TALK to entrepreneurs about what sets them apart, and almost all will mention perseverance. The old proverb “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” could surely have been written about setting up in business.

And it certainly applies to property entrepreneur Chris Wood, who is growing company number three after experiencing both the highs and lows of being your own boss.

Edinburgh-based Mr Wood sold his successful lettings agency in 2013, but admits his next move, into the pet accessory market, was a mistake.

“I’ve taken risks that didn’t pay off,” he explains. “Now I tell people to test the water before they go into business, really scrutinise and be ruthless about the planning. Don’t jump in on a whim - that’s where I went wrong last time.”

But rather than giving up, the 43-year-old learned lessons and kept moving forward. And, after deciding to focus on the industry he knew best, he came up with the idea for Portolio, an online portal specifically targeted at those looking to invest in tenanted property.

“I was actually in the bathroom shaving when I had the eureka moment,” laughs Mr Wood. “I spent a good few months working to ensure it was the right project. The hard work paid off - five months after launch we're doing really well, having signed up 25 estate agents in Edinburgh and selling a reasonable number of properties.”

Already expanding into Glasgow, Mr Wood believes the business has a bright future as the buy-to-let market continues to expand.

“In the coming years we hope the majority of letting agents in Scotland will be open to the idea of selling tenanted properties, preferably through Portolio,” he explains.

“We want to have a presence in all the big cities in Scotland, helping investors find the right property and supporting them through what can be a tricky process.”

Having run his own businesses since 2004, Mr Wood says he can’t now imagine working for anyone else.

“I fear I wouldn’t make a very good employee now,” he smiles. “I’m always looking to create something new. Other people enjoy playing games on their computers, but for me mapping out the future of a business, looking at numbers and projections, that’s the game.

“Being an entrepreneur means you get to see what you create evolve. Then you start employing people and you can put something back and have a positive influence in other ways.”

But he admits being your own boss can become all-encompassing, which is both a pro and a con.

“For me the challenge is being able to relax,” explains the businessman. “When I wake up at 5am I immediately start working. I speak to others who are employees and they definitely don’t do that!

“If you want to create something great, you’re never really going to achieve balance. Balance doesn’t exist. If you don’t put the hours in, if you put relaxation above work, that’s not balance either. I’ve given up looking for balance and concentrate on having a workable situation.

“I don’t think you can lean too heavily in one direction for too long, otherwise your health suffers. Making room for yourself is the difficult thing.”

Spending family time with wife Caroline and daughter Maggie, aged two-and-a-half, certainly helps.

“I don’t see Maggie in the morning, but I pretty much always see her in the evening and at weekends. I like to be home by 6pm most nights.”

As for the advice he’d pass on to others, Mr Wood says it’s important to be honest with yourself about your business.

“Don’t feel you have to continue with something just because you have put money into it,” he says. “Sometimes you need to be brave enough to get out. Formulate that process at the start. In six months’ time if your business hasn’t reached a certain level of growth, call it a day. Set that goal at the beginning, when you’re in a less emotional state, and stick to it.”

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