Breakfast with Chris Tiso…

To me walking into a room full of people that I don’t know is my idea of hell! When I here the word ‘networking’ it makes me go cold and feel like I should run for the hills. I have spent much of my career knowing there are huge benefits to networking but avoiding it at all costs.

However in my mission to challenge myself professionally I decided to attend a networking breakfast run by Kinross-shire Partnership. This group has been running for several years now and arrange monthly meetings for local businesses at a fantastic farm shop nearby. We were treated to a full Scottish breakfast and then much to my horror everyone was invited to stand up and introduce their business for all of 60 seconds. Unfortunately no alcohol was provided for dutch courage but I dually managed to stand up and string a few sentences together.

Each month they invite a speaker along to talk about their life and business and this month Chris Tiso from the Tiso Group talked to us about his family business that he has been running for the last 25 years. I always find it fascinating to hear people’s stories, how they have ended up doing what they are doing and what gets them out of bed in the morning. Chris runs a huge company but much of what he has had to contend with is relevant and can be applied to both ours and other small businesses.

Market changes happen to us all and although it hit them slightly later than others the recession was one challenge Chris discussed with the group. Retail businesses found themselves faced with a decision. Increased competition from new entrants coupled with the effects of the recession led Tiso to make some tough business decisions including refocusing their position at the high end of their market. This proved to be a good strategy with retailers at the high end of the market and at the value end such as Mountain Warehouse doing really well, whilst those left stuck in the middle found themselves swallowed up by their competitors.

One of Chris’ s key take home points was that throughout any difficult decisions that were made, they stayed true to their founding principles. If we apply this to our practice we set out to provide a specialist equine veterinary practice that placed us at the higher end of the market. We have never aimed to be the cheapest and yet at times it can be easy to react to what others around us are doing and forget what we set out to achieve.

Chris also identified how important it is to surround yourself with brilliant people allowing you to focus on what you are good at and let others do the bits that you either can’t do or have no interest in doing. That and investing in the business infrastructure are key to keeping the wheels turning.

So all in all, it was a great morning, I pushed myself out of my comfort zone, made some new contacts, had a delicious breakfast and learnt a bit about one of our local businesses, who happen to sell fantastic clothing ranges and where I often spend far too much money!

Read my previous post here.

Liz munro

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