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Flashback to 1986: Catching up with Margaret Gibson

Thu, 08 November 2012

In 1986, Margaret Gibson (then Graham) and Linda McKillop won the Scottish LiveWIRE Finals and were runners-up in the UK Finals with their business, Wild Rice Vegetarian Food.
Margaret is now the Director of Marketing & Communications at The Prince's Scottish Youth Business Trust so we caught up with her to find out how things have changed in youth enterprise…

What can you remember of your involvement with Shell LiveWIRE?
It was a bit of a shock winning the Scottish Final and then being runner up in the National. The event in London was very exciting and meeting lots of other young people who had also set up their own business was really inspiring. The prize money allowed the business to develop new packaging and that really helped to take the business to another level. At the time I had so little cash so getting put up in a hotel, taken to a London show and having all meals paid for was just AMAZING!

How have things changed for you since you won your Shell LiveWIRE award?
The experience of being self-employed and entrepreneurial never leaves you I don’t think. You get such a good understanding of business as you know how important it is to make sales, build a network, work hard and come up with new ideas (along with a hundred other things!). I believe this all helps you to be a much more balanced/valuable person if you go on to be employed by someone else. I’ve been working with young people my whole life and that initial experience of the Shell LiveWIRE final in London and being inspired by their passion and commitment has never left me.
Margaret Gibson Scan
Wild Rice Vegetarian Food won the Most Outstanding Business Award in the 1986 UK Finals

How have you had to adapt as an entrepreneur over the years?
I stopped running my own business in 1991 on a full-time basis although the company kept trading on a part-time basis until the birth of my first child in 1996. At different stages in your working life you have to face other challenges and priorities and be strong about taking difficult decisions. On a practical level I think young businesses just communicate much more effectively now, they have grown up with social media as being normal and not something to be frightened of. This has provided them with more opportunities to develop great networks and to create solid businesses.

What has been the biggest obstacle you have overcome in business?
For me and many others, getting paid on time was the thing that finally made me become an employee again. I felt I worked really hard, produced great products and gave a great service and yet getting paid and chasing invoices almost took over my life. Many of the young people I work with today still face those challenges and if you have a tight cash-flow to start with you are constantly trying to chase cash.

What are your top 3 tips for a young entrepreneur who is about to set up in business?
1. Do something that you really enjoy – it can take some time to make anywhere near a decent living so you need to be committed to your project and enjoy the work.
2. Research your market thoroughly and keep on top of new trends-many of the young people I work with change their business idea after research has shown a much more profitable aspect to their business that they were not aware of until they researched it.
3. Keep your bank informed of what you are doing, tell them the good news about new orders etc. and then when things perhaps get a bit tough they can appreciate that you have ups and downs like most businesses.


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