Aug 31 2012 Ayrshire Post (main ed)
SEVENTY per cent of new businesses fail in their first year.
A startling, but sadly all too true a statistic.
And those working at home or alone in small shops or units miss out on the chance to share experience, opportunity and collaboration.
With a backdrop of recession, it’s easy to see why small businesses folk feel they’re swimming against the tide in today’s tough marketplace.
But pause for a minute and consider an alternative.
A bright, dynamic place where entrepreneurs enjoy all the comforts of a modern office, complete with IT and communications equipment, photocopiers, faxes and even a subsidised canteen.
Throw in one of the UK’s most successful business leaders, a constant stream of highly motivated and successful mentors who’ve been there done it and made it work.
All this and it won’t cost you a penny.
Wake up woman I hear you cry, you’re dreaming of that mythical land of Utopia again.
But you’re wrong. For this time I’m very much awake and amazed at the opportunity presenting itself to a whole new generation of would-be business leaders right here on our Ayrshire doorstep.
Sir Tom Hunter is the man behind Entrepreneurial-Spark.
With the support of South, East and North Ayrshire Council’s he is providing facilities at his Dundonald HQ for those taking their first faltering steps into the business world at what’s known at the West Coast Hatchery.
Since opening in May, the hatchery has supported 44 chiclets (new businesses) with the aim of creating jobs, securing investment and growing the economy.
The aim is to support them in their first year of operation and instil in them the skills and drive they need to take them to improve their chances of success in the future.
Fledgling businesses range from removal and collections company Ayr to B, wedding dress designer Encore Bridal and children’s entertainment franchise Kids Bee Happy to online legal services company Legalbot, media team Early Bird Social Media and food company Thomson’s Traditional Square Sausage.
Each business works with the hatchery team to set ambitious, but realistic, goals every 45 days.
These are monitored on a weekly basis and support given to those who struggle to meet them.
Failure is part of the process for some – as long as it’s fast.
And everyone who walks through the door of the dynamic facility has to accept the possibility that they could be the unlucky one.
If a business doesn’t meet the tough targets or buy into the demanding expectations placed upon them then they won’t last.
Karine explained: “Failure isn’t necessarily always a bad thing, as long as it’s quick.
“It can be good learning experience for some. And there’s nothing to say that they can’t go away, re-evaluate and come back stronger.
“What we offer is a place that encourages and allows businesses to find their feet. Those that do have a really good grounding for the future.
“Those that don’t haven’t lost as much as they would have done if they’d been on their own. And importantly they’ll have learned a lot that they can put to good use in the future.”
Since the hatchery opened there has been 170 applications from potential entrepreneurs.
New applications are considered every 45 days when the new targets are set for existing chiclets.
Karine added: “Our vision is to create a business start-up renaissance in and from Scotland over the next three years, creating three to five Hatcheries across Scotland with 150 start-ups hothoused annually.
“We are changing entrepreneurial mind-sets and behaviours in Scotland's entrepreneurs every day.”
You can apply to West Coast Hatchery online at www.entrepreneurial-spark.com/the-west-coast-hatchery-contact.aspx.
Businesses can be at start-up or early-stage and in any sector.
Business propositions should be viable, have the potential to grow and that the entrepreneur has the drive and ambition to make it happen.