Expert help with recovery and growth

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Argyll and Bute Council’s Business Gateway has expanded its services to help more businesses access timely expert advice, at no cost, to support growth or recovery from the impact of the pandemic.

The range of experts on offer includes those with specialist knowledge in HR, finance, marketing, digital and e-commerce, PR, tendering and business strategy.

Councillor Robin Currie, policy lead for the economy and rural growth: ‘Our Business Gateway service adapted in response to the pandemic.

‘As well as support from an experienced local business adviser, Argyll and Bute-based businesses can also access expert help via phone or video from a range of specialists.

‘Providing quick access to the right help is one way in which we can assist the recovery of our local businesses.

‘Feedback on the support has been very positive and I would encourage more businesses to take advantage.’

Businesses can request a focused one-hour session to address particular issues or questions, via their local Business Gateway team, which will then make the link to an appropriate expert adviser.

‘It was a fabulous experience, no question was silly and the adviser took the time to explain things clearly, with demonstrations,’  said Jac McGill of Pitter Patter Potter, an arts and crafts studio in Helensburgh.

‘I really appreciated that he had taken the time to look into options for us prior to our meeting so that he could give real examples of how our business could benefit from social media.

‘I left feeling equipped to support my business with our social media campaign.

‘I would recommend this service to anyone who feels unsure and needs a little hand-holding to get them on the right path,’ added Jac.

For some businesses, more in-depth expert help can be provided, which can be the equivalent of up to two days of support.

Again this is accessed via their local Business Gateway office, which can confirm eligibility.

‘I was impressed by the quick turnaround time in organising the support,’ said Ute Amann-Siedel of Wild at Art, an Inellan-based business offering creative holidays, cruises and retreats across Scotland.

‘As well as the initial meeting Business Gateway Argyll and Bute also approved a couple of days of specialist digital advice which is ongoing.

‘The support is hands-on and I feel it will make a valuable contribution in making my business processes more integrated and efficient.’

To request specialist help contact Business Gateway Argyll and Bute on 01546 604 555 or email business.gateway@argyll-bute.gov.uk.

Webinars and online coaching sessions

Another development has been the shift from Business Gateway offering physical workshops to online webinars.

This has had the benefit of removing the travel challenges to attend training for many businesses, and given access to a much wider range of topics.

Business Gateway webinars coming up soon include;

  • How to complete a Self-Assessment Tax Return for the Self-Employed – January 12;
  • Know your customer January 18;
  • Making smartphone videos January 24;
  • Introduction to Canva January 25.

Further webinars to support both start-up and existing businesses will be added.

Recognising the need for additional support around some digital topics, Business Gateway Argyll and Bute has recently launched a new range of DigitalBoost coaching sessions.

These practical sessions give live demonstrations on platforms, guidance and hands-on learning.

They are designed to help those who have attended a webinar or have some experience and would like to explore a topic in more detail or need a little more support to progress.

The coaching sessions last for up to three hours and topics coming up include:

  • Selling on Amazon – the basics – January 12;
  • Optimise your Facebook business page – January 19;
  • How to sell your products on eBay – January 27.

For further details on webinars and coaching sessions and to book visit www.bgateway.com/events

Recovery funding

Argyll and Bute Council also offers recovery grant funding within its programme of business assistance, the Argyll and Bute Business Gateway Local Growth Accelerator Programme.

The recovery support is aimed at existing small and medium sized enterprises either aiming to restore their annual turnover to pre-COVID levels within 3 years, or aiming for modest growth (an increase in turnover below £50,000).

Growth support also remains in place from the programme.

Businesses seeking Recovery or Growth funding must first apply to register for programme at www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/bglgap.

If eligible, businesses can then apply for Recovery or Growth Grants of £1,000 to £5,000, Training Grants of £250 – £1,500, Trade Fair Grants of £250 – £1,500 and Accreditation Grants of £250 – £1,500.

The Council’s Business Gateway Local Growth Accelerator Programme, worth a total of £855,239, is funded by Argyll and Bute Council and the European Regional Development Fund under the 2014-2020 Structural Funds Programmes.