At what stage should a company consider scaling up? Well, right from inception, according to Fiona Godsman.
As the chief executive of Scottish Institute for Enterprise, which helps students set up companies, she’s seen businesses like Swipii, Snap40 and Pick Protection come to life as their founders decided not to bother joining the job market.
“We do a lot of work on mindsets,” she told me. “We make sure they’re in that frame of mind where they’re considering scaling as soon as possible.”
Cripes – shouldering someone’s investment in my idea at 18 years old would have terrified me. Apparently students these days are hardier.
“No they’re used to learning, so rather than thinking “I can’t do that” they just think “I haven’t learned that yet” – there’s a constant openness,” she reassured me.
That said, the most common fear is taking on their first employee. So they’re hardy, but they’re not daft. “They’ve been living hand to mouth and keeping overheads to a minimum so being responsible for someone else’s income does scare them,” Fiona said. “But it’s the one thing our alumni say they wish they’d done earlier – you can do things twice as fast!”
Her tips are to
- anticipate your financial needs
- believe you’re worthy of the investment and
- it can be done
If there was one change she’d like to see, what would it be?
“More face to face meetings with investors – after all, they’re investing in the person as much as the business.”