Spring into action with the 2018 Orkney Business Festival

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The second Orkney Business Festival will be held in March with talks and workshops hosted by local entrepreneurs and experts from further afield. The four-day programme is sure provide plenty of inspiration for anyone keen to launch their own business.

Orkney is a place that has always welcomed change.

You can see it in our history, from the Neolithic era right through to the arrival of the Vikings and more recent developments in agriculture, tourism and now the renewable energy industry.

It’s this spirit, this determination to develop and grow, that continues to create a real sense of momentum across the islands, especially in the local business community.

It’s apt then that the second Orkney Business Festival will focus on the theme of ‘change’ during its four days of events later this month. The programme will see visiting speakers join local representatives to share ideas, advice and experiences, all aimed at encouraging business owners of the present and future to embrace change and all the benefits it can bring.

Orkney's Business Gateway on Queen Street in Kirkwall

“Since we launched locally in 2009 we’ve spoken to hundreds of clients who were all keen to investigate starting up their own businesses,” said Claire Kemp from Business Gateway Orkney, organisers of this year’s event.

“We always follow up with people, and one of the messages that keeps coming back is ‘what do we do next?’! Setting up a business is just step one - managing it, developing it and growing it takes time and a lot of work. That’s why we wanted to focus on change, and the tools available to help people be as successful as they can be.”

With this in mind, the programme includes workshops to people the chance to ask questions and get hands-on hints and tips from experts. The Business Gateway team will be hosting surgeries throughout the day on Wednesday 21st to provide advice to anyone currently in business or thinking of taking that step.

Social media expert Rene Looper will be hosting workshops during the festival

Then, with an increasing reliance on digital tools and techniques for marketing, social media expert Rene Looper will offer one-to-one consultancies on Thursday 22nd. The workshops will conclude on Friday 23rd with a special New Business Essentials event, giving anyone inspired over the course of the festival the perfect introduction to starting their own business.

“The workshops are a key part of the programme as we felt it was vital to give people the chance to hear directly from experts in an informal, confidential setting,” said Claire. “We’re really excited about getting the chance to inspire potential entrepreneurs who can all add to the services on offer here in Orkney.”

The rest of the programme is packed with talks and practical sessions, full of advice and ideas for anyone thinking of launching their own business. From recruitment, finance and funding, to marketing, planning and exporting, the speakers are set to cover all the bases.

The Pickaquoy Centre will host all the workshops and talks on the 21st and 22nd of March

“We are very lucky to have such a diverse and talented group of business owners and leaders here in Orkney, it just seemed like common sense to ask them to talk about their experiences and show other local residents that anything is possible,” said Claire.

The whole festival kicks off on Tuesday 20th with what’s set to be an entertaining and informative look at business in Orkney in the past, present and future. Richard Shearer, owner of one of the most popular shops in the islands, William Shearer, will look back at Orkney’s enterprising past. He’ll be joined by Mark Hogarth from the celebrated Harris Tweed who will discuss the balance his business has struck between modernity and tradition.

Richard Shearer from William Shearers, first established in Kirkwall in 1857

The opening night concludes with an overview of how Orkney continues to punch above its weight, courtesy of Neil Kermode from the European Marine Energy Centre, and a fascinating discussion from Ciaran Rogers of Target Internet on the development of digital technologies that could make a big difference to the success of your business in 2018.

Elsewhere in the programme there will be time for networking and a panel discussion on the challenges and opportunities being a business in Orkney brings.

The 2018 Orkney Business Festival will bring a whirlwind of information that is sure to inspire new start-ups, not to mention energise the current crop of local companies. The message is clear - come along, embrace change and discover what your business can do for you this spring.

See the full programme and find out more about some of the speakers and workshops on the Business Gateway Orkney Facebook page. You can also view some case studies featuring local business owners.

Tickets for all the events can be booked via the Eventbrite website.

The Digital Orkney project has been part financed by the Scottish Government and the European Community Orkney LEADER 2014-2020 Programme.

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