Keen for a lifestyle change, Ross McDonald and Blair Robertson moved to Moray in 2016, buying the West End Guest House in Elgin. Here, they share with us the story behind their business.
Why choose to go into business for yourself and when did you start your current business? We wanted the opportunity to be our own bosses and develop other interests. We felt it was the right time to make changes to our lifestyle and move from the city so in October 2016 we took over the West End Guest House.
Why did you choose your current business? We often say that the business chose us. We didn’t want to take on a big development project so we needed a business that was already performing well. Our research showed that West End Guest House was doing well and would allow us the chance to get off to a solid start, while also letting us make our own mark. Our research and the feedback from Lorna Williamson at Business Gateway showed that there was ongoing demand for accommodation in Elgin.
Who has helped you get started and develop your business? We have benefited from help from both Business Gateway in Moray and RBS. The help from Lorna at Business Gateway allowed us to put together a business plan that met the needs of the bank and RBS showed willingness to support us. We have also found local trades to be very supportive which is one the reasons that we love working and living in Moray.
What achievement are you most proud of? After offering to buy the guest house we had a delay in selling our house in Glasgow. We had originally planned a grace period of a few days at the time of the move to unpack, discover the town, and find our way around, but this didn’t happen. When we arrived in Elgin we were given the keys and told there were guests arriving that night and staff were on holiday. We got through that first week on adrenalin but learned so much about the business. In our first year our sales exceeded our forecast and we had great feedback from our guests.
What was your biggest mistake? We are not aware of having made any big mistakes thankfully.
What is the biggest challenge facing your business? As a small business we are susceptible to small changes in the local and national economy. Tourism in the area is strong at the moment but that could take a down turn at any point. We are lucky to run the guest house in an area that attracts a mix of business – people working in the area, those on holiday and those visiting family and friends.
What would help your business? We know that there is a lot to see and do in the area and we feel our business would benefit from wider initiatives to encourage visitors to spend more time here. We think that a tourist office in Elgin promoting Moray Speyside would help many businesses.
What do you still want to achieve for your business? There is benefit to participating in the Visit Scotland schemes and would see accreditation as something to achieve in the future.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to start a business in Moray? Anyone starting a business needs to make sure that there is a demand for the service or goods they wish to offer. Seek advice and support from Business Gateway who have knowledge of all parts of the business journey.
Find out how Business Gateway Moray can help your business by visiting their local page or calling 01343 508 838.
Outwith this area? Find your local Business Gateway office or call 0300 013 4753.
Contact your local office
If you need advice on any aspect of starting, running or developing your business, just contact your local Business Gateway office.
Download your business plan template
Get your business plan started with this template, which shows you what to include. Download yours here – it’s free.