2020 has not been kind to our economy, to put it mildly. When long-established businesses are clinging onto life, what hope is there for fledgling start-ups in this post-apocalyptic economic landscape?
Quite a lot I would argue, as my business is one of them. Having founded process safety consultancy firm, Salus Technical, in 2015, I took the plunge and launched the business full-time in November of last year. Yes – a matter of months before Armageddon hit. Undaunted however, since then we have secured several contracts, we are developing new software and we have moved into a new office suite. What’s more, we delivered process safety training webinars to over 500 participants during lockdown, completely free-of-charge.
I’m very proud of these achievements, but in truth I haven’t wrestled alone with the challenges of building an enterprise in this brave new world. While I have extensive experience of providing process safety training and support for major operators and service providers, I was looking for some assistance with the nuts and bolts of building a business. On that front I benefitted hugely from the input of several business development agencies and organisations, who offered guidance in business development, advice on accessing funding and opened doors to mentors and key contacts.
A lack of support is often cited as the final nail in a failing business’ coffin, and while I can’t speak for any other company, I certainly have discovered an abundance of information, advice and guidance to help me grow my business. I have found the staff at organisations like Elevator UK and Business Gateway ready and willing to help budding entrepreneurs turn their vision into a reality.
The local team at Business Gateway have been a fantastic source of ongoing support and advice – I personally have really appreciated the enthusiasm, positivity, commercial expertise and insight of these individuals.
Business Gateway spotted the firm’s potential to scale up and create new employment opportunities, and recommended us for the Elevator UK Grey Matters Business Accelerator scheme. This gave us the opportunity to pitch to potential investors at an event that was hosted by the Oil and Gas Technology Centre (OGTC) – probably the most significant step to date for Salus Technical.
In financial terms, Aberdeenshire Council recently awarded us a Business Resilience and Sustainability Scheme (BRASS) grant, which will help to cover some of the costs in bringing our online process safety assessment and communication software to market. Our pioneering Bowtie-Master software tool is currently in development and will be released by the end of the year. Having listened to our target market, we knew there was a gap for a more user-friendly, engaging and interesting platform that would make it easier for companies to understand the risks and reduce the likelihood of major accidents within their operations. There’s no doubt the BRASS grant has accelerated the product’s entry to the marketplace.
So my advice to fellow start-ups is simple: seek out support for your business, whether it’s financial or advisory, and maximise the value of every opportunity that comes your way. It could just be your lifeline as we navigate through the rocky terrain ahead.
David Jamieson is the founder of Salus Technical, which works with customers to help them better understand and manage the risks of major accidents within their operations. They offer three complementary services: process safety engineering support, a range of tailored and on-demand training courses, and Bowtie Master – an online software package which allows customers to visualise their risks and communicate them with their team.