What gets you out of bed?

A dog sleeping under the table, mousetraps on the floor, chipped coffee mugs and the much-anticipated arrival of the sandwich delivery van. As a junior IT consultant in his early twenties, Gary Turner visited hundreds of small businesses across trading estates in west and central Scotland, observing the details of their daily life.

Whether they were stone masons, candle makers or glaziers, he got to know the challenges they faced; the worries, the fears. And he found or developed IT solutions to help them. The more he learnt about them, the more he was on their side. “I have this feeling of somehow wanting to right a few wrongs. I’ve always wanted to stand up for small businesses because it felt no one else was.”

Several years later, after making his name with Pegasus Software and Microsoft, Gary went on to establish Xero in the UK, a cloud-based accountancy platform for SMEs. He’s taken it from a home-based start-up to a thriving business that employees 300 people and has hugely improved the process of book-keeping for thousands of small businesses – White Light Media included.

Gary Turner, Xero Managing Director, UK & EMEA

But Gary knows where that desire to champion small businesses really stems from. When he was growing up in Glasgow, his dad ran a small business, and his mum did the books. Inevitably, talk around the dinner table revolved around the problems and challenges they were facing. Gary, the teenager, may have been more interested in Space Invaders but those discussions influenced his view of the world. The business ultimately went under and had a profound impact on the family. He understands the pressures that business owners face. 

I interviewed Gary for a recent episode of my Scottish Business Network series and was fascinated by his passion for SMEs and his contagious enthusiasm for technology.


His business has grown rapidly because he’s focused on doing what he’s best at, for customers he genuinely cares about.

It’s a good lesson for us all. Many’s the time I’ve been distracted by coaches, business books and my own self-doubt nudging me to put my energies into ‘product development’, ‘sales distribution’ and sundry other pursuits but what I enjoy most, and what I’m best at, is writing and helping our clients bring their projects to life.

We live in challenging times, pushed and pulled in different directions, but don’t lose sight of what you’re best at, and what gets you out of bed in the morning.