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In today’s climate, resilience is essential to success

Thomas Clark“Business opportunities are like buses, there’s always another one coming,” said Sir Richard Branson, and he knows a thing or two about growing a business.  He also knows a lot about facing adversity.

As the Scottish and UK economies continue to tread a path of recovery, I have been reflecting on the resilience of Scotland’s entrepreneurs and private business community.  Indeed nowhere is this fighting entrepreneurial spirit and long term optimism needed more currently than pockets of Scotland impacted by the oil price slump just when almost every other industry is beginning to ride the next wave .

In recent years many Scottish businesses have had to fight for their right to exist. Not only have they achieved that, but most have thrived.

Exactly how these businesses have achieved success in the face of adversity is down to a number of factors.

At its heart, the concept of a successful business is simple.  Make a product or provide a service which people want, at a price they’re willing to pay, which makes an acceptable profit and provides some sense of customer satisfaction such that the business can continue.

Executing this is a different matter. Scottish businesses, however, have shown that through agility, the ability to adapt and innovate, and through some excellent stewardship in difficult times, they have been able to steer their ships to success.  Indeed, Sir James Dyson believes that “being an entrepreneur, an inventor, is about having ideas and the doggedness to see them through. Sometimes you have to be brave and jump in at the deep end.”

And it is these enterprises that are benefiting from opportunities left behind by those who are less resilient.

At the end of this month we’re celebrating the best of Scottish private business, with five of our shortlisted companies up for awards at the UK Private Business Awards in London.

This theme of doggedness and bouncing back comes through really strongly in three of our businesses from the Aberdeen area, each of which is going from strength to strength.

Ecosse Subsea Systems is a prime example of a services company who have come up with unique and innovative tools which increase efficiency for their customers.  Ecosse designs, develops, builds and operates a range of subsea equipment serving the Oil & Gas industry, an industry which does not have its troubles to seek.  Yet Ecosse has been able to thrive in a difficult environment.

The Northeast is fast becoming famous for another precious liquid.  Brewdog has imposed its ‘punk’ attitude on the UK beer market and beyond, having huge success both educating and taking advantage of our changing attitudes towards our ales and a developing a thirst for craft brews.

Finally, social enterprise Glencraft knows all about resilience.  Having a history dating back to 1843 requires a clear focus on what the business does best, and an ability to roll with the times. As a business that relies on word of mouth, pillow talk has clearly paid off with Balmoral amongst its high profile customers.

The Northeast is not alone in hosting these resilient enterprises.  Peak Scientific is a great example of a growing business that has reincarnated itself and faced challenges head on. Its gas generators for analytical labs are finding success in the market due to a focus on technical excellence, quality and customer service, but its ability to navigate a difficult path to success should not be underestimated.

And in Benriach we have a truly international business, always looking for opportunity and always thinking ‘globally’.  It has a huge export business and continues to invest in emerging economies that are ‘hitting the bottle.’

In today’s climate, resilience is essential to success.

It is fantastic that so many Scottish businesses are finding opportunities to grow and develop, but more so that they are able to be resilient and find lasting success.

If they miss an opportunity, they pick themselves up and make sure they’re ready for the next one coming along behind it.

Thomas Clark is assurance director at PwC Scotland

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