The latest .scot story focuses on The Leader (Scotland) at theleader.scot, a limited company established in 2018 by Graham Bell and Lesley Fuller. Here they discuss the challenges of starting up a new venture later in life, and share their entrepreneurial tips.
Tell us a bit about your business.
We help business leaders be better at what they do, supporting them to become a better boss and build a better business. We offer help and support to individual leaders, their teams and their boards and do this through a blended approach of executive coaching, mentoring and advising.
Our signature service, “In Crisis in Confidence”, offers discreet, confidential support to leaders facing tough personal and professional challenges. This is provided by Graham, where he combines his long experience as a successful chief executive with his formal qualifications as a social worker and more recently as a professional executive coach. I compile “Insight Added”, a regular free leadership e-bulletin, as well as a range of blogs and articles for leaders of all ages and stages.
We have worked together since 1995, growing and developing a large enterprise. This is a ‘second act’ career, based on the Encore movement – tapping the skills and experience of those in midlife and beyond to improve communities, business, society and the world.
Any tips for start-ups?
Don’t let age be a barrier! Draw on your previous experience, knowledge and existing skills, but be open and willing to learn new skills and keep on learning. Start your business when the time is right for you.
What’s the story behind your brand name?
Offering leadership development is at the heart of our business, but far from claiming to be an oracle on the subject, we needed a name which captured exactly what we were about. We felt that The Leader did this clearly and concisely. We see ourselves as a compass and companion for the leader’s journey, so in our logo (the ‘A’ in ‘The Leader’ — see below) is represented by a compass needle.
What’s the most challenging thing about setting up a new business/project?
For us, moving from a large enterprise with lots of support and backup has been challenging. Suddenly you are out on your own, and have responsibility for ICT, website, social media, sales, marketing and finance, albeit it on a small scale.
However, we were fortunate to have time to undertake research and learn new skills and new approaches. The digital boost programme from Business Gateway has been particularly valuable to us, and I built our website using the Strikingly platform.
If you could give one piece of advice to a business, what would it be?
Never under-estimate the importance of leadership. You would expect us to say that, but over the past four decades we have met leaders of businesses and organisations of all shapes and sizes, from all sectors of the economy and society and have never seen a business or organisation grow beyond the capability and commitment of its leader.
Why did you choose the .scot domain name?
Our face-to-face work takes place in Scotland with leaders and businesses, but we are also involved in some international networks. During our earlier career, we travelled extensively (literally across the globe) and discovered just how strong the Scottish brand is. The .scot domain name ties these strands together and signals that we are a Scottish business. As a new company, we could have chosen any domain name, but we particularly identified with the .scot domain’s value of contributing to global citizenship, so it was the perfect choice. And, keeping the Scottish connection, we bought our domain name from Cromarty based Calico UK who were also very helpful with technical support.