As Scottish businesses have enjoyed solid growth since the last recession, a new focus on entrepreneurship has seen the help and support available to start-ups vastly increase.
But as the first successful cohorts from the new incubators and accelerator programs are finding, transforming these ventures into larger businesses that bring serious money and jobs into their communities is a different matter.
John Anderson, Head of SME Engagement at Strathclyde Business School, said the key barriers to achieving next-level growth were typically innovation, skills and people.
“We can help directly with the innovation gap,” Anderson said. “We can bring in academic colleagues who are experts in their field, and we teach companies to take an approach grounded in research: everything needs to be tested and validated in the market.”
Contrary to popular belief, Anderson does not believe availability of funding is a barrier in itself. Instead, he sees the need to bring experienced, well-connected people into businesses with next level potential.
Unfortunately, these individuals are in short supply. He said: “Scotland is awash with investment capital but for start-ups that have passed the first phase, their current investors won’t necessarily be able to provide it.
Having the right board is therefore very important, especially an experienced chairman who can effectively open his or her ‘black book’ to the business. You can’t raise the right money without the right people.”
The good news is that as more Scottish businesses start to scale up and founders sell their stakes and exit, these experienced entrepreneurs will likely ‘recycle’ their skills and connections by supporting younger up-and-coming ventures - helping them to pass the final barrier.
Excerpt from Scotsman article