It was Bill Gates who said, “It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.”

That was a message reiterated at an inspiring event on Friday evening. Entrepreneurial Spark is a business accelerator for early stage and growing ventures, and their annual awards event dinner at the weekend, Hatchery Hits the Streets, left a big impression.

Not just the words of support and motivation from Angela Constance MSP, Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Training, Youth & Women’s Employment; not just the drive and moving words from table-mate, Angie Malone, British Paralympian and World Champion Wheelchair curler; not just the prize funds on offer; and not just, of course, the company that I shared. None of this alone but all of this together, and more.

With the mantra #GoDo, the energy, inspiration, challenge and drive to offer conditions within which growth can be nurtured was both tangible and exciting.


Celebrate Others’ Success

Even the story behind how Entrepreneurial Spark came to being is one that I can’t read without being left with a sense of awe. And the words of Jim Duffy, Founder and CEO, that we should always celebrate others’ success, really resonated with me.

Take social media, for example, a great platform and channel through which success can be celebrated and shared. What’s more, social media can give people a voice and help people connect and interact in ways never possible before.


Yet how social media is being deployed is variable, just one reason why Social Media Surgery Dundee was launched.

Reflecting on my most recent blog post, I wondered just how many of the 500 delegates were using social media at all, and of those, how many were using it effectively.

Of course with the support and mentoring available they are in a great position to maximise opportunities, and when starting a business, indeed at any stage, your plan needs to define priorities. For some, social media engagement as part of a wider holistic approach may not be their focus. But ignore this at your peril. Social media isn’t just a gimmick or a game to play in your spare time – it’s now one of the most important pieces of kit in your marketing arsenal.

You Can’t Polish a Turd

Two points to remember, though. Firstly, don’t believe the hype. Social media isn’t the be all and end all; it can’t replace standing infront of a room full of 500 delegates and pitching your business in an effort to win prize-funding. But it will help elevate the platform on which you operate, to reach out to people wherever they are living their digital lives, long after you’ve left the stage.

Secondly, you can’t polish a turd. Your product first needs to be right, social media won’t paper over the cracks.

But what social media can do is offer leverage at every stage of development. Whether that’s underpinning bids for funding, reaching out to influencers and supporters, reinforcing existing sales, helping break into new markets, fuelling research, engaging collaborators and partners, or testing out sentiment around new ideas – there’s a social media approach for all these and more, much more.

Whatever your approach, it takes sustained commitment, success doesn’t happen overnight. Blending planned and measured digital engagement into an integrated approach that also considers offline and traditional channels is now crucial.

Remember, though, that people will smell the hard-sell a mile off, whatever your sector; private, Third, or, like me, public. Instead, engage through testing and trying.

In Jim’s words, don’t be afraid of failure – and go celebrate others’ success. #GoDo.

Take it easy

Disclaimer: I blog here in a personal capacity, having attended the event as a personal guest of Solve. This is unaffiliated to my day job. I have no known connection to any of the prize nominees or winners. My opinions that I share in this blog post, indeed in my blog, are my own.