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Making a successful business by keeping people connected

Stewart Macdonald, managing director of Fibre 1
Stewart Macdonald, managing director of Fibre 1

Each week, we ask small businesses key questions. Here we speak to Stewart Macdonald, managing director of Forres-based telecoms firm Fibre 1.

How and why did you start in business?

After graduating from university with a business degree, then an MBA and 10 years working as a business transformation consultant for enterprise agencies across Scotland, I identified a niche in telecoms.

In 2014, having successfully operated and sold a communications provider for a six-figure sum, the decision to start Fibre 1 was based on a desire to learn from past endeavours.

We identified a gap in the market for better provision and availability of connectivity solutions to any-sized business across any location in the UK.

How did you get to where you are today?

A lot of hard work and determination. Having the experience and professionalism to successfully build and maintain relationships with industry leaders, partners and customers has allowed us to continue to grow.

We are proud to have successfully completed installations for customers who were previously advised the services were not available to them due to their location.

No job should be impossible, providing you have a strong relationship with suppliers, an excellent project management team and an exceptional level of customer care.

Also, we believe it is absolutely vital to play a role in the local community and are currently short sponsors at Elgin City and Lossimouth football clubs. Both clubs are also part of our affiliate partnership programme, meaning they receive revenue for every contract placed with Fibre 1.

In addition, we are very proud to be corporate sponsors of Moray School Bank.

Who helped you?

We had developed some great supplier relationships from a previous successful venture and maintained those positive links during the Fibre 1 build process.

We also received great advice and support from Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the Federation of Small Businesses, plus funding from private investors who were a very positive influence.

What has been your biggest mistake?

While developing a plan to build a company from a standing start, I have tended not to focus on mistakes along the way but learn from the interactions and decisions required to successfully grow a business.

If pushed to highlight one mistake it would be not engaging with enough influencers to promote growth.

What is your greatest achievement?

It is in looking back at where Fibre 1 started, with all the challenges we faced during the business start-up phase, and then assessing what has been achieved by the dedicated team we have now.

The best achievement, however, is seeing how others excel and progress as the business grows.

If you were in power in government, what would you change?

I would recommend additional focus on promoting start-ups and innovation, as well as best practice from worldwide successes across a range of technology sectors, plus better funding for high-growth businesses.

What do you still hope to achieve?

We pride our ourselves on giving customers an excellent personal customer service and maintaining our quality and commonsense approach – which promotes positive business growth. We hope to excel in these qualities as Fibre 1 grows and we continue to develop a great team.

What do you do to relax?

A game of golf or a walk on the beach with our dog is a great way to relax and clear the mind for the next working day.

What are you currently reading, listening to or glued to on the TV?

I am a great supporter of the TV series Dragons’ Den, in which new ideas are taken into an environment where concepts are challenged and discussed.

I also like a good box set, while my Sonos (speaker system) playlist includes U2, Coldplay, Dire Straits and Bruce Springsteen.

What do you waste your money on?

I have wasted money in the past on nice cars, which tend to lose value as you drive out of the showroom and are probably less important as your career progresses and success goals alter.

How would your friends describe you?

Hopefully, my friends would describe me as driven and focused mainly on achieving goals where the odds are against me. Possibly a bit loud after one too many wines.

What would your enemies say about you?

I try not to see people as enemies, but possibly just on a different path. It’s not positive energy to put too much thought into worrying about what potential enemies think – I try to focus on the positives in every situation.

What do you drive and dream of driving?

I drive a Mercedes Convertible and I suppose my dream car would be a Maserati or Aston Martin.