What Budding Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Scotland’s Bid For Independence
In light of Scotland’s historic vote for independence, what can we learn as prospective entrepreneurs learn about the pros and cons of going it alone?
Build Your Brand
Like an independent Scotland, your new business will need a charter or mission statement. You will need to know what your key objectives are and how you plan to execute against that vision. No viable nation exists without a charter and no business will succeed without one. This in an important component to laying a sustainable foundation for your business and it shows your customers that you are building something made to last.
Don’t Alienate Adversaries
The vote on the 18th will be close. There are strong adversaries on either side and both are mobilized and getting their voices heard. After the vote is over, those opposing viewpoints won’t disappear. Like the two previous American Presidential elections, Scotland may be left polarized. In the same way polarizing opinions can impact a nation they can do so with your business. It’s important that within your business you create an environment that can support multiple viewpoints. You have to remember that it is those differences that enable us to build a better product, service or position. Don’t alienate those who may disagree with your process or your vision, instead find a way to leverage them to make your business better. If you surround yourself with “yes men” you will fail.
Secure a Seat at the Table
As an independent Scotland will need to secure a seat within the EU, you too will need to join a local chamber of commerce, identify industry groups and professional networks to assert visibility and legitimacy for your new business. These linkages are essential in that they work to create credibility for your new business and put you in touch with other business leaders who may work in non-competitive spaces and can promote your vision and/or leverage your services.
If Scotland yields a “yes” vote they may have to create their own currency; when you start your own business, you too will be in the position of having to generate your own currency. Sounds simple, but remember, invoices don’t generally produce revenue in two weeks’ time. You need to have reserves to hold you over until the payday arrives. While creating a brand new currency won’t be your cross to bear, it may feel just as complex when you first dip your toe into the world of accounting and calculating expenditures. You may not need a federal monetary commission to assist you, but you will need tax professionals to guide you in the best ways to set up your financials.
Come September 18th one thing is for sure, no matter the outcome, Scotland will be a nation divided. At this point those in favor and those opposed to an Independence bid are nearly neck and neck. Whichever way fate would have it, the other half of the country is going to be left feeling a loss. Your decision to start a business can be met with similar discord by those in your camp. There will certainly be forces that believe strongly that you should or should not venture out on your own. You have to accept that these divergent voices will emerge and you must be prepared to diplomatically handle those conversations without letting them alter your decision. When encountering this opposition you have to factor in the person’s appetite for risk, if it is low then you can predict their desire to support you. No matter the case, it is important not to let other’s fears or opinions impact your decisions. Have faith that you will make the right choice for yourself based on your experience and desires.
Passion and Vision
Scotland is a beautiful country rich with history and oil reserves just off of its shores. The Scottish people are renowned for their love of their country, perhaps that’s why nearly half of the nation is voicing a desire to go it alone. You, the budding entrepreneur, need to have as much passion for your own entrepreneurial vision as the Scots have love for their country. Without vision and passion your business will fail.
Timing is Everything
The climate has to be right for change. Scotland’s previous independence bids dissolved due to the political climate of the time. Now, for the first time in decades the political landscape seems more amenable to the option. In the same way that timing will affect the bid for independence, make sure that if you decide to take your leap of faith that you do so at the right time. If you decide to launch a business you have to assess when the right time is for that transition. If you are a parent with two kids in college, perhaps that’s not the right time to take such a leap. Be methodical and realistic about your timing and you may fare well.
Legacy systems and patterns abound
The Scots and the Brits have been intertwined for centuries. Old habits die hard. Heck, the Queen vacations in Scotland every year, these are real ties that bind. Know that when you begin a business you bring to it all of those years of good and bad habits learned from working within other environments. As an independent entity you must evaluate which of those habits are working under the new regime and which ones will not and must be discarded. It is your job to evaluate your entity with neutrality and only invite into it those elements that will help it to succeed.
No matter the outcome of tomorrow’s monumental bid for independence the people of Scotland should feel proud that they have generated such an important dialog within their country and abroad about the pros and cons of freedom and going it alone. While starting a business isn’t exactly like nation building, the same type of deliberation and planning must be executed in order to succeed. The results of this work can be equally exhilarating and provide you with tremendous life experiences, ones which may shape your identify for many years to come.
Brandon Kelly, CEO NYCVanity, home of the Palit
Author of “Why Women Are Their Own Worst Enemies!”