Why supporting young entrepreneurs is like raising a family
One of the best analogies I’ve found to describe the work I do supporting young entrepreneurs on their business growth journey, is the job of being a parent. There are so many similarities between helping someone nurture and grow their business and bringing up a family.
To my mind, the job of being a parent is to help children become the best possible versions of themselves, to think for themselves and to stand on their own two feet. That’s very much how I see my role in designing and delivering bespoke business growth programmes in Scotland – ultimately it’s about supporting young entrepreneurs at the outset, so they can continue independently on their journey to running a successful business.
Support for young businesses during formative years is critical
The most important thing in my life is being a father to our four children. Professionally speaking, the most important aspect of my work in business is helping entrepreneurs to achieve all that they want to achieve.
Supporting young entrepreneurs in their formative years is really critical. The impact that we as consultants can have on their ability to become sustainable businesses is critical to their future, and so to all of our futures.
I want my children to be good contributors to society, and it’s the same with young entrepreneurs – I’m passionate about helping them to play a positive role in society, in business and in the environment.
The IMPACT30 30 business support programme, my involvement with university students in mentoring and judging business case competitions, and also my support to Young Enterprise Scotland – this is the most important work I do.
From an inspired idea to a promising business future
My children never cease to inspire me. The perpetual flow of ideas, the talent, the passion, the thirst for learning, not to mention the energy to combine working and studying – I watch and listen in awe.
I feel exactly the same way about the young businesspeople I support. Whether they are harnessing their raw talent, or turning a spark of an idea into a successful enterprise, I find it incredibly inspiring to be part of their journey.
Take Reina Edmiston for example. Having battled alcoholism, Reina found her salvation in art. This incredibly talented self-taught artist from Inverness has now launched a business, Reina Edmiston Art, to market her art to a wider audience. Being an amazing artist is one thing. Making a business from that talent is something different. It has been great to see Reina’s confidence in herself and her work grow massively, to the point where she is building a lot of interest from high end galleries who see the value of her original work, as well as her efforts to adopt digital technologies to make her work available to a broader audience
Similarly, Alice Goodridge turned her passion for wild swimming into her business, Swim Wild UK, taking clients on swimming holidays around the lochs and castles in Scotland. As well as continually growing their mutli-day holidays to places like the Outer Hebrides and the Ardnamurchan peninsular, providing open water swimming coaching courses in Loch Insh, many guided adventures, selling over 50 products from 10 suppliers through their on-line store, the business is also about to publish two new books.
These young entrepreneurs are skilled and experienced in their disciplines, but they also know what they don’t know. They’re so keen to plug that gap, to soak up knowledge and expertise from those who’ve been in the game a bit longer. It’s a privilege to be able to provide access to expertise and knowledge in building a successful business and help them as they transform the business from an inspired idea into a profitable business.
Creating the right support environment for young entrepreneurs
When my kids are smiling, working hard and thinking about other people, I sit back and think, “We’ve done alright with those kids.”
When they’re older and less in need of our advice, when they’ve learned how to figure things out for themselves, and use the network around them – that’s when we can congratulate ourselves on a job well done.
I feel that same satisfaction in business. When I see young entrepreneurs growing in self-confidence, making good business decisions independently and becoming part of their own peer network, I get a real kick out of that.
When I see more mature businesses that we’ve supported in the past creating jobs in Scotland and beyond, contributing to their local economy, being good global citizens, it makes what we do feel immensely worthwhile.
Ultimately as parents we know that our children’s friends, teachers, heroes and icons exert as much influence, if not more so, than we do. Our job in supporting young entrepreneurs is to surround them with the right people in an environment that challenges and supports them in equal measure.
So that they too can go off into the world, and be the best versions of themselves.