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DAVID RICHARDSON: Sutherland young entrepreneur shows talent needed to boost business in the Highlands

By David Richardson

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Business Focus by David Richardson

David Richardson of the FSB.
David Richardson of the FSB.

The need for business growth and entrepreneurialism in the Highlands is obvious, but many FSB members feel disincentivised – that politicians and policy makers are doing things to them rather than with or for them.

And this has consequences for economies and communities, as last year’s FSB Scotland Big Small Business Survey revealed. When asked if they had growth plans for 2023 and 2024, the second most important reason for Highlands and Islands businesses saying no was "increasing government regulation of businesses".

Businesses accept the need for regulation, but badly thought through regulation can stifle ambition.

The smaller businesses so vital to our economic prosperity and wellbeing must be placed front and centre of political and public sector thinking, for only with strong businesses and economies can all parts of the country thrive.

And talking of thriving, I’m delighted that FSB Scotland’s Young Entrepreneur of 2024 comes from Altass in central Sutherland.

Returning to her family croft, Sandie Gordon started making a wide range of hand-poured home fragrances such as candles, wax melts and diffusers under her Candles from the Croft brand a year ago.

A young, talented, ambitious, community-minded entrepreneur supported by Impact30, the WYK Digital Programme, and HIE’s Export & Import Programme, she already supplies more than 20 stores throughout the UK and sells online internationally. Sandie’s just what the Highlands needs.

But support doesn’t all have to come from the public sector. The FSB’s approach centres on our acting as "the voice of smaller businesses", ensuring that the needs of members are heard by and influence politicians and policy makers – on a wide range of support services like FSB Legal and on providing great networking opportunities.

We are currently holding a series of business bootcamps across the UK, and one will take place at Inverness Caley Thistle’s Caledonian Stadium on Friday, April 26.

Rather than death-by-PowerPoint presentations, we’ll have a series of conversational panel sessions involving audience participation, great business networking opportunities, and stands for key public sector support agencies – a great day out.

Find out more by searching ‘FSB Events’ and typing ‘Highland’ in the search box.

  • David Richardson is the regional development manager for the Federation of Small Businesses.

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