SOME business leaders go to great lengths to tell you the high points of their career. But for Lee Fitzpatrick, the 30-year-old entrepreneur behind marketing firm Outlaw Social, it is his business failures that have been the most important part of his journey.

Growing up in Cockenzie and Port Seaton, a small town in East Lothian, Mr Fitzpatrick’s first love was golf, a game he began playing at age 12. He matched this genuine enthusiasm with a natural aptitude for the sport – soon boasting a handicap of two and an offer of a golf scholarship at the prestigious Loretto School in Musselburgh.

But after struggling with the transition from a state high school to a private boarding school, Mr Fitzpatrick left the scholarship after one of an intended two years. It was an early lesson in dealing with setbacks.

“I think there was a lot of pressure for me to succeed and my parents had made a lot of sacrifices to make it happen,” he explains. “It was my first encounter with failure. I was so passionate about golf but ultimately I did fail, and fell out of love with it.

“But then I went for a job at a letting agent in Musselburgh, which was a pivotal point for me. I was blown away by the owner of the business, Vincent, and how he was incredibly passionate and motivated as an entrepreneur.

“He invested a lot of time in me and after only seven months he promoted me to the position of branch manager. It was a very steep learning curve, but he put a lot of faith in me and really inspired me.

“I gained so much confidence in that position that by the time I was 18 I approached him and said that I was thinking about setting up my own business, helping property owners get their home ready for sale.

“Vincent actually encouraged me to go for it and ended up becoming my first client, giving me around £60,000 worth of work in my first month of trading.

“It was daunting to start a business at that age, but several of my family members had started their own businesses so I was used to that environment.”

It proved highly successful. Within five years Mr Fitzpatrick grew his business to have 13 staff on the books, winning several awards and challenging established firms in the market. Then he faced another major setback.

“We had a client that never paid us and put the business into quite a significant amount of debt. It was a really tough six to nine months, and eventually we had to liquidate the business.

“And because I was so young when I set it up, I had personally guaranteed pretty much everything.

“So myself and my business partner, who was the same age as me, were both left with around £75,000 worth of personal debt. And I was only 23.

“What came after that for me was a real low point. When that business failed I kind of lost my identity, and I think it is quite common for entrepreneurs, you put everything into your business and then that all gets stripped away if something goes wrong.

“I had quite serious depression and got to the point where I considered suicide. Luckily, I had some really good friends that rallied round me and eventually helped me through it.

“My whole perspective towards business changed as a result. If you had asked me 10 years ago what I wanted to achieve, I would have said ‘success at all costs’, ‘I want to be a millionaire’, that sort of stuff. But you will never hear me speak about that anymore: I am very much about purpose, balance, achieving potential.”

After finding exercise to be a great healer amid his own mental health struggles, Mr Fitzpatrick then decided to launch his own bootcamp and gym business.

“That ignited a passion in me for recognising the potential within people and helping them see that in themselves. I left the business a couple of years ago, but it was incredible to build that facility and help thousands of people get healthier.

“I had done a lot of branding work for my own ventures, building websites, doing marketing, and so I decided to start a creative agency, Outlaw Social, that was focused on helping brands to achieve their potential.

“Now we have a team of eight and we are moving into our third year of business. When I started Outlaw I wanted to make sure we were helping brands and businesses with a wider purpose and I’ve become increasingly driven by that.

“I think there has been a shift in the business world to look beyond profit and I would love to play a part in building the brands of the future: where people, planet and sustainability are just as important as profitability.”