Caithness hospitality business shines bright


Christine roberts

Christine Roberts set up her own business North Star Consultancy at the beginning of the year after two decades working in the hospitality and tourism industry. Now, she shares with us the story behind her business.

Why choose to go into business for yourself and when did you start your current business? Having spent many years building businesses for others, I felt the time was right to do something for myself. I wanted to share my knowledge to support people within the hospitality and tourism sector, as I feel passionate about this sector and the opportunities out there for small and medium sized businesses. By using my experience and knowledge, I can offer tailored support to assist businesses in developing their potential and ultimately help them succeed. So in January this year I launched North Star Consultancy.

Why did you choose your current business? I have worked in Hospitality and Tourism at General Management level for over 25 years and I am passionate about promoting Scotland as a tourist destination. This is what I have lived and breathed for most of my working life. I’ve worked in self-catering cottages, country estates, small independent cafes, international chains, country hotels and timeshares, so I know the industry inside out. I believe in creativity and developing a culture of excellence and I wanted to share this thinking to help others promote our beautiful country and all it has to offer.

Who has helped you get started and develop your business? I received advice from Jennifer Irvine at Business Gateway Caithness as well as a wealth of local information. This free support is fantastic and sets you on the right path. I also had very solid support from Caithness Chamber of Commerce who encouraged me to become a Business Ambassador for Developing the Young Workforce and given me some amazing networking opportunities. As well as this, I’ve had help from Venture North, the Tourism Destination Organisation for Caithness and Sutherland.

What achievement are you most proud of? Achieving licensed training centre approval from the British Institute of Innkeeping. It was hard work writing all the policies required and complying with their stringent requirements.

What was your biggest mistake? Not starting up my own business earlier in my career.

What is the biggest challenge facing your business? As I am new to Caithness, the biggest challenge is integrating into the business community and gaining credibility in a place where I am relatively unknown. But luckily, I have met some wonderful people who have been very supportive and organisations including Business Gateway and the Chamber of Commerce offer fantastic networking opportunities.

What would help your business? Introductions to key stakeholders within the Hospitality and Tourism community in the region. I have already met some of these, but as Caithness and Sutherland is vast, there’s a lot of mileage to cover.

What do you still want to achieve for your business? As tourism is such a major employer in the Highlands, I am on a mission to improve customer service throughout the region. I offer support to businesses struggling to retain and train their staff, by introducing effective inductions, accessible and affordable training and personal development. I am constantly planning new training opportunities that I can bring to the area. I’d like to use my experience in self-catering and hospitality management to assist other business owners in offering the highest quality experience to our visitors.  

What advice would you give to someone wanting to start a business in Caithness? Volunteering and networking is key to starting up in business and both have been extremely beneficial to me, so use every opportunity to meet new people and increase your network. I recommend joining Caithness Chamber of Commerce and take advantage of the excellent workshops offered by Business Gateway. You will learn essential skills and also meet like-minded people.

Find out how Business Gateway Highland can help your business by visiting their local page or calling 01463 898 466.

Outwith this area? Find your local Business Gateway office or call 0300 013 4753.

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