Richard Dickson: secrets of a Scottish entrepreneur

SME Magazine catches up with Richard Dickson, pictured above, one of Scotland’s most successful young entrepreneurs. Here, he tells us about his approach to business and starts by telling us what inspired him to become an entrepreneur

I am a businessman and entrepreneur who has worked hard to make a success of my life. I started out as an electrician’s apprentice and then taught myself property brokering, which led to becoming a multi-millionaire in my mid-20s. I then founded my own entrepreneurial training company.

My eyes were first opened to entrepreneurship when I started listening to entrepreneurial podcast content and the one person who really clicked with me was an American guy called Grant Cardone. By a turn of fate, Grant came to Glasgow on a tour of the UK in 2018, so I bought the cheapest ticket to attend. There, I met Paul McFadden, who was actually organising the event. Paul and I became friends and subsequently business partners.

What do you remember of your early days in business? And what early lessons did you learn?

I remember finding it tough to juggle my work with wanting to think bigger. I found that Glasgow, in general, can be quite small-minded and restrictive. If you put yourself out there in anything – whether it’s wanting to be an entrepreneur, a musician, an athlete – you can get ridiculed for it.

So, for me, it was about learning to manage that fear of judgement while also not wanting to miss out on my goals and do the adequate work to get myself the life that I wanted to live. It was an emotional challenge more than anything.

Do you remember any particular challenges you have faced? How did you overcome them?

There’s always new challenges every day in business. One thing that I found would often come up on the start of my journey into entrepreneurship was the challenge of finding like-minded people who I could network with and bounce ideas off.

Most people will speak to their friends and family when they are facing challenges with their business, but I realised that asking someone who isn’t successful in business is about as much use as asking your butcher for medical advice. When I attended the Grant Cardone event in Glasgow, it was the first time that I had felt that sense of a business community – and I loved it.

This is exactly why I now run similar events in Scotland. I know that there’s people like me who have similar feelings who need that bit of help to meet each other, so it’s my way to give something back.

In 2021, you founded the Young Entrepreneur Society. Tell us about that.

I wanted to continue learning about business and so I attended a range of networking events but I really felt that these events weren’t offering enough, so I decided to hire a room at a hotel and create my own event called Young Entrepreneurs Scotland.

A few of us, who were young and doing well in business in Glasgow, got together to just speak about our business journeys. We could all get to know each other and do a bit of speed networking. The room was tiny and there weren’t many people there. I’ve always been good at speaking and I encouraged others to get up and explain what they do. I got a guest speaker in as well.

When COVID happened we moved online and I would do casual training courses for the group on Zoom calls. That’s when I had the idea of changing Young Entrepreneurs Scotland into an online academy called the Young Entrepreneurs Society.

With our courses, we are teaching people how to be an entrepreneur. You pick a skill, maybe you go and do the affiliate marketing masterclass, and then you plug in the social media training to start promoting yourself. Then, you do the sales training because you’re starting to run a call funnel. There’s health and fitness modules as well as plenty of others, a complete package to introduce you to entrepreneurship.

Since then, you have launched the Financial Freedom Summit. What was the thinking behind that and what have you achieved so far?

The Scottish Financial Freedom Summit was a two-day event in Glasgow for entrepreneurs and start-ups. Speakers included Dragons Den’s Sara Davies MBE and The Apprentice’s Tom Skinner, who shared their powerful stories and successful methods in business, with key takeaways for the audience.

The event was a full circle for me, having attended the Grant Cardone event at Lomond Auditorium, only 100 yards away from where we held the Financial Freedom Summit, almost exactly five years earlier.

The summit was attended by over 500 people and was a huge success. We obtained some charity sponsorship on the event, which meant that I could donate free tickets to a group of young people in the local area, hopefully inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs in Glasgow.

Looking forward, what do you hope you will be doing in, say, five or ten years?

I still feel that I have a long way to go to solidify myself in Scotland and the UK, but I can imagine that I would be venturing more overseas in that time period. I love my business, but not because I am truly passionate about it, because of what it has given me, which is the opportunity to be on stage speaking to people.

I have a passion for speaking. I envisage myself becoming someone like T. Harv Eker, an international motivational speaker who can travel the world and impact as many people as possible. If I could have all my other business interests managed, allowing me to travel the world benefiting people, that is the ultimate goal for me moving forward.

What do you enjoy about being an entrepreneur?

Money has allowed me to do amazing things like supporting the people who matter to me and donating to charities. I want to positively impact as many people as possible, to contribute to the future of my boyhood football club, have fun, and establish myself as one of Scotland’s biggest entrepreneurs.

Sum up your approach to business in three words.

Relentless hard work.