Five tips for entrepreneurs from our award-winning adviser

29 June 2016

    We’re big believers in young talent at JC. So much so that Perth-based business advisory partner Euan McLeod has been a board member of Young Enterprise Tayside for several years, and has advised Crieff High School in the Young Enterprise Scotland company programme – where 16-17 year olds compete in a business challenge.

    This year Crieff had an exceptional team with very good ideas, great focus, a huge amount of energy, and a real desire to win.

    Not only did the Crieff team win the Tayside awards in April and go on to the Scottish national finals in Glasgow this month, but Euan was crowned adviser of the year. We think that gives him some credibility to provide his top five tips for Scotland’s young (and maybe even not-so-young) entrepreneurs. First, here are his reflections on the competition:

    Learning process

    The programme is not focused on financials, but learning about business life and all its ups and downs.

    Learning how to access capital, formulate a strategy and develop services or products with a view to making a profit are key, of course. The team did that and more.

    They had to learn communication is everything. That you need resilience and tenacity. That when someone does not perform you have to encourage them to “improve or go”. 

    Major hurdle

    Of course, business is also about navigating the unexpected – and sometimes the tragic. A teacher at the centre of the project died suddenly in January, halfway through the programme. Many groups would have folded and given up; this team did not. They regrouped and became even more determined to make their company the best it could be.

    Five tips for all entrepreneurs 

    • Be honest with yourself, customers, suppliers and advisers. Everyone expects transparency and anything else will damage your business. Any suggestion of dishonesty, misdirection or even slight opacity can result in disastrous reputational consequences.

    • Don’t start a business solely on the basis it can make money. Start a business doing something you love, and which drives you. During the tough times – and there will be many – that passion can be the thing which gets you through.

    • Look for and consider advice from those that have gone before. But make your own decision. Question, challenge and be sceptical – business is hard, so you need to go in with your eyes open. 

    • While you need to have passion, your business can’t pay the bills with it. Make sure the figures add up and the profit is there. Don’t overlook hidden costs such as your time, and don’t spend money you don’t have.

    • Cash counts for a lot – make sure you always have sufficient. The old adage that cash is king is spot-on. Asset value is worth nothing if it can’t be turned into cash, and if you can’t pay your suppliers on time you should be asking very hard questions of yourself and any business partners.

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