ScottishEntrepreneur.com’s James Wyllie catches up with Gordon Beattie, chairman and founder of communications group Beattie on the publication of his new book “Thought For The Day“.

Gordon Beattie isn’t afraid to admit he’s made mistakes in his career.

In fact, the chairman and founder of creative communications group Beattie says he’s made more missteps than “probably anyone else on the planet.”

“I don’t worry about mistakes and I don’t certainly regret any of the mistakes I made,” he explains. “It’s all part of a learning curve. There’s a phrase that we use in the company and that’s ‘trial, fail, learn, scale.’

“Basically, you trial small because you know you’re going to make mistakes doing it, you learn from these failures, you then gear up and you roll it out, and it’s a good way to do business.

“You’re going to make mistakes, right? Everybody makes mistakes. And the fool doesn’t learn from them but the wise man does, and I’ve learned more from my failures than I have from my successes.”

Gordon’s career started “many, many, many years ago” as a trainee journalist at the Wishaw Press in North Lanarkshire, before he moved onto working at the Scottish Daily News, becoming lead sports writer for a football magazine, and then setting up his own freelance news agency.

Following that, Gordon set up his own PR agency, Beattie. Now headquartered in London, the business employs over 100 people across eight UK offices, including in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Falkirk. The company has represented clients including Marks & Spencer, Specsavers and Hewlett-Packard.

“When I first started doing PR there were a lot of agencies around, but they were all operating at the soft end of PR, putting on events, that type of thing,” he adds. “We were very much focused on the harder end – getting coverage in the daily newspapers, radio and television.”

In addition to communications, Gordon has also developed a number of other business interests.

“Over the years I’ve tried various things, but PR has always been the main thrust – it’s what turns me on.

“But, for instance, I had a sizeable stake in the Whisky Shop chain which I sold about 18 months ago and made a very nice return on that. I invest in wine, basically I buy very expensive bottles of wine and never see them. They stay in temperature-controlled warehouses and I sell them probably 15 to 20 years after I’ve bought them.

“I’m an entrepreneur. I’m not very good at running businesses but I love starting businesses and it’s exciting to launch a new brand. As well as Beattie we have an education and student recruitment business called 11ten which is very big, especially in America, but it operates all around the world.”

Gordon has also founded the Only range of specialist marketing boutiques, with its businesses including Only Retail, Only Health, Only Travel, Only Property and Only Crisis.

“I think specialism will be the way forward for marketing, increasingly,” Gordon says. “The benefit of a specialist is that they basically have no learning curve, the specialist knows their sector, and what works and what doesn’t. A generalist doesn’t know that, and that’s what gives a specialist the edge and it’s why it’ll become increasingly important for us.”

With his vast array of businesses spanning across the globe, Gordon has reflected on where he feels he went wrong in his career over the past thirty years and written “Thought For The Day,” a collection of his daily musings about marketing, branding and creativity.

“I’ve made more mistakes than probably anyone else on the planet and my idea of the book is that if you read it, you’ll discover the bear traps I fell into and hopefully, if you take the lessons from the book, you won’t fall into these same traps,” Gordon adds.

“There’s lots of things I would have done differently. I wouldn’t have called the business after me, I would have kept my name out of it. As we were starting to grow, one of the big problems was that everybody wanted to speak to me thinking that I was the best person to speak to because my name was over the door, and it was not the best decision in the world.

“We opened offices across Scotland, again, it wasn’t the smartest decision in the world because there were bigger markets elsewhere – down south or internationally. What I should have focused on was big population centers.

“I wanted to dominate Scotland, I had no ambitions for south of the border but you live and learn and that’s what life’s about.”

And, after looking over his past business missteps when compiling the book, does Gordon feel it might make him less susceptible to falling into his so-called “bear traps” as he moves forward in his career?

“Probably even more,” he reveals. “Because we’ve got big plans for the future. We want to considerably grow the size of the company, and we want to considerably increase the size of the various brands we’ve got. We’ve got no plans to sell anything, we just want to keep growing across the UK and internationally.”

Thought For The Day is available to download from Amazon.

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