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23 March 2004
BBC - Good Morning Scotland
Interview with chief executive John Anderson

Derek Bateman (presenter): Scotland has one of the worst records in Europe for business start-ups, but some young Scots are showing success is possible with the right attitude. Patrick MacKay and Neil McLafferty are competing, for example, to become UK Young Business People of the Year. They quit their jobs three years ago to launch their own company which has piioneered a revolutionary way of cleaning chewing gum off the streets. So, how can we encourage more young entrepreneurs? Well, a successful  man in his own right, John Anderson is chief executive of the Entrepreneurial Exchange. Hello John.

John Anderson: Good morning, Derek.

Derek Bateman: Is there a formula?

John Anderson: I don't think there is a formula, Derek. There's a whole series of things that contribute to success in business, but you mentioned that attitude is one and that's something I see amongst the 400 plus members of the Exchange, all of whom are trying to grow businesses of substance in Scotland. The questions is: how can we encourage more of this entrepreneurial 'can-do' attitude, and I think over the last few years we've managed to see an increase in effectively the number of role models, people like the Willie Haughey's of the world, Robert Wiseman, Tom Hunter, people who've taken existing businesses and really gone for it. The reason I'm mentioning these role models is that Patrick and his chewing gum removal service has already had a leg up from Willie Haughey and the City guys; they've got tremendous backing from the Prince's Scottish Young Business Trust which I think in terms of, particularly for young people, the mechanism's in place to support, to provide the right type of finance and crucially the kind of mentoring support is already there. It's great.

Derek Bateman: Yes, but is there an element of kind of chance about it as well. I mean, Brian Souter, for example, got a few thousand quid redundancy and bought a bus. He didn't start out to be an entrepreneur.

John Anderson: Well, interestingly, thee's two types of entrepreneurs. Research that has recently been published in Scotland, the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, which is operated by the Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship at Strathclyde, differentiates between necessity entrepreneurship and opportunity entrepreneurship and Brian Souter, if you like, was partly out of necessity because he got some redundancy, but in my view the opportunity was there, the timing was there. the evidence is that those that think about it and seize the opportunity can create larger businesses, can create more employment, etcetera, than just by simply reacting to something.

Derek Bateman: Do you think that you're maybe born with it, though? I mean, the story about Tom Farmer, if I remember, was that when he was a kid he used to put an ad in the Evening News in Edinburgh, advertising that he'd come round and clean your oven. Now that's, you know...

John Anderson: Absolutely, yes.

Derek Bateman: But, I mean, he was just a boy. Now that was obviously an instinct in him which has continued through his adult life.

John Anderson: Absolutely, and I think there are a proportion of the population who are simply instinctive entrepreneurs, absolutely, it's in the genes as it were. However, I think if we didn't believe that you could take somebody who fundamentally has an attitude towards risk which, let's say, doesn't make them a bank manager or an accountant, for example, but needs some encouragement, I think a lot of the enterprise education which we've now got in primary schools, we're putting into secondary schools, we've got all the entrepreneurship classes at universities - at each university in Scotland now. You can take somebody and show them that there's a process and if they seek the right advice, get the right funding structure and crucially talk to other entrepreneurs - people that have been there, done it and learn from their mistakes it's a really great way of doing it.

Derek Bateman: Let's hope it happens. Thank you, John Anderson of the Entrepreneurial Exchange.



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