Strong results for business support service

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Fresh from celebrating its 10-year anniversary, Business Gateway has recently reported its results for the past year.

Argyll and Bute Council’s Business Gateway supported 116 new start-up businesses in 2018-19, up seven per cent on the previous year. Of these, 53 per cent were female-led businesses, compared to a national average for Business Gateway of 50 per cent.

The supported start-up businesses had a combined projected turnover of nearly £4.2 million and projected creating 137 jobs. Of these, 14 per cent were in the food and drink sector, 11 per cent in tourism, 10 per cent in financial and business services and six per cent in the creative industries.

The survival rate of start-ups supported by Business Gateway was high, with 90 per cent still trading after 12 months.

As well as assisting new starts, Business Gateway also helped 209 existing businesses with business adviser support.

Councillor Aileen Morton, leader of Argyll and Bute Council, said: ‘Our Business Gateway team does exceptional work in helping to launch new businesses and grow existing enterprises.

‘This year’s figures show real growth, with the team supporting 116 new start-up businesses in Argyll and Bute in 2018/19. This is very encouraging – a growing, thriving business sector is a key element of attracting more people to live and work here in Argyll and Bute, as well as boosting the tourism trade that is vital to our area.’

Customer satisfaction with the service remained high, with 91 per cent of users rating themselves satisfied compared to a national average of 86 per cent.

Business Gateway Argyll and Bute has a team of experienced business advisers on hand to help both existing businesses and those looking to make the move into self-employment. In 2018-19, more than 580 business adviser meetings took place, making it the busiest year for the advisers since 2015.

With a large geographical area and a dispersed population to cover, the team try to make the service as accessible as possible, with 32 meet the adviser sessions and workshops held on islands.

Advisers are also available regularly in Helensburgh, Oban, Dunoon, Campbeltown and Lochgilphead.

As well as providing individual support on a range of issues from marketing, to funding, to taking on staff, the advisers can also signpost specialist sources of help with particular issues, including exporting or energy efficiency.

To find out more about how Business Gateway can help you set up or develop your business call 01546 808363 or visit www.bgateway.com.

Last year 67 free workshops took place in Argyll and Bute, with a combined total of 569 attendees. A wide range of topics was covered, aimed at businesses at all stages of development.

More than 94 per cent of attendees rated the workshops very good or good.

Customer feedback is captured at every workshop and is being used to help create a refreshed workshop programme, including new topics, which will be launched in the autumn.

Workshops already scheduled for September include the business start-up workshop in Helensburgh and Oban and book-keeping in Dunoon. To book a place visit bgateway.com/events.

Businesses with growth ambitions were supported by the Business Gateway Local Growth Accelerator Programme, which provided grant funding and specialist advice to help support growth.

In its first phase from 2016-18, the programme supported 72 growing businesses in Argyll and Bute, via 92 grants and 31 specialist advice sessions, worth a total of more than £345,000.

The assistance has already made an impact on these supported businesses, with their combined actual turnover growing from £13.8m at registration to £17.8m (up 29 per cent) and employees increasing from 232 to 285 (up 23 per cent).

The programme is now open for a second phase 2019-21. Anyone wanting to check their eligibility or to register should visit www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/bglgap.

The Business Gateway Local Growth Accelerator Programme is funded by Argyll and Bute Council and the European Regional Development Fund 2014-20 Structural Funds Programme, with a total programme value of £855,239.