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Gordon Brown, of Scottish Enterprise
"Not enough women are starting businesses"
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Wednesday, 6 September, 2000, 21:41 GMT 22:41 UK
Scots lag in entrepreneurs 'league'
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Scots lag behind in industrial start-ups
Only four Scottish businessmen have made the grade in a ranking of the UK's top 100 self-made entrepreneurs.

The list, devised for Enterprise magazine, shows car dealer Arnold Clark at number 51 and Atlantic Telecom head Graham Duncan at 53.

Construction firm founder Stewart Milne and pharmaceuticals entrepreneur Donald Munro were listed at 94 and 99.

The rankings measure rise in turnover and the percentage increase in jobs over five years, along with the value of the entrepreneur's personal stake in the company.

Scotland's poor showing in the rankings came as no surprise to enterprise analysts.

There is a major opportunity for the Scottish economy in terms of the untapped potential within our women entrepreneurs

Gordon Brown, of Scottish Enterprise
Gordon Brown, head of business development at Scottish Enterprise, has been telling BBC Scotland News Online that, historically, Scotland's new business success rate is low.

Scotland has had around 20% less start-ups than the UK average for the last 20 years, although the figure has improved slightly.

Mr Brown said there were a number of complex social, cultural and historic reasons for this.

He said: "Scotland was dominated by big employers for many years and may have become divorced from marketing expertise.

"Attitude is an issue too. Entrepreneurs are held in less esteem than in the rest of the UK or the USA."

Women put off

And there is a particular problem for Scottish women.

"There is a major opportunity for the Scottish economy in terms of the untapped potential within our women entrepreneurs. Only 9% of growth starts are led by women."

But Mr Brown said that perceptions about starting your own business are changing very rapidly.

Richard Emanuel
Richard Emmanuel of DX Communications
High profile figures like Tom Hunter, who founded Sports Division, John Boyle, of Direct Holidays, and Richard Emmanuel, of DX Communications, have helped to change public attitudes.

Mr Brown said: "The overwhelming source of the idea for a start-up comes from the individual's previous experience.

"Everybody needs a stimulus to change.

"When we analyse the reasons, some people have always wanted their own company, sometimes it is falling out with the boss or redundancy.

"Sometimes someone who is in work goes to the boss with an idea and the boss says 'no that's not what we do, stick to the knitting'.

"The individual then says 'right I'll go and do it myself'."

Mr Brown said that the latest figures for business start-ups would be released soon and he expects to see Scotland catching up with the rest of the UK.

"I suspect that we will see a continual closing of the gap. I think we will see an increase in the growth of companies started by women."

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