Meet the Aberdeenshire man who built a seven-figure business from his spare cupboard with support from Business Gateway

24/10/2023
Ben Leonard

BUILDING a fitness business while recovering from a heart problem may not be what the doctor ordered, but that’s exactly how Ben Leonard, with the support of Business Gateway, Scotland’s national business advisory service, created Beast Gear, an e-commerce business offering top-class training equipment to anyone with an interest in exercise.  

Before then, Ben, from Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire, worked as an Environmental Advisor in the oil and gas industry. Despite having no business training, Ben, who dubs himself a “whale and dolphin nerd by qualification” thanks to his ecology background, became one of the few one-person business owners who broke $1 million in revenue with no employees.      

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Ben said: “I never intended to go on an entrepreneurial journey. Beast Gear was a fun project I embarked on while out of training due to heart problems. I was frustrated that I could not take part in my usual fitness hobbies and – with a lot of spare time on my hands – it got me thinking that I was not fully satisfied with the training equipment and service provided by suppliers in the current marketplace.  

“The adventure spiralled from there, and, with support from Business Gateway, I embarked on my mission to help anyone and everyone to better themselves through the use of the best go-to fitness gear.” 

Ben, who is now fully recovered, went onto sell Beast Gear in 2019, and has now turned his attention to helping others build their own e-commerce brands. His book, Quit Stalling and Build Your Brand, promises to help readers learn the strategies necessary to successfully start and scale an e-commerce business.   

Ben continued: “I’ve built up some solid experience over the last six years or so, and I wanted to share some timeless business principles, specifically applied to e-commerce, for those that may feel at a loss.”  

Throughout his business career, Ben has benefitted from support from Business Gateway. Dubbing them a “key ingredient” to his success, Ben now regularly delivers training through Business Gateway’s online webinars, and volunteers with the Elevator foundation to support other brands.  

Ben said: “Although I was full of ideas for new and exciting businesses, I needed the practical skills and knowledge that would help turn my vision for these into a reality. The support I’ve received from Business Gateway has ranged from one-to-one meetings with dedicated mentors, to signposting to funding for IP audits. 

“I’m really enjoying this full circle moment – I approached Business Gateway with no prior business knowledge, and thanks to their support over the years, I’m now in a position to pass on my expertise to others.” 

Ben is now set to speak at the Transform Business Festival, taking place in Aberdeen in November. The festival unites entrepreneurs, start-ups, and businesses of all sizes from across the region. After his success at the 2022 festival, he has been welcomed back to discuss customer personas and the ‘hero’s journey’.  

John Mac, Business Gateway adviser, said: “It’s been immensely rewarding to witness Ben’s growth and success over the years. His journey is a testament to his hard work and determination.  

“We’ve supported Ben with a range of our growth business services and will continue to work with him as he progresses further in his career. 

“I have no doubts that his new book will offer the necessary guidance for those looking to start their own e-commerce brand. I’m also very pleased that Ben will be sharing his story at our Transform Business Festival, which I’m sure will make for a very inspiring listen.” 

To find out more about how Business Gateway could help your business, visit www.businessgateway.com.  

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