Great Scot! Here’s A Good Start-Up Strategy: Open A Business In Edinburgh!Kenneth Nel
Getting started on your start-up strategy
Let’s take a look at a couple of things we know about Scotland. Actually, maybe you didn’t previously know these things about Scotland because, well, why would you? I mean, everyone has surely heard of Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster, but who has ever heard of Morag? No, really. Morag is Nessie’s rival for loch monster fame. Many people believe she lives in Loch Morar. Reported sightings, some by multiple witnesses, date back to 1887.
And did you know that Scotland’s national animal is the unicorn? I kid you not. You can even ask Google. In Western parts of the world, the unicorn was believed to be real for over 2 500 years. It was adopted as Scotland’s national animal by King Robert in the late 1300s.
Amazingly though, for a country so seemingly obsessed with mythical creatures of land and lake, Scotland has its head firmly rooted in the real when it comes to business. More specifically, when it comes to new business.
Techs in the City – Why Your Start-up Strategy Needs Edinburgh
Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital, recently took the coveted top spot in the Start-up Cities Index 2017. The previous year, it won the 2016 Entrepreneurial City Of The Year award, beating London, Cambridge and Manchester. Edinburgh won the award based on its quality of life, and access to capital, talent and support networks, as well as its entrepreneurial culture. One of the judges, Michael Baxter, said, “If you talk to the people in Edinburgh who are trying to drive its entrepreneurism, you detect pride, a real sense they love the city and want it to thrive.”
According to Jim Galloway, head of enterprise and innovation at Edinburgh’s city council, the city was the original “seat of enlightenment” in the 18th Century. “This is still part of what Edinburgh is today,” he says. “We are now the seat of the enlightenment, point two.”
Lucy-Rose Walker, CEO of accelerator Entrepreneurial Spark, credits Galloway with the vision of turning Edinburgh into a start-up hub. He was inspired after hearing about Boston, which is among the top start-up hubs in America. “He always said he wanted to make Edinburgh an incubator – for the city to be seen as one,” she says. “I certainly think that’s what they’ve been able to achieve.”
All of which basically means that if Edinburgh isn’t already part of your startup strategy, it definitely should be!
What Makes Edinburgh So Awesome?
For a start, it’s full of great Scots! True story. Scotland as a country is no stranger to the entrepreneurial spirit, producing a few well-known start-up businessmen in its time. John Logie Baird developed the world’s first, publically-demonstrated TV. Alexander Graham Bell gave us the telephone, Robert Watson-Watt brought us RADAR and Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin. Not forgetting John Loudon McAdam, who invented tarmac, and John Shepherd-Barron, who brought us that miracle of miracles, the ATM.
Modern-day Edinburgh has a thriving, growing business community. It still embraces the entrepreneurial nature of its forefathers and does everything it can to give start-ups the, well, start they need. The city has lots of great options for start-up premises, and its central location makes commuting easy. It has an international airport that hosts 40 airlines servicing 100 destinations. But mostly, it’s just really easy to start a business in Edinburgh.
It’s a bit like those times when a friend invites you to their house for dinner and tells you not to bring anything. But no one feels comfortable arriving with nothing (well, except possibly for Rude Uncle Jackson, but we don’t talk about him much). So you bring flowers or a bottle of wine, and your gracious host does the rest. Edinburgh’s like that. You bring your start-up strategy, the city pretty much does the rest.
A Plethora Of Premises
Isn’t that a great word? Plethora. Just saying it out loud makes me feel brainy. Plethora is defined as a “large or excessive amount of something.” This makes it completely appropriate for describing the working space options available to entrepreneurs in Edinburgh. It also just happens to alliterate nicely with the word Premises, but that’s not especially relevant at this point.
What is not only relevant but also super-handy is that Edinburgh does indeed have a huge range of innovative office space options for start-ups. TechCube, for example, is a self-proclaimed “business hub for entrepreneurs, techies and creatives.” It offers “fully adaptable office space for start-ups with market-leading comms.”
Other options for start-up premises include The Edinburgh Office, which offers open plan co-working space, or The Haymarket, a mixed-use development soon to be completed. There’s also Citibase which has two, fully-equipped business centres specifically targeted at start-ups and small businesses. Not to mention South Gyle Business Park and West Edinburgh Business Park.
Putting The Fun Into Funding
Okay, so strictly speaking, getting access to funding for your start-up isn’t generally a fun process. However, it’s easier in Edinburgh that in many other cities. The main reason for this is that there are several financing options open to start-ups, so you don’t only have to rely on finding funding from a bank.
Take a look at Scottish Enterprise Services. It’s a very handy starting point to begin looking for funding options. Archangels are another good option. They’re Scotland’s largest angel investor syndicate, investing in the region of £10 million a year in early-stage Scottish businesses.
If you have a viable business idea that’s already showing promise, you can apply to the Small Business Loan Fund. This is operated by the local Edinburgh council and offers interest-free loans of up to £2 500.
Edinburgh really is serious about supporting its start-ups, and there are always opportunities for you to meet other entrepreneurs, network and get advice. The Entrepreneurship Club (also known as the E-Club) regularly invites entrepreneurs to the University’s Business School to share insights. Launch.ed is another organisation within the University that offers advice and support to start-ups. They also run the “Business Idea Competition,” which rewards promising potential businesses University students and graduates. Even if your idea is still in relative infancy, it’s not a problem. Your early-days start-up strategy could be enough to get you the boost you need.
The University itself is a mine of invaluable opportunities. It has no fewer than four business incubation centres in the city: The Scottish MicroElectronic Centre, The Edinburgh Research and Innovation Centre, The Edinburgh Technology Transfer Centre and Edinburgh Technopole. These four centres are very active within the start-up and innovation community, often acting as a launch-pad for start-up and technology transfers.
The City Is Not Enough
We know. We’ve just spent a lot of screen inches telling you how wonderful Edinburgh is and how you should make it a part of your start-up strategy. And it’s all true. But (because as you should know by now, there is always a but), as awesome as Edinburgh is, it can’t do everything for you. It can do a lot, for sure, but at some point, the ball’s coming back into your court and you’ve got to pick it up and run with it. Ok, that was a truly ghastly mixed metaphor, but you know what we mean.
You have a great idea, you’ve found premises and you’ve even secured funding. But no matter how hard you listen, you’re just not hearing a stampede of feet through the door. Your inbox is not overflowing with online orders and your phone is decidedly not ringing off the hook.
The reason for this is very simple – you’re not marketing yourself effectively. Yes, you’re a start up with a small, possibly microscopic budget, but that doesn’t mean you can’t leverage the mind-blowing power of the digital world to come up with a digital marketing strategy for your start-up that will rock your world.
What Is Digital Marketing?
You might have read that digital marketing is a marathon not a sprint. I may even be guilty of having used that good old cliché once or twice myself. Because it is actually true. To really see big, fat juicy returns, you do have to make peace with the fact that a) you’re going to have to spend some money, and b) you’re going to wait a while to see that money flow back into your bank account. But, dear reader, flow back it will, and then there’s no stopping it.
But for a humble start-up, one of the most affordable ways to market your business is to use social media platforms. They’re easy to use and offer highly effective promotional opportunities.
At The Digital Coach, we understand that as a start-up, you have limited funds. So let’s chat about how we can help you with a start-up strategy that fits where you are right now. We’ll make it scalable so your strategy grows as you grow. We won’t overwhelm you with jargon, or baffle you with tech-speak. Just good, honest, reliable advice that really works. We also make a mean cup of coffee and we may even have biscuits. Just saying.