1. Tell us about your service?
Business Gateway Argyll and Bute provides support to both existing businesses and to individuals looking to start up a business here. We offer free and impartial advice, in confidence, to anyone based in Argyll and Bute looking for support to help their business start, survive or grow. We can offer support from an experienced business adviser, information, guides, workshops, webinars, as well as signposting funding and useful contacts, tailored to your needs. Barbara Halliday is our adviser covering the Dunoon area.
2. How do people access your support services?
You can visit our website or contact us by phone, email or social media.
Phone: 01546 604555
3. Does your support cost them anything?
All our services are free of charge.
4. What challenges can small businesses experience when trying to expand ?
From working with businesses, we’ve seen that some of the most common digital challenges for businesses relate to skills, time and reaching the right audience.
Some business owners feel they lack the skills and knowledge to take their business online, others worry they do not have the time to focus on their online presence, whilst many are not sure which is the best digital platform for them to use.
Defining and understanding your customers is key to successful digital activity – getting this right helps drive website optimisation, attracts traffic to your website, convert visits to sales and retains customers. People can get too hung up on the technicalities of using a particular tool without having spent enough time thinking who their customers are, what they are looking for and how best to reach them.
5. How do you help businesses overcome those challenges?
Business Gateway can help tackle all these challenges through a mix of workshops, webinars, video tutorials, downloadable guides, advice surgeries and in some cases intensive one to one support, through our DigitalBoost programme and local services.
Currently all our support is digital (webinars and video/phone support) rather than physically face to face due to COVID-19. We offer a range of webinars including Building your Digital Marketing Plan, Facebook for Business, Paid for Advertising, Writing a Blog, Online Photography, How to get found online (Search Engine Optimisation) and LinkedIn for Business. You can book these via the website.
Our website hosts a huge wealth of Digital Resources including online guides, articles, video tutorials and podcasts https://www.bgateway.com/resources/digitalboost.
Businesses interested in the support available to help with a particular digital issue should contact us to discuss their situation.
6. What trends are do you think people running businesses need to be aware of to grow in this climate?
Now more than ever digital is THE place to be. COVID-19 has changed consumer behaviour and attitudes which is forcing businesses to embrace the digital world.
Wider digital trends currently being seen are the use of live video, webinars on anything and everything and growth in the use of apps such as TikTok and Reels by individuals and businesses wanting to express themselves and get creative.
Business support providers themselves are increasingly using digital technologies to deliver their services – for instance our shift to webinars from physical workshops. For an area like Argyll and Bute, with a large geography to cover, running webinars makes it easier for rural and island based businesses to participate, and the increasing range of content on the Business Gateway website means businesses can readily access information at a time and place to suit them.
7. What is your favourite business website?
It has to be www.bgateway.com! It hosts a wealth of information and is evolving all the time ☺ . Across the team we visit the website regularly and there is always something new and interesting to find.
8. Is there a product and or service you could recommend ?
We would say the businesses with personality, who really engage and interact with their audience. They show their customers who they are and what their business is about, whilst letting their passion for what they do come through. Authenticity is key.
People buy from people – and those who are most compelling give you an insight into what they are about, whether through video, live broadcasting, great photos, or their use of language.
9. How can Dunoon based businesses maximize their positive impact?
Work out who you are trying to talk to, find out what digital platforms they use, and then focus your message on them, in engaging ways - create a blog, create videos, use photographs, start discussions, ask questions, ask for reviews, provide offers, share other relevant links or content.
Don’t be afraid to try new things but also try and measure what has worked and what hasn’t. There are lots of free tools that can help you track what drives traffic to your site. Use this information to help refine what you do and where.
Draft out a plan for what you will do over the next 3 months and keep reviewing results. Keep focussed on who your target audience is and how to reach them – it’s easy to get distracted by new and exciting tools but not all will be relevant for you.
10. Can you give us a top tip or thought about the future of small businesses?
Having a digital presence is pretty much a basic requirement for most small businesses now. Businesses need to be able to adapt to new ways of working, be flexible and open to sharing a bit of themselves with the world. Having a strong online presence tailored to the right audience can help a business build resilience in the current challenging climate –it’s a cost effective way of reaching out to your customer base.
The COVID 19 pandemic has created a desire among many consumers to support their local community and businesses. There is support for small businesses with the #supportlocal, #buylocal and the #ScotlandLovesLocal campaigns. Businesses should take advantage of this wherever possible - make it easy for customers to buy from you and be flexible, offering both online and offline service. Look out for opportunities to collaborate with other businesses to promote a regional offer.
Visit the local office of Business Gateway here
Phone: 01546 604555