A wee while ago, I wrote a blog post about some of the things that the Scottish Institute for Enterprise (SIE) is doing to encourage students to think about setting up their own business after they graduate. Last week, SIE ran an amazing Student Enterprise Summit in Glasgow, attended by around 400 students and business people, and I’d like to pass on some of the great advice that our speakers shared with the audience.
The Summit had some amazing speakers, ranging from young SIE supported entrepreneurs, right through to the hugely successful billionaire Sir Tom Hunter. These inspirational entrepreneurs presented their real life business stories and shared their insights into what makes an entrepreneur. Their aim was to ignite in attendees the same passion that got them started on the path to becoming an entrepreneur.
“Find out what inspires you…”
The speakers came from very diverse business backgrounds, and had very different levels of experience, but the stories they told and the examples they gave all had a lot in common. No-one was motivated primarily by money, but everyone agreed that money matters, especially when you are trying to get financial support to get your business off the ground.
“You’re never going to get everything in place before you start….learn by doing”
Everyone worked long and hard to make their business a success. Everyone had setbacks and had to revise their plans. Every one of them is incredibly passionate about what they do.
Having the right people beside you was highlighted as a key to business success. This meant bringing in people with complementary skills (you need defenders as well as strikers) and surrounding yourself with positive people (‘ditch the depressives’).
All of the speakers emphasised the importance of getting a good education, and insisted that students should complete their degrees, no matter how appealing it might seem to drop out to focus on their new business.
‘It’s not what you have; it’s what you do…”
All of them also talked about the importance of giving something back. For the young entrepreneurs right now that might simply be passing on advice to those who are a few steps behind them. For Sir Tom Hunter that means giving a large part of your time and your wealth to good causes, both local and global. For Mick Jackson, it means running a business that ploughs all its profits into supporting micro-finance, with the primary aim of solving poverty.
The summit provided a unique opportunity for students to learn from the experiences of successful entrepreneurs and apply that learning. Perhaps it may have inspired them to come up with a new business idea, or maybe it gave them the confidence to expand an existing idea into a business plan. It was clear from the feedback received after the event that people were inspired by what they heard. SIE will make sure that this enthusiasm is supported by practical advice to help to turn these ideas into the successful businesses of the future.
If you were at the summit, do share your thoughts on the day and add your comments below.
“There’s never been a better time to be where you are and who you are!”
Sir Tom Hunter, The Hunter Foundation
Mick Jackson, Wildhearts
Gillian O’Neil, Moviecom.tv
Joanne McLeod, Brewhaha
Oli Norman, DADA
Alex Barton, Student Designers
Valerie Kemp, Tutors’ Alliance
Isabelle Ting, Owl & Lion
4 thoughts on “How to encourage potential entrepreneurs to ‘go for it’, part 2”
It seems to me that the best support for entrepreneurs is to introduce them to potential customers (why is why networking events attended only by legions of entrepreneurs rarely generate business).
Could we have an SIE ‘Meet your future customers’ event at which our high-profile successful entrepreneurs bring their friends and their chequebooks and get introduced to local startups? (It’s a much smaller ask than for investment.)
Great idea, Patrick, and thank you for your comment. You have highlighted a critical part of the support that SIE aims to provide for our new entrepreneurs, which is to help them to ‘network’ into the established business community. We already have a great network of business contacts and are looking at lots of ways in which we can introduce new entrepreneurs to potential customers as well as to potential mentors and advisors. There are also a lot of specialist events where entrepreneurs can meet potential customers, and SIE can help people to select the right ones to attend. We also have a LinkedIn group ‘SIE Entrepreneurs’, which we are hoping to develop into a virtual network for advice.
Patrick, I’ve just been looking at your ‘Invention of the Day’ web site, what a great site, and what a great idea! http://iotd.patrickandrews.com/ We are always trying to stimulate creative thinking. People worry so much about their idea not being good that they fail to come up with any ideas at all. Your site is a great antidote.
Roughly 1 idea per day for 4.5 years (of which I reckon only 10 are potentially commercial significant!)
I hope to draw attention to the plight of independent inventors in the UK who, although highly creative, can’t afford any legal protection for their ideas which often therefore go undeveloped/unexploited. I also run related courses via http://www.scotskills.com