Small Business Prosperity Project

October 2005

Lynn Ross has recently set up the Small Business Prosperity Project on the Isle of Arran with an award from Scotland UnLtd.

The project is based on Lynn’s own business experience of 30 years, acquired to support her passion as a weaver, spinner and dyer.

Aims of the Project

  • To improve communication & networking opportunities for small businesses on the island
  • To support small businesses on Arran through joint promotion & web advertising

The project is based on the findings of the European LEONARDO DA VINCI “Routes” programme.

The “Routes” programme brought together organisations from Iceland, Ireland, Estonia and Scotland from 2000 - 2003 to assess the needs of small business in rural communities in the respective countries.

A set of training materials were developed for small business owners to use in groups.

Lynn was co-ordinator of one of the international writing teams and contributed to the others.

Networking Meeting

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The first networking meeting for the Prosperity Project was held on May 11, 2005 at The Burnside Gallery in Brodick.
Lynn used her own network to invite a group of small business owners to meet informally with representatives of North Ayrshire Council Business Development, Smart Successful Solutions, Ltd. who deliver business start-up support on the island for Argyll & the Islands Enterprise, and Scotland UnLtd.

The discussions were based on issues which arose on the ROUTES Project, looking at barriers and solutions to encourage prosperity in small businesses on Arran.

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The problems identified in the discussions at this meeting were the same as those from rural and island areas in the other countries.


  • Costs to & from the island
  • With other small businesses
  • With the local council and Enterprise Company - there is often confusion in identifying which institution offers which kind of support to small businesses


  • To develop the business
  • To improve essential skills and learn new ones
  • To access information needed to manage and develop the business

Pricing & Marketing

  • Adjusting pricing to the island economy
  • Finding resources to promote and market the business

It was agreed that small businesses are often set up on Arran to support a lifestyle which might not be possible elsewhere and that small businesses are also set up on the island to support artistic and creative endeavours.

In both cases, while profit and cash flow are essential, other factors motivate the small business owner in these situations.

It has been recognised on a global level that small businesses provide essential building blocks in the development of a community socially as well as economically. This is true especially in the case of businesses which are part of the lifestyle of the 21st century croft.

Bringing creative small businesses together for mutual support and joint promotion strengthens the community and provides a showcase for what is available on the island.

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All of the representatives of the organisations promised to provide whatever assistance they could to support the growth of the Prosperity Project.

A lively discussion took place where terms like “changing goal posts” and “lack of level playing fields” were used to express the frustration that often happens due to lack of communication as to the actual needs of very small businesses in a place like Arran, as identified by the owners themselves.

This frustration was echoed during the European ROUTES project.


It was agreed that communication is essential.

It is essential for small businesses owners to articulate, as closely as possible, what they see is required for growth and development.

For representatives of the various supporting institutions it is essential that they listen to what small businesses have to say about their own situation, in order to most effectively match identified need with available resources.


  • Broadband Internet Service as soon as possible to make email and Internet communication easier and faster
  • Joint promotion & marketing through existing channels such as the Arran Banner and the ferry
  • Working together with other initiatives on the island such as the Development Company and Destination Arran to help find solutions to the barriers identified for small businesses
  • Networking as a group on a regular basis to: Exchange information; Improve communication; Find joint solutions to common problems

The next meeting of the group will be on Wednesday, September 4, from 10 AM to 1 PM at the Burnside.

The meeting is open to anyone interested in promoting their own small business and discussing the issues which the group identifies as the project develops.

Lynn Ross will present some of the European ROUTES material at the meeting on a theme of

“Make sure you say what you really want for your business, because you are likely to get it”