“The 5 Big Mistakes Entrepreneurs Should Never Make”

This article is an example speech project delivered by Oliver Tidman – a member of Waverley Communicators club. Oliver is the founder of Tidman Legal, an Edinburgh based law firm specialising in intellectual property, technology and business law for entrepreneurs, start-ups and SMEs. 


Starting out on any business journey is an exciting prospect. However, taking the leap of faith can be extremely daunting for the uninitiated! Someone once told me, ‘The net doesn’t appear until you’ve jumped!’ This is one of the truest things I’ve ever heard.

I have helped numerous business owners face challenges during their careers, and I include my own business within that list, but deciding to start-up or even change direction requires strength, courage and most importantly stamina!

On that basis, I have prepared a brief guide – by no means a bible on the subject – as to the five biggest mistakes entrepreneurs should never make. Let us begin with the first mistake.

1. Don’t give a bleep bleep; get out there and sell!

I was talking with a friend of mine last week about other people’s opinions on different topics. I asked him if he had ever heard of the ’20-40-60 Rule’? He hadn’t and was quite impressed with it.

The ’20-40-60 Rule’ is:

At 20, you care about what everybody thinks.
At 40, you don’t care about what anybody thinks.
At 60, you realize that people were not thinking about you to begin with!!

How many things do we do on a daily basis because we want to impress someone? How many things do we not do because we are embarrassed? How many times do we look back with regret for not doing something that we wanted to do? Life is to be enjoyed. We shouldn’t be holding ourselves back from doing the things we love because of the reaction we might get from someone else.

Oscar Wilde said: “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”

Everyone has the freedom to do what they want as long as it doesn’t violate the rights of others. Why deprive yourself of something you want or want to do because you are afraid of what your friend, neighbour, workmate or relative might think.

The 20-40-60 Rule is surprisingly true. As people get older, they seem to care less and less about what other people think. If we realize now that in reality nobody is really analyzing the things we do, we can go out and do the things we want.

2. Don’t be a serial offender

Since it’s difficult to start a business by doing just one thing, entrepreneurs should avoid the trap of consecutively producing, marketing and selling.

By this I mean it is necessary for entrepreneurs to do all three at the same time! Thinking in a chronological order is prohibitive to growth.

3. Don’t mirror hire

If you are good at numbers, you should not focus on hiring someone who is also quantitative. For example, you should hire a good salesperson who has a different skill set and can pick up some of your slack. You may not have the most in common with this person, but then again, building a business is not about getting along with everyone!

4. Don’t scale too fast – you’ve got time!

There is a common misconception that entrepreneurs should scale their companies quickly in order to stay afloat. Remember, it is rare for start-ups to fail because they can’t scale their business fast enough. Selling your product or services should be the number one priority for new entrepreneurs. Scaling-up will then come at a natural pace so you’ve got time.

5. Don’t focus on the 1%

To illustrate, the UK pet population has over 8.5 million dogs. Each dog must eat and at least three times a day. If you could capture just 1% of that market, that’s 85,000 dogs and at least 255,000 cans of dog food each day!

There are two fundamental flaws with this. Getting 1% of any market is not that easy and, secondly, no investor ever wants to hear that you are only going to targeting 1% of the market.

Therefore, to stay on the road to business success, it is important for entrepreneurs to estimate their own sales rather than a slice of a total big market.

If you avoid these 5 big mistakes, you will go through good times, excitement and growth on your entrepreneurial journey. The feeling of welcoming your first customer and telling your friends and family. Elation when your first payments start coming in and testimonials and reviews from your customers for a job well done. The immense satisfaction knowing that you are helping your customers or your customers’ businesses to grow.

One of the biggest values I have found from running my own business is the sense of adventure that I experienced as a child and the free-reign to imagine where this adventure will take me. Furthermore, I can see in my clients what it is like to start to imagine what they can do with their own businesses.

Hopefully you will experience the same freedom of working for yourself, spending more time with your family and enjoy watching your children grow up.

What You Need To Know To Be a Good Speech Contest Judge

As a judge, your role is not to evaluate the speakers, it is to select a winner.

Good contest judges are:

  • Accurate – they need to be able to complete the ballot correctly
  • Fair – they do not let personal feelings influence their decision
  • Trustworthy – contestants trust them to select the best speaker as winner
  • Knowledgeable – they must know the contest rules; how to judge; and how to complete the judging form
  • Good listeners – they do not become distracted during the speech
  • Objective

Good contest judges:

  • Read the judging guide and become familiar with the criteria before the speech contest.
  • Sign the ballot as soon as they receive it.
  • Focus on the speech, and take brief notes if it helps.  After the speech, enter the scores on the ballot.
  • Don’t forget to write down a first, second and third place at the end or the ballot will be discarded.
  • Do not take the time into consideration when judging.


Q. What happens if I forget to sign my ballot?

A. It is discarded and, therefore, won’t count in the final scoring.

Q. What happens if I ‘tie’ 2 contestants on my ballot?

A. Decide which contestant you prefer. You cannot ‘tie’ 2 contestants on the tear off slip at the bottom of the ballot.

Q. On what grounds might a contestant be disqualified?

a. originality

b. eligibility

c. timing (over or under time)

Q. Is the speaking area important?

A. Yes. At the beginning of the contest, the Contest Chair will announce where the speaking area is. On the ballot, the speaking area comes under ‘Delivery’. A speaker cannot be disqualified if they go outside the speaking area but you can, if you want, mark them down.

Q.What do I do if I suspect a speech may not be entirely original?

A. You may protest to the Chief Judge and/or the Contest Chair before the announcement of the winners. After the announcement, the placements cannot be changed.

Q. When is a speech not original?

A. Here is what the rules say:

“Twenty-five percent or less of the speech may be devoted to quoting, paraphrasing, or referencing another person’s content. Any quoted, paraphrased, or referenced content must be so identified during the speech.”

Q. Can a member of the audience lodge a protest?

A. No, only judges and contestants can protest. And only about originality and eligibility.

Q. Does the Chief Judge complete a ballot?

A. No.

Q. Does the Tie-Break judge attend the judges’ briefing before the contest?

A. No. The TieBreak judge is appointed by the Chief Judge, and their identity is kept secret.

Q. Are the contestants allowed to see their scores after the contest?

A. No. Judges are not allowed to explain to contestants how they voted or give an evaluation of their speech. The judging ballots are confidential and should be disposed of after the contest.

Post written by Moira Beaton DTM

VPPR Waverley Communicators

What Does Your Voice Say About You?


In Toastmasters, we learn about vocal variety.

We learn about pace, rate, volume and tone. 

But is that enough?

If your voice is shrill, nasal or timid, even those techniques won’t make your audience want to listen to you for very long.

See what Nancy Daniels, voice coach, has to say about your voice in The Voice Dynamic Newsletter from www.voicedynamic.com

“Your first thought might be that you didn’t know your speaking voice was lost.

No, your speaking voice is not lost; however, your ‘real’ one has yet to be found if you are like 99% of the population.

Whether you refer to it as your true voice or your real one, you do have a richer, warmer, more mature-sounding voice inside of you that is just waiting to be discovered.

When I was in graduate school many years ago, my singing professor showed me where my ‘real’ speaking voice and I was amazed at the difference in quality between my habitual voice and the new sound I heard. (Please understand I am not talking about my singing voice.)

At that time, I was waiting on tables at an exquisite French restaurant outside of Baltimore and when I heard my real voice, I knew it would make a difference in how I described the food and the specialty items I would push. The result was higher tips.

No longer possessing the voice of a teenager, I sounded confident and mature.

With my new-found discovery, I soon moved to New York City and managed to get the jobs I wanted and even a couple for which I hadn’t applied because of my vocal image.

The business world today is incredibly competitive. Have you ever considered that your speaking voice could be holding you back?

It you are working towards a promotion or even looking for employment, having a voice which displays negative characteristics may not be helping to further your career.  

Let me ask you. When you hear yourself on your voicemail, answering machine, or some other form of recording equipment, how mature, how confident, do you sound?

If you are over 21 and sound like a teenager, or if your voice vibrates with excessive nasality, or if you are soft-spoken and are constantly being asked to repeat yourself, what image do you think you are projecting?  

Perhaps you mumble or your voice drops off by the 2nd half of your sentences. Poor vocal habits reflect poorly on you.

If you are serious about the image you are projecting, then you might consider that your voice accounts for 37% of that image.

And, over the telephone where there is no visual, that percentage rises dramatically.

How many times have you spoken to someone on the phone, later met that individual, and were surprised by what you saw?

There are many benefits to discovering your real voice but one of the best is that you will actually like hearing yourself on your answering machine.

You’ve got a better voice inside of you. Maybe it’s time you found it.”


Post written by Moira Beaton DTM, Vice President Public Relations

Guest Blog Post: The Lexophile

Guest post written by Paul Bailey, member of Waverley Communicators

Paul Bailey

When you are cheesed off with the rain, become a lexophile ( a lover of words) and have some fun.

After all laughing & chuckling are good for your health.

There is a veritable cornucopia of websites to enjoy.

For instance the Uxbridge English Dictionary defines words merely for a laugh, e.g bipolar – “ a bear who is all grizzly one moment and all white the next”. http://www.alspcs.com/main.html

If you like puns go to http://joe-ks.com/puntastic.htm

 “Don’t join dangerous cults: practice safe sects.”

“Condoms should be used on every conceivable occasion.”

“Santa’s helpers are subordinate clauses.”

Even better is a site which has a variety of fun http://www.fun-with-words.com/.

Here you can find oxymorons like military intelligence,  …..or cockney slang like having a butchers  (from butcher’s hook = look), or using your loaf ( loaf of bread = head).

Palindromes (words or phrases reading the same backwards) are great fun.

“You can cage a swallow can’t you, but you can’t swallow a cage , can you?”

Anagrams are best when the anagram relates to the original word.

Therefore to say that Eric Clapton was a narcoleptic is quite clever but unfortunately not true.  

What about Monica Lewinsky Nice Silky Woman ?

Or for Madonna Louise Ciccone, you have a choice – “One cool dance musician” or “Occasional nude income”, both very appropriate.  

Go to this site and waste hours making up your own anagrams : http://www.anagramgenius.com/server.html  

For a start you can type in “President Clinton of the USA” and see what you get.

Malapropisms –  Dan Quale, noted for his spelling of  “potatoe” made this unfortunate statement when extolling family values:

“Republicans understand the importance of bondage between a mother and child.”

Similes can be fun, but this one makes me cringe:

I recall a teacher writing on the reports when I was a schoolboy “Works with the speed of a crippled snail.” 

I like this one: “Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.” 

Or this nonsense makes me chuckle “John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.”

Acronyms are words made up of initial letters like SCUBA diver (self-contained underwater breathing apparatus).

Online dating needs acronyms.

You might know what a YUPPIE is (Young Urban Professional), but a SINBAD is less obvious – “Single Income, No Boyfriend, Absolutely Desperate.” 

George Bush in his innocence used to refer to the War on terror as “The War Against Terror” but this was swiftly changed.

David Cameron should have brushed up on his acronyms when he texted “lol” (laugh out loud) to Rebekah Brooks, thinking it meant “lots of love” but  it was even more embarassing for the chap who wrote on a sympathy card –

“So sorry to hear your mum has passed away – lol”.

Witty quotations can bring a smile and Stephen Fry is rapidly became the modern Oscar Wilde for witticisms. 

“Education is the sum of what students teach each other between lectures and seminars.”

He is said to have attended just 2 lectures in his 3 years at Cambridge and you can find more of his quotes at  


Also, a new series of Fry’s English Delight begins on Thursday morning at 9am & 9.30 pm on BBC Radio 4. 

So become a lexophile, have fun with words and bring a smile to your face after a hard day at work.