Nearly half of Scots adults have considered starting their own business

Determination, confidence and ambition top attributes entrepreneurs need

A survey commissioned by Unlocking Ambition to coincide with Global Entrepreneurship Week (18-24 November) found that the majority of people (57%) think that Scotland is an entrepreneurial nation, with 49% of adults having considered starting their own business.

When it comes to the biggest obstacles to doing it, a lack of funds tops the list (62%), followed by a risk to their finance/lifestyle (46%) and being unsure how to go about it (34%).

Alison Loveday

Commenting on the findings Alison Loveday, (pictured right) programme manager of Unlocking Ambition, the £4m Scottish Government programme delivered by Scottish Enterprise and the Royal Society of Edinburgh which offers entrepreneurs intensive wrap-around support to scale their business, said: “Many of us have great business ideas or a desire to work for ourselves but putting it into action sometimes needs a catalyst. That push to actually make it happen comes in various ways as we’ve seen through the different journeys of each entrepreneur we’re working with on Unlocking Ambition.”

“Scott Weir, of Pillow, based in Dundonald, Ayrshire, left the Royal Navy with no qualifications and found himself in poorly paid positions. Setting up his own business not only helped him self-fund his higher education but put him on a path towards achieving his life ambitions. For Jo Halliday of Talking Medicines, based in Glasgow, having her children and a taste of working in entrepreneurial businesses, made her want to be in charge of her own future. Dr. Stephanie Terreni Brown at Clean Water Wave was prompted into action when she saw the devastation that the lack of access to clean drinking water had on overseas communities.”

Lack of funds is biggest obstacle

Jo Halliday, of Talking Medicines, a data tech company which captures the digital voice of the patient, agrees with the survey findings that a lack of funds can be the biggest obstacle to setting up. As well as completing a year on the Unlocking Ambition programme and becoming an ambassador, the business recently won FutureX’s Startup Summit Competition and raised £622,000 earlier this year. Jo commented: “Scotland’s eco-system for entrepreneurs is second to none and the envy of many other entrepreneurs I have come across in other countries. Starting your own business, though hugely rewarding, is scary. Raising finance has undoubtedly been the hardest part of the journey so far.

Scotland’s eco-system for entrepreneurs is second to none and the envy of many other entrepreneurs I have come across in other countries.

“Our latest funding is a real game changer for us and what flipped the switch was realising the social impact that our business has - helping people take control of their medicines. That unlocked the Social Investment Scotland Venture funding which the Scottish Investment Bank was able to match fund. All the due diligence required had happened at the stage of becoming an Unlocking Ambition ambassador which is what made the whole process possible.”

The key attributes those surveyed believe that entrepreneurs need are determination (55%), confidence (46%) and ambition (41%).

Scott Weir, of Pillow, a property management service for holiday homes and serviced accommodation, agrees. “Nobody expected me to make much of myself and that is where my drive and determination initially came from. I wanted to be better qualified than my school teachers and earn more than the Admiral in the Royal Navy but also contribute to the Ayrshire community that I was brought up in. What fuels me is the passion for Pillow and my aspirations for the team working with me.”

Notes to editors

The survey was conducted by Scotpulse between 7-9 November 2019, with 1,174 respondents.

For further information contact Lesley Alexander/Suzanne Amir/Nicola McArthur, Smarts, Tel: 0141 222 2040