The Entrepreneurial Academy

About the Entrepreneurial Academy

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) launched the Entrepreneurial Academy in 2017 to support entrepreneurs in the region accelerate their business growth. The Entrepreneurial Academy provides a suite of one-day, practice-based workshops delivered by experts with hands-on experience of running a business and supporting entrepreneurs. The Academy is a unique initiative to help you develop critical skills and equip you with the structures, tools and techniques to implement the learning in your business.  You will also gain from working alongside other entrepreneurs and learning from their experiences.     

During 2018-20, the Entrepreneurial Academy will be rolled out across the Highlands and Islands providing you with the opportunity to learn new skills or refresh existing skills in your local area. 

Workshop format

The workshops provide you with the chance to drill into the detail of the subject as it relates to your company or social enterprise. With ‘Chatham House Rules’ in place, you can feel comfortable troubleshooting your business challenges with the support of an expert provider and with the input of the other entrepreneurs in the room.  

Participants will leave each workshop with a deeper understanding of the topic and a toolkit or plan to turn this knowledge into action. 

How do I book a place?

Book a workshop

Booking will take place through Speakeasy. If you’re new to using Speakeasy, please sign up using the ‘Create a new user account’ tab and you will be able to proceed with your registration. If you are having issues completing your application please contact HIEAcademy@speak.co.uk


Who's it for?

The Entrepreneurial Academy is aimed at:

  • Early stage or young entrepreneurial companies or social enterprises with growth potential
  • Entrepreneurs – or their staff – who want to equip themselves with the skills, knowledge and tools to accelerate their growth
  • Entrepreneurs with the ambition to scale their businesses

What other entrepreneurs say about the workshops

During 2017-18, over 120 delegates from businesses and social enterprises attended the Entrepreneurial Academy.  The workshops’ content, delivery and relevance have been very highly rated by entrepreneurs and their staff.   

Read their comments here.

Workshop details

Brand Development

This workshop provides you with a structured ten step process to develop or evaluate your own brand and shows how you can use your brand to differentiate your business in a crowded market.   You will learn how to communicate the vision, mission and values of your business or social enterprise and gain knowledge on how to build a brand architecture that reflects your company’s operations and your customers’ experiences.  At the end of the workshop you will have an improved knowledge of what a brand is and why it should inform decision making within your business.   You will leave the workshops with a toolkit to implement the learning in your company.

This workshop will be delivered by Lesley Thomson (above), Managing Director of communications consultancy Spreng Thomson and Janice Kirkpatrick (right), Creative Director of design agency Graven Images. Lesley is a highly experienced communications professional working with extensive experience of delivering brand and business strategy sessions for owners, boards and executive teams. Janice is a designer with other 30 years’ experience on leading brand projects for a diverse range of businesses, public and third sector organisations.   

“The HIE Entrepreneurial Academy workshops were excellent and have really added value to my business and accelerated our plans for growth”

Catherine Bunn, Director, Highland Campervans. Dalcross

Pitching Skills

You are pitching every day without sometimes realising it! You pitch to your customers, suppliers, staff, business community or your bank or other investors.  This workshop focuses upon helping you to get your message, personality and credibility across clearly and consistently in every pitch.  The workshop teaches you practical tips and techniques and assists you to structure your pitch for maximum impact.  At the end of the workshop you will understand how make your pitch simple, clear and memorable for every audience.   At the end of the workshop you will have a compelling and engaging sixty second pitch for your company.

This workshop will be delivered by Maryanne Johnston (above). Maryanne has specialised in advising clients on pitching and presentation skills for over 16 years after training with the leading consultancy in this area of expertise in London. She works with a variety of clients across the UK and has provided coaching support for participants on the Converge Challenge.  

“I found each of the courses exceptionally useful and well delivered with a great deal of practical and thought-provoking advice that I have been able to use on numerous occasions since to help my business.”
Michael O’Connell, Director, Visual Performance Management Ltd. Maryburgh.

Entrepreneurial Sales

This workshop gives you a structured six-point process to help understand the selling cycle from initial research to generate leads to post-sale management of the account.  It provides you with practical tools and techniques to build rapport with potential customers, understand buyers’ motivations, present the features and benefits of your product or service, handle objections and close the sale.   You will learn the theory of selling and gain the practical skills to achieve profitable sales for your company and leave the workshop with actions to implement in your business.

This workshop will be delivery by Matthew Quinn, founder of Future Sales Factory (above) Matthew began his career in HM Armed Forces followed by 20 years of sales experience on both B2B and B2C sectors before setting up Future Sales Factory. A recognised sales expert who delivers training sessions and presentations on sales in the UK and internationally, Matthew has built up an extensive and diverse portfolio of clients.

“I found all the workshops very useful, fun and great for networking. Coming down from Shetland, the pre-course information and contact was just what was needed”

Sarah Jackson, Business and HR Manager, COPE Ltd. Shetland.

Delivering a Digital Strategy

This workshop will help you identify and prioritise what you are looking to gain through digital channels – such as more sales, brand awareness or better customer support – and will explore the techniques and tactics to achieve these goals. You will be given an overview of best practice use of digital platforms (website, social media and email) to build market intelligence, engage with your customers and gain business insights to inform your digital strategy. You will learn how to monitor and evaluate your efforts and will leave the workshop with an action plan for your business.

This workshop will be delivered by Gary Ennis of NS Design, (above), an award winning digital agency in Glasgow providing digital services and consultancy to more than 10,000 businesses worldwide for over 17 years.  NS Design has a strong reputation in social media training and consultancy and web design and development. Clients include Skyscanner, NHS Education for Scotland and the Scottish Leather Group.  

“HIE’s workshops were expertly delivered at just the right level and by experienced practitioners who understood the needs of the entrepreneur as well as their subject fields.”

Simon Harrison, CEO, SpeyCardio Ltd.  Grantown-on-Spey.

How much is charged to attend the workshops?

Attendance at the workshops is free of charge but, in order to comply with European Union Regulations, the support is awarded as De Minimis Aid or Start Up Aid, as appropriate.  This means you will be sent an application form to complete, including a State Aid declaration, before being offered a place at a workshop.  After you have attended the workshop, you will receive a State Aid letter outlining the value of this support.  The State Aid value of each workshop varies from approximately £350 - £700.


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