Could Scotland become the most entrepreneurial society in the world?
We believe that it can and our team at Entrepreneurial Scotland is focussed on finding and supporting the people who have the ambition and the mindset to make it a reality.
Across Scotland and internationally, our global networks and inspirational education programmes are already attracting and developing some of our most talented people – helping them to acquire the attitudes, behaviours and skills they will need to succeed. And, this time we’re addressing the economy as a whole, because we believe entrepreneurial thinkers have a role to play in everywhere – in business, the public and third sectors.
For years businesses, government and entrepreneurs have debated how to release Scotland’s latent potential. Many initiatives, backed by significant investment have attempted to address this and, while Scotland has produced some remarkable successes along the way, the step change needed has yet to be realised.
However there is good news to report. Along with our partners we are, collectively, getting better at identifying, inspiring and supporting people who have or are keen to develop an entrepreneurial mindset.
When we talk about an entrepreneurial mindset this is much more than supporting individuals who are keen to start a business. It describes a way of thinking that applies to that special group of individuals who have the ability to unlock the potential of a business or organisation – whether it is in the private, public or third sector.
At Entrepreneurial Scotland the characteristics that we believe define those individuals are that they share an ambition and passion to spot the gaps, seize opportunities and deliver change whether they are starting out in their careers, launching or scaling up a business or leading their organisations through periods of change.
We know that the key to growing Scotland’s economy and improving public services lies with inspiring and supporting them at the right moment in their careers. And, thanks to experience, data and a growing body of evidence we’re getting better at finding Scotland’s entrepreneurial thinkers and providing them with the networks, support and confidence they need to succeed and to realise their dreams.
Through our growing global network of inspiring leaders, our members can learn from entrepreneurial thinkers – people prepared to share their experience and to support others through challenging times. And, our educational programmes expose people to the best international experience giving them the confidence to take their organisations to the next level.
Our Future Leaders and Leaders’ Exchange networks are designed to help people at each stage of their careers, enabling them to learn from others, develop new skills and make contact with peers and mentors. For many members these relationships have become an important support system – helping them address new challenges and opportunities.
Alongside our membership networks, our Saltire Foundation educational programmes provide inspiring experiences for individuals at key moments in their careers. Operated as a charity, the Saltire Foundation has established a strong reputation and we have plans to grow this important element of our work.
The Saltire Scholarship, which works in partnership with leading universities across Scotland, has already seen 850 young people graduate from the programme. Our Saltire graduates are now providing a substantial new pipeline of talented people who are ready and able to support businesses and organisations of all sizes in Scotland and beyond.
For those further on with their careers, the Saltire Fellowship, a successful partnership with Babson in Boston (the number one business school in the world for entrepreneurship) provides a transformative experience for individuals ready to start a business or embark on a programme of change within their existing organisation.
This new cohort of entrepreneurial thinkers is equipped with the skills and international experience needed to build or scale-up businesses or transform organisations – they are becoming Scotland’s next generation of entrepreneurial leaders.
Our aim is simple. Through our inspirational members’ networks, our Saltire programmes, collaborations with business leaders and our partnerships with other individuals and organisations that share our ambition, we are helping Scotland become the most entrepreneurial society in the world.
As we strengthen our networks and programmes we are confident that this will have a positive impact on jobs, tax revenues, innovation, exports, international reputation, national confidence and our capacity to deliver social change.
Encouraging entrepreneurial behaviour will assist the Scottish Government in achieving its ambitions for a fairer society by creating jobs, establishing new businesses and organisations, encouraging innovation and improving the effectiveness of all types of organisations whether they are in the private, public, third or voluntary sector.
We are challenging the misconception that entrepreneurship is all about start-ups – it’s much more than that. Developing an entrepreneurial mindset is just as important in scale-ups, family and owner-managed businesses, established firms and corporates.
In our public sector it’s about inspiring and supporting entrepreneurial thinkers – the people who can lead others and encourage the attitudes and behaviours that can deliver positive change in the fastest possible time. Our support can help those committed to improving service design and delivery across every area.
As important as the internal impact is how a truly entrepreneurial society positions the country globally leading to more exports and enhanced national pride and confidence. That’s why we are determined to become even more globally active in future.
This year more than 130 Saltire Scholars will undertake paid internships around the world and 26 Saltire Fellows from the private, public and third sectors will complete an eight month programme in Scotland, Boston, Silicon Valley and China.
Already many of today’s entrepreneurs are yesterday’s Saltire Scholars and Fellows – so we know that we’re on the right track to create even more entrepreneurial thinkers for the future.
Scotland has started a powerful movement for change that is significant, life changing for individuals and is shifting the culture in businesses and organisations – large and small.
It is building a global network of talent capable of making a lasting impact on Scotland’s economy and, in time, we believe it will drive a culture change that will make Scotland the most entrepreneurial society in the world.
Sandy Kennedy is the chief executive of Entrepreneurial Scotland and The Saltire Foundation