Ian White of Highland Tours Perthshire talks about his business journey
How and why did you start in business?
I always dreamed of working for myself but never got around to it.
Commitments in life made giving up a steady income difficult so when I took
early retirement a few years back, I decided to go for it and set up a taxi firm, Dunkeld Cars.
I then launched the tour guide business Highland Tours Perthshire.
How did you get where you are today?
After leaving school I joined the police cadets and then worked in the police for 17 years.
I retrained and became a primary school teacher and did this for another 17 years, before setting up on my own.
I’ve been lucky to enjoy my work over the years but now I have found something different, a vocation and a passion for
my work that I’ve never experienced before.
Being a tour guide is perfect, it brings all my interests together – Scotland, history, storytelling and, best of all, meeting new people.
Who has helped you along the way?
My wife, Patti, has been a huge moral support but also she is super-organised and takes care of the administration side of the business, which is a great help.
We’ve also been grateful for support from other businesses in the area and community-based enterprise support organisation GrowBiz.
What was your biggest mistake?
Thinking that the success of Dunkeld Cars would make starting a tour guide business easy.
Though the businesses are similar, they operate in different markets and I’d forgotten how hard it is to start a business from scratch.
What is your greatest achievement to date?
Every day I gain a sense of achievement by making a difference to people’s experience, whether on a simple taxi journey or a multi-day tour.
One trip that particularly stands out was when I put family members in touch as part of an ancestry tour I organised for a Canadian family.
While researching the family name, I came across descendants and – with my customer’s permission – I contacted them, which led to a reunion.
Hopes for the future?
We hope to build on our early success and grow the business. We’d like to be the area’s go-to company for private tours.
What is the hardest thing about running your own business?
Taking time off. It’s important to take time off but it’s not possible during peak-
My whole family have had to make sacrifices but it’s worth it.
Any advice to wannabe entrepreneurs?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.