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REDS Member Highlight: StrategyStory

Get to know Kate Hooper, Creative Director and founder of international strategic training and development consultancy StrategyStory, based in Cawdor with offices in Connel and Stornoway.

How long has StrategyStory been on the go?

The idea was first conceived on the Outer Hebrides in 2014. Wee then went into development mode and officially launched the business in 2017.

How many people are in the team at StrategyStory or is this a solo venture?

Six or seven at any one time: two founding directors and a brilliant ensemble of associates from business, the arts and the creative industries.

What was your inspiration for starting StrategyStory?

To crack the big challenge in strategy development globally – which is that many strategies ultimately fail! We come at the issue differently, our approach is not top down. It doesn’t involve lengthy documents that few people read, or have had an opportunity to contribute to. Engagement is at the core of our method, and that’s why creativity is so important.

StrategyStory sees itself as one of the new breed of strategy consultancies: we are a creative business. Our team brings the latest strategic thinking to life by energising it with creative practices such as film-making and storytelling.

We really care about what we do, and want to help people work together to create strategies that have lasting impact and support individuals, businesses, communities, and our broader ecosystems. For us, it’s about people creating success together.

What is one of the hardest challenges you have had to overcome (or are still overcoming) to run and sustain your business?

The global pandemic has clearly provided challenges that so many other businesses are also facing, and we have had to accelerate our plans and offerings to support businesses with ‘emergency strategy’ and strategies for transformation.

More generally however, there are two main challenges we face, both in terms of policy and support:

  1. Scotland, and our rural regions, are filled with exceptional, innovative, bright companies and people. We’d love to see more recognition of that, and move past the idea that, if you want the best ideas, training and consultancy, you have to go elsewhere. Our knowledge production is as good as our internationally recognised food, drink, and tourism industries. We know that because of the reception we get in the USA and Australia! Sometimes, it feels like you have to prove yourself abroad before you are recognised locally.

  2. We also want to challenge the idea that if you want to be successful and get support for your ambitions, you have to mimic other forms of business - behave like an aspiring multinational corporation, for example. We have a different take on ‘growth’ and our experience suggests that much of what we might call ‘our own way’ is just what the world is looking for - community, sustainability, personality and a people-first philosophy.

What are some of your favourite elements of running a small rural business here in Scotland?

Easy - the people. The craic. How natural we are with each other. The lifestyle.

What has been your biggest achievement in business?

Keeping it going; getting great feedback from our clients and partners; feeling that we are making a living by making a contribution; getting a great balance of local and international work. Strengthening business and friendships internally and externally. We are lucky, grateful, and we are enjoying the journey.

What are your ambitions for StrategyStory?

Double our turnover; keep the balance; involve more people and create opportunities for and with each other, and to help to support our businesses, communities and country to thrive.

Why do you think REDS is a useful platform for Scotland's rural business community?

Because at the end of the day, collaboration and sharing and mutual support are the keys to inclusive and sustainable growth for our beautiful places and communities. We operate a business ethos which promotes collaboration and ‘co-opetition’ rather than competition. There is so much brilliance that could be even brighter if we work together to support our rural economy.

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