"Brexit, digital disruption and data protection mean the need for business resilience has never been greater" - Chief officer Hugh Lightbody explains how Business Gateway can provide crucial support to Scottish SMEs.
With a potentially unprecedented stormy ride ahead for all industries, a robust strategy and all-encompassing contingency plan will be critical to navigating the journey of a sustainable, competitive and successful business – ultimately, ensuring its longevity.
The much-debated topical issues that are influencing today’s fast-evolving business landscape - Brexit, digital disruption, data protection… mean the need for business resilience has never been greater. Crucially, that need for resilience includes an ability to adapt quickly and seize opportunities.
Against this backdrop, Scotland’s reputation for ingenuity prevails, with the country continuing to outperform on a global stage in business growth and entrepreneurialism.
Last year alone, more than 53,000 customers connected with Business Gateway which resulted in us helping more than 3,000 SMEs to scale up their growing businesses as well as provide crucial support that has seen over 9,000 new businesses successfully start up.
This was also achieved two years after the findings of a Business Gateway client survey in 2016 revealed that Brexit posed the biggest concern.
At a time when Brexit, combined with other complexities, offers uncertainty, it’s crucial to continue to grow Scotland’s indigenous businesses and build on their deep-rooted entrepreneurial spirit. For businesses, this involves a belt and braces approach. They must be ready to deal with every eventuality.
As part of this drive, Business Gateway has launched a new Missing Pieces campaign which is aimed at further increasing the number of businesses it helps to achieve their potential and contribute to the growth of the Scottish economy.
Starting a business is no mean feat. It’s one of the biggest steps someone can take in their life.
Turning the concept into a reality not only requires sheer drive and commitment not to mention patience and persistence, budding entrepreneurs also face a number of challenges. These can range from patenting and financing their enterprise to developing a business strategy, putting the building blocks and infrastructure in place, and knowing how to find the right talent.
From asteroid mining missions, artisan bacon curing, gin distilling and biotechnology that enables businesses to convert unavoidable food waste to high value resources, Business Gateway supports a diverse range of businesses across all sectors with our network of more than 170 advisors spanning from the Highlands and Islands to The Borders.
Among common themes of business support being sought are access to funding and understanding investment opportunities, strategic planning, people development and building effective teams, and exploring new markets as well as digital development and the implementation of management systems including Quality, Environmental, Health and Safety.
Growth companies tend to have much more defined and bespoke needs such as advice on cash flow and maintaining a competitive edge, staff retention and development, business premises, regulations for expanding into new markets, IT and marketing.
Central to helping businesses succeed has been Business Gateway’s ability to listen to what businesses need, identify the pieces they are missing, and then tailor the right support and connections for them. This is underpinned by regular research and surveys to ensure we continue to listen to our clients, be responsive and deliver added value.
Our Missing Pieces campaign not only comes at a time when there has never been so much uncertainty in the business and political world but at a time when we (Business Gateway) have more to offer businesses than ever. From facilitating the means to connect growth and start-up businesses with the services required to thrive, we can also help navigate through the planning that makes businesses more resilient.
As everyone faces the rocky road ahead, we look forward to more aspiring entrepreneurs connecting with Business Gateway, our expansive network, and supporting them on their journey to business success.
Our vision for the next decade is to continue sowing the seeds that ensure Scotland is at the vanguard as a leading international place to create, innovate, invest and do business – the bedrock of the country’s future prosperity and economic wellbeing.
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