Be your own boss

When you're thinking about your career, or job hunting, you're also probably thinking about where you'd like to work. But how about, instead of looking for an employer, you create that job yourself?
A table with 'Innovation', 'Ideas', 'Inspiration' and 'Creative' written on it, people sit around the table and are moving things in with their hands.

Have you thought about starting your own business? It could be anything you want it to be.

Maybe you have a flair for something which you could turn into a freelance career, rather than being an employee. Or a passion you’d love to do as a full-time job. You could be a born entrepreneur, able to not only spot opportunities but figure out how to make them grow. Your idea might be about making life better for people in your community. Whatever it is, you can make it happen.

Businesses come in all shapes and sizes. In Scotland, 99% of all private sector businesses are small to medium size enterprises – and they provide an estimated 1.1 million jobs*. What could you add to that mix?

Is it for me?

Starting your own business is an exciting idea. But there’s a lot to weigh up, as well. Here are some of the things you’ll have to think about when you’re deciding if it will work for you.

The good side


  • In charge. You come up with the ideas, and you take the lead 
  • Free to try out something new 
  • Able to decide when and how you do your work
  • Creating something new, making an opportunity for yourself, rather than waiting for one to turn up

The practical side

You’ll have to deal with:

  • Finance – from setting up grants and loans, to dealing with your income and expenses
  • Taxes – both your own, and any staff you take on
  • Finding premises if you need them
  • Marketing your business, finding clients and making it a success
  • Recruitment

Some of those things will take time away from what you really want to do with your business. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it, just that you need to be prepared for both the fun side and the practical side. 

There’s a lot of hard work involved – but that might suit your strengths perfectly. You’ll need to be resilient and quick-thinking to keep going when things don’t go to plan


Five tips to get you started

Want to be an entrepreneur? Here are five things you can do to get going.

Learn from your mistakes

Don’t be afraid to fail. Even if things don’t go to plan, you can learn from the experience, adapt and keep going. 

Talk about your idea

Ask people you trust what they think. It’s a chance to get opinions and test whether your idea has legs. There are also lots of organisations who can talk you through the practical steps of setting up a business. 

Test your idea

While it's important to talk, it's also good to actually do something. There are always ways to test your idea at low cost and low risk. You can learn a lot from this.

Decide what kind of business you want

Research different types of business so that you can decide what works best for you. Is it a microbusiness? A global venture? A social enterprise? A cooperative? 

Find the right funding

There are lots of different funding options out there. Explore every opportunity, from competitions to crowdfunding. 

Meet the entrepreneurs

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Craig Munro went from engineer to bagpipe manufacturer. 

Laura Nicolson co-founded Velocity Cafe and bike workshop in Inverness. 

Blair Bowman founded World Whisky Day while he was still a student. 

Josh Littlejohn co-founded the social enterprise Social Bite.

Amy Dolan founded a furniture design and refurbishment company, Ziggy Sawdust. 

Watch the videos to find out how they got started.

Finding help

Even though you’re going it alone, you don’t need to do everything alone when setting up a business. There are many different organisations there to help you – from understanding finances, to learning how to pitch, to that all-important funding.

We’ve found just a sample of the resources available in Scotland to get you started. Explore the links below and find the advice and support you need.

Young people and students

Your age shouldn’t be a barrier to your entrepreneurial spirit, so there are a range of organisations set up to help young people into business.

If you're a teacher, Scotland's Enterprising Schools is full of resources to help you promote enterprise to your pupils. Join a community of teachers sharing creative ideas for enterprise.

Starting up

Looking for advice about taking your idea forward? There are lots of people you can ask.

Business Gateway

Business Gateway helps hundreds of businesses start and grow every year. Resources include:

  •, full of information and advice on issues like legislation, marketing, starting up and employment. It also has details of free practical workshops and events throughout Scotland
  • Your local Business Gateway office, who can put you in touch with a Business Adviser to help you grow and develop your idea, plus other local companies and professional organisations
  • The Business Information Team, available on 0845 609 6611 and They can provide help on market research, statistics, market reports, commercial property searches and more


You might not want to think about your taxes. It may even be months before you have to – but eventually, you will have to. HMRC has plenty of digital resources to help you out.

You can also get information and advice from:

Tips for entrepreneurs

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We asked entrepreneurs for their top tips on networking. We also asked what strengths you need to become an entrepreneur.

Find out what they said in the videos. 

Self employed vs entrepreneur

Is there a difference? Strictly speaking, ‘self employed’ is a way to define your employment status. It means you don’t have a contract with an employer. Instead, you might provide services over time, or be in business in your own right. You’ll pay your own tax and National Insurance. has more information about self employment.

An entrepreneur is someone who not only sees an opportunity, but understands how to capitalise on it. Lots of people might think of a particular business idea. But not everyone can understand how to sell it to other people, or the drive to make it happen.