Teaching sailing under the Mediterranean sun may sound idyllic but for one Plockton local it couldn’t compete with the beauty of home.
After a number of years working as a sailing instructor for holiday companies, Malcolm Mackenzie returned to the village last year to launch Plockton Sailing & Boat Hire.
Having had a successful first season hiring canoes from his base at The Anchorage, the 30-year-old turned to Business Gateway Highlands last autumn for advice on how to grow his business.
With assistance from his local office he secured a Highland Business Growth Grant worth £5,000 which helped part finance the purchase of five sailing boats that he will use to teach youngsters and adults how to sail.
Malcolm said: “I’ve always sailed and became a sailing instructor when I was 18. I started University in 2008 but after three weeks I realised I just wanted to teach sailing for a living. Since then I’ve worked in some beautiful places such as Turkey, Sardinia, and Greek Islands but nothing compares to sailing on Loch Carron.
“I had been working in Strathclyde Country Park but decided last year that I wanted to come home to launch my own sailing venture. My first season generated some profits but I needed additional finance to buy my own boats. With the help of my Regional Development Officer I not only secured a Business Growth Grant and a loan from Highland Opportunity I also benefited from his expert advice.”
Financed through The Highland Council under the Highland LEADER 2007-2013, the Business Growth Grant, which aims to promote economic and community development in rural areas, can be applied for after a company utilises the expert advice on offer at their local Business Gateway office.
Businesses which have been trading for between six months and two years are eligible to apply for the grant after working closely with their local Regional Development Officer who will help them devise a robust action plan before applying for support worth up to £10,000.
Alistair Danter, Regional Development Officer, Business Gateway said: “Malcolm is very passionate about sailing and about the local area and we are delighted that his business is doing so well. Initially he came to us for start-up advice and more recently for assistance to help him grow the business. As well as securing funds through the Business Growth Grant we have armed him with a plan of action that will help continue his success over the coming years.”
Malcolm, who is awaiting accreditation from the Royal Yacht Association, aims to take his first students onto the water this summer.
Malcolm said: “Running a new business can be tough and I wouldn’t be at the stage I am now without the help of Business Gateway. The funds not only allow me to teach they have also allowed me to buy wetsuits which will extend the sailing season to the end of October. Having the boats also means I will now be able to take on my first employee who will hire out the canoes during the summer.”
To find out how Business Gateway could benefit your company visit www.yourbusinessgateway.co.uk or call 0845 609 6611.
Alternatively to find out how to apply, and for full conditions of Highland Business Growth Grant, contact the Skye & Lochalsh office on 01478 611501.