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Outer Hebrides

Whether you are starting or growing a business, we provide access to a range of business support services.

Thinking of Starting a Business?

There are many ways we can help you, even if starting up still seems a way off.

Our website is a great place to begin: we offer market reports as well as handy online guides, plus a business plan template to download when you’re ready. Take part in our workshops to hone your start-up skills – from how to handle the legal requirements to getting your market research right.

Plus use our Planning to Start tool to guide you through the essential steps of starting up. It takes just 10 minutes to complete and then we can then use the details you give us to create your action plan, complete with links to relevant information and support. We’ll also recommend free workshops to help you hone your skills and may refer you to relevant support from our partners.

A business adviser from your local office can help at this stage and signpost you to a wide range of other support across Scotland.

With our help, you could be in business sooner than you imagined.

Running a Business?

Maintaining a business or moving up a gear can be more daunting than starting up, so our support continues and grows with your business.

We know that your time is in short supply, so if you can’t get to your local office for 1:1 advice, we’ll come to you. Together, you and your business adviser can tailor a strategic action plan to your ambitions. Need targeted advice on HR, Restructuring, Innovation, Exporting or Digital Marketing? Your adviser can help with that too. And if you need more specialist input, we can connect you with other sources of support.

Use our resources, support and tools to learn new skills, create opportunities and gain confidence.

We run around 3,500 events each year across Scotland, with workshops on topics from bookkeeping to social media.

  • For free, comprehensive business intelligence and market research, you can turn to our Information Service.
  • Browse our online A-Z of over 100 market reports or request a free report if your market sector isn’t covered.
  • Our handy guides explain digital marketing strategy, HR, intellectual property and other essentials.

Get in touch with your local Business Gateway office today.

Digital Business Skills with DigitalBoost

Setting up a website is a great start, but DigitalBoost can help you to make the most of your online presence.

Tap into our free local workshops, 1:1 expert adviser support and online tools and tutorials to help you improve your digital performance. Our DigitalBoost guide has been downloaded 20,000 times and some 1,200 workshops have together attracted more than 14,000 business people.

A DigitalBoost HealthCheck can pinpoint your digital strengths, where you could do more and how we can help. Take five minutes now to fill in our form and discover how to give your business a real boost.

Local Support

Business Gateway Outer Hebrides is part of the Economic Development team at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council). We offer a variety of initiatives which provide support for new and existing businesses in the Outer Hebrides. These include the following:

Meet an Adviser

Business Gateway offer FREE advice and support to help you develop your ideas into an effective and practical plan. With a network of experienced business advisers we can work with you in confidence, to help you reach your full potential. As an example you can get help in the following areas:

  • Creating your business plan
  • Getting the most from your advertising and marketing
  • Thinking about taking on staff
  • Researching your business idea
  • Find out what funding you can apply for
  • Registering with HM Revenue and Customs
  • Finding and keeping customers
  • Access to professionally-drafted contracts and legal document template

Our advisers cover the area and are happy to come and meet you locally or support you by phone or email. All you need to do is get in touch to arrange a convenient time.

Training Workshops

A range of workshops are tailored towards either helping you to establish your new business or to help you to grow your existing one. Each workshop is designed to specifically cover the key considerations faced by the entrepreneur:

  • VAT registration for new businesses
  • Developing a business plan during your start up phase
  • Sourcing funding and finance
  • Employing staff
  • Marketing, advertising and promotion
  • E-commerce
  • Social media

If there is demand for a particular topic, we will do our best to deliver a workshop on that topic.

1:1 advice is also available from our team of business advisers.

Business Information

With access to a wealth of FREE information, Business Gateway can help businesses grow or develop. With research and information sourced from commercial, government and industry bodies we can help you source market intelligence, stay up-to-date with the latest news in your industry, identify competitors and potential customers and whether a potential supplier is reliable.

Micro Business Loan - (CnES - RLF)

This 'Interest-Free' loan of up to £2,000 aims to encourage the creation and growth of small businesses, which can contribute to new jobs in the local economy. The loan programme is funded by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.

Business Loan - (CnES - RLF)

This loan of up to £50,000, repayable up to 7 years at an interest rate between 4 and 6% (depending upon amount/security), is to encourage business start-up and enable business and community developments by assisting with long-term sustainability in the Outer Hebrides. The loan programme is funded by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.

Outer Hebrides Fisheries Investment Scheme

Funding available for the purchase of fishing vessels. Loans of up to £100,000 (commercial interest rates apply).

The Prince's Trust

Through the Prince's Trust, free advisory and business planning support is available to anyone thinking about starting or developing their own business. There is discretionary loan & grant assistance for the 18-30 age-group, with special concern for anyone who is particularly disadvantaged. For those who access this funding, an Aftercare Adviser is provided to assist you in tackling the first two years in business.

Community Support

The Community Regeneration team www.cne-siar.gov.uk/business/economic-development-and-business-support/regeneration/ offer tailored advice and support to new and developing community businesses and social enterprises.

Business Property Portfolio

A list of business units, properties and land for lease / sale by the Comhairle is available at www.cne-siar.gov.uk/business/vacant-property-and-land/. Highlands & Islands Enterprise may also have business units for lease and should be contacted on 01851 707 300 for further information.

Outer Hebrides Business Directory

Free online directory for all business based in the Outer Hebrides. Visit www.businesshebrides.co.uk.

Planning to Start

Find out what support and tools are available to you by answering a few simple questions with our Planning to Start tool. Then get contact from your local office to take your business idea forward.

Help with business rates

There are a number of relief schemes available which offer reduced non-domestic rates to qualifying business. These include reliefs for small businesses (Small Business Bonus Scheme), empty properties, charities, rural businesses, renewable energy producers and nursing care establishments. For more information call 01851 600 501.

Find out more on www.cne-siar.gov.uk/business/non-domestic-rates-busines-rates

Planning and Building Standards

Advice and guidance on planning issues is available. Find out online if you need planning permission or a building warrant, make an application, find out about an application that has been made, or find out more about long term policies such as the Local Plan. For more information call 01851 600 501.

Find out more on www.cne-siar.gov.uk/planning-and-building


To find out if you need a licence, permit or permission for your business, and for information on making an application, visit www.cne-siar.gov.uk/business/consumers-and-the-environment/licensing for more details. Many licences can be applied for online.

Environmental Health

The work undertaken by Environmental Health includes food safety, environmental protection, public health and housing, environmental health licensing, animal health and welfare and occupational health and safety. Advice and information is available to help businesses within the Outer Hebrides ensure compliance with this legislation. Call 01851 600 501.

Find out more on www.cne-siar.gov.uk/business/consumers-and-the-environment/environmental-health

Trading Standards

Trading Standards helps to maintain a fair and safe trading environment where local businesses and consumers can thrive. Advice and information is available to help businesses within the Outer Hebrides ensure compliance with this legislation. Call 01851 600 501.

Find out more on cne-siar.gov.uk

Outer Hebrides LEADER Programme

LEADER is a European programme and also part of the SRDP (Scottish Rural Development Programme) allocation. It is a bottom-up method of delivering support for rural development and is primarily aimed at developing and establishing small-scale, community-driven projects that are innovative in nature. Vitally the benefits and participation of the local community in the project is fundamental to the LEADER ethos.

Find out more on cne-siar.gov.uk

Arts Funding Advice

Arts funding information for individuals, businesses and groups is available from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.

Find out more on cne-siar.gov.uk

Outer Hebrides Factfile

The Outer Hebrides Factfile contains information and facts on all aspects of life and culture within the Outer Hebrides.

Find out more on www.cne-siar.gov.uk/strategy-performance-and-research/outer-hebrides-factfile

Supplier Development Programme (SDP)

SDP is a public sector partnership which delivers a variety of FREE tender training, via classroom style workshops working in conjunction with Local Authorities across Scotland, digitally via webinar and also provides a range of online resources connecting businesses with the Scottish public sector. Registration for SDP events is free for Scottish SMEs, and will connect your business with your local authority’s SDP Rep who can offer your business additional support.

Find your nearest office

Business Gateway Stornoway

James Square
9 James Street
Get directions
01851 822 775

Opening hours:

Monday to Friday

09:00 to 17:00

Business Gateway Uist and Barra

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar
Isle of Benbecula
Get directions
01851 822 775

Opening hours:

Monday to Friday

09:00 to 17:00 (by appointment)