there are three ways you “counted your chickens”: 

  1. Trying to sell the wrong product to the wrong people, e.g. farming equipment to an IT company 
  2. The product is too complicated for your customers, e.g. Vitamix 5000 for Motel 6 rooms
  3. Vague marketing, e.g.Advertising a restaurant magazine to all of your local businesses

You need to make sure whatever it is, it has an appropriate product market fit.

If you find a product that would work amazing for an immediate need that is abnormal from how your business operates, it’s likely that after you sell it that one time it will sit around, never to be sold again.  

If you’re going to buy a product, honestly ask yourself “Is this going to collect dust in the corner?” Consider the cost, and if it’s not worth it, pass on it. 

Just remember, it’s best not to spill your pail of milk. 

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