Who was your biggest hero when you were younger?
Robert the Bruce (the spider in the cave story should be a lesson for every Scottish entrepreneur). An honorary mention must also go to Gordon Strachan when he scored against West Germany in Mexico 86 and couldn’t jump over the advertising boards to celebrate with the fans so just propped his leg up on them. Both examples are about adapting to obstacles and not letting anything stop you.
What initially attracted you to enterprise?
I have always wanted to run a service business as I love working with clients and many old clients are now great friends. I had a fantastic job where I had a lot of freedom so that held me back in a way from launching earlier by myself but then I couldn’t wait any longer. I love making my own decisions, being 100% responsible and exceeding clients’ expectations.
Can you tell us about the first £10 you ever made?
Do French francs count? My first pay packet was when I was 16 and during my Easter holidays I worked for a local builder. We were living in the south of France at the time and we hadn’t agreed any salary or terms or anything. It was really hard work but at the end of the week I got an envelope stuffed with French Francs and I felt rich.
What has been your biggest challenge so far with your business?
Happily in terms of finding enthusiastic entrepreneurs and businesses in Scotland on the supply-side to work with, its been really great. My challenge is to find clients from the US, outside of my network when I have a limited marketing budget. Understanding where I will get a good ROI and where I can find the right clients is key.
Who is it that keeps you going through any tough times?
My wife Morgan who is working full-time but still has time to help me with Away From The Ordinary, has been a rock for me and 100% supportive.
There is also a quote by Nelson Mandela which I repeat to myself when things are tough: “I never lose. I either win or I learn.”
What is it that gets you out of your bed in the morning?
It’s the thought of making new connections whether that’s with other entrepreneurs or businesses in Scotland that I can work with or with enthusiastic clients who want to plan their dream trip to Scotland.
How do you define success?
In the short term it’s simply to have a profitable travel business that exceeds my clients’ expectations every time, by showing them the best that Scotland has to offer.
In the mid-term other signs of success will be to have a woodland where we will plant a tree for every client that visits Scotland with us and to be able to guide clients to less visited but equally rewarding parts of Scotland like Kintyre, Ardnamurchan or the Borders.
Where do you see your business in 5 years’ time?
In 5 years time I would like to have a small number of Scottish Ambassadors working with me who are equally as enthusiastic about Scotland and the client experience as I am.
If you could give your “teenage self” one piece of advice, what would it be?
To plan where you want to be in 5 years time and how you’re going get there. Also to have gone to see Scotland play in France 98.
If you could have any one person on your business contact list, who would that person be and why?
A year ago it would have been Gary Vaynerchuk as he helped inspire me to set up my business. Now in 2018 I’d like it to be Chris Pine as he is going to star as Robert the Bruce in the Outlaw King and I think he’d jump at the chance to be my brand ambassador in the US. Now who wouldn’t want Robert the Bruce on their board!