Catherine Rogan went to London to meet the Queen last week. The last time she was so nervous was five years ago when she applied for a loan from PSYBT - in fact, she threw up before going into the selection panel hearing.
Once inside, nerves took over again and she hardly allowed her partner Michelle Bergin a word in edgeways. Today, though, theirs is the second best performing food outlet in Glasgow's prestigious Princes Square.
Wholefoods and Sweet Nothings are two neighbouring units in the food court, the first
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selling healthy meals with sweet snacks available from the
They employ 10 full-time and four part-time staff and their turnover, which topped #250,000 last year, will be even higher in the 12 months just ended. They are now looking for other premises in Glasgow city centre.
Yet it took them more than six months to raise the finance from non-conventional sources. The banks did not want to know them until they had already raised the money.
''I have worked in the catering trade since I was 15,'' said Michelle. ''Catherine worked in a pub where I drank and I liked the way she worked. An opportunity came up for premises in here and we put a proposal together.
''It took us six or seven months knocking on doors to get the money together. Because we were two females it was awful. At one stage I was willing to mortgage my house.''
They had managed to save #4000 each. ''But it was still a nightmare,'' said Catherine.
By chance they came across some GDA leaflets and were introduced to Boyd Park at the Agency. ''From the day we met him we never looked back. We were able to go to PSYBT and then to something called the Harris Trust.''
Michelle, then 26, was too old for PSYBT but Catherine, then 21, was awarded a #5000 loan. The invitation to last week's royal reception came through PSYBT. Through the GDA they also received the first Women in Business grants.
With these three sources added to their savings they raised the #22,000 they needed. ''Initially the banks were no help,'' said Catherine. ''Boyd helped us to put a proper business plan together. Our business plan was good but not good enough to raise finance. It was flowery and immature.
''We had been told by the banks 'No way'. They generally spent about 10 minutes with us. But once we got the money they were knocking on our door
looking for the business.''
The two women are still full-time on the rota at Wholefoods and Sweet Nothings, leaving
little time for business clubs or seminars on entrepreneurship. Neither had heard of the
Theirs is not the only PSYBT business which has grown well. Another, featured elsewhere in this supplement, is Dunfermline-based VIS Interactive, founded by Chris van der Kuyl. With a #5000 PSYBT loan, he started providing multimedia business services before moving into the computer games business.
Judith Thorpe and Karen Molloy founded Thorpe Molloy Recruitment in Aberdeen only nine months ago but already employ four full-time and 30 temporary staff and are now planning to open other offices in Scotland.
Claire Peacock's Saltire Office Solutions, also in Aberdeen, has just won a #250,000 contract from an oil service company to supply its 18 offices world-wide with all its IT equipment over the next 12 months.
From a #2000 loan in 1995, followed by an expansion loan last year as he was by then
covering most of Scotland from Haddington, East Lothian, David Hamilton grew his Roots & Shoots landscape gardening firm to employ both full-time and seasonal staff running a fleet of vehicles.
Six months ago John Murray was sweating it out while a PSYBT panel decided whether he should have a #5000 loan to start a business. Today he is one of a group of PSYBT clients working on an unofficial project of their own in one of Greenock's worst areas, Woodhall.
They are formally called the Scottish Bravehearts but they call themselves the Suits and Troops. ''The feeling that most of the inhabitants had was that they had been given up on,'' said Duncan Maclaine, an entrepreneur who as an adviser with Renfrewshire Enterprise's First Business helped many of the Troops through the PSYBT process.
''The Troops went into Woodhall and hung around with people on corners and found out what they wanted, not what they were being told they wanted. The kids there have no trust in official bodies.
''Coming from Belfast I know what that can degenerate into. We created an interface with the Suits and Troops.'' The Suits include a 26-year-old lawyer and a
''You can bring in the people in the suits but they have to be vetted. My job was to make this happen, to bring them into the same room and make sure they did not just stare at each other.''
They are now negotiating with a property developer for a Grade 1 listed building to be converted into units to include music and video editing suites. They will apply for outline planning permission this month. They are also looking at creating a diver training facility in the area.
Initial indifference from
official bodies is turning to interest but the Troops are determined not to let the
project be hijacked. They were frequently ignored by conventional sources of business
support until someone
intervened to help.
Six months ago Murray was an engineer at Playtex and at 26 he knew he would be too old to re-apply if his plan was turned down. His idea for Class Act Logo Embroidery was simple: ''to start by embroidering company logos, mainly on sweaters and polo shirts, and build on that.''
But it still meant working on the idea at Renfrewshire Enterprise's First Business centre in Greenock by day, working at Playtex by night, and dealing with the upheaval of a new-born daughter at home.
The #5000 would allow him to buy some stock, lease a machine for a year and travel the craft fairs and gift shows until he could afford to open a shop and expand his range to novelty handkerchiefs and
Even so the panel delayed a decision for further consideration before eventually granting the loan subject to putting in place a #6000 overdraft facility for six months.
Maclaine, who advised him through the process of drawing up his business plan, had already been round many of the banks in the area, building relationships with local
A series of seminars by First Business in April for audiences which included bank managers led to Maclaine being invited to make a presentation to the Royal Bank of Scotland's
centre in Paisley last week.
Applying on the same day as Murray was Christian Bjonness, only 21, but trading as Adventure Treks and running trips from Greenock and
Glasgow to Glenshee offering snowboarding and skiing.
''I have been a qualified ski instructor since I was 17. For the past two winters I have been up in Glenshee full-time but I did not want to move to Glenshee again,'' he said.
''My business is not that complicated but the big investment is the minibus. The panel asked me about cash-flows, how I perceived the business going and my pricing policy.''