IN this week's SME Focus a lighting entrepreneur who developed the website his family's company used to extend its reach south of the Border outlines his international ambitions.

Name: Andrew Fraser, managing director.

Age: 28.

What is your business called?

The Scotlight Group.

Where is it based?

Innerleithen, Scottish Borders.

What does it produce, what services does it offer?

Lighting products and electrical services.

Who does it sell to?

We sell lighting direct to consumers from our High Street outlet and online. We hold contracts to supply lighting to large hotel and restaurant chains as well as care home providers including Strathmore Hotels and Charles Wells Pub Company.

Because we are now looking to export, I have just overseen the first phase one of a £30,000 investment programme which will help get the business ready for the European market.

The warehouse renovation was completed in February, which saw us reduce our core products to from around 15,000 to 12,000 of lights and fixtures plus installation of a new stock control system.

The next phase is to renovate and upgrade our showroom and the final phase will be the website redesign and upgrade.

What is its turnover?

Turnover increased by nearly 30% last year from £956,823 in 2011 to £1,221,943 in 2012.

How many employees? 18.

When was it formed?

My father, Tom, started the business in 1996 and I took over as MD in January this year. He had worked for a large lighting company and helped turn it into a multi-million pound business.

When it was bought over he decided to set up his own company. Initially, he focused on the commercial market but then moved into retail, opening our showroom in Innerleithen in December 2000 before launching our main e-commerce site in 2006.

Why did you take the plunge?

My father asked me if I wanted to learn about the family business and I agreed to start at the bottom and learn the ropes.

Initially, I worked on the sales floor and then moved on to building and launching a redesign of the company's website. From there, I also took over the marketing and advertising. It was a natural step to target the national market with an e-commerce website.

What were you doing before you took the plunge?

I'd always had an interest in computers ever since my father bought his first PC to run the business and I taught myself how to program games online.

After I completed an HND in computing I wasn't ready to settle down into working life so headed to Europe. I actually spent a lot of my time while I was away programming and I set up my first business "on the road" running an online game I'd been working on.

I ended up in Prague for five months after initially going to meet people involved in online gaming, who then helped me manage the game. It was a text-based online role-play game, think Lord Of The Rings meets Game Of Thrones.

The game generated a small amount of revenue, but it wasn't something I could, or wanted to, make a living from. By the time I got home I still wasn't sure what I wanted to do, so started working with my father to earn a living while I made up my mind. It was during that time I discovered I had a passion for lighting.

How did you raise the start-up funding?

My father raised the funding for the website by re-mortgaging the family home. It was a risky move, however we knew we were on to something with the website and my father had the confidence in me to make it a success.

What was your biggest break?

My father having the confidence to let me work my way up the ladder, and mentoring me along the way, was a huge break for me; and one I am very grateful for. In terms of a business break, starting Scotlight Electrical in 2008 allowed the business to not only sell lighting and fixtures but also install and maintain them.

One of the contractors we'd been working with approached my dad to see if he wanted to take over the running of his business.

He had a solid customer base and the skills we needed so dad said yes. That division has grown significantly and we now have five vans on the road.

We've been able to manage our growth, in large part, due to the support and advice we've had from Business Gateway Scottish Borders. Over the years our adviser has helped identify our knowledge gaps and provided us with access to specialist advice in business areas, such as marketing.

What was your worst moment?

The showroom wasn't generating as much custom as had been hoped and I remember standing in an empty shop in 2005 wondering when the next customer would appear when a sales rep for one of our suppliers suggested e-commerce as a way to boost sales. My father jumped at the idea and we naively thought "build it and they will come", but it's taken a lot of hard work to get to where we are today.

The initial site was a massive project that took me nearly eight months to complete as I was working on my own. I had to build in everything, from payments to fraud protection and database management, and a lot of it I had to teach myself as I went. It was frustrating and tiring at times, but I loved the challenge and now understand every single line of code that makes up the building blocks of an e-commerce site.

E-commerce was new at the time and quite a few of our suppliers couldn't even provide us with the images for their products. We had to scan in images from their catalogues to then digitally enhance and upload to our website. It was quite a basic site, but it gave us the building blocks to improve on and we're constantly working on updates to keep it fresh.

What do you most enjoy about running the business?

I love that every day there is a new challenge, from programming new features on the website to managing our latest advertising campaign. We also have a fantastic team of staff who I enjoy working with.

What do you least enjoy?

The volatile nature of e-commerce. It's a relatively new industry and we are constantly battling against Google updates and under-priced competitors. It's vital we make a profit to reinvest in new technology and it can be frustrating when a new company opens up with what seems like silly prices, only lasting six months and then goes bust as they are not making the margins.

What are your ambitions for the firm?

To become a leading supplier across Europe, and eventually the globe.

What are your top priorities?

Customer service, making sure our staff are well looked after, keeping the website up-to-date, keeping the product ranges fresh and making sure we are always improving.

What could the Westminster and/or Scottish governments do that would help?

I think more consultation with businesses when it comes to new legislation is required. E-commerce is becoming a larger part of the economy every day and the Government has to make sure that new rules and regulations make sense and don't create more red tape.

What was the most valuable lesson that you learned?

To work smarter, not harder. You have to be able to delegate. A good work/life balance is really important.

How do you relax?

If it's been a stressful day there's nothing better than going on a long run after work. Other than that, spending time with my girlfriend.