After graduating university in July 2016, my close friend David Harper and I created a letting agency called Cutler & Stag Property Management. Beginning with letting, servicing clients who were dissatisfied with their current agent; we saw a gap in the market to specialise in factoring World Heritage status buildings such as those in the New Town, Old Town and West End. It was clear to me as I finished my degree that I wanted to be my own boss and have my own company. I felt so strongly about it that I didn’t even look at graduate jobs!
Starting the business with my friend has been a fantastic experience. I love that we have ownership and responsibility in terms of decision making, along with the fact that our ideas and input guide the company’s direction.
That’s not to say it’s easy; as the Edinburgh property market is extremely competitive. Having an excellent set of selling points to offer clients ensures you get off to a strong start, enabling us to compete with some big players in the local industry and to recruit customers. Together, David and I are committed to becoming the best property management company in Edinburgh.
How my work placement made me more determined to start my own business:
During my third year at university I undertook a placement at an Edinburgh based investment company and I found this experience to be invaluable, especially as at the time I was fairly sure I wanted a career in the financial sector. Having completed the 48 week placement it was apparent that the financial sector was not suited to my skill set and that I wanted to be my own boss. However, what I did learn was valuable in terms of working to strict timescales, adaptability and how to deal with a broad range of people in a professional capacity.
The best bits about my time at university:
Reflecting on my time at university I found the various methods of analysis and frameworks covered in the entrepreneurship modules useful when it comes to outlining strategies and plans in relation to my own business. The academic staff were also helpful in talking through ideas and instilling the mind-set of critical thinking. To me, one of the most important things I learned was to look beyond my own perspective, to see things from another point of view (usually that of the target market) and then ensuring that the right message is communicated effectively.
Advice for anyone looking to start their business:
If I were to give advice to anyone starting their own business, I would say to spend time researching the market, see what competitors do well and what they do poorly. From there you can develop a competitive advantage in terms of your service offering. Listening to customer feedback is another important input into the constant evolution of a business. I would also say that identifying the accessible resources around you is crucial: family, friends, acquaintances, connections etc., to find the people who are potentially in a position to help and encourage them to pitch in. Finally, I would say being proactive and not letting obstacles or small defeats discourage you from carrying on is key. It’s inevitable that you will have ‘bad days’ in business, but use that to strengthen your resolve to succeed and never lose faith in yourself, your business partner (if you have one) and your business.
BA Business Studies with Entrepreneurship.