Proprietor David Winch
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Start up success: Pub wisdom

11th Jun 2010
Proprietor David Winch
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David Winch* takes a light-hearted look at the key ingredients of start up business success.

Many, if not most, businesses get started because someone can do something well, enjoys doing it, and can see that others may well be prepared to pay someone else to do it for them. A start up business is a bit like a three-legged bar stool; there are three key elements to keeping the stool (and the business) upright at all times. 

One leg of the stool is the operations side of the business (i.e. the ‘doing’ part, or at least managing whatever the business does). This is usually quite easy for business owners to get to grips with since it’s the reason they started up in the first place.

The second leg is the finances, or at least the management of them. The business owner might not be an accountant or bookkeeper themselves, but they know these functions are necessary in any business – even if they have to buy in these services from outside.

At this point, most business owners start to get a little stuck. What’s the third leg? Surely a two legged stool would fall over? Also, a stool without a seat would be jolly uncomfortable to sit on. Consider then, the pub analogy: You could have the best drinks, food, staff, facilities and ambience, but if no one knows about the pub, they won’t come through the door, and until they do, they won’t be buying anything. Even when they do come in, you have to know how to treat them in order to get them to buy. The third leg, therefore, is sales and marketing; without these, the stool (your business) would fall over.

Eagle eyed readers might still be wondering about the seat. This is the managerial control that you need to maintain over the business and all its activities to ensure that you run the business and it doesn’t run you. Make sure your bottom is on that seat at all times – otherwise the business is liable to topple over!

*David Winch is an independent marketing and sales consultant and runs The Professional Adviser. See for more information. He is not the David Winch of Accounting Evidence Ltd and MLRO Support.


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By Bob Harper
12th Jun 2010 16:23

Are all the legs the same length?

@David - Interesting analogy.

I’d have suggested the seat is for the client to sit on; the owner of the practice is responsible for making the stool and deciding which bar to put it in, the public or lounge. 

Even though a three legged stool will be stable, the seat will only be parallel and comfortable to sit on if all the legs are the same length.  Most accountants have developed operational and financial skills but are vastly under-developed with sales and marketing.

Because of the recession the floor is a little more uneven than before I’d suggest firms need to invest (time, energy and a little money) to maintain and improve their position.

Bob Harper

Portfolio Marketing


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