ESpark's Jim Duffy urges start-ups to embrace growth

Scottish entrepreneurs must not use the combination of Brexit, currency fluctuations and Donald Trump as an excuse to retreat from growth, a leading start-up specialist has warned.

Jim Duffy said investors want to see an 'appetite for scale'. Picture: Chris Watt

Speaking ahead of tonight’s annual Scottish Business Awards in Edinburgh, Entrepreneur of the Year nominee Jim Duffy said firms need to ignore current upheavals and focus on expansion. Though Brexit is under way – and market instability is being fuelled by Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election – now is not the time to “batten down the hatches”.

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Duffy said: “It’s time for Scottish businesses to stop looking externally for excuses to justify a lack of growth or investment. I want to see a more upbeat message from our economic development agencies. Let’s stop staring at our navels.

“We’re conditioned as a nation to be cautious and it’s time for us to think bigger. It’s a mindset and it is just as relevant at start-up stage as it is when scaling up.”

Duffy co-founded the Entrepreneurial Spark (ESpark) network of business incubators in 2011 and was its chief executive until June of this year. He now heads the #GoDo initiative at ESpark, which currently works with more than 1,000 entrepreneurs from 12 locations across the UK.

Duffy said there are “potentially years of economic instability ahead”, yet fundamentally many things remain the same. Firms need to adapt to market conditions rather than hedging their bets.

“I talk to investors and entrepreneurs across the UK every day and I can tell you the money is out there to help enterprises grow,” he said.

“All it takes is hard work and willingness for massive action. But investors want to see appetite for scale. There are opportunities, even in adversity.”