Train and grow with Argyll and Bute Business Gateway

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Local businesses benefit from business growth programme

Growing businesses across the area are benefiting from Argyll and Bute Council’s European funded business support programme which was launched last year.

More than 60 local businesses have registered for the Business Gateway Local Growth Accelerator Programme and 35 grants – totalling more than £156,000 – have been approved.

Businesses with growth ambitions are being encouraged to get in touch and find out more about the support available.

‘We want to encourage enterprises to grow and expand even further. This additional funding provides extra support to those with growth potential,’ explained Councillor Aileen Morton, Leader of Argyll and Bute Council. ‘This is a real opportunity for small and medium-sized enterprises, which make up the vast majority of Argyll and Bute’s business base. Their growth will in turn help to strengthen our local economy.’

The programme gives growing businesses the chance to access grant funding and specialist advice to help them expand. The programme, totalling almost £550,000, is funded by Argyll and Bute Council and the European Regional Development Fund and will run until the end of December 2018 or until funds are fully allocated, if sooner.

Funding available includes growth grants of up to £5,000, a new employee or graduate placement grant of up to £12,000, and training, trade fair and accreditation grants of up to £1,500 for businesses in key growth sectors.

One business which has already benefited from the support is Dunoon-based architect firm Architeco, which invested in software to provide detailed energy modelling that can accurately predict a building’s performance.

‘This was a huge investment for a small business and Business Gateway was essential in helping us access the funding to purchase additional licenses and hardware,’ said founder Colin Potter.

To access support, businesses must first register for the programme. It is open to micro, small or medium sized businesses based in Argyll and Bute aiming to increase their turnover by £50,000 or more within the next three years.

The specialist advice on offer from subject experts includes up to two days of free advice on human resources, eCommerce, digital, marketing, growth strategy, funding and tendering.

Anyone wanting to register or discuss their eligibility should visit www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/bglgap or talk to a Business Gateway adviser on 01546 604 555.

A Business Gateway adviser will work with businesses registered for the programme to develop a growth plan and access relevant support.

The programme is an additional service and complementary to the support already offered by Business Gateway. Anyone not eligible for the programme is also being encouraged to talk to Business Gateway as other external sources of funding may be available to help a business start-up, survive, or grow.

Workshop places still available

Business Gateway offers a wide range of free workshops to new and growing businesses.  The autumn programme includes workshops in Ardrishaig, Lochgilphead and Oban, with places still available to book.

The ‘Get your business noticed – PR on a budget’ workshop runs on November 14 in Ardrishaig. This workshop is about getting a business noticed without spending money. It covers how to get featured in newspapers, radio and television, understanding how the media works, finding the stories that journalists will want to tell and understanding how to make contact with them. This workshop will be delivered for Business Gateway by Colin Kelly.

Colin is best known for his work as a journalist presenting programmes at BBC Radio Scotland, STV, Real Radio and Radio Clyde. He has a BA Journalism from Napier University and for the last few years has been running his own media relations consultancy. Colin continues to operate as a freelance journalist and has a wealth of contacts in the Scottish media and beyond.

The ‘Better Business Websites’ workshop running in Ardrishaig on November 21 is aimed at businesses already online but looking to get more from their website. It examines how to make a website better through design, content, usability and search engine optimisation. This popular workshop is delivered for Business Gateway by Gary Ennis, founder of NS Design Ltd, an award winning digital agency. Gary has delivered hundreds of digital workshops for Business Gateway across Scotland and is a former ‘CEO of the Year’ at the Digital Technology Awards.

The DigitalBoost ‘Twitter and Hootsuite’ workshop on November 21 in Oban is aimed at businesses already using Twitter who want to hone their social media strategy. It includes how Twitter relates to other platforms, the benefits of sponsored posts and how to create them, as well as how to use Hootsuite to manage and integrate social media accounts.

LinkedIn can be a powerful and profitable business tool. The DigitalBoost ‘LinkedIn for Business’ workshop running on November 22 in Oban shows how to move beyond networking and use LinkedIn to market products and promote a brand.

Both these workshops will be delivered for Business Gateway by Rene Looper of Tuminds Social Media Ltd. Having previously had hands-on experience of running a busy hotel in Scotland, Rene has a deep understanding of the challenges facing a small business and is passionate about the business benefits of using social media.

‘Practical Basic Book-keeping’ will run on December 7 in Lochgilphead. This workshop is a starting point for good record-keeping and includes how to keep accurate financial records and understand the key components of book-keeping.  It is aimed at those new to business or with little or no formal training in book-keeping.

Anyone thinking about starting their own business should join the ‘Business Start-up’ workshop taking place on November 29 in Oban. Run by an experienced Business Gateway adviser, this workshop covers marketing, planning and finance and will help develop ideas into a practical and effective plan.

To book a place at any of these workshops contact Business Gateway on 01546 604 555 or email business.gateway@argyll-bute.gov.uk.