Start Now, Get Perfect Later

With Entrepreneur in Residence Phil Telfer, Co-Founder and CTO of ClearSky Logic.

Our latest Entrepreneur in Residence is Phil Telfer, Co-Founder and CTO of ClearSky Logic.

Founded in 2018 by Phil and his co-founder Darren, ClearSky Logic is a digital transformation agency based in Edinburgh and Glasgow which helps scale-ups and established businesses harness the power of tech to make their business more efficient and effective. Phil is currently undertaking the Entrepreneurial Scotland Resilience catalyst programme - a 9-month programme designed to help entrepreneurs and leaders create lasting impact beyond their own business.

Today, Phil shares his inspiring personal story of starting ClearSky Logic, creating an environment of continued improvement and the importance of not being scared to make mistakes.


My Story

In 2018, I co-founded ClearSky Logic alongside my business partner (now CEO) Darren Auld. Prior to this, we were colleagues at an Energy Supply company and together delivered significant changes into that business using software and tech. It got us thinking that we could do alot to help a lot of other businesses by offering this experience and expertise. We both had a natural business focus and enjoyed hiring and mentoring people.

We’re not pure ‘techies’ and into tech for the sake of it - we truly see technology as a tool to deliver business value and both enjoy helping businesses deliver their vision with technology. There are a lot of business owners out there that understand they need to use tech but don’t know how or where to start - we help fill that gap! We give them good advice, guide them to make good decisions and we enable them to move iteratively and rapidly in the right direction.

We knew we needed to create a company that delivered that vision, in a way we thought would work best. It’s not been a straight line by any means - it never is - but it’s been a huge steep learning curve from then to now and I’m delighted to share my insight.


This is the title of a book by Rob Moore and it’s always been something that resonates really strongly with me. I think it’s easy for people who set high-standards of themselves to think ‘I’m not quite ready to do that yet’ or ‘I need to wait until I’ve done this before I go and do something else’ - and I think that is a mistake. I’m guilty of having done that myself in the past. That approach leads to inaction, perfectionism and procrastination. I believe more in thinking ‘I’m as ready as I’ll ever be to do this’ as often you realise by doing something, you actually get better. Sometimes there’s a need to throw caution to the wind, to not be afraid of failing, and lastly understanding that failure is part of the road towards being successful.

Whatever your idea of success is in the future, between now and then there will be a lot of failure, learning and reflection and if you don’t accept that you’ll never learn to work outside your own comfort zone.

There’s not a ‘perfect’. It’s all a journey about getting better as time goes on. It’s not a linear journey. Sometimes you’re going to feel like you’re getting worse and taking backwards steps - but that’s necessary to take those big forward steps that you’ll inevitably have as well.


This isn’t something I measure but it’s something I continue to keep in my mind as a concept. The understanding that you can’t get really good at something quickly and without consistency. You need to focus on it, spend time on it, consistently create habits and have a dogged determination to do it again…and again…and again.

If you take the time to look back, more often than not you’ll see that you’re a lot better at focus areas than you were. For me, it’s about thinking where I want to be, and what I want to be better at and realising that it takes time to make a notable difference. I’m not physically measuring that I'm getting “1% better at something every day”, but as a concept it’s a great thing to bear in mind when looking at areas of your life and business that you need to focus or improve on.


At ClearSky Logic, we have four core values: initiative, simplicity, trust and support. Our values came directly from the team, they weren’t imposed by myself and Darren as the leaders of the company. They have effectively been crowd sourced from our people based on what’s important to them.

The concept of initiative is hugely important to us, we operate in a space with our clients where hand in hand with their trust in us as a partner they look to us to navigate them in a collaborative manner. Initiative is critical as we’re looked to for fresh ideas and solutions. We focus on recruiting people who have a great ability to be creative and come up with strong initiatives.

We also strive to create an environment where people aren’t scared to fail. An environment where they know if something hasn’t gone quite right or worked out, that they won’t be pulled up for it. We encourage our people to be creative and come up with really good solutions for clients.


Having Darren as a co-founder and ‘partner in crime’ is invaluable. I’ve always got someone to bounce my ideas off and sense-check my response to things. It’s a far less lonely place than it would be if I was a solo founder or entrepreneur. The company wouldn't be half the size it is now without our partnership. For me, putting two people together you can make more happen. The partnership has been a huge success in our story.

Something I’ve realised over the past year or two and has been fundamental in getting us to where we are is that it’s a diverse set of skills that make a successful team. When we were a handful of people, the majority of the team were software developers. Now we have lots of people that don’t write any code, but are super important to what we do. They bring different skills, backgrounds and points of views and enable us to present what are often complex/technical solutions to clients in non-technical terms.


It’s a huge risk for people to give up their job and start a new venture. It’s what I did as I was lucky to have a contract that would pay me enough to live on and allow me the time to focus on ClearSky Logic. It was enough work and I carved out some spare time to go and find other work too. It essentially allowed me to start the company.

If someone doesn't have that opportunity - and I know a lot of people won’t - it really is a case of what spare time you can carve out to start making contacts, start researching your idea, talking to people about it and generally just being unafraid to ask for advice.

One thing I was told early on my journey was “If you ask for money, you’ll probably get advice - if you ask for advice, you might get some money’. Going to someone to ask for advice really is a great way to start a conversation without feeling salesy and allows you to start working a network.

#6 - ASK WHY

I was born with a lack of acceptance about the way things are done - I’ve always questioned why things are done certain ways or why rules were rules. I guess you could call me a bit of a rule breaker, which hasn’t always worked out well for me in my younger years. However, a lack of acceptance of the norms has enabled me as an entrepreneur and business leader to spot areas ripe for change. It also encouraged a desire to start a business that did something different to the way it had always been done. I like to revisit things and ask - is that a good idea and if not, why? If it’s not, it encourages me to do something different.


If I go back to when I started ClearSky Logic, I recognise that we did a lot right given our limited means and experience, but we did make some mistakes. A big one being our position and sales/marketing approach, truthfully we still don’t have it 100% but we know so much more about why it wasn’t working and what we need to do now to deliver clear, targetted, value-driven marketing to our audiences.

With more success comes bigger problems - things genuinely don’t get easier and more relaxed. As your business grows you hopefully have a more diverse and experienced team that you can share problems with. The more successful a business/entrepreneur you become, the bigger the problems you get trusted with because you're more capable. The reward for success is bigger problems. I remind myself to be grateful for these problems as they are what make you better and they are not to be feared.

Problems will beat you up if you're not careful - but they are the things that will push you into becoming better. It never stops.


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