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Five things learnt at inaugural Scotland Can Do Scale Summer School

Five things learnt at Scotland Can Do SCALE

Scotland Can Do SCALE hosted its first summer school in 2015, bringing in top experts from the world’s entrepreneurial hotspots to teach and mentor business leaders of scalable businesses. The summer school was a huge success, teaching key lessons to entrepreneurs and business growers across Scotland.

Here are just five of the many lessons for scaling a business learnt in 2015 by business leaders who are determined to grow their enterprises and become major employers, earners and contributors to the Scottish economy:

1) It is not easy!

Scaling a business isn’t easy – otherwise everyone would be doing it – but how you deal with the challenges is what counts. A positive mental attitude, and a willingness to keep trying despite the many setbacks that will be encountered, it key.

Craig Lemmon, managing director of IT firm 2e-volve UK, said: “Some days it’s like I can float on air – on others it feels like I am pushing a tank up a hill… with the hand brake on. Either way, I always remember that we are still out there trying our best.”

2)  You need to know that the dog will eat the dog food.

They say it’s a dog eat dog world in business, but your customers don’t care about that. They are the most important people to your business, and you have to give them what they want. Whoever else you listen to, make sure you listen to the customer above all and ensure that you understand them and know they will “eat the dog food” as early into your venture as possible.

Callum Murray of mediation service Murray & Duncan said: “since attending SCALE, we’ve focussed on building products which deliver actual value to our customers. Given the process advice we’ve taken a concept through minimum viable product onto market ready stage and are now generating revenue.”

3) Planning and discipline are vital

To build a business of scale, you will have to plan carefully, consider the series of steps that each part of the growing process requires… and follow them with discipline.

Outdoor clothing designer Kristine Moody, of Team Magnus, said: “Planning a big marketing drive and product expansion means we’ve just started the process of fund-raising. Planning expanded operations has been hugely helped by Bill Aulet’s concrete advice on hiring, product management and market analysis. We employ his 24 steps on a weekly basis.”

4) Noam Wasserman’s topic “The Founder’s Dilemma” is critical – cash is king

There’s no way around it, scaling a business usually costs money. You’ll need to think carefully about your funding needs, have a plan of how you can justify and afford it, and find some willing investors. Decisions you make at this early stage of business growth will shape the entire future of your business, so careful planning around equity and ownership decisions can save huge issues further down the line.

Jim Law, founder of multi-platform app Find a Player, said: “Funding has allowed us to build a product which will be scalable to a massive audience. SCALE helped us to understand the mechanics of fundraising and make sure it was presented in the right way.. especially around the valuation.”

5)  Culture eats strategy for breakfast

Yes, you will want and need a strategy, but you also need your organisation to be enterprising, driven, and share common goals. That way, when your plans hit obstacles, there will always be people to find new ways around them.

Michelle Ferguson, managing director of St Andrew’s First Aid Training and Supplies, said: “We are much more entrepreneurial and ambitious now, and a have a more planned strategic approach to large scale growth.”