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BUSINESS INSIGHT: Regulation is necessary but it must be well thought out

By David Richardson

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Business support can come in a variety of forms.
Business support can come in a variety of forms.

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 the results of 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. Sandie Gordon returned to the family croft a year ago to make a wide range of hand-poured home fragrances such as candles, wax melts and diffusers under her Candles from the Croft brand. An ambitious and driven entrepreneur, she now supplies more than 20 stores throughout the UK and sells online internationally.

And she’s benefited from support from Impact30, the WYK Digital Programme, and HIE’s Export and Import Programme.

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 in the Inverness Caley Thistle’s Caledonian Stadium on 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 googling ‘FSB Events’ and typing ‘Highland’ in the search box.

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