Business support

Highlands and Islands entrepreneurs get back to school for summer

An Entrepreneurial Academy is being rolled out across the Highlands and Islands to support the region’s entrepreneurs accelerate their business growth.

Originally launched by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) in 2017, the Entrepreneurial Academy will now provide a series of one day, practice-based workshops across the region.

The programme kicks off with an Entrepreneurial Sales workshop in Thurso on 13th June 2018, and will be followed by Brand Development, Pitching Skills and Delivering a Digital Strategy workshops over the coming months.

Each workshop will be delivered by experts in the various fields and provide the opportunity to drill into the detail of the subject as it relates to the attendees’ business or social enterprise. This gives them a deeper understanding of the subject and a plan to implement for themselves.

Delivered by Matthew Quinn of Future Sales Factory, the Entrepreneurial Sales workshop will help attendees understand the selling cycle, from initial research for generating leads to post-sale management. Matthew will show entrepreneurs the logical process of sales to help them build rapport with potential customers and understand buyers’ motivations, as well as demonstrating how to best present the benefits of the product or service, and ultimately close the sale.

Louise MacDonald, Senior Entrepreneurship Manager at HIE, said: “We’re delighted to be rolling out the Entrepreneurial Academy across the Highlands and Islands, following a very successful pilot in 2017. These skills workshops help businesses and social enterprises accelerate their growth through providing them with a structured process, tools and tactics to boost sales, enhance their brand, hone their pitching skills and develop a digital strategy. I look forward to welcoming businesses from across the region to the various workshops, seeing how they implement what they’ve learned and the impact it has on their business.”

Describing the training, Matthew said: “From first handshake to first invoice, those attending the Entrepreneurial Sales workshop will go away with skills that can be implemented in their business straight away.

“We work with people from single person businesses to multinational corporations and are delighted to be helping HIE support young and growing businesses in Scotland. Our last Entrepreneurial Sales workshop was a complete sell out and received maximum feedback scores from everyone who attended, and I’d encourage entrepreneurs from any industry to attend on 13th June. From food and drink, tourism, energy, engineering and business services; these sessions always prove that the sales process is exactly the same, no matter what industry you are in.”

The first Entrepreneurial Sales workshop attracted a sell-out crowd of entrepreneurs keen to improve their confidence and sales processes, including Michael O'Connell, director and co-founder of Visual Performance Management Ltd.

Michael said: “As an entrepreneur, you can be confident in your product but not in going out and selling it. Having not done much in sales in the past, it was not something that came naturally to me, so the Entrepreneurial Sales workshop provided some great insights. Not only did it improve my confidence in my ability to have sales conversations, it also got rid of the myths around sales and off-putting stereotypes brought about by bad salespeople.

“The workshop also covered the process behind selling – it’s not an art, there is a process and understanding that can really help. I’d really encourage others to attend, especially those intimidated by the idea of sales or those who would like to employ someone else to do sales for them – the course may change your perceptions.”

The Entrepreneurial Academy workshops will be delivered from June 2018 until June 2020 in Benbecula, Forres, Fort William, Kirkwall, Lerwick, Inverness, Oban, Portree, Thurso and Stornoway. Entrepreneurs, or staff, of growing companies and social enterprises or those with ambition to scale that are interested in attending the one day workshops should contact entrepreneurship@hient.co.uk to register interest and receive further information on dates in their location.

The Entrepreneurial Sales workshop takes place at Caithness Horizons in Thurso on Wednesday 13th June.

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