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BUSINESS ON TOP FORM
THE MUST GO ON BETTER BUSINESS AUTUMN 2021
STANDING OUT FROM THE CROWD WITH TOPFORM
EVENTS ARE BACK ON THE TABLE
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FOOD GLORIOUS FOOD MEET IRELAND’S ARTISAN FOOD SUPPLIERS
ON ACQUISITIONS, RETAINING TALENT AND WORLD-WIDE EXPANSION
It’s time to invest in you. Talk to us about a retirement plan that works for you and your financial wellbeing.
Let’s chat about your pension. bankofireland.com/pensions
Terms and conditions apply. Life assurance and pensions products are provided by New Ireland Assurance Company plc, trading as Bank of Ireland Life. New Ireland Assurance Company plc, trading as Bank of Ireland Life is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. Member of Bank of Ireland Group. Advice on Bank of Ireland Life products is provided by Bank of Ireland. Bank of Ireland trading as Bank of Ireland Insurance & Investments, Insurance & Investments, Bank of Ireland Private or Premier is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. Bank of Ireland is a tied agent of New Ireland Assurance Company plc for life assurance and pension business. Members of Bank of Ireland Group. Information correct as of August 2021.
WARNING: The value of your investment may go down as well as up. WARNING: If you invest in a pension you may lose some or all of the money you invest. WARNING: If you invest in a pension you will not have access to your money until your retirement date.
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WELCOME AUTUMN 2021
BUSINESS ON TOP FORM
THE MUST GO ON BETTER BUSINESS AUTUMN 2021
STANDING OUT FROM THE CROWD WITH TOPFORM
EVENTS ARE BACK ON THE TABLE
Going Welcome to Better Business, a magazine dedicated to the small business community.
FOOD GLORIOUS FOOD MEET IRELAND’S ARTISAN FOOD SUPPLIERS
ON ACQUISITIONS, RETAINING TALENT AND WORLD-WIDE EXPANSION
On the cover: Jock Jordan Regional Vice-President, One4All Photography: Ola Dybul
Editor: Denise Maguire Creative Director: Jane Matthews Designers: Alan McArthur Lenny Rooney Production Executive: Nicole Ennis Managing Director: Gerry Tynan Chairman: Diarmaid Lennon Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or write to: Better Business, Ashville Media, Unit 55, Park West Road, Park West Industrial Estate, Dublin 12, D12 X9F9. Tel: (01) 432 2200 All rights reserved. Every care has been taken to ensure that the information contained in this magazine is accurate. The publishers cannot, however, accept responsibility for errors or omissions. Reproduction by any means in whole or in part without the permission of the publisher is prohibited. © Ashville Media Group 2021. All discounts, promotions and competitions contained in this magazine are run independently of Better Business. The promoter/advertiser is responsible for honouring the prize. ISSN 2009-9118 SFA is a trading name of Ibec.
As I write this, I am more optimistic about the future than I have been in these past few months as restrictions are lifted and small businesses commence planning for re-opening. The SFA continues to work on behalf of members and businesses across all sectors, to advocate for the survival of small firms and the reboot of the economy. In this edition, our sector spotlight delves into the future of the Irish events industry, looking at how creative innovation is defining this sector but also at how difficult the period of restrictions has been for them as they now fight for recognition and support from Government. Our HR pages provide guidance on managing absence and our health section outlines tips on how to manage mental health in the workplace. Elsewhere in these pages, you will meet artisan food entrepreneurs who are cornering the artisan food market, not only at home but abroad and hear from One4all Regional Vice President, Jock Jordan, about the company’s plans for expansion and why its staff are its most valuable asset. We also showcase our highly successful MentorsWork Boosting Business Success Conference 2021. This event supported small business owners, not only to do business in the current challenging environment, but to take the next steps forward and grow their business, identify new opportunities and become even more successful whilst improving productivity. This magazine contains stories that inform, inspire and entertain. It showcases and celebrates the achievements of small companies, provides advice to help you in your business and keeps you up to date on the latest trends at home and abroad. Ireland is a nation of small businesses. Of over 267,000 businesses in the country, 99% have less than 50 employees (small) and 92% have less than 10 (micro). These companies can be seen in every city, town and village in the country and together they provide employment to half of the private sector workforce. The SFA proudly represents a diverse membership of businesses with less than 50 employees: homegrown and spanning every sector of our economy. Our members can be found in every town and every city in Ireland. We want to make Ireland the most vibrant small business community in the world – an environment that supports entrepreneurship, values small business and rewards risk takers. Better Business is the magazine of the small business community. We welcome your feedback, suggestions and ideas to email@example.com or on Twitter @SFA_Irl. Sven Spollen-Behrens Director, Small Firms Association
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CONTENTS AUTUMN 2021
04 14 18
Big News for Small Business News, views and profiles from SFA members and small businesses in Ireland.
Tax Matters BDO’s Ciara Dillon on the impact Budget 2022 will have on small businesses
Events The MentorsWork Boosting Business Success Conference, a free half-day virtual event, took place earlier this year
22 28 34
Sector Spotlight We chat to three events companies that are just beginning to emerge from the pandemic
Cover Story One4All’s Jock Jordan talks about the company’s plans for world domination
Entrepreneurs Ireland’s artisan food suppliers are cornering the market not just at home, but internationally
Trading Places Moscow native Yaroslav Zhuravlev on getting to grips with Irish culture and a slower pace of life
Health FitVision MD Mark O’Reilly outlines three simple rituals to help us adjust to the ‘new normal’
Travel Whether it’s a city break or a trip to the wildness of Connemara, Autumn is a great time to explore the ‘City of Tribes’
The Big Read Thomas Erikson on making interactions between employees and their managers as efficient as possible
40 44 50
Small Business Profile Topform Managing Director Paul Glynn chats to Better Business about standing out from the crowd
70 74 78
Arts and Culture Olive Quinn at Dún na Sí talks about the importance of educating a younger generation about our heritage
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Autumn 2021 Contents
FROM TOP LEFT: Ciara Dillon on the ramifications of Budget 2022 for small business, page 14 // Sean Lemass at SDL Exhibitions discusses challenges in the events sector, page 22 // Jock Jordan of One4all on why staff are the company’s most valuable asset, page 28 // The Foods of Athenry founder Siobhan Lawless talks about growing a successful business despite the odds, page 34
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BIG NEWS FOR SMALL BUSINESS
SFA MEMBERS IF YOUR BUSINESS HAS SOME NEWS TO SHARE THAT YOU WOULD LIKE FEATURED IN THE NEXT EDITION OF BETTER BUSINESS, CONTACT STEPHEN BROWNE ON (01) 6051626 OR STEPHEN. BROWNE@SFA.IE
NEW GREEN VEHICLE LOAN FOR SPSV
Peter Byrne, CEO, FRS Network
New book tells the story of FRS over last 40 years
A new book setting out the history and story of FRS over the last 40 years has been launched. ‘From Farm Relief Services to FRS Network – The Journey over 40 Years’ was written and compiled by Peter Byrne, CEO of FRS Network who has been at the helm of the FRS co-operative from the outset. The book focuses on the many new and innovative services introduced to Ireland by FRS such as hoof care, the first sheep and cow scanning services, freezebranding, machinery rings and the waste farm plastic collection service. It also highlights the development of other services and schemes to support farmers, including the creation of the Farmers Accident and Sickness Scheme (FASS) and the Members Benefit Scheme (MBS). “One of the things that I wanted to do with the book was to make it a team effort,” said Peter Byrne. “The book includes a compilation of stories that were written by various staff members, current staff members, former staff members, former committee and board members, people who were involved in the setting up of local offices and local farm relief groups right throughout the country. We put all of those stories together into one book and that is very much the way we wanted it because FRS wouldn’t be where it is today without being a team effort. It’s the history of all those people and that’s what we wanted to record in the book.”
KEY INGREDIENTS OPENS NEW ANNACOTTY FACILITY Earlier this year, Key Ingredients opened its new state-of-the-art sales offices and R&D labs in Annacotty Business Park, Limerick. The aim of the new investment is to ensure employees have a better place to work and can demonstrate new ingredients to customers, said Key Ingredients. The new facility will assist Key Ingredients on its growth path serving customers in Ireland, the UK and USA.
Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail, Damien English TD has announced owners of Small Public Service Vehicles (SPSV) such as taxis, hackneys and limousines will be able to avail of a new Green Vehicle Loan (eSPSV) to help replace their vehicle with an electric or hybrid model. To make public transport more sustainable, earlier this year the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications and Transport allocated €15 million to assist the SPSV industry in transitioning to fully electric and zero-emission capable wheelchair accessible vehicles. Microfinance Ireland (MFI) can now assist many owner-operators in this sector, which has been badly affected by the pandemic, in using the existing Electric Vehicle part grant scheme announced earlier this year by providing access to loans not otherwise available to them through mainstream banking.
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AWARDS Pictured at the launch of the SFA National Small Business Awards 2022 were (back row l-r) Declan Coppinger (Bord Bia), Terry Spence (One4all Rewards), Geraldine Larkin (NSAI), Eoghan Hanrahan (Enterprise Ireland), Paul Healy (Skillnet Ireland), Shane Heraty (Cisco), Avril McArdle (Sage), David Casey (DeCare), David Curtin (.IE) – (front row l-r) Mags Brennan (permanent tsb), Sven Spollen-Behrens (Director SFA), An Taoiseach Micheál Martin TD, Graham Byrne (Chairman SFA) and June Butler (SBCI).
An Taoiseach Launches SFA National Small Business Awards 2022 The 18th Small Firms Association (SFA) National Small Business Awards 2022 have been officially launched by Awards Patron, An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin TD. The aim of the awards is to celebrate the achievements of small businesses in Ireland and to recognise the vital contribution of the small business community to the Irish economy. Small firms (employing less than 50 people) have from 16 September until 20 October 2021 to enter free of charge on www.sfaawards.ie. The Awards are free to enter and the prize package for ALL finalists is valued at €50,000. This includes a strategic management masterclass weekend, participation in the SFA Business Connect event, as well as broad-ranging national and local media coverage and a feature with the Irish Independent. Finalists also receive five complementary tickets to the gala prizegiving ceremony, which will take place in the RDS Concert Hall on 9th March 2022, when the category winners and overall winner will be announced. The category winners will be presented with a trophy and free membership of the Small Firms Association. In addition, the five best “Emerging New Businesses” (companies who are less than two years in existence) that have the potential to grow and have the ability to be an SFA National Small Business Award winner in the future will be selected – supported by .IE.
Entrants may enter the category of their choice and have the option to enter more than one category, but must complete a separate entry form for each one they choose at www.sfaawards.ie.
THE SFA NATIONAL BUSINESS AWARDS ARE OPEN TO ALL COMPANIES IN IRELAND WITH UP TO 50 EMPLOYEES AND THE CATEGORIES ARE: ANUFACTURING M – supported by permanent tsb F OOD AND DRINK – supported by Bord Bia ERVICES S – supported by Sage UTSTANDING SMALL BUSINESS O – up to five employees – supported by Cisco I NNOVATOR OF THE YEAR – supported by NSAI USTAINABILITY S – supported by SBCI ORKPLACE WELLBEING W – supported by DeCare XPORTER OF THE YEAR E – supported by Enterprise Ireland ETAIL R a new category to the Awards for 2022 – supported by One4all Rewards
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Support local to lift us all
AllAll Rise Rise ChampionGreen.ie Pledge online today
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TOP TWEETS @SBCIreland
The #SFAAwards2022 has been launched by @SFA_Irl and An Taoiseach @MichealMartinTD, and the SBCI proudly sponsors the #sustainability category. Find out how you can enter your #small #business free application here http://SFAAwards.ie
@EntIrl Enterprise Ireland’s Eoghan Hanrahan recently joined Taoiseach
REACHING CARBON NEUTRAL A DIFFICULT TASK
Michael O’Hara, Group Managing Director, DataSolutions
@MichealMartinTD for the launch of the 2022 @SFA_Irl National Small Business Awards! We are sponsoring the ‘Small Business Exporter of the Year’ award.
Managing a business can be challenging, with a lot to think about. #MentorsWorkHeavy check mark will guide you with free targeted business supports over 12-weeks. Begin your pathway to business success now. Visit: http://mentorswork.ie
@SFA_Irl We are delighted to introduce a new #SFAAwards2022 category - Retail! Whether you are brick & mortar or e-commerce retail, show us how your #smallbusiness deserves to win this award for outstanding achievement in the Irish retail sector. http://SFAAwards.ie @One4allRewards
DataSolutions, the specialist distributor of innovative IT and security solutions, has announced the results of a recent survey which found that almost two thirds (63%) of technology leaders think it will be difficult to become carbon neutral – with 57% saying it will be somewhat difficult and 6% saying it will be very difficult. Despite this, the research – which involved 54 Techies Go Green signatories at different stages of their path to a greener and more sustainable way of business – showed that 85% plan to be carbon neutral by the end of 2025. The findings were revealed as the movement, co-established by DataSolutions to support tech-oriented companies on their sustainability journey, celebrated reaching 100 members. Companies which have already signed up to Techies Go Green include Cyber Ireland, Enware, QBS Software Ltd and Softcat.
SUCCESS THROUGH BITSING The BITSING Company Dublin was founded by Noel Quinn in 2018 who believed that every business should have the right to hear about, know about and use the BITSING methodology, the world’s first business management model that guarantees success. Talking about the methodology, Noel says: “How do you get from where you are, to where you need to go? Don’t let fear, lack of focus or procrastination take over. Take back control now. Start with asking yourself these questions – What is the biggest issue or challenge facing my business today? What are you doing about it, that makes a real difference to the continuity and growth of your business? You may find your energy and ability to deal with it has been affected by numerous attempts to find a solution. Have you the time to consider listening to another option and to apply the necessary energy and purpose to it, if it resonates with you?” BITSING is scientifically and commercially proven says Noel, who has several testimonials and case studies across a broad spectrum of businesses. Request your own personal BITSING presentation between the 15th and 24th of November at firstname.lastname@example.org
Noel Quinn, Founder, The BITSING Company Dublin
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“As the Irish economy comes out of the emergency phase of the pandemic, it is vital that the Government uses Budget 2022 to focus on providing certainty on costs and supporting the retention of staff, to help small businesses survive and mitigate any long-term impacts from Covid-19 restrictions.” Sven Spollen-Behrens, Director, SFA
“The SFA has a vision of an Ireland that has the most vibrant small business community in the world – supporting entrepreneurship, valuing small business and rewarding risk takers. The SFA National Small Business Awards are a celebration of the achievements of the 270,000 small firms in Ireland and aim to promote excellence, achievement and innovation.” Graham Byrne, SFA Chair
“With the pandemic adding €3bn to the country’s debt, it makes sense for everyone to help keep money in circulation. There is a sense that people will continue shopping in their local communities in the weeks and months ahead, so retailers and service providers need to give them every reason to do so.” Marian O’Gorman, Founder, Champion Green
NEW SEA SALT PRODUCTS FOR ORIEL RETAIL RANGE To coincide with the launch of its shiny new 100g retail jars, Oriel Sea Salt from Clogherhead Co. Louth has added a new Guinness Smoked Sea Salt and Roe & Co Whiskey Smoked Sea Salt to its highly successful retail range. First from the hot smoking rooms is an exceptional Guinness Smoked Sea Salt, with an intensity of aroma subtly concealing a smooth depth of flavour and likely to awaken the most robust palates. Its first companion in what will be a stable of co-branded smoked thoroughbreds is Roe & Co Whiskey Smoked Sea Salt. The difference here is noticeable in the subtle sweetness of this smoky sensation. Oriel is the only Irish Sea Salt company producing a naturally fine grain Sea Salt, harvested through a patented process to ensure the intense yet smooth taste profile is retained and enhanced. Oriel is also the only Sea Salt company globally to hold GFSI, with an Organic process and Gold member status of Origin Green. The company is already a leading supplier of Irish Sea Salt to the food manufacturing and hospitality industries across a spectrum of food that includes bakery, dairy, snacks and meat curing.
64% INCREASE IN NEW .IE WEB ADDRESSES
The latest H1 2021 .IE Domain Profile Report has shown a continued yearon-year increase in new .ie domain registrations as the pandemic accelerates e-commerce. There was also an increase of 64% in the number of new .ie web addresses with ‘outdoor summer’ related keywords in the first half of 2021 (H1 2021: 1 January–30 June) compared to the same period in 2020. The report, published biannually by .IE, the company that manages Ireland’s country domain name, shows .ie web addresses containing the word ‘pool’ increased by 187.5%, ‘barbecue’ by 100% and ‘tent’ by 55.6%, among other outdoor activities and hospitality products. Explicitly pandemic-related keywords such as ‘Covid’, ‘sanitiser’ and ‘vaccine’ decreased by 76.4% in H1 2021 vs H1 2020, while general health-related keywords such as ‘doctor’, ‘pharmacy’, ‘wellness’ and ‘fitness’ increased by 18.8%. Commenting, David Curtin, Chief Executive of .IE, said: “Homeware stores, garden centres, GPs and pharmacists who may previously have been reluctant to invest in their online presence are now benefitting from the convenience and revenue-generating power of online sales and virtual consultations. When the Government announced lockdown restrictions, we saw a concurrent rise in the number of new .ie domain registrations. A website and e-commerce functionality means SMEs can adapt quickly to changing economic circumstances and remain open to customers, even if their physical premises are closed.”
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BREXIT Supports remain available to help your business manage the new trading arrangements with the UK from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment. Visit Getting Business Brexit Ready to view the many supports and resources available to your business.
COMPANY BUREAU IS IRELAND’S BUSINESS START-UP SERVICE OF THE YEAR
RENT-A-RECRUITER Yala has brought a new recruitment service to the market to help SME’s and high growth tech companies. According to Yala Managing Partner, Barry Prost, the new offering is a ‘white label’ service where Yala acts as the client’s in-house recruitment team. “We are currently supporting companies across multiple sectors including technology, finance, life sciences, logistics, retail, engineering, construction and hospitality.” According to Co-Founder, Jamie Groom: “Working on a monthly subscription basis, the model is built around delivering value to the employer so it’s cheaper than hiring an internal recruiter or paying traditional recruitment agency fees, whether you are hiring one or 50 employees.”
Company Bureau, a leading company formation agent based in Dublin city centre, has been named ‘Ireland’s Business Start-up Service of the Year’ in the 2021 Corporate Live Wire Prestige Awards. The judging panel at Corporate Live Wire was impressed by the team’s hard work and dedication to providing an exceptional service, despite the pandemic. Company Bureau has earned a reputation for its efficient delivery of services, which is reflected in the many positive online reviews left by its customers. The company has a 4.8-Star ranking on TrustIndex.io which combines reviews received across Google, Facebook and Trust Pilot.
COVID Contact the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment Business Support Call Centre for information on the government supports available to businesses and enterprises affected by COVID-19. Tel: +353 1 631 2002 Email: infobusinesssupport@ dbei.gov.ie
Barry Prost, Managing Partner, Yala
Dave Byrne, Managing Director, Dualtron
DUALTRON CELEBRATES 30 YEARS IN BUSINESS For three decades, Dualtron has been providing technology and IT solutions to Irish and Northern Irish businesses. Dualtron is a servicedriven company that provides quality technology systems and solutions to the hospitality, banking, retail and healthcare industries. Solutions include cash handling systems for those who handle cash; hospitality, healthcare and patient food ordering for healthcare providers; and payment and cash handling systems for retail. The company has provided systems to every town and village in Ireland. Dualtron, a 100% Irish owned company employing a team of 20, was co-founded by Managing Director Dave Byrne.
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Skills to Advance Make skills work for you
Developing Leaders for Hospitality and Tourism Boost the retention and development of key talent Avail of highly subsidised training for enterprise Contact your local Education and Training Board or visit skillstoadvance.ie
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BIG DATA FOR SMALL BUSINESS GET TO KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER WELL WITH MAIN STREET INSIGHTS, WRITES ORLA BOWERS AT AIB MERCHANT SERVICES
Orla Bowers, Senior Product Manager, AIB Merchant Services
aving a thorough understanding of your customers and your competitive landscape can help small businesses make important decisions; how your business can expand, where best to spend on marketing investment and how to grow loyalty amongst those who shop regularly with you. While getting this information can be time-consuming, maintaining it is an even greater challenge. Main Street Insights is an online tool from AIB Merchant Services designed to help you understand more about your customers and competitors. Derived from card data and using your precise business location, Main Street Insights provides anonymised approximations for where customers live and spend, how far they travel to your store and how often. It indicates customer demographic information in relation to spend trends and with historic data available from our own anonymised customer base, you can draw comparisons against previous trading periods for transaction volumes, average spend and total revenue. There is also the ability to compare your business against groups of similar businesses, by analysing your store in relation to those in the same industry and vicinity and understanding how you fare against them. Data is aggregated and no individual customer or individual business can be identified when using the tool.
“WITH APPROXIMATE INFORMATION ON WHERE CUSTOMERS LIVE, YOU CAN UNDERSTAND WHERE THE BEST PLACES ARE TO DO LEAFLET DROPS – EITHER BY SEEING WHERE YOUR EXISTING CUSTOMERS LIVE, OR BY SEEING WHERE YOU HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO FIND NEW CUSTOMERS.”
So, what can you do with all this data? With social media acting as the primary marketing tool for many small businesses, Main Street Insights can help you ensure that you get the maximum return on ad spend by helping you to precisely narrow down your target audience by age, gender and location. With approximate information on where customers live, you can understand where the best places are to do leaflet drops – either by seeing where your existing customers live, or by seeing where you have an opportunity to find new customers. Multi-outlet chains can benefit from using the tool to get on-theground information about individual stores and use this information to plan and chart marketing activity across the chain. Comparisons against similar businesses help you gauge where you stand against the competition in relation to transaction volumes, average spend and total card revenues. You can see if your competitors are generating more revenue per customer and understand if that occurs more regularly at certain times. This may help you to re-assess your pricing models or the product combinations on offer. As Main Street Insights gives you an evolving view of new and returning customers and using average customer spend, you can easily assess the effectiveness of any marketing campaigns, promotions or product line changes. For existing customers of AIB Merchant Services, the two-year view of data provides an illustration of business pre and post-pandemic and can help chart the course to recovery. Main Street Insights is a web-based platform that’s accessible from any browser and available on desktop, tablet and mobile. The data is crunched for you and presented clearly and is available free of charge to all AIB Merchant Services customers in the Republic of Ireland. If you’re an existing customer of AIB Merchant Services, you can access Main Street Insights by logging into Insight, our statement and reporting tool or by calling us on 01 218 2100. If you’re interested in becoming an AIB Merchant Services customer, visit www.aibms.com
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Pat McDonagh, Owner Supermac’s, Trócaire Supporter.
“ my business has helped children children go go to to
school and and provided provided
vulnerable villages in in
Find out what your business can do by partnering with Trócaire: Please contact us on 00 353 1 629 3333 or visit trocaire.org Trócaire Head Office, Maynooth, Co. Kildare, Ireland Irish Charity No. CHY 5883
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IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION
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CIARA DILLON AND GRACE MCCANN AT BDO TAKE A LOOK AT THE IMPACT BUDGET 2022 WILL HAVE ON SMALL BUSINESS
Budget 2022 provides some positive news for Ireland’s business community. The retention of the 12.5% rate for most Irish resident companies is an important development. However, BDO believes that much more needs to be done, particularly in the area of high personal tax rates on both income and capital gains. Competitive tax rates are a key element for growth and jobs in the economy. In its Budget submission, the Small Firms Association (SFA) requested substantial cuts to capital gains taxes (CGT) for business owners and much more generous reliefs for entrepreneurs who sell their businesses. It called for capital gains tax to be reduced from the current rate of 33% to 20% and the lifetime limit for CGT Entrepreneur Relief to be increased to €15 million. Budget 2022 did not address any of the recommendations raised relating to entrepreneur relief or CGT. The rate remains unchanged and there were no amendments announced for entrepreneur relief or retirement relief, which is disappointing. There is recognition that small businesses are essential to the Irish economy and provide a substantial level of employment. While it is necessary to
Ciara Dillon, BDO
Grace McCann, BDO
acknowledge the importance of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), there are many small businesses in Ireland that are starting to expand and scale up rapidly. They need investment and they need help with R&D and Innovation. Of course, there are businesses which are still impacted by Covid restrictions and are now only reopening; they need continued support to get back on their feet. In this respect it was helpful to see the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) extended, albeit in a tapered fashion, until 30 April 2022. Likewise, it was positive to see the commercial rates waiver continued to the end of the year and the corporate tax relief for new start-ups also extended. Enhancements proposed for the Employment Investment Incentive scheme (EII) are welcomed and should assist in getting more finance to companies, together with increased funding provided in Budget 2022 to the Innovation Equity Fund. The introduction of a Digital Gaming Tax Credit is also constructive. However, the hospitality sector will be disappointed that the extension of the lower rate of VAT at 9% is only going to remain in place to 31 August 2022.
“WHILE IT IS NECESSARY TO ACKNOWLEDGE THE IMPORTANCE OF FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT (FDI), THERE ARE MANY SMALL BUSINESSES IN IRELAND THAT ARE STARTING TO EXPAND AND SCALE UP RAPIDLY. THEY NEED INVESTMENT AND THEY NEED HELP WITH R&D AND INNOVATION.” SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 15
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SOME RELEVANT ASPECTS FROM BUDGET 2022 AND OTHER MEASURES CORPORATE TAX RELIEF FOR NEW START-UP COMPANIES EWSS The Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme will remain in place in its current form up to 30 November 2021. The Scheme will then be wound down over the period to 30 April 2022.
n T he relief provides for a three-year corporation tax exemption which under Budget 2022 has been extended to five years n T he relief reduces the corporation tax payable by a new trade on the profits of the trade and gains on the disposal of any assets used for the purposes of the trade. The quantum of the relief available is linked to the amount of Employers’ PRSI paid by the company.
The following are the broad parameters:
usinesses availing of nB the EWSS on the 31st of December 2021 will continue to be supported until 30 April 2022 cross December, nA January and February, a two-rate structure of €151.50 and €203 will apply n F or March and April 2022, the final two months of the scheme, a flat rate subsidy of €100 will be put in place. The reduced rate of Employers’ PRSI will no longer apply for these two months n T he scheme will close to new employers from the 1st of January 2022
ligibility for the nE scheme will continue to be a 30% reduction in turnover/customer orders in the full year 2021 as compared to the full year 2019.
INNOVATION EQUITY FUND In last year’s Budget, €30 million investment was provided via the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund to set-up the Innovation Equity Fund with a mandate to invest in domestic, high innovation enterprises. In Budget 2022, a further €30 million investment to this fund through Enterprise Ireland is being provided and this will be matched by €30 million from the European Investment Fund, subject to approval. Minister Donohoe noted in his Budget Day speech; “The Ireland Strategic Investment Fund expects to participate with its €30 million as a co-investor, leading to potential investments of up to €90 million for predominantly seed stage Irish SMEs.” The scheme is expected to open in early 2022 and should increase the availability of early-stage funding for Irish SMEs, acknowledging priorities such as promoting regional development, supporting female entrepreneurship and climate change initiatives.
“THE IRELAND STRATEGIC INVESTMENT FUND EXPECTS TO PARTICIPATE WITH ITS €30 MILLION AS A CO-INVESTOR, LEADING TO POTENTIAL INVESTMENTS OF UP TO €90 MILLION FOR PREDOMINANTLY SEED STAGE IRISH SMES.”
EMPLOYMENT INVESTMENT INCENTIVE (EII) SCHEME This is a tax relief which aims to encourage individuals to provide equity-based finance to trading companies. As mentioned in a previous article, it was welcomed to see Budget 2022 address amendments to this scheme such as the requirement for 30% of the investment to be spent for the investors to obtain relief. More detail on improvements to the scheme are contained in the Finance Bill 2021, published on 21 October 2021 and should encourage greater funding for domestic companies.
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BUSINESS RESUMPTION SUPPORT SCHEME (BRSS) R&D While Budget 2022 did not announce any changes to R&D tax credit scheme, one aspect to note which needs to be brought forward as soon as possible is regarding positive changes to R&D for micro businesses which were legislated for in 2019’s Finance Act but are subject to EU state aid approval, which is still outstanding. The changes proposed by 2019 Finance Act include the credit increasing from 25% to 30%, the ability for companies to avail of the credit before they commence trading and the ability to increase the amount available as a cash refund.
Although this new BRSS support was not announced in Budget 2022, it opened recently for applications (6 September 2021) on Revenue On-Line (ROS). The BRSS is a support scheme for businesses with reduced turnover because of public health restrictions. It is similar in operation to the Covid-19 Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) however, unlike the CRSS, it does not require a physical premises so businesses such as taxi drivers, wholesalers and suppliers who were unable to benefit from the CRSS may be able to avail of the BRSS, providing eligibility criteria are met. Businesses that previously availed of other schemes such as the Small Business Assistance Scheme for Covid (SBASC) and the Tourism Business Continuity Scheme for example, as well as CRSS, will be eligible to apply provided they meet the qualifying criteria. Qualifying businesses will be able to apply to Revenue for a cash payment, representing an advance credit for trading expenses that are deductible for income and/or corporation tax purposes. Full information regarding the qualifying criteria is available on the Revenue website – https://www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/press-office/press-releases/2021/pr-090621revenue-confirms-businesses-can-now-register-for-brss.aspx
DIGITAL GAMING TAX CREDIT Finance Bill 2021 will introduce a new refundable tax credit for the digital gaming sector for qualifying expenditure incurred on the design, production and testing of a digital game. The aim of the tax credit is to improve employment growth in Ireland in the sector, as we are currently lagging behind other jurisdictions. The relief will be provided for at a rate of 32%, subject to a minimum spend of €100,000 and a spend cap of €25 million. It will be possible to make a reclaim for costs incurred on an annual basis, as opposed to on completion of the development effort, which should aid cash flow for companies availing of the regime as it will take the form of a refundable credit. The exact date of implementation of this new tax credit is unknown at present as European State aid approval is required, but we would expect that this should be done in 2022.
GREEN BUDGET Carbon tax was increased by €7.50 from €33.50 to €41.00 per tonne of carbon dioxide emitted together with changes to VRT. Minister Donohoe noted in this Budget Day speech: “Studies have shown that carbon taxation is likely to be the single most effective climate policy which can be pursued by Government; although it is not the only one and will not deliver the required emissions reductions on its own.” However, perhaps more could have been done to encourage business to invest in the likes of energy efficient office space, or greener ways of working. We already have a 100% deduction for certain energy efficiency capex investments but the uptake on this scheme has not been significant. It is quite a complex process for smaller firms to work through and although its implementation has been a positive step, it needs to be made more accessible if uptake is going to increase. The range of qualifying assets allowed in the scheme also needs to be widened as currently it is quite specific. The announcement of the extension of Accelerated Capital Allowance (ACA) scheme for gas vehicles and refueling equipment to December 2024 and expansion to include hydrogen-powered vehicles and refueling equipment, is encouraging. However, it was hoped to see either a super-deduction for expenditure on plant and machinery or buildings with an accreditation for energy performance or a relaxing of the criteria to be met to qualify for the accelerated capital allowances.
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BOOSTING BUSINESS THE MENTORSWORK BOOSTING BUSINESS SUCCESS CONFERENCE, A FREE HALF-DAY VIRTUAL EVENT, TOOK PLACE EARLIER THIS YEAR
The conference supported small business owners not only to do business in the current challenging environment, but to take the next steps forward and grow their business, identify new opportunities and become even more successful whilst improving productivity. Brought to you by the Small Firms Association and Skillnet Ireland as part of the MentorsWork initiative, this virtual event helped SMEs to look at their business through a variety of lenses – People, Finance & Growth, Business Processes, Digitalisation & Automation – areas all contributing to increasing the business bottom line. The Boosting Business Success conference provided a stimulating morning of thought leadership, virtual networking meeting hubs, exhibition areas and opportunities to partake in interactive business sessions. Anton Savage (Conference MC), broadcaster and journalist extended a warm
welcome to several hundred participants who had attended virtually from all over Ireland and represented a vast array of industries such as retail, hospitality, manufacturing and technology. The virtual conference was a mix of live hybrid studio panel discussions hosted through the Shellcove event management platform and brought to the audience live from Killashee House Hotel in Kildare. During the event, there was plenty of virtual networking meeting hubs and opportunities to visit the exhibition area and meet with exhibitors such as Skillnet Ireland, The Small Firms Association, Ibec, AIB, Microfinance Ireland and SBCI. Each of the exhibitors showcased their portfolio of business offerings to the various SME industries in attendance throughout the morning with one to one sessions also on offer. A specific exhibitor’s area was included in support of the introduction of the MentorsWork programme which gave SMEs the opportunity to meet and engage with the four business pillar champions, workshop and masterclass facilitators and programme mentors. In his welcoming note, Graham Byrne, CEO of Flender Ireland and SFA Chair, recognised the impact that the ongoing Covid-19 crisis is having on all small businesses and that the SFA Council and the Executive team are working hard to support SMEs during these challenging times, whilst emphasising that small businesses are the heart and soul of our economy. Paul Healy, Chief Executive, Skillnet Ireland set the uplifting tone of the morning through his opening address by highlighting the commitment of Skillnet Ireland and the SFA in supporting and encouraging businesses to avail of the various business supports available from Skillnet Ireland, such as the award-winning MentorsWork programme.
YOUR PATHWAY TO BUSINESS SUCCESS: Free to SME’s nationwide, MentorsWork 12-week business-support programme provides targeted supports to help business leaders sustain and improve their business. Do you want to grow your business? Are you looking for new customers and opportunities? Seeking ways to improve business performance? MentorsWork is comprised of an integrated approach of mentoring and targeted learning opportunities, including:
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SESSION 1 – DIGITAL DRIVING PERFORMANCE: GORDON NEWMAN, GO TO MARKET DIRECTOR, LIFESTYLE SPORTS Gordon Newman, Go To Market Director, Lifestyle Sports, gave an insightful overview of how digital is driving performance in business. Leveraging the latest in technology will help any business stand out from the crowd. It also helps to improve performance and drive the business forward. In this session, Gordon Newman discussed how to boost your business online, the customer journey and the importance of getting it right. The panellists discussed their digital journeys to success and the opportunities and benefits of the MentorsWork Programme.
PANELLISTS onya Murphy-Lyons, S Director, Mezzo Music Academy udrey Kirwan, A Co-Founder, ConsortiaCo ave Byrne, D Managing Director, Dualtron
SESSION 2 – EFFECTIVE LEADERSHIP: VALERIE O’KEEFFE, CEO, CLARITYVP CONSULTING Being an effective leader can be challenging for any small business owner. In this session, Valerie O’Keeffe helped companies to spot the opportunity and then understand how to bring along the team. Valerie also reflected on how the pandemic has affected the dynamic of businesses, the lessons learned, the new reality and new opportunities. The latest trends and issues for recruitment were also discussed. The panellists spoke about their own experiences of effective leadership, resilience and team dynamics and the benefits this has had on their business. They also discussed the opportunities and benefits of the MentorsWork Programme.
PANELLISTS onya Murphy-Lyons, S Director, Mezzo Music Academy udrey Kirwan, A Co-Founder, ConsortiaCo ave Byrne, D Managing Director, Dualtron
SESSION 3 – FUNDING AMBITION: CATHERINE MORONEY, HEAD OF BUSINESS BANKING MARKET, AIB For any business to grow and be sustainable, it needs to be adequately funded. Although times are currently challenging, there are plenty of growth opportunities for businesses as we emerge from the pandemic. Catherine Moroney discussed how businesses can find the right mix to fund for growth. She also explored the challenges that Brexit brings and how businesses can mitigate against them. Panellists provided their experience in funding for growth and also discussed the opportunities and the benefits of the MentorsWork Programme.
PANELLISTS ony Dignam, Managing T Director, The Agile Executive raham Byrne, G CEO, Flender Ireland rudie Power, T Founder, Trudie’s Kitchen
SFA Director, Sven Spollen-Behrens, extended sincere gratitude to the many attending SMEs, speakers, panellists, exhibitors and associate partners for their continued support of The Small Firms Association and the MentorsWork Boosting Business Success Conference.
In-depth Online Competency Assessment One-to-One Mentoring Sessions nlimited access to Peer-Focused U Workshops nlimited access to Expert-Led U Masterclasses ultiple Licenses to a Curated Online M Learning Platform *Private sector businesses based in Ireland with between 5 and 250 employees are eligible to participate in MentorsWork.
Encouraging registration, SFA Director, Sven Spollen-Behrens, said MentorsWork is an excellent resource for Irish SMEs to tackle skills gaps and development needs, in order to rebuild business. “Few businesses were unscathed by the pandemic. Some managed to adjust and many took their business offering online and learned to lead teams remotely. But now is the time to identify a clear path to future growth and MentorsWork is an excellent starting point. Mentorswork represents an investment in your business, and we encourage companies to engage with this free programme.” Business owners and managers can apply to participate in MentorsWork at https://mentorswork.ie/. The programme is fully subsidised by the Government of Ireland and is provided by the Small Firms Association (SFA) in partnership with Skillnet Ireland
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We’re changing futures every day Need help to support your business? Talk to us about our small business loans.
Register online at www.microfinanceireland.ie
Or visit your Local Enterprise Office
Microfinance Ireland (MFI) benefits from a guarantee funded by the European Union under the programme for Employment and Social Inclusion (EaSI)
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Connectivity and Productivity
Dara Connolly CEO, Common Purpose
e t a c i n u m m o C & t c e Conn COMMON PURPOSE CEO DARA CONNOLLY SHARES HIS TIPS ON STAYING CONNECTED AND MAINTAINING PRODUCTIVITY DURING BUSY PERIODS At Common Purpose, the pandemic meant we had to alter our programme delivery model from live to virtual. In hindsight, what happened was the most productive period for the company globally, with our launch of new programmes for senior and emerging leaders in June 2020. To maintain momentum throughout this period, self-care and communication were paramount. Here are a few top tips on how we achieved that:
Be curious and open to new ideas and collaborations. By encouraging this in my team, we at Common Purpose have engaged in several interesting and beneficial partnerships; we have recently partnered with TheStartUp. com to produce the Common Connect platform for our alumni to stay connected post-programme and work on social projects together.
Don’t be afraid to have those difficult conversations, but make sure it’s done within a safe structure in which all parties feel respected and valued. In Common Purpose globally, we have a framework for facilitating ‘Courageous Conversations’ on our programmes. This includes our Conventions, which are shared rules of operating to ensure psychological safety.
REMEMBER YOUR PURPOSE
When you feel at a loss, remember your purpose and use it to orient yourself going forward and communicate, communicate, communicate. I focused on the company’s purpose – to connect and empower diverse leaders to achieve a better society. This became even more important in the last 18 months.
EMPATHY IS KEY
Put yourself in other people’s shoes. Empathy is key to understanding somebody else’s needs and wants, instead of focusing on what you want from any given transaction. This pertains to staff, clients, partners, anyone you interact with.
CONNECT AND STAY CONNECTING
Get out of your own day-today and connect with other leaders who are operating in different worlds and sectors to yourself. Share your challenges and more importantly, listen to their challenges. I can guarantee that you will come away with fresh ideas, insights and potential collaborations that will aid you in your work.
10 minutes of writing every day. It does not matter what you write, just get it on paper. It’s brilliant for bringing that jumble of thought together.
10 minutes of meditation/mindfulness. For me, taking the time to still the mind before the start of a busy day has been life changing. Check out this open source app: https://insighttimer.com/ SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 21
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Sector Spotlight Events
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AS RESTRICTIONS CONTINUE TO EASE, IT’S ALL SYSTEMS GO FOR TRADE FAIRS, EXHIBITIONS AND EVENTS. BETTER BUSINESS CHATS TO THREE EVENTS FIRMS MAKING THEIR MARK IN AN INDUSTRY THAT’S JUST BEGINNING TO EMERGE FROM THE PANDEMIC
his year’s Culture Night marked a turning point for Ireland’s events industry, signalling the end of an 18 month period of severe restrictions. Unlike last year, people got to enjoy in-person events across the country during the event, which sees arts and culture venues throw open their doors to people for free. Organisers of Culture Night urged the public to “discover and delight in our national moment” while Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin said that this year’s event had taken on even greater significance. “As we emerge from the pandemic, it gives us a much-needed opportunity to celebrate as a nation our rich and diverse culture and arts sector. It is also important to acknowledge that most of the events scheduled this year are to be held in-person, marking a major turning point in our road to recovery.” It’s been widely acknowledged that the events industry has been severely affected by Covid. Throughout the pandemic, many firms expressed their disappointment that theirs was a sector that was entirely misunderstood. Despite the challenges that Covid brought, lots of event companies changed up their business model to allow for increased online activity. Just before Covid hit, Dublin-based events
services company Neon Agency launched its digital offering. Called ‘Phygital’, the service allows Neon to offer a 360 degree approach to clients which includes digital platforms and live event content. “We had literally launched Phygital when Covid hit. Initially, we were of course worried but then we realised we were actually in a really good position. A lot of our competitors only adopted a hybrid model after Covid became a reality, but we had already gone down the road of combining digital with our physical events. We began focusing on longer campaigns and bringing them online. Now, that digital piece accounts for about 80% of what we do,” said Dan MacDonnell, Managing Director at Neon. All of the company’s events, from competitions, brand campaigns to engagement pieces, went online. “We were running campaigns for our clients completely online, from start to finish and they were working. Of course, we had the luxury of time and the people we were targeting were restricted in their movements, that’s partly the reason for the success of our campaigns. Now, we’re layering that digital piece over our physical events.” Dan doesn’t underestimate the importance of live in-person events. “They’re essential; they facilitate those physical touch points that allow consumers to get involved. If you do them properly,
“LIVE IN-PERSON EVENTS ARE ESSENTIAL; THEY FACILITATE THOSE PHYSICAL TOUCH POINTS THAT ALLOW CONSUMERS TO GET INVOLVED. IF YOU DO THEM PROPERLY, THEY’LL LIVE ON WITH THE CUSTOMER FOREVER.” SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 23
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Sector Spotlight Events
Garret Buckley, IEOA Chair, Minister Robert Troy and Michele Griffin, Director of Commercial, RDS
“HE’S THE ONE MINISTER THAT HAS TAKEN THE TIME TO UNDERSTAND THE TRADE FAIRS AND EXHIBITIONS INDUSTRY AND HOW VITAL THEY ARE TO SMES”. they’ll live on with the customer forever.” Covid has prompted a change in how Neon approaches events. Building more exclusive, bespoke events for lesser people results in greater returns for the client. “We might be getting just 50 people at an event but we’re ensuring that they’re people with a strong following. So thanks to their resharing and social power, the overall message of the event is actually hitting hundreds of thousands of people.” Dan was instrumental in setting up The Event Industry Alliance, a group that represents all professional organisations within the Irish event industry. “It has become an impactful body in the event world and something we’re proud of setting up. We’ve got to try and get the whole industry back up and running. If we do, everyone will
benefit; when live events return, our brand activity will come back.” Dan says the firm is on track to clock in ahead of where it finished in 2019. “It’s looking like a strong recovery for us. We’re targeting minimum growth of 40% year on year. We recently closed funding with Enterprise Ireland, which will allow us to really hone in on the digital piece. We’re on a growth track at the moment and we’re also recruiting.” Late last year, Better Business spoke with Eventhaus MD Garret Buckley about the hundreds of trade fairs and exhibitions that had been cancelled in 2020. Eventhaus was forced to cancel 10 shows including the likes of Bloom and Catex. Last year, the Irish Exhibition Organisers Association (IEOA), of which Garret is chair, met with Robert Troy, Minister of State, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment at the RDS to call for the recommencement of trade fairs and exhibitions in 2021. “He’s the one Minister that has taken the time to understand the trade fairs and exhibitions industry and how vital they are to SMEs. Small businesses depend on events like these to build their sales pipeline. He also understood how very different they are to mass gatherings and social events. When we were in the height of restrictions last year, he was going out to bat for us and make the point that trade fairs really should be happening.” Commenting on the return of trade fairs and exhibitions, the Minister made the point that the last 18 months have demonstrated the remarkable resilience and determination of the sector who at every opportunity, were willing to engage with Government as it responded to the evolving public health situation. “Trade exhibitions provide a platform for businesses to meet and collaborate, creating opportunities for businesses both large and
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small to grow and expand their market reach. It is critically important for businesses, particularly our SMEs, to have a location where they can trade, display new products, be inspired and share their knowledge.” With all restrictions set to ease on the 22nd of October, it’s all systems go for trade fairs and exhibitions. The challenge, says Garret, is the short lead-in time. “For the past 18 months, we have been requesting appropriate and fair lead-in times. Our industry is so different to a hairdresser, a restaurant or a bingo hall; those businesses can open at relatively short notice. We need six months to create a successful event. To organise and run events this side of Christmas is a massive challenge.” Exhibitors are also expected to pull a stand together in a matter of weeks, the logistics of which can be tricky. Supply chain issues and rising costs are making it difficult for UK exhibitors to commit to an Irish event. Despite the difficulties, Eventhaus will run several events in the next few months including CATEX, Ireland’s largest foodservice trade event and Showcase, Ireland’s Creative Expo in January 2022, both to be held in the RDS. “We’re excited to be running events again. Of course it would have been great to have a longer lead-in time but right now, it’s back to business.” Sean Lemass is the Managing Director at SDL Exhibitions Ltd, the firm responsible for major events like the Ideal Home Show, the Irish Motorbike & Scooter Show and Drive Electric. Greatly reduced lead-in times has made putting together an event like the Ideal Home Show a big ask. “The announcement that events like trade fairs could recommence has left us with a short timeframe in which to put it all together. But we’ll do it; we have a good array of exhibitors and it’s all in progress.” Sean expects a healthy exhibitor attendance at this year’s Ideal Home Show, scheduled to take place towards the end of October. Even so, he says, several exhibitors were forced to postpone their participation until the spring 2022 event. “It’s great that we have so many booked into next year’s spring show but those postponements have reduced the content of this year’s event.” Sean and the team usually have six months between shows to sell stands, run marketing and advertising campaigns and organise the event. “If we didn’t have stands sold since April last year, when we had to postpone the 2020 event, we definitely wouldn’t be in a position to run the Ideal Home Show in October. It’s not an event that can be pulled together in five or six weeks.” Global supply chain issues and staff shortages have overtaken Covid as the main challenges now, says Sean. “Our exhibitors
are telling us they can’t get supplies or components in time for the show. I can see a rocky road ahead for the next couple of years in terms of the availability of materials and the lack of skilled staff.” This year, visitors to the Ideal Home Show won’t get the chance to see the event’s signature ‘showhouse’, a staple of the event in years past. “Each year, one of our partners builds a showhouse for the event but this year, they told us they just didn’t have the bandwidth to do it. They really wanted to but between not having the time and being unable to source products from their suppliers, they couldn’t make it a reality.” There hasn’t been a show like this for two years so attendance will be high, says Sean. “I’m confident that we’ll get the numbers. We’ve invested the same amount that we normally would to make it as successful as possible.” It’s time we all got back to normal, says Sean. “It’s clear that the Government’s strategy is to get everybody back to work. We’re all in this together, so let’s get back to work and some kind of normality.”
“IT IS IMPORTANT FOR BUSINESSES, PARTICULARLY OUR SMES, TO HAVE A LOCATION WHERE THEY CAN TRADE, DISPLAY NEW PRODUCTS, BE INSPIRED AND SHARE THEIR KNOWLEDGE.”
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Advice Wise Guys
SIX INDUSTRY EXPERTS SHARE ONE PERSONAL NUGGET OF ADVICE FOR ASPIRING ENTREPRENEURS.
Renewable Energy Micheal Smith
Managing Director, M&C Hybrid Energy Progress is key; upgrading one building and community at a time will help us reach our climate action goals. By educating our customers on the benefits of switching to renewable energy, now’s the time to upgrade your home or business. We all need to play our role in fighting climate change by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and using what nature gave us to power our buildings.
Corporate Governance Patrick Downes
Managing Partner, Lionheart Management Consultants If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that people matter and to expect the unexpected. Recognise that done trumps perfect. We’ve all had a steep learning curve in digital transformation, so harvest the positives of the hybrid environment and apply them to your operational model. Seek collaborative opportunities and remember, “success is not final: failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts”.
Training Geraldine Lavin Director, 3rd i
Look everywhere for relevant business lessons to give you an edge. It could be through formal training, a business association event, evaluating a business you admire, or from within your own business. Schedule time out to do retrospective evaluations of your business activities. Some of my best learning has come from evaluating decisions we made in our business and figuring out what we could have done differently.
There are many definitions, but there’s one thing that all great business leaders agree on, and that’s how success can only come by persevering despite failure.
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Wise Guys Advice
“The most successful people reach the top not because they are free of limitations, but because they act in spite of their limitations.”
Peanut butter Eliza Ward Co-Founder, NutShed
I’m a big believer in dreaming big but starting small. Building a business brick by brick ensures you understand every facet of the company and when the tide turns and things start moving, you’ll feel comfortable in taking on the challenges… and there will be challenges. Secondly, surround yourself with a strong team of smart, empathetic people who contribute to an environment that makes people happy.
If you are a business leader
Investment Feargal McKenna Co-Founder, Moneycube
It’s easy to fall into the trap of undervaluing yourself by treating your time as if it’s free. Lawyers measure their time in increments of 15 minutes and are highly disciplined in allocating it. That’s one extreme but you get the idea – if you value your own time, there’s a better chance of others doing the same and you’ll find yourself becoming more productive.
Michael K. Williams Actor, 1966 – 2021
PR Kathryn Mason Founder, Masonry
Find your support group. All business owners need their tribe of fellow business owners who are there to celebrate your success and give each other advice and support when times are tough. Finding that small group of business friends who are confidants as much as advisors is invaluable. If there’s one thing that Covid has taught me, it’s find that tribe – they are crucial!
and you feel you have some words of wisdom to share with he small business community please email email@example.com
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Cover Story One4all
REGIONAL VICE-PRESIDENT AT ONE4ALL, JOCK JORDAN, TALKS TO BETTER BUSINESS ABOUT THE COMPANY’S PLANS FOR WORLD DOMINATION AND WHY ITS STAFF ARE ITS MOST VALUABLE ASSET
doesn’t love receiving a One4all Gift Card? As a Christmas present, a birthday gift or simply as a show of appreciation from your boss? Since its launch in 2002, the One4all Gift Card has become a staple of Irish life and that ‘feel-good’ factor it generates is about to go global, thanks to the company’s acquisition by US fintech giant Blackhawk Network. Over the last two decades, One4all has grown into an organisation employing more than 70 people. Its gift cards are accepted by more than 11,000 outlets and in 2019, the value of those vouchers to the Irish retail sector was €196 million. That figure jumped to €250 million in 2020. Despite the company’s exponential growth, continual innovation requires investment and an increasingly consolidated financial services market makes that difficult. “Investment is required if a company wants to keep moving forward and that’s what Blackhawk has brought to the table. It’s also a company with huge
Jock Jordan, Regional Vice-President, One4all
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One4all Cover Story
“WE HAVE THE BIG IT AND PHARMA COMPANIES AND THE BIG FINANCE HOUSES BUT FROM AN EMPLOYEE PERSPECTIVE, THERE’S A LOT MORE OUT THERE IN THE SME WORLD.”
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Cover Story One4all
experience so the plan is to expand further into the EU and then globally. We’re already moving into the digital world; we were first to market with our digital gift card and we’re set to further grow that side of the business,” said Jock Jordan, Regional Vice-President at One4all. Blackhawk might be bringing a lot to the table, but this isn’t a one-sided deal. Traditionally, Blackhawk would have been in the single store gift card market whereas One4all, with its multi-store gift card, is bringing a wider offering. “One4all also has huge brand value in Ireland and the UK and hopefully further into Europe going forward. We’ve brought that to the party; we’re seen as a centre of excellence and there are lots of markets looking for the type of product we offer.” From a value perspective, the SME sector accounts for approximately 70% of One4all’s B2B business. In terms of numbers, that figure is closer to 90%. “Over 10,700 single businesses deal with us on a regular basis. The SME sector is hugely important to us. When it comes down to it, Ireland’s business is based on the SME sector. We have the big IT and pharma companies and the big finance houses but from an employee perspective, there’s a lot more out there in the SME world.” The next phase of the company’s innovation strategy is all about digital, particularly in the B2B sector. “More than half of our business is done in the last three months of the year; Christmas is an extremely active time for us. On the consumer side, people still like something to put under the tree. They haven’t got their heads around Santy sending them something over the phone just yet. The B2B market is moving more to digital – it accounts for about 30% of our B2B sales and that figure is growing. You can purchase a gift card on your phone, you can even customise it with a video or picture. It’s an amazing product and we were first to market with it.” During the acquisition, the plan was for Jock to move from Country Manager to Regional VicePresident. Covid however, was not in the plan. He took on the new role in January 2020 and only a few short weeks later, Covid hit. Although the company has weathered the storm, a step change was required to adjust to a new way of working. “I’m sitting here talking to you in front of two computer screens in a small room that I now call my home office. Our employees are all doing the same thing. Initially, it was an operational nightmare. Not everyone had a laptop; people were used to sitting at their desk in front of PC’s connected to servers. Very quickly, we had to organise laptops for everyone along with chairs and desks. We weren’t given months to do this, we were given days. That had a huge effect on the business.” Very quickly, Zoom and Microsoft Teams became part of our language and the idea of a work/life balance suddenly became much more important. “The traditional view was that if you sent people home productivity would go down but in fact, we saw the opposite. There was no hanging
around at the coffee machine and no unnecessary meetings anymore.” With Jock now working for a US organisation, he often finds himself in a Teams meeting as late as 9pm. “Quite a number of the management team are dealing with that. Lockdown was a difficult time for everyone, but particularly for younger employees with families who were working from home and dealing with home schooling. As senior leaders, we’ve had to think of new ways to introduce methods to improve work/life balance.” Zoom-free Fridays have been introduced for One4all employees, along with a number of employee ‘thank you’ days where everyone gets a day off. Staff are also permitted to take two hours off a week on any day they like. “We’ve also ran online cookery and exercise classes. I’m involved with St John Ambulance and so I ran a toddler first-aid course for all our European employees. Those incentives and breaks from the working day really help to keep morale up and show our employees that we care about them.” Jock manages to maintain a work/life balance through his volunteering work. He’s one of the original founders of the Community First Responders group in Rush and he’s also a member of St John Ambulance in Swords. During lockdown, he and his wife Aideen bought a couple of kayaks which were used during staycations around Ireland. “I am of course passionate about my job but I’m also a huge family man and enjoy nothing more than entertaining with family and Jock Jordan is a member of St John Ambulance in Swords
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One4all Cover Story
Jock Jordan, Regional Vice-President, One4all
“THE TRADITIONAL VIEW WAS THAT IF YOU SENT PEOPLE HOME PRODUCTIVITY WOULD GO DOWN BUT IN FACT, WE SAW THE OPPOSITE. THERE WAS NO HANGING AROUND AT THE COFFEE MACHINE AND NO UNNECESSARY MEETINGS ANYMORE.” friends. If Covid taught us one thing, it’s the importance of family and that’s something I try to communicate to staff; that we’re flexible and understanding when it comes to what’s happening at home.” When any company is taken over, there may be a fear that jobs will be lost or descriptions changed. With One4all’s acquisition by Blackhawk, those fears were unfounded. A large number of people within the organisation have been promoted and given both European and global responsibility. “The acquisition has provided staff with a great opportunity to grow. There has been a lot of promotion across all departments, which has been very satisfying for me.” The newly refurbished One4all HQ has been redesignated to hold 50-60% of staff at any one time. “We’re not forcing anyone back to the office. We carried out a staff survey and found that almost 80% would like the opportunity to work in the office
on a part-time basis. We’ve always had a culture of innovation and we’re very marketing-led, so sitting down as a team and workshopping is an important aspect of what we do. I think people are looking forward to getting back to that.” Without the right team, Jock believes One4all may not have survived Covid. “I’ve always hired people who I believe are better and more qualified than me and I think that has stood to the company over the past 18 months. Good people are hard to get and harder to keep; it’s up to me to make One4all an exciting and rewarding place to work.” Ambitions going forward include driving the digital side of the business, growing internationally and continuing to innovate. “From a customer perspective, global excellence is also important. We build products around the requirements of our customers and we’ll continue to do that. As a company, we’re really excited about the future.” SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 31
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OFFSET YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT
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WE’RE PLANTING TREES with
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Whether you’re in retail, a small manufacturer or run a business in the services sector, you’re probably conscious of your company’s carbon footprint.
WHOLESOME KITCHEN PA
OFFSETTING YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT CAN BE SIMPLE
Going green makes business sense. With the right advice, offsetting your carbon footprint by planting trees can be simple, and cost effective.
1 2 3
We will calculate your carbon footprint, by assessing energy use, travel, data storage and other actions that determine emissions. We will provide a data report so that you can understand where the key emissions are coming from. We will provide an offsetting plan through tree planting, and share information with you, for your staff, clients and consumers, including tree varieties and the GPS location of your trees, so that you can monitor your effort for years to come.
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“We’re delighted to be offsetting our carbon, but we also love the idea that we’re having a social impact – and are supporting rural communities in Africa at the same time.” David Quirke, Wholesome Kitchen Why not get in touch with one of our team to find out more about how you can offset the carbon footprint of your business. Visit: selfhelpafrica.org/onemilliontrees/carbon-offset Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 01 677 8880
Self Help Africa Partner Profile
PLANT A TREE, REDUCE YOUR CARBON SMALL AND MEDIUM SIZED COMPANIES ACROSS IRELAND ARE BEING GIVEN THE CHANCE TO OFFSET THEIR CARBON FOOTPRINT BY PLANTING TREES IN IRELAND AND AFRICA Self Help Africa is inviting retailers, small manufacturers and other businesses to sequester their carbon and it doesn’t cost the earth! The organisation, which launched the One Million Trees initiative with Glenisk in 2020, is now working with businesses to calculate and reduce their carbon emissions and to offset them through tree planting. In Africa, trees that are planted in Self Help Africa’s projects also provide poor rural families and communities with a source of income and food, while also restoring degraded land and improving soil fertility. Tree planting as a means of carbon sequestration isn’t expensive. Self Help Africa calculates that each tree planted will remove approximately 25kg of carbon from the atmosphere every year. The total cost for a small business of offsetting its total carbon footprint can be as little as a few hundred euro a year. “A tree that is planted anywhere will benefit people everywhere,” says Martha Hourican, Director of Business Development at Self Help Africa. “We’re planting trees in sub-Saharan Africa, where rural communities who are least responsible for climate change are feeling some of its worst effects and also here at home in Ireland. “Irish businesses have already done a huge amount to reduce carbon emissions – by reducing waste, recycling
and choosing green energy options. Planting trees can enable companies to take that final step towards carbon neutrality.” The programme also allows businesses to contribute to environmental improvements here at home, as Self Help Africa will plant one native tree in Ireland for every 10 trees planted in Africa. Bigger businesses with more complex sustainability requirements can also be catered for, thanks to support from Irish-led start up Green Feet, whose easy to use app allows corporate clients to quickly calculate their carbon usage and devise strategies to reduce their carbon emissions. Companies who participate in Self Help Africa’s initiative receive
certificates and other collateral to promote the partnership, together with GPS coordinates that allow them to track where their trees have been planted in Africa and share the information with their customers and clients online. Business owner Eamonn Victory of Centra in Dunleer is offsetting the carbon footprint of his business at a cost of €50 a month, while Denise Buckley and David Quirke of Wholesome Kitchen in Mullingar planted almost 10,000 trees in Africa and Ireland in 2020 to offset the carbon footprint of their restaurant for years to come. To find out more, visit selfhelpafrica.org/ onemilliontrees/carbon-offset or call (01) 6778880
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Entrepreneurs Artisan Food Suppliers Suppliers
IRELAND’S ARTISAN FOOD SUPPLIERS ARE CORNERING THE MARKET NOT JUST AT HOME, BUT INTERNATIONALLY
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Artisan Food Suppliers Entrepreneurs
T he Foods of Athenry, an award-winning bakery run by the Lawless family in Ahascragh, Co. Galway, started life in a small converted bike shed on the family farm. In 1999, Siobhan Lawless began baking brown bread to supplement the family’s income. Her husband Paul was a dairy farmer and at the time, agriculture was a tough industry to be in. “I felt like Paul was killing himself and that I wasn’t really contributing. Even though we had five small children, I felt like I should do something to lighten the load. So I began baking bread and it was sold in Moran’s on the Weir. That’s really where it all started.” Before long, Siobhan’s brown bread was being sold in over 10 supermarkets. In 2003, one of their children became ill and around the same time, it became clear that dairy farming wasn’t viable anymore. “We had just invested in a new milking parlour but we could see that the agriculture industry wasn’t getting any better. Our daughter needed extra attention and I needed help with the bakery, so Paul decided to sell the cows and he joined me on the bakery side.” A long-held clean eating mentality meant diet and nutrition was always a priority for Siobhan and with a couple of coeliacs in the family, she decided to
“FOR ME, THE JOY OF WHAT I DO IS ROOTED IN DEVELOPING PRODUCTS THAT MAKE PEOPLE AS HAPPY AS I AM MAKING THEM.” go about creating a premium gluten free product. The success of that product led to a new gluten free range but just before its launch, a fire broke out in the bakery. “That of course delayed the launch and we closed for a year. By the time we came back, we had lost traction with the traditional bakery so we decided to just focus on the gluten free products.” The following few years were tough; all cash reserves were used up and support from the banks wasn’t forthcoming. But, as Siobhan says, never tell a woman she can’t do something. “We
proved the doubters wrong and launched the gluten free range in 2012. Today, the product range consists of crackers, cookies, bars, cereals and cakes and new additions are planned for 2022.” The Foods of Athenry also produces private label cereals for some of the supermarkets so today, two separate independent bakeries operate on the farm. The next few years is all about maintaining jobs for staff and developing new products. “For me, the joy of what I do is rooted in developing products that make people as happy as I am making them.” SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 35
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Entrepreneurs Artisan Food Suppliers
raline Chocolatiers was set up a year ago by Daniel Linehan and Georgia Quealy who met while studying culinary arts at Athlone IT. Since launching, business has been excellent and the couple have just moved into a new unit where they hope to begin production shortly. Daniel’s interest in chocolate began while studying at Athlone IT. One lecturer in particular opened his mind to the possibility of a career in chocolate making. “Kevin Ward really opened the door of the chocolate world to me and ever since, I knew it was exactly what I wanted to do. My parents own a café in Athlone and I’ve been involved in the industry since I was a child. They have pictures of me standing on veg crates peeling carrots! I always knew I would be involved in food, but it wasn’t until I got to Athlone IT that I realised in what capacity.” Daniel learned how to make chocolate in college. A three month stint in Las Vegas just before Covid helped perfect his techniques. “I spent some time at a pastry school over there run by the famous pastry chef Amaury Guichon. I’ve also worked in a couple of Michelin starred restaurants and really, I’ve learned as I go.” Covid provided Georgia and Daniel with the perfect opportunity to try out their new business venture. The café in Athlone was closed so they used it as their production facility to begin selling online before setting up their own website. The Praline Chocolatiers range includes a signature collection and a limited edition range that changes with the seasons. Premium ingredients include a rich, dark chocolate from Ghana, Oriel seasalt from Co Louth and foraged blackberries from the local area. Brexit has created issues around the supply of packaging, says Daniel. “The cost has risen hugely, so we’ve had to look elsewhere for our packaging requirements. We had also been buying some ingredients in bulk from the UK but with custom charges, it’s easier to buy them in Ireland.” The idea of having a few bespoke wholesale clients appeals to Daniel. “High-end hotels or restaurants that are looking for bespoke chocolates would be great. We also plan on broadening our range and tapping into the export market. There aren’t many artisan chocolate producers in Ireland, but the ones we do have are excellent. I don’t see why premium chocolate must always be associated with Belgium or Switzerland; we have equally good talent and produce in Ireland.”
stablished in 1962, Goatsbridge Trout is the largest fresh water aquaculture business in Ireland. The company is run by Mag and Ger Kirwan who have placed sustainability and innovation at the heart of everything they do. Earlier this year, Goatsbridge Trout scooped the top Food & Drink award at the SFA National Small Business Awards. “As a company, we try to do everything with integrity and really, to do the right thing. We also put our money where our mouth is; we’ve continued to invest over the years and right now, we’re in the middle of a €1.25 million investment on our Goatsbridge farm.” That investment will see an upgrade to the company’s production facilities. “It will
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give us more control when it comes to water extraction and discharge and technologically, the plant will be much improved.” Goatsbridge Trout was the first fish company to become verified members of Origin Green, a Bord Bia sustainability programme that operates nationally in Ireland. “We take that membership very seriously, we live by it. For us, being sustainable is about employing people, looking after our community and being profitable, otherwise there’s no business.” Intensive farming isn’t a route Mag is interested in. “A fish farm that’s using 20 litres of water a second is sustainable in the sense that it’s using very little water, but we don’t like it as a form of producing. We’ve got a fabulous source of water at all our farms and we like to produce our trout as free range as possible. Our competitive advantage is being able to tell a story and talk about the natural resource we have, that’s a real USP for us. Plus, I actually believe our product tastes better!” Goatsbridge lost about 33% of its business due to Covid. “At the time, we were growing our retail business in the UK. Covid spurred us to increase that business, but we do miss the food service side of things.” Brexit has forced the
“FOR US, BEING SUSTAINABLE IS ABOUT EMPLOYING PEOPLE, LOOKING AFTER OUR COMMUNITY AND BEING PROFITABLE, OTHERWISE THERE’S NO BUSINESS.” company to change how it does business, particularly with its UK customers. “Some of the UK supermarkets were unwilling to do business with us due to customs and duties. To overcome that, we opened a new company in the UK which we sell to from our Irish company. That UK company then sells to our UK customers.” Despite challenges over the past couple of years, Mag remains optimistic. “We’ve learned so much and I think we’re in a good position. I feel like I’ve got the most interesting job in the world.”
romod Boxty was set up 31 years ago by Timmy Faughnan, a grocer in the village of Dromod. Using an old family recipe, Timmy had been making and selling boxty in the shop. “Bread men would come in and ask if they could sell it in other shops so that’s how it all started. It got so popular that he decided to turn the shop into a bakery and sell to retail himself,” said Áine Faughnan, daughter of Timmy and Managing Director at Dromod Boxty. In 2015, Áine was living in New Zealand when her dad fell ill. She came back to Dromod for a two week holiday and ended up staying; six years later, she’s Managing Director of the business. At that stage, her experience was limited to instructing staff on how to put labels on straight when she was five years of age. “I was definitely thrown in at the deep end but with the help of my Local Enterprise Office, I developed my skills and got the business to where I wanted it to be.” In 2016, the company was accepted into the SuperValu Food Academy and in September 2020, entered the ‘Grow with Aldi’ programme. “On the back of that, we had to extend the premises. We’re looking at expanding again this year; the 12 month contract with Aldi is up in September and we’d like to keep the momentum going.” Although her parents are there when she needs advice, Áine is solely responsible for the success of the company. “The first couple of years were a struggle; our manager showed me the ropes and without him, I don’t think we’d be here. Now, I’m confident in what I’m doing and I know that I’m the best person to run this business. It’s a small family business and all the decisions lie on my shoulders. Sometimes it does feel like a lonely place, but I think it’s the same for any small company.” Sourcing sustainable yet cost-effective product packaging is a challenge, says Áine. “There are very few options in Ireland for smaller producers. In terms of pricing, I’ve been quoted 10 times what I’m paying at the moment.” Going forward, the aim is to make the company’s full range available across the country. “We also have a lot of customers in the North and we had quite a big customer base in London before Brexit. To get that back would be great. We’re also exporting to America as well, that’s an area we’re keen to grow.” SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 37
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a Dexter beef herd of about 40, chickens, outdoor pigs and turkeys for Christmas. We also grow vegetables, so we’re very much a mixed farm along the old lines of mixed farming. We’ve just joined the NPWS Farm Plan Scheme, a new targeted programme to support farmers who work in special areas of conservation and natural heritage areas. We’ve just started a new plan to convert about 19 hectares into a welding project along the Boyne ramparts walk, which will eventually become the Boyne Greenway,” said Carina. The farm also offers luxury glamping and accommodation between April and November. From yurts, shepherd’s huts to strawbale cabins, there’s an option for everyone. Like every hospitality business, that side of the business was impacted by Covid. “Business owners found themselves in situations that they never would have anticipated, from trying to find out if they had the right kind of business disruption insurance to constantly rebooking visitors. We’ve had two years of wedding couples and international visitors having to constantly change their plans.” A weekly farmer’s market takes place every Thursday at Rock Farm. Carina is currently applying for Meath Leader funding to build a commercial kitchen and meat processing unit on the farm. “That would close the loop on how we actually farm. We’ll still have to send
“WE ALSO WANT TO REDEFINE WHAT A RURAL ESTATE IS AND CREATE A COMMUNITY, RATHER THAN A BIG HOUSE WITH LOTS OF LAND AROUND IT. BY INTEGRATING THE FARM WITH THE CASTLE OFFERING, I THINK WE’RE ACHIEVING THAT.”
Managing Director at Rock Farm Slane, Carina Conyngham has been instrumental in turning what was a piece of land beside the Boyne river into a thriving organic farm and ecotourism destination. Carina and Alex Conyngham, son of Lord Mount Charles, run Slane Castle Estate along with Rock Farm Slane. From the outset, the idea was to restore the land at Rock Farm Slane and create a mixed organic farm. “Today, we have
our animals away to the abbatoir, but we’ll be able to process them ourselves. It’s all about creating that farm to fork experience on the farm.” At the Castle, Carina and Alex run a food truck and courtyard café and intend to run a series of pop-up dining experiences in the near future. The aim is to create a food destination at the Slane estate. “Slane Castle is known for rock concerts and hopefully they will come back, but we also want to redefine what a rural estate is and create a community, rather than a big house with lots of land around it. By integrating the farm with the castle offering, I think we’re achieving that.”
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Small Business Profile Topform Topform
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Topform Small Business Profile
FRESH OFF THE BACK OF THEIR BIG WIN AT THIS YEAR’S NATIONAL SMALL BUSINESS AWARDS, TOPFORM MD PAUL GLYNN CHATS TO DENISE MAGUIRE ABOUT STANDING OUT FROM THE CROWD When was Topform set up and what services does it provide? Topform was set up in 1976 as an export company manufacturing laminate worktops. Since then, it has grown and developed to become a creative worktop solutions company that was recently crowned SFA Company of the Year and Manufacturer of the Year. The last year has seen spectacular growth in the output of the factory and an ever expanding team to cope with increased demand. Having initially started manufacturing kitchen worktops, the company has grown to become a market leader in worktop surfaces in the Irish market while developing the first of its kind lightweight worktop – TopLite – specifically for the motor home and leisure industry in the European market. Did you receive assistance (financial or otherwise) when you were starting out? Initially this was an IDA supported business and had owners from Canada. It was sold to Irish businessman Sean Stewart in 1985, which was followed by a management buyout in 1995. During this time, the business engaged with Enterprise Ireland. At first, EI was seen as a financial support only but over the years, we have used them for all kinds of soft support and inspiration. They are seen as “stakeholders” in Topform and valued members of our advice team.
Causeway, Urban Stone from the TopShape range
How does Topform differ from other kitchen worktop companies? Our people and systems are what makes us different from the competition. The focus of the company, driven by the senior management team, focuses on the implementation of world class systems of manufacturing and people development. At the heart of manufacturing is the adoption of best practice and principles of lean systems. The company has been on its lean journey for over 10 years, allowing the company to bring down the delivery time for orders to under one week. We aim high and management has adopted the challenge of winning a Shingo prize in the near future, which is a complete assessment of an organisation’s culture and achieving world class results. Good people are essential and people development is crucial to the success of the company. Consistent training is available to all staff
and external courses are encouraged. During the Covid lockdown, seven employees achieved their Green Belt Awards from University of Limerick. How has the company evolved to meet the changing needs of the customer? We are in touch continually with our customers to keep on top of emerging trends and new product development. In 2021, after three years of development and communication with key stakeholders, a complete overhaul of our worktop decors was undertaken. This removed almost half the range and added 18 new, on-trend decors that fit with current kitchen trends. In 2008, we were also the first company to introduce the square edge worktop – TopShape – our top selling product. TopShape Custom followed in 2011 which allows customers to design the worktop they want and we will make it. The team is always looking for the next product to bring to the kitchen. What do you attribute your recent and previous wins at the SFA Awards to? This is a team win. We are so lucky to have a team of people who love the business and are willing to go the extra mile. All the cliches apply at Topform! Sure, we have a collection of the best equipment in the world, but you need great people to work them. We cherish our people and they repay us a thousand times over with quality products delivered on time. There are challenges in business every day and we respond to those challenges with our practice of a daily huddle first thing in the morning. We discuss challenges and support the person under the most pressure. This team approach allows us to succeed.
Topform’s win at the 2021 National Small Business Awards
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Small Business Profile Topform
At the 2021 awards, you were described as a model company for indigenous Irish businesses. What advice would you give to small businesses when it comes to running a business in Ireland today? We are grateful for those comments. We still see our business as a work in progress that we will never finish. We do not accept that we have the right to offer advice to other business owners who perhaps are working harder at their business than we are. What we have learned over the years is that no one person can affect our progress; one person cannot hold it up and one person cannot make it happen. It must be a collective agreement of all staff who are committed to what we are doing. For us, we see the need to communicate the basics – we need our team to know what we are trying to achieve. We find that we need to do this so often that people are sick of hearing the message of our dream. We put in front of them “the impossible” and we do this by clarifying an overall ambition far into the future. This is adopted from the “BHAG – Big Hairy Audacious Goal” concept developed by the author Jim Collins. We then break this into bitesize improvements that can be as little as a single small improvement that takes “2 seconds” (Paul Akers – 2 second Lean). We keep records and report on performance to keep us on track and celebrate our success. How many people do you employ? Do you expect staff numbers to grow? We are always open to great people joining our team. Our base in Gort has been instrumental to our success, with exceptional employees from the area and support from the community. We recently increased our team in Ireland to 57 people, which includes a new plant manager to assist in the day to day running of production, a number of production staff and extra customer service members. We are currently recruiting for a merchandiser and business development specialist, as well as machine operators. How did Covid affect the company? Has Brexit had an impact? The company entered the pandemic in a financially strong position with growth in all areas, but all this was brought to a standstill when the factory closed for 10 weeks. Management continued working away in the background and strategised plans for how to work in the changing environment. New market positions were identified while areas of market turbulence that could be taken advantage of were highlighted. Brexit is a serious pain in the ass. With over 50% of our sales in the UK and NI, we had to devise a simple solution. We’re also finding that there is a period of anti-globalisation happening – people are focused on local rather than global. We buy from the local shop in a show of support, even though it may not be the cheapest or have the full selection we may want. Businesses are doing this as well; they are trying to find nearer solutions rather than cheaper solutions. As an exporter, we need to be very wary of this trend if our competitors are closer to our customers
than we are. Additional customer support placed close to the customer is one way we have improved our connections with our customers. We have instigated a middle-man company based in the UK that all sales now go through. In this way, we can handle all customs and technicalities and offer our customers the option to change their purchases to the local company who will accept their orders and invoice them from the UK. It’s a lot more paperwork but it’s been a fairly seamless transition for our customers. Are rising costs of raw materials an issue for the company? Yes, it’s one of the biggest issues across the board and it’s putting pressure on our base costs and overheads. The cost of materials is only one factor; longer lead times for resources have resulted in delayed deliveries which puts pressure on production. Despite that, our fantastic team has managed to hit our KPI’s for OTIF (on time in full – currently 99.45%) and RFT (right first time quality standard – 98.8%). What are your ambitions for Topform going forward? Growth is at the heart of our business strategy. Our plans include a roadmap for specific markets and products to ensure the company grows in a sustainable manner. Each market is assessed individually to spot pockets of opportunity that we can take advantage of. We aim to do this in a methodical way through a successful R&D program that looks to create innovative new products that our customers want. We will also continue to grow our export portfolio in Europe and the UK and focus on areas of Ireland where there is room for growth. Topform always looks to add new products to the market, so keep an eye out for our next launch in Quarter 1 of 2022. The aim is to continue to live up to the Topform name every day.
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Trading Places Yaroslav Zhuravlev
FROM RUS A SI with lov e
MOSCOW NATIVE YAROSLAV ZHURAVLEV TALKS TO BETTER BUSINESS ABOUT GETTING TO GRIPS WITH IRISH CULTURE AND A SLOWER PACE OF LIFE 44 SFA | BETTER BUSINESS
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oving from a crowded, hectic city like Moscow to a small, country village in Cork must be something of a culture shock. Life has changed dramatically for technical writer Yaroslav Zhuravlev and his wife Evgenia since they moved to Douglas in January 2020 and it was about to change even more just a few weeks later. “I work for an IT company that specialises in Application Delivery Networking. It has branches around the world so when the opportunity to move to Ireland arose, I was very excited. I managed to work from the office for just a couple of months before it closed due to Covid. I’m still working from home now and while I enjoy being alone, it would be beneficial to be around my colleagues, to ask questions and discuss what we’re working on.” As part of their relocation package, the couple enrolled in a language course at AllTalk Training, a company that works to improve communication in multi-cultural workplaces. Yaroslav began his training with Brigid Farrell, Director at the online training portal, right after he and Evgenia moved to Cork. “I have found the classes very helpful. We started off by learning about Irish language and culture; one of the first classes was on how to read and spell Irish names, cities and places. When you see an Irish name like Aoife or Saoirse, it’s really important to pronounce them properly! I learned that very quickly.” A book about Irish myths and legends has proved useful. “I have a Russian translation but when I started to learn Irish names, I realised that all the names in my version of the book had been translated incorrectly. Irish names are very tricky but I’m getting there.” Living in Russia and learning English in school doesn’t prepare you for living and working in an English-speaking country. “It’s one thing to understand the language, but another thing altogether to understand or comprehend Irish culture. You can learn how to speak English at school but you still won’t be able to comprehend accents, tempo of speech or expressions. I have to be alert all the time and try and ensure the person I’m talking to understands me and that I understand them, which is just as important. I have a diploma in linguistics and cross-cultural communication in English and in French but it was still very difficult for me to pick up on all the intricacies of Irish culture and language.” Almost 27,000 people live in the leafy suburb of Douglas, situated south of the River Lee. In 2019, the city boundaries were extended and Douglas was fully incorporated into Cork city. Although it has a sizeable population, the town hasn’t lost its ‘village’ feel (locals still refer to it as ‘the village’). In contrast, Moscow has a population of about 12.19 million, making it the sixth largest city in the world and the most populous in Russia. Rich in history, it’s popular with tourists who flock to the capital to see the Kremlin and the Red Square but perhaps one of the most interesting tourist attractions is the city’s metro system. Built in Soviet times and dubbed “the palaces of the people”, Moscow’s public transport system stretches for more than 305km across 200-plus stations and is famous for its underground architecture. “Moving from a busy, densely populated city like Moscow to a small town like Douglas was certainly a shock. It’s much calmer here and more people-oriented. When I lived in Moscow, the commute to work on the subway took me 40 minutes. Here, the pace
Yaroslav and Evgenia Zhuravlev
“I HAVE A RUSSIAN TRANSLATION BUT WHEN I STARTED TO LEARN IRISH NAMES, I REALISED THAT ALL THE NAMES IN MY VERSION OF THE BOOK HAD BEEN TRANSLATED INCORRECTLY. IRISH NAMES ARE VERY TRICKY BUT I’M GETTING THERE.” of life is so much slower. Sometimes you might want things to be a bit faster; for example, it took the internet guy a month to come and set up our broadband. But I’ve found that life here just goes as it goes.” Yaroslav’s relocation package also included finding accommodation, but it was still a challenge to find a suitable apartment. “In Russia, it’s much easier. The rules are very strict here; you can’t change furniture or hang pictures on the walls. When you rent in Ireland, you’re responsible for all the bills but in Russia, the landlord is responsible for the electricity bills, water charges etc. After about two months of searching, we found a lovely two bed apartment so we’re very happy with it.” Since travel restrictions eased, Yaroslav and Evgenia rent a car most weekends and explore their new home. “We’ve got printed maps of Ireland on our table and when we have a meal, we’ll decide where we want to go next. It’s so rural here, there are so many cows and beautiful nature to enjoy. In Russia if you want to see a cow or a sheep, you have to drive for three hours!” The plan is to stay in Ireland for the long-term. “It would be pointless to just come for a year or two. Changing our life from Russia to Ireland was like a symbolic death and birth. We have invested a lot of time and money in this move. My wife had a dance studio in Russia and has been able to continue her online classes for her Russian students, while continuing to study English. We’re happy here, the people of Ireland are great and we’re excited about the future!” SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 45
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SFA HR Mental Health
AS BUSINESSES RETURN TO THE OFFICE, PROVIDING CARE AND SUPPORT TO EMPLOYEES HAS NEVER BEEN MORE IMPORTANT, WRITES SFA HR EXECUTIVE EMMA CROWLEY
wellbeing When considering employee mental health and wellbeing, an employer should do everything that is reasonably practical to provide care and support. As businesses are being given the go-ahead to reopen or operate more extensively, it is important that employers adhere to public health guidelines and ensure worker health and safety. While this phased return to work involves operational and logistical planning, it is critical that the emotional and psychological, as well as the physical health and welfare of workers, is fully considered and safeguarded.
Emma Crowley, HR Executive, SFA
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Train managers on how to support employees Managers will bear much of the responsibility for ensuring employees have a safe work environment, where positive physical and mental health is promoted. They should therefore familiarise themselves with the warning signs of emotional distress, engage with staﬀ and learn how to resolve immediate issues which can mitigate longterm problems. It is inevitable that some, if not many, employees will be anxious about workplace re-entry. Employers must create a cohesive and inclusive environment and provide support and guidance to help manage and reduce workplace re-entry anxiety. This may include facilitating blended working, reinduction and retraining in the workplace.
Share accurate and timely information The extensive lay oﬀ or reduction of working hours of employees during the pandemic has undoubtedly adversely impacted many, causing feelings of isolation, anxiety and stress. For businesses that had to adjust to a hybrid working environment, the changed work patterns and practices caused, in many instances, a blurring of the boundaries between work and home. Regular and timely communication from management is key to supporting employees and their wellbeing. Businesses that have regular engagement and keep all employees well-informed and updated on plans and activities will empower workers and ensure inclusivity.
Employee support It is important that employers create an open, inclusive and safe environment to encourage employees in poor mental health to reach out in confidence. An employee assistance programme (EAP) is a confidential counselling programme which operates primarily within the workplace to identify and address employee concerns. While it may not always be feasible for small businesses to provide an internal EAP, support can be sought externally through outsourced support services such as WorkPositive Tool and Turn2me. The continued support and promotion of employee health and wellbeing is paramount to maintaining a business’s most valuable resource and ensure its success going forward.
Absent without leave SFA HR Executive Emma Crowley outlines her top tips on how to deal with employee absenteeism effectively Occasional illness is a normal part of life and employers will inevitably have to manage absence from work at some time or another. Employee absence can have many negative effects on a business. Associated costs include paying the employee’s absence if the company has a sick pay scheme in place, overtime to those carrying out the duties of the absent colleague and medical referrals. In addition, from next year all workers will have the right to paid sick leave. It is expected to begin with three paid sick days per year for each employee starting in 2022, rising to five days in 2023 and seven days in 2024. This phased approach will allow employers time to prepare and adjust for the scheme and its associated costs. There are also indirect costs such as an effect on productivity, poor staff morale, increased pressure on colleagues and administration time by human resources or the employer managing the leave. The only way to counter the effects is by having a well-considered and developed policy and a robust procedure on absence management. Below, I have set out five tips to effectively manage and minimise absence in your business.
The purpose of a company absence policy is to alleviate hardship due to unavoidable absence from work through genuine illness or injury. It should set out an employer's expectations and approach to employee absence and the employee's obligations in complying with the policy, for example how, when and who the employee should notify of their absence.
Attendance recording is essential to ensure an impartial and uniform identification of unacceptable absenteeism. A
good records system should provide detailed information on type, patterns and times of absence in order for this to be monitored effectively.
Responsibility for good attendance lies in the first instance with line managers. Managers should be trained to know when to seek medical advice and at what point to invoke the firm’s disciplinary procedures. Managers must be conscious of their responsibilities to employees, especially employees with a disability who have added protection under employment equality legislation.
Return-to-work Interviews Return-to-work interviews are a powerful control mechanism when dealing with employee absence. The interviews demonstrate the organisation's strong commitment to controlling absenteeism in the workplace. Putting a procedure in place to investigate and discuss absence with employees can serve as a deterrent to employees debating whether to take illegitimate sick leave. The manager should use the interview to explore any issues that the employee may have which are causing absences.
Referral to Medical Practitioner
Every company should retain the right to refer employees to a medical practitioner in their contract and company handbook. There are many issues which must be considered by an employer in terms of managing employees who have high levels of absenteeism. However, a clear policy which has been communicated to employees and is implemented in a fair and reasonable manner will assist to keep employers within the confines of the law.
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SFA Policy SFA Policy Budget 2022
DON’T FORGET ABOUT SMALL BUSINESS SFA BUDGET 2022 SUBMISSION MAKES COMPETITIVENESS AND THE COST OF DOING BUSINESS A PRIORITY
hard to believe that we’re back at the time of year when we’re talking about budgets and spending and urging the Government to realise that the cost of doing business in Ireland is getting ever more expensive. In its quarterly bulletin in June of this year, the National Competitiveness and Productivity Council stated that Ireland has slipped one place in the competitiveness ranking among OECD countries to 13th place and fourth in the Euro area. While competitiveness rankings have their limitations and yearon-year rankings can fluctuate as a result of business perceptions or once-off factors, the deterioration in Ireland’s performance over the past two years highlights those improvements can and should be made. That is why Budget 2022 is so vitally important to the small business community. No sector of the economy knows better than small business the importance of being lean and competitive, when margins are continuing to get smaller and smaller. The Programme for Government identifies SMEs as the backbone of our economy and communities across the country as key drivers of employment. To support the potential of these sectors, Budget 2022 must introduce measures to improve the tax environment for small indigenous businesses which will help them to retain and create jobs, something that’s becoming increasingly difficult due to the rising cost of doing business. The tax environment should also support business owners to upskill themselves and their employees. Supporting small businesses in this way will achieve the next stage of Ireland’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and mitigate some of our economic vulnerabilities, while creating a true entrepreneurial culture with benefits for entrepreneurs, employees and communities.
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SFA Policy Budget 2022
The State rose to the challenges created by the unprecedented effects that the pandemic had on the economy and society. These measures were in the public interest to ensure that businesses and jobs were not lost and this has, in the main, been the case. As we now look to a new post pandemic landscape, it’s time for the State to ensure that extraordinary measures, both fiscal and societal, are wound up in an appropriate time and manner. Many small businesses are now looking beyond the pandemic at what their trading outlook will look like in the weeks and months ahead. Issues at the forefront of concerns include the continued rise in the cost of doing business including commercial rents, rates increases, utility increases and access to finance. Recently, Government has introduced and has announced a number of policies that have caused some concern to business
In recent years, State supports and initiatives have assisted start-ups with investment, rental space, training and other business costs, while existing business owners have had to rely on retained earnings to fund spending and investment. In response to Covid-19, business costs have again increased with small businesses having had to alter their premises, retrain staff and cover the cost of personal protective equipment and other protective measures to make their staff and premises safe to reopen. This is the reality being faced by members of the SFA every day. Many operate in low margin environments, making it difficult for them to absorb cost increases. On the other hand, the Covid-19 marketplace and demand for value makes it impossible for many to pass the increase onto customers. At a time when many small firms are facing the significant challenges of Brexit and are dependent on continued
At the current juncture, it is crucial that appropriate measures are introduced that will generate the growth needed to retain and create jobs, overcome the challenge of a post Covid-19 environment and deliver a low carbon economy. Small business can lead the way in helping Ireland to recover quickly but in order
"SUPPORTING SMALL BUSINESSES IN THIS WAY WILL ACHIEVE THE NEXT STAGE OF IRELAND’S RECOVERY FROM THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC AND MITIGATE SOME OF IRELAND’S ECONOMIC VULNERABILITIES WHILE CREATING A TRUE ENTREPRENEURIAL CULTURE WITH BENEFITS FOR ENTREPRENEURS, EMPLOYEES AND COMMUNITIES.” as they reopen in a precarious environment, such as pension auto enrolment, the right to request remote working policy and statutory sick leave legislation. These policies will make the business landscape more difficult as reopening continues. In our response to Budget 2022, the SFA has in consultation with our members called out four key priorities that we believe need to be given serious examination by Government this year: nD rive a competitive business
environment for small firms and entrepreneurs nS ustain investment and entrepreneurship through the tax system nS upport employment and upskilling in small firms nS upport the transition to the Green Economy and Digitalisation.
emergency support measures such as the EWSS, it is vital that all budgetary measures are assessed through an SME Test for their impact on small firms. Half of the private sector workforce is employed in the small business sector. Once the recovery begins, the Government must be particularly vigilant about the cost of employment, especially in those sectors most at risk from automation such as agriculture, retail, transport, hospitality and manufacturing. Aligned to this, the Right to Request Remote Work initiative shows how policy making is too often removed from the reality of running a small business and endeavouring to sustain employment. To rebuild after this health crisis, we must address challenges such as housing, broadband, transport and the environment in order to be more competitive and get people back to work, see firms investing, rehiring, upskilling and creating jobs.
to do this, the Government must deliver a National SME Growth Plan, reduce capital gains tax, simplify the tax system and provide additional funding, upskilling and retraining. The current labour market squeeze is making it even more important that a renewed focus be put on upskilling and retraining. Businesses want to invest in their talent and to attract new people to sectors such as events, transport and hospitality. Apprenticeships will play a key role in this. Supporting small businesses in this way would mitigate some of Ireland’s current vulnerabilities and assist in helping the economy to recover as we deal with an economy emerging from the pandemic. Budget 2022 is being called the first nonemergency National Budget since Budget 2020. We all know the landscape in Ireland has changed, but it is vital that small businesses are not forgotten. SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 49
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Health Health Resilience
Through Disruption FITVISION MD MARK O’REILLY OUTLINES THREE SIMPLE RITUALS TO HELP US ADJUST TO THE ‘NEW NORMAL’
March 27th 2020,
a date which will last long in the memory. This of course was the commencement date of Ireland’s first full lockdown, a moment when we realised just how serious the ‘C’ word really was. What followed in the preceding weeks was a scramble for office equipment to turn our spare bedrooms into work stations and for many of us, we reluctantly took on a second job, that of school teacher. Fast forward to the present day and although our feelings may still be ambivalent, our road map is no longer tinged with ambiguity. So how can we step into the next chapter and embrace the so-called new normal? The answer may be found in three simple daily rituals.
■ Adopting a Challenge Mindset
A certain amount of stress is essential in order to perform well, however too much stress or the inability to manage it can have negative consequences on your mind, body and performance. If you can recognise stress early and put appropriate mechanisms in place to manage it, it prevents stress from becoming overwhelming and debilitating. Though you cannot eliminate stress, you can learn to reframe how you interpret and manage it so that you respond, rather than react, using the 3 A’s – Awareness, Action and Adherence. To increase your awareness, reflect or journal after challenging days. Write down what you felt as you moved throughout your day and how those feelings impacted your performance. Taking appropriate action involves building in daily practices which help us move from a threat to a challenge mindset when we become stressed. Adherence is the ability to recognise in the moment when we are experiencing stress and it’s a skill we can all develop. The more we take a step back to analyse and reflect, the more skilled we become at recognising stress and intervening early. Remember, you have the ability to choose how to respond to the stress in your life.
■ Prioritise the Recovery Zone Daily
Too often, we consider rest as merely the absence of work, or something that deters us from achieving our goals. But as we know, meaningful work and deliberate rest are partners. One way to structure rest into our daily schedule is around periods of creative and focused work. Creative energy and concentration require time and space. But resting after these periods enables mental and physical restoration and a fresh perspective. After your sustained focused periods throughout your day, where and when can you leave your phone, leave your emails, take a few minutes to rest and detach? We need periods in the recovery zone during the day to maximise the time spent in the performance zone. ■ Recording your Daily Wins
Mark O’Reilly, MD, FitVision
Isn’t it interesting that we find it so easy to pinpoint our mistakes and failures, yet when it comes to acknowledging our achievements, we often struggle? Each evening I would like you to take five minutes to reflect and record your daily wins, no matter how small. Recording your daily achievements provides you with a sense of progress. This can increase your motivation, confidence, perception and sense of accomplishment. The more positive emotions and sense of progress you experience, the more internally motivated you will be when facing uncertain and challenging situations. Examples of daily wins could be identifying a negative thought and reframing it or hitting your daily step count.
Starting with these quick and relatively easy to implement daily rituals may make all the difference in the coming months. 50 SFA | BETTER BUSINESS
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NSAI Partner Profile
UP TO STANDARD GET NSAI CERTIFIED AND STAND OUT FROM THE CROWD As Ireland’s official standards body, the National Standards Authority of Ireland provides a certification service to enable businesses to demonstrate that Irish goods and services conform to applicable standards. Maybe you’ve come across terms like ISO and Business Certification before, but were unsure about how it could help develop your business or organisation. At NSAI, we’re here to help. Over 4,000 organisations are now NSAI-certified in a variety of areas such as quality management, environmental management, occupational health and safety management and energy management. NSAI believes that early and active engagement with standards can help companies set themselves apart from their competitors and become sector leaders at what they do. Certification to standards is becoming the expected norm for international trade, as well as for inward investment. It is also fast becoming a requirement when applying for tenders in other European countries and can be essential when trying to maintain a company’s existing position on a supply chain. Additionally, standards help businesses to de-risk, drive down costs, boost productivity and grow profits. They allow companies to accelerate their R&D activities, which enables faster massmarket adoption of products across competitive international markets. Being certified to standards instils confidence in existing customers of a business resulting in retention, as well as attracting new opportunities.
As work evolves and technology develops, so too does best practice. NSAI keeps abreast of the latest developments in the workspace. We are also working with European partners in France and Cyprus in developing a pilot certification scheme in cybersecurity. To support the continuing and vital contribution of SMEs to the Irish
“AS WORK EVOLVES AND TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPS, SO TOO DOES BEST PRACTICE. NSAI KEEPS ABREAST OF THE LATEST DEVELOPMENTS IN THE WORKSPACE.”
economy, NSAI provides information on the benefits of implementing standards for their businesses. We do this using various channels such as attending industry conferences, hosting events, working with academia, hosting webinars and promoting our work on our website and social media platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn. Participation in the standards development process allows SMEs to have a direct say on Irish, European and international standards being developed that shape the market in which they operate. By actively engaging in standards committees, Irish companies can ensure they are ahead of the curve when it comes to product innovation and ensuring they continue to meet international trade requirements. Standards help bridge the innovation gap between R&D and global market impact by building customer trust and confidence in new innovative solutions. In collaboration with national RDI Centres, NSAI has continued to promote the benefits of Irish engagement in international standards development with companies involved in R&D and innovation. This value is reflected by the level of industry engagement with standards through the NSAI Consultative Committee membership, which now stands at over 1,600 members. Through this Committee structure, NSAI facilitates Irish industry engagement in the European and international standards development work programs across all industry sectors on ‘national mirror committees’ in standardisation areas including ICT, advanced manufacturing, construction (including BIM), health, electro-technical and gas networks and appliances. For more information, please go to www.NSAI.ie
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Credit Review Partner Profile
SUCCESSFUL CREDIT APPLICATIONS SUCCESSFUL APPLICATIONS FOR CREDIT CAN DEPEND ON A GOOD CREDIT HISTORY, ADVISES THE CREDIT REVIEW OFFICE. When applying for credit, one of the most important considerations for a bank can be your credit history. This is a record of your borrowings and repayment practices. A poor track record can lead to a swift refusal by your bank. For sole traders, the banks will review the borrower’s personal credit history, and for limited companies, the banks may also look at the personal accounts of the owners and directors. From the bank’s perspective, your personal handling of credit can be a good indicator of your likeliness to repay a business loan. In Ireland, banks are obliged to check the Central Credit Register (CCR), a
national database of information on consumer and business loans for loan applications over €2,000. If you are applying for a loan, it is a good idea to check your credit history before you apply. It can help you spot any missed payments or mistakes in your credit report. You can check out your credit history free of charge at centralcreditregister.ie. In addition to the external CCR record, your bank will take into consideration its internal records–or how you operate your business current account. Late payments, unpaid direct debits or bounced cheques can be signs of business distress, so
make sure you pay your bills on time and have sufficient funds available to meet your commitments and direct debits. Keep your overdraft within its limit and in credit for at least 30 days a year. A good track record of debt repayment, and a well operated current account can help ensure successful credit applications so your business gets the credit it needs to grow and develop And remember, if you are refused business credit by your bank, Credit Review can help. For more information on our independent appeals process, visit creditreview.ie or call 087-1217244
Credit Creditwhere whereit’s it’sdue dueduring during the theCOVID-19 COVID-19Pandemic. Pandemic. Having Having difficulty difficulty getting getting a new a new business business loanloan or restructuring or restructuring youryour existing existing debt debt withwith youryour bank? bank? Established Established by the by the Minister Minister for Finance, for Finance, Credit Credit Review Review is here is here to help. to help. TalkTalk to the to the credit credit experts experts today today on 087 on 087 1217244 1217244 or visit or visit creditreview.ie creditreview.ie
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Partner Profile InterTradeIreland
SIX TIPS TO OPTIMISE YOUR WEBSITE FOR E-COMMERCE SUCCESS A SUCCESSFUL E-COMMERCE WEBSITE FOLLOWS A DIFFERENT SET OF RULES TO A TRADITIONAL B2B WEBSITE, ADVISES ROISIN KEENAN, PROJECT MANAGER FOR INTERTRADEIRELAND’S E-MERGE PROGRAMME. In bricks and mortar retail, store owners are continuously improving the in-store experience to entice customers to buy, and the same should go for online retailers. For business owners in Ireland this may seem like a daunting task, especially for those who have just recently taken their products/services online. The good news is, you’re not alone — there are a number of supports available for companies looking to grow their online sales. To get you started, here are six fundamental tips that you can use to optimise your e-commerce store for success.
1. Improve the checkout process
Creating a simple checkout process will improve your on-site conversion rate. Similar to in-store, asking customers for too much information can lead to a poor user experience or lost sales. To streamline the process, businesses should remove outdated or unnecessary fields, only requesting information that is relevant to the order. To save the customer time, use ‘auto-filling’ where possible and collapse minority fields. It’s also important to offer flexible payment including ‘single-click’ options like Apple Pay or PayPal.
2. Enhance product pages
Product pages should provide potential buyers with all the information needed to confidently make a purchase. Poorly designed pages with sparse information or low quality product images are unlikely to inspire website visitors to ‘add to bag’. To ensure sales, every product page should have high quality photos and videos, informative/unique product descriptions, product reviews and a clear call to action (CTA).
“TO STREAMLINE THE PROCESS, BUSINESSES SHOULD REMOVE OUTDATED OR UNNECESSARY FIELDS, ONLY REQUESTING INFORMATION THAT IS RELEVANT TO THE ORDER. ”
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InterTradeIreland Partner Proﬁle
3. Optimise site speed
sure your website provides a seamless mobile shopping experience. This is particularly important during the checkout process where a smaller screen can increase the risk of input errors and poor design can lead to a frustrating experience.
Site speed is critical to e-commerce success and lengthy page loading time can deter shoppers, causing them to drop off prematurely. Online consumers have come to expect a super-fast online experience thanks to big players like Amazon, who make online retail effortless. Good site speed can directly improve your conversion rate and search engine rankings, with Google now using site speed as a key signal to rank pages. Tools like Google PageSpeed Insights can be a great way to uncover errors.
4. Adopt a mobile-ﬁrst experience
Just like in-store retail, e-commerce experiences should be accessible and appealing to all types of shoppers. Having a website that is optimised for desktops, mobiles and tablets is essential to ensure a great user experience. As mobile commerce is set to overtake desktop shopping by 2023, it’s important to make
5. Invest in on-site merchandising and seasonal content
Roisin Keenan, Project Manager, InterTradeIreland
Online retail is fast-moving and regularly updating your website will keep buyers interested and ensure alignment with key holidays and promotions. For example, a Black Friday Sale in November requires fresh banners and graphics on the homepage to appeal to discount shoppers. As soon as Black Friday ends, the on-site
“THERE’S NEVER BEEN A MORE EXCITING TIME TO GET STARTED AND IF YOU NEED SUPPORT ON YOUR JOURNEY TOWARDS E-COMMERCE SUCCESS, HELP IS AVAILABLE. ”
Case study: HigenX A successful e-commerce website follows a different set of rules to a traditional B2B website, advises Roisin Keenan, Project Manager for InterTradeIreland’s E-Merge programme. Established in 2004, HigenX provides innovative technology to industries where hand hygiene is a critical factor. Their systems utilise Radio Frequency Identification which records each time hygiene activity such as hand washing takes place. According to the Independent Environmental Health Officers (EHOs), the firm has led to a 300% increase in hygiene activity on customer sites. “InterTradeIreland provided us with excellent support during difficult times and helped us keep our doors open”, said HigenX Managing Director, Mike Mahony. “The E-Merge support allowed us to make major improvements to our online marketing. We saw an immediate improvement in sales and we expect this to continue once we fully adapt to the new e-commerce tools. InterTradeIreland was proactive in supporting us and provided helpful advice on valuable programmes like E-Merge”. During their E-Merge project, HigenX were able to improve their online marketing, SEO performance, customer capture and grow their online presence. With the enhancement and adoption of new tools such as CRM and social media marketing, the firm are positioned to see continued growth of online sales over time. Mahony adds, “We have seen increased activity from new customers and this should result in €50,000 worth of cross-border sales. In total the E-Merge project will increase our business by €100,000 and allow us compete on equal footing with the large players.” Roisin Keenan, Project Manager for InterTradeIreland’s E-Merge programme says, “HigenX is an excellent example of what E-Merge can do for companies, especially those who are moving into the recovery phase and want to capture consumers’ attention online.” “There is huge demand for this service from businesses. They are hungry to learn more and to reap the benefits of reaching more customers at scale and develop new cross-border opportunities for the business.”
content should be swapped out to reflect Christmas shopping, with a focus on gifting and seasonal offers. Pre-planning of upcoming offers, promotions and content is crucial to staying on top in the fastpaced online world.
6. Reach out to InterTradeIreland
There’s never been a more exciting time to get started and if you need support on your journey towards e-commerce success, help is available. InterTradeIreland’s E-Merge programme can provide companies with up to €2,800 fully-funded consultancy support, to help develop online sales and eCommerce solutions. Support is available to businesses across Ireland and assistance can be provided in a number of areas including website management, SEO optimisation, online payment systems, products listing/pricing and more. Contact the E-Merge team on firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 048 3083 4110. For more information, visit www.intertradeireland.com.
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DeCare Dental Insurance Ireland Ltd Partner Profile
A TOLL ON OUR MENTAL HEALTH THE FUTURE OF WORK DEPENDS ON MANAGERS HAVING THE CAPACITY TO EFFECTIVELY AND EMPATHETICALLY DEAL WITH THE HUMAN CONNECTION The emergence of Covid-19 has to date created a global health crisis that prompted governments to execute extraordinary social distancing measures and restrictions to curtail the number of deaths caused by the virus. Throughout Ireland and across the globe, these restrictions have had wide-ranging impacts, from limiting time outside of the home and the ability to work, to prompting the closing of schools and childcare, impacting how and where education is delivered. Quality of life has taken a missile hit. An outcome of these restrictions has been a severe economic downturn, causing job insecurity and unemployment [Bell & Blanchflower, 2020]. As the global pandemic progresses, it’s putting strain on both our healthcare and economic systems in ways that are significant and obvious. Looking past these domains, Covid-19 still poses a profound threat to our overall wellbeing and mental health. There is no health without mental health [WHO, 2019]. This pandemic poses a threat to our most basic human motivations, especially human connection. Regarding adult mental health and the workplace setting throughout Covid-19, a remote working survey from NUIG looked at one of the most significant public health measures introduced as part of the Covid-19
response – the government direction to work from home where possible. This report examines the period from March 2020 to late August 2020, in the context of working from home. It highlighted not only were people asked to work from home where at all possible, but school and childcare facilities were closed and many were juggling both working from home and home-schooling. Loneliness and isolation, staying motivated and difficulties with the physical workspace were identified as the main challenges to working remotely. These challenges had a huge impact on workers’ mental health and overall wellbeing. A summary of this report looked at data that was collected from employees across a wide range of industries and sectors over a one-week period from 27 April to 5 May 2020. A total of 7,241 responses were received. The key findings of this report were that over half of respondents (51%) never worked remotely before the Covid-19 crisis. Of these workers, more than three-quarters (78%) would like to continue to work remotely after the crisis is over. Nearly half of respondents (48%) report that it is easy or somewhat easy to effectively work these days. 37% indicated that it is somewhat difficult or difficult to effectively work these days. There were three top challenges of working remotely that included not being
David Casey, Wellness Health Promotion Manager, Decare able to switch off from work. The issues of collaboration and communication with colleagues and co-workers were harder and poor physical workspace was a problem. One of the main spotlights this report examined was the need for employers and managers to acknowledge, through their actions, the toll the crisis can have on employees’ mental health. Many workplaces need to ask the question – do we need to upskill managers in dealing with the human connection and whole person for the future of work? The relationship of work and mental health has been illuminated throughout the pandemic and it also highlights the workplace setting as a key determinant to mental health and overall wellbeing. With Covid-19, the water has been cleared, we’ve made it to the life raft. Dry land has approached but the question we need to ask ourselves is this – what learnings and measures are being putting in place for the next storm?
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SOLAS Partner Profile
UPSKILLING THE HOSPITALITY AND TOURISM SECTOR TWO NEW NATIONAL UPSKILLING PROGRAMMES AIMED AT HOSPITALITY AND TOURISM EMPLOYEES ARE SUPPORTING THE REOPENING AND GROWTH OF THE SECTOR. In February 2021, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Simon Harris TD, launched two national upskilling programmes for employees in the hospitality and tourism sector, which were developed by SOLAS and the ETBs in consultation with the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF), Fáilte Ireland and the Regional Skills Fora. According to the IHF, tourism accounts for €8.75 billion in annual spending in the economy. The sector was severely impacted by the pandemic, with many hotels and tourism providers losing staff to other sectors and finding it hard to recruit since they re-opened. To boost
the retention and career progression of key staff, the two new Developing Leaders for Hospitality and Tourism programmes, provide highly subsidised upskilling, delivering critical team leadership and supervisory management skills to support business recovery and growth.
Programmes are accredited by City & Guilds or QQI and provide clear pathways for employees to develop future careers in hospitality and tourism. Qualifications are available at Levels 5 and 6 on the National Framework of Qualifications. The Level 5 programme
“THE DEVELOPMENT OF OUR LEADERS IS CRUCIAL IN HOW ENGAGED OUR TEAM MEMBERS ARE IN THEIR ROLES AND HOW SATISFIED OUR CUSTOMERS ARE IN THE SERVICE WE PROVIDE.”
Pictured at the Glenroyal Hotel, Kildare: Barbara Robinson, HR Director; Ted Robinson, General Manager; Ramute Kairiene, Front Office Manager; Natasha Pavlin, Spa Supervisor; Pablo Bernardo, Head Chef; Kasia Rampold, Café Manager
can be completed over 3 months with the Level 6 typically taking 4-8 months. These programmes are delivered under the umbrella of the Skills to Advance initiative, which provides upskilling and reskilling opportunities to employees in jobs undergoing change and to those currently employed in vulnerable sectors.
Supporting the Sector
Since February, over 100 hotels and tourism employers expressed interest in upskilling their staff to support reopening of the sector. Investing in people and their career development is a vital element in retaining talent and in attracting talent, which are critical factors in rebuilding the industry. The training provided by the ETBs is flexible to meet the needs of both employers and employees. Many who started the programme in February paused their training during the busy summer months and will resume it now as the hospitality shoulder season approaches. Speaking of the benefits of the Developing Leaders programme, Barbara Robinson, HR Director with the Glenroyal Hotel, Kildare said: “The development of our leaders is crucial in how engaged our team members are in their roles and how satisfied our customers are in the service we provide. This programme develops skills in employee engagement, customer service, digital capability, green agenda and how to effectively lead a team. Our industry will continue to reap the benefits of this long after this course is completed.” The ETBs will continue to encourage more employers across the Hospitality and Tourism sector to avail of these programmes to upskill their staff which will positively impact their business recovery. For more information see www.skillstoadvance.ie
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A wide range of skills, one idea of excellence.
Our expertise in audit, tax and a range of advisory services brings together many technical skills to serve our clients with consistent quality around the world. Experience a different perspective Find out more at mazars.ie
Bank of Ireland Life Partner Profile
THE IORP II DIRECTIVE – A CATALYST FOR CHANGE THE IORP II DIRECTIVE WILL BE A CATALYST FOR PENSIONS REFORM AND A MOVE TOWARDS GREATER CONSOLIDATION, SAYS DECLAN MAHER, HEAD OF CORPORATE PENSIONS AND RISK AT BANK OF IRELAND LIFE. The much-heralded Institutions for Occupational Retirement Provision (IORP) II directive was finally transposed into Irish legislation at the end of April this year. Whilst EU countries were required to introduce this directive in January 2019, like most pension developments here in Ireland, its delayed introduction was better late than never! The directive seeks to ensure higher governance standards and risk control measures for all occupational pension schemes established under trust, so as to achieve better outcomes for pension scheme members and their beneficiaries.
As sponsoring employers and trustees continue to digest these new set of regulations and come to terms with the increased costs associated with them, such as the appointment of key function holders and the requirement for annual audits for all schemes irrespective of size, it remains to be seen how smaller single employer trust schemes will come to terms with such pronounced changes. Like any change process, the first steps for all parties impacted by this new directive, be they employers, trustees or advisors, is to understand
the changes required, determine their impact, identify the measures already in place to successfully address them, and finally coming to a decision on how best to go about plugging the gap. This gap analysis is critical in determining the alternative options available that are best suited for the company and its members. This is where consultation and advice is paramount.
One of the common occupational pension scheme arrangements adopted by trustees and sponsoring employers in Ireland, is the single employer trust, irrespective of the number of members. Single employer trusts ranging in size from one or two members (such as executive pension and small selfadministered pension schemes), to larger schemes with employees numbering in the hundreds and thousands, have proliferated the Irish pensions market for decades. In the Irish Governments ‘Roadmap for Pensions Reform’ published in 2019, it mentioned that a key challenge of pensions reform was the disproportionately high number of pension schemes in Ireland relative to other EU countries (Ireland accounting
“LIKE ANY CHANGE PROCESS, THE FIRST STEPS…IS TO UNDERSTAND THE CHANGES REQUIRED, DETERMINE THEIR IMPACT, IDENTIFY THE MEASURES ALREADY IN PLACE TO SUCCESSFULLY ADDRESS THEM, AND FINALLY COMING TO A DECISION ON HOW BEST TO GO ABOUT PLUGGING THE GAP.”
Declan Maher, Head of Corporate Pensions and Risk, Bank of Ireland Life. for 50% of all pension schemes under trust in the EU despite having only 1% of the population). These statements are a clear precursor to greater pension scheme consolidation, with IORP’s II now providing the catalyst for such changes. In recent conversations with many employers, the increasing cost burden and complexity of governance of a single employer trust has led many to consider the transition of their pension benefits to a Master Trust. This option pools multiple individual ‘participating employers’ under a single umbrella trust, reducing governance costs whilst maintaining compliance with the new legislative changes. In coupling this solution with enhanced digital pension platforms to improve member experience and reduce administration burdens, it will only be a matter of time before greater consolidation towards Master Trusts take effect as has been evidenced in the UK market over the past ten years.
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Microfinance Ireland Partner Profile
GETTING BACK TO BUSINESS MICROFINANCE IRELAND IS CONTINUING TO SUPPORT SMALL BUSINESSES AS WE TRY TO PUT THE PANDEMIC BEHIND US Microfinance Ireland (MFI), the government funded, not-for profit lender is providing much needed financial support by way of loan finance to support micro-enterprises as they try to get their businesses back on a stable footing, as we have hopefully put the worst of the pandemic behind us. Many business owners have been extremely resilient and have significantly adapted their operations to maintain their businesses through the past 18 months. Thankfully, we can now look forward to the further easing of restrictions and the reopening of all remaining sectors in October, as we all adapt to the ‘new normal’. As small businesses have re-opened, they have had to adapt many of their work practices and employ additional staff to operate safely and effectively. Furthermore, small businesses have utilised their cash buffers during the lockdowns, which may necessitate them to seek additional working capital to manage the day-to-day running of their business. However, with trading having been impacted by the pandemic, small
businesses may find it difficult to obtain finance from banks and commercial lenders. Given our greater appetite for risk, this is where MFI’s loan products may be of assistance. Microfinance Ireland CEO Des Mc Carthy said: “Whatever the reason, if businesses need funding and are struggling to get access to finance through banks and other commercial lenders, then MFI may be able to help. Currently, we have a number of loan options up to €25,000 to help viable businesses that can be tailored to their current needs.”
Des Mc Carthy, CEO, Microfinance Ireland
“WHATEVER THE REASON, IF BUSINESSES NEED FUNDING AND ARE STRUGGLING TO GET ACCESS TO FINANCE THROUGH BANKS AND OTHER COMMERCIAL LENDERS, THEN MFI MAY BE ABLE TO HELP.” Microfinance Ireland recently launched the eSPSV Loan to support the government’s grant scheme which offers owners of small public service vehicles (SPSV) – taxis, hackneys and limousines – a grant to change to a more sustainable model. Due to Covid-19, many SPSV owners are finding it difficult to access the finance needed to fund the deficit between the grant and the vehicle purchase price. MFI’s eSPSV loan is tailored to bridge that funding gap. MFI has also seen significant interest in its Start-Up loan package in recent months. A lot of plans were put on hold since March 2020, but people are now becoming more confident and after a long period of reflection, some are now deciding to change their lifestyle or direction and start their own business.
Des concluded: “There are people who used the time during the pandemic to develop their business plans and now want to either commercialise or scale them. We lend to viable Start-Ups and established small businesses who can’t access funds from the traditional bank market, businesses where the risk is too high for commercial banks. MFI is open to applications from eligible small businesses that need to borrow and we assess all applications in a fair and supportive manner. Our mandate from government is to support viable small businesses to maintain employment, create jobs and benefit the economy overall.” For more information, go to https://microfinanceireland.ie/ loan-packages-july-21/
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MyWaste Partner Profile
YOUR BUSINESS WASTE – EASILY SORTED! A NEW INITIATIVE DESIGNED TO TAKE THE UNCERTAINTY OUT OF WASTE SEGREGATION FOR BUSINESSES HAS BEEN LAUNCHED BY MYWASTE, IRELAND’S OFFICIAL GUIDE TO WASTE This government-funded initiative provides a free and extensive suite of signage and training materials to help workforces make accurate recycling decisions. It will assist Irish businesses to achieve greater Circular Economy performance through increased recycling and composting rates. A waste characterisation study in 2018 by the Environmental Protection Agency (report available on www.epa.ie) shows that 70% of recyclables and materials suitable for composting are currently lost through the general waste stream. Targeted materials (those suitable for recycling) accounted for only 60% of the materials in the mixed dry recycling bins, with food waste among
the contaminants. The study found that by improving waste segregation practices, businesses could divert up to 350,000 tonnes of waste from the general waste stream annually. Speaking on behalf of the Regional Waste Management Planning Offices, Kevin Swift, Connacht Ulster Region Waste Office said: “This initiative will empower small and medium size businesses, particularly those in the retail, hospitality, manufacturing and corporate sectors, to further improve how their waste is managed. With clear language and visuals, the materials will make it easy for staff to quickly understand what waste goes in
what bin. This should help to significantly increase the amount of recyclables and food waste diverted from the general bin and correctly placed in the recycling and food waste bins.” The toolkit is free to download or order from www.mywaste.ie/business/
Your Business Waste - Easily Sorted! Go to mywaste.ie/business to download a FREE toolkit designed to help you better manage your business waste. This toolkit includes posters, bin labels and a step-by-step guide to better business waste management.
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Partner Profile Blackhawk Network
THE IMPORTANCE OF EMPLOYEE RECOGNITION NEW RESEARCH SHOWS THAT EMPLOYEES WOULD LIKE TO BE RECOGNISED FOR THEIR EFFORTS AT WORK, PARTICULARLY IN LIGHT OF COVID Research conducted by Blackhawk Network has shed interesting insights into employee perception of rewarding. Of 2,000 respondents surveyed, 37% of employees say they are not rewarded or recognised at work while 24% of employees believe it has become harder to earn recognition or a reward since the pandemic started. 45% of employees would most like to be rewarded and recognised for the ongoing effort they put in at work. With remote working, it can be difficult for senior leaders to be aware of the great work that has continued across a business. “Working to a hybrid or remote working model, it can be harder to know who
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has delivered or exceeded on their KPIs. Regularly checking in with line managers can give visibility of employees who have contributed consistently across what has been a difficult year,” said Terry Spence, Director of Sales, B2B for One4all. 92% of respondents say it’s important that an employee benefit has a positive impact on financial wellbeing, while 40% of employees identified a ‘prepaid card that offers rewards for everyday spending’ as one of the top three benefits that would be most valuable to them. This increased to 48% of people aged 46 and over. A cash bonus is always popular with employees, however cash isn’t always the most practical solution for an employer.
Cash bonuses cost employers more in tax and additional admin and time for payroll. They’re also easily forgotten by employees once spent. “Under the Revenue Commissioner’s Small Benefit Exemption scheme, employers can give up to €500 in a once off payment per employee per annum in One4all Gift Cards free of any tax, PRSI and USC charge, which presents a real opportunity to reward employees with a heartfelt thank you after a tough year,” said Spence. June 2021: Research commissioned by Blackhawk Network and conducted by Sapio, research of 2,000 survey respondents.
Get your business ready for a green future THE CLIMATE ENTERPRISE ACTION FUND As industries and governments work towards a net zero carbon future, no business can ignore sustainability: customers, investors and regulators are all demanding stronger green credentials. Irish companies that have introduced more sustainable practices are winning new business and positioning themselves for the low-carbon future. As part of the €10 million Climate Enterprise Action Fund, our new range of supports provide the advice and funding your company needs to take immediate action: from measuring your carbon footprint to developing a comprehensive sustainability strategy. For full details, contact Enterprise Ireland or your Local Enterprise Office Advisor or visit globalambition.ie/climateaction
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Arts and Culture Dún na Sí Amenity & Heritage Park
DÚN NA SÍ AMENITY & HERITAGE PARK IS PASSIONATE ABOUT PRESERVING IRISH CULTURES AND TRADITIONS. BETTER BUSINESS SPOKE TO OLIVE QUINN ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF EDUCATING A YOUNGER GENERATION ABOUT OUR HERITAGE
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Dún na Sí Amenity & Heritage Park Arts and Culture
Do you fancy meeting the ancient Irish warrior Lugh or exploring the roots of Irish music? How about discovering how rural communities lived throughout time or paying a visit to Fairy Island? Visitors can enjoy all that and more at Dún na Sí Amenity & Heritage Park, located over 27 acres in Moate, Co Westmeath. It’s one of Ireland’s more unusual visitor attractions, combining a heritage park which commemorates the traditions and activities of rural Ireland throughout time with an amenity park that celebrates biodiversity and provides a special environment for activity and appreciation
of nature. Earlier this year, the Park received funding under the government’s Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme (ORIS) for repairs to its path system, equipment and toilet facilities. The funding will, says Board of Management secretary Olive Quinn, improve the park’s offering and bring Dún na Sí to a whole new audience. Dún na Sí Amenity & Heritage Park was the brainchild of a group of like-minded locals who recognised the value in preserving history and heritage. After purchasing land
from Westmeath County Council in 1985 to build a Teach Ceoil, a few members from Moate Comhaltas Ceoltoiri set about building houses from different periods in Irish history, including the famine bothán and the fisherman’s cottage. The aim was to faithfully portray what life was like in Irish rural society over 100 ago, when changes like the Penal Laws forced the use of practices like hedge schools and rocks were used as an altar for celebrating Mass. A rural museum displaying old farm machinery from times past was opened while a FAS scheme to train young people in stonework and thatching was also established. In 2008, the remaining 23 acres were developed into the Amenity Park. “One man in particular had a vision for the Amenity Park. His name was Frank Kelly, a civil engineer living in Moate who was inspired by the lovely parks and cycleways he enjoyed on family holidays in France and Spain. He wanted to recreate something similar for Moate and the midlands,” said Olive. Today, visitors can enjoy a walk through planted parklands and a wetland reserve which is home to many native wildlife species. A specially constructed ‘hide’ allows you to observe the many species of wild birds on the park’s small lake or ‘turlough’ without disturbing their habitat. In 2015, the two parks amalgamated, creating the Park that exists today. During lockdown, it provided a lifeline for people in the locality, says Olive. “One woman said to me at the time that she didn’t call it the Amenity Park, she called it her sanity park. She has twins and visited the park frequently during Covid. It’s big enough to allow for social distancing and we implemented a oneway system for greater safety.” The Heritage Park reopened in April of this year. Normally, says Olive, it would be booked out with school tours. “Obviously that didn’t happen this year, but the local schools supported us very well. While our finances were greatly reduced, it was great to reopen the Heritage Park and maintain that interest from the public. We’re also on the Community Services Programme so we’re partly funded by Pobal, who grant aid the wages of our manager along with three full-time workers.” Art plays a big role in both parks. In 2012, Anne Meldon Hugh created the Gráinne Óg SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 71
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Arts and Culture Dún na Sí Amenity & Heritage Park
sculpture for the Amenity Park. This was the second sculpture of Gráinne for the town. “There was a sculpture of Gráinne Óg which was located on the slip road off the motorway coming into Moate. One night it was stolen and never seen again. Luckily, the council had it insured for €65,000 and had it remade.” Dún na Sí requested the sculpture for the Park and was successful. “The new sculpture
is actually more ornate than the original one. It’s alarmed and the park is locked every night, so we’re not worried about it getting stolen!” Along with students from the community school, local artist Patsy Preston created the seating for the Amenity Park. The names of all students are written into the sides of the seats in Ogham script (old Irish writing). Patsy also created the Bird Hide
and Lugh’s Spear, a sculpture that sits at the highest point of the park and depict Lugh, an Irish mythological god, emerging from the ground with his legendary fiery spear. “The spear is made from a piece of bog oak, said to be over 3000 years old. That sculpture got us great recognition and featured in Cara, the Aer Lingus magazine.” This year, the Park received funding from Creative Ireland for Patsy to create a mural for the rural museum. “It features old traditions like potato picking, turf cutting, hay making and dancing at the crossroads. We receive support from our local men’s shed and Patsy was able to incorporate some of those men into the mural; scenes of them bringing home the turf cut in the traditional way. It’s a beautiful mural of times past in Ireland.” An interest in history and tradition helped create and shape the Park and it’s what sustains it today. “Everyone on the board and indeed all our staff have an interest in heritage. We make great efforts to do things in the old way, for example earlier this year, our outdoor supervisor made hay using the traditional method. We had five haycocks sitting in the field in front of the park; the amount of people that visited during the summer and felt them and remembered times when they were young was amazing. Kids today don’t know that this is the way things were done in Ireland unless we tell them. They need to be educated on what happened in the past – it’s very important that we preserve our heritage.” Earlier this year, the men’s shed cut turf on the bog and brought it to the rural museum. “I was in there one day when a group from a summer camp was visiting. One of the kids was looking at the turf which was still wet and asked, is that poo? They had no clue what it was but they were so interested in everything at the museum, like how we brought home the hay and how butter was churned.” Olive and the rest of the team are looking forward to the return of international visitors. “Over the years, we have had great support from Shannon Academy who have brought Spanish, Italian and French students to visit the Park and learn Irish dancing.” A Sensory & Butterfly Garden is currently in progress which will include a Tyre Well, tiled mural water feature and so much more. “We’ve also just applied for our Green Flag award, which we’re optimistic about. We’re excited for what the future holds at the Park.”
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WINNERS ANNOUNCED Congratulations to all our winners in the
Energia Family Business Awards showcasing the best of Irish family businesses Discover more at
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West INTO THE
WHETHER IT’S A CITY BREAK OR A TRIP TO THE WILDNESS OF CONNEMARA, AUTUMN IS A GREAT TIME TO EXPLORE THE ‘CITY OF TRIBES’
From the arty, bohemian vibe in Galway city to the wild ruggedness of Connemara, Galway has something for everyone. It’s a county renowned for its friendliness – in 2020, Galway was voted Europe’s friendliest city in the Condé Nast Reader Travel Awards 2020 – and for its food. Whether it’s fine dining or casual pub food you’re after, Galway hits all the right notes. Take a look at some of our top picks of things to do in Galway for a night away, a weekend or even for a few days.
THE NAME CONNEMARA DERIVES FROM ‘CONMHAICNE MARA’ – MEANING DESCENDANTS OF CON MHAC, A MYTHICAL ANCESTOR OF THE SEA.
ct a F
nnema o C
OUTDOORS CONNEMARA If you head west from Galway city, you’ll find the villages, lakes and bogs of Connemara. Towns and villages such as Oughterard, Maam, Recess, Roundstone, Cashel, Carna, Ballyconneely, Clifden, Cleggan, Claddaghduff, Letterfrack, the Renvyle peninsula and Leenane all have their own distinct character and local culture. However, some of the most beautiful places are off the beaten track and should be explored on foot, by bicycle or on a boat. Take the Omey Island walk, visit Inishbofin Island, explore Connemara National Park or chill out on one of Connemara’s beautiful beaches. iPad users can download the ‘Connemara’ app to get a feeling for the awe-inspiring landscapes, flora, culture and heritage that the region has to offer. www.connemara.net
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t Tr ain
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Hop on the Galway City Tourist Train to experience the sights and sounds of Galway’s beautiful medieval city, while also enjoying breathtaking coastal scenery as you travel through Salthill and Claddagh. The first tour of the day starts at 11am from Jury’s Inn at the Spanish Arch and 11.30am from the Aquarium in Salthill all through September, October and up to the 8th of November, come rain or shine.
WHERE TO STAY:
EXPERIENCE GALWAY TOURIST TRAIN
GLENLO ABBEY A new multi-million investment programme at Glenlo Abbey has seen the addition of a new restaurant and bar and a new spa, along with a new bedroom wing and refurbishment of guest lounges. W: www.glenloabbeyhotel.ie
ARAN ISLANDS CAMPING AND GLAMPING Situated on Inis Mór, Aran Islands Camping and Glamping is for anyone who wants to get away from it all. The campsite is adjacent to the beach and has three organic grass fields, as well as custom handmade rock walls which create a secure enclosure. W: www.irelandglamping.ie
LOCATION SALTHILL A traditional holiday spot in Galway, Salthill is only 3km from the city and offers beautiful views of Galway Bay and the Aran Islands. Salthill Promenade is a 30 to 45 minute easy walk from Galway town centre. Strolling, jogging or rollerblading along the seafront is a popular activity for locals and visitors alike. Along the “Golden Half Mile”, you’ll also find a selection of great hotels, pubs and restaurants and if you’re feeling lucky, have a flutter in one of the casinos. A popular attraction for all the family is Leisureland, a leisure centre and theme park right on the promenade. Features include a 25m pool, a kiddies leisure pool and a health and fitness suite.
THE HARDIMAN The best address in Galway city, The Hardiman Hotel is located on Eyre Square. The hotel offers a range of business and leisure facilities to guests including a spa and the newly refurbished Oyster Lounge and Gaslight Brasserie. W: www.thehardiman.ie
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ANIAR RESTAURANT Aniar has the enviable accolade of being Galway’s only Michelin starred restaurant, having been awarded the prestigious star in September 2012. Aniar is an innovative restaurant, bringing terroir-based dining to Dominick Street in Galway City. Run by JP McMahon, the focus is on local earthy ingredients and natural influences. The tasting menu consists of 18 dishes that draw on the terroir of the west coast of Ireland.
eat where to
KAI Run by Jess and David Murphy, Kai is situated on Sea Road in Galway’s Westend. The word ‘Kai’ is the Maori word for food and in 2011 the couple opened the door with a simple formula — high-quality produce, preferably organic or wild, sourced locally and cooked intelligently. Kai has won several awards, including a Michelin Bib Gourmand and is the type of restaurant you’d expect to find in Galway – run with real passion with a laidback, bohemian feel. Galway market
MARKET GALWAY MARKET Located in the laneway between Shop Street and Market Street, Galway’s famous bustling street market has been trading in the centre of the city for literally centuries. You will find hundreds of stalls selling fresh produce and locally produced crafts. The Galway Market is open all year round on Saturday and Sunday from 8.00am to 6.00pm. Covid allowing, the traditional Christmas Market will run this year from the 12th of November to the 22nd of December and will include a 32m high ferris wheel and traditional carousel, Santa’s express train, live music performers, puppet shows, storytelling, school choirs and of course, a visit to Santa’s Grotto.
DOUGH BROS This pizzeria located on Galway’s Middle Street was recently named the Best Pizzeria in Ireland and the best takeaway service in Europe. Earlier this year, Dough Bros also came in at number 27 on the ‘Top 50 Pizzas in Europe’ list by the popular travel site, Big Seven Travel. Run by brothers Eugene and Ronan Greaney, menu highlights include The Irish Margherita, The Posh Pepperoni and The Peter Stinger. www.thedoughbros.ie
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The Big Read Surrounded by Bad Bosses and Lazy Employees
idiots how to
THOMAS ERIKSON SHARES THE TECHNIQUES HE’S LEARNED OVER THE PAST 30 YEARS TO MAKE INTERACTIONS BETWEEN EMPLOYEES AND THEIR MANAGERS AS SMOOTH AND EFFICIENT AS POSSIBLE
The ability to communicate effectively with their staff is the most important skill a boss can have.
The ability to reach them, regardless of what the message is. And some bosses – let’s be honest – aren’t much good at that. Praise, criticism, instructions, or support – if communication doesn’t work, then nothing works. If you knew how many clichés there are on the theme of management and being a boss, you would fall off your chair, but let’s stick to the core essentials. To be a boss is comparatively simple. It’s a function, a title. A little square in the organizational hierarchy. Somebody has been appointed manager. Congratulations.
That role leads to certain mandates and powers; certain areas of responsibility and concrete work tasks. That somebody is now in charge of decisions, responsible for the budget, and even manning the organization. That somebody is also responsible for setting goals and achieving results. It’s a role, a task, a job – but it is not a behaviour. To be a leader is considerably harder. It requires that the person who accepted the appointment can handle people in an effective manner. Leadership is a communication process, nothing else.
Bad Bosses and Lazy Employees is published by Penguin and available in all good bookshops
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Surrounded by Bad Bosses and Lazy Employees The Big Read
“TO BE A LEADER IS CONSIDERABLY HARDER. IT REQUIRES THAT THE PERSON WHO ACCEPTED THE APPOINTMENT CAN HANDLE PEOPLE IN AN EFFECTIVE MANNER. LEADERSHIP IS A COMMUNICATION PROCESS, NOTHING ELSE. TO GET THERE, YOU NEED TO KNOW HOW YOU COMMUNICATE. HOW YOU LEAD PEOPLE FORWARD. HOW YOU CREATE MOTIVATION AND COMMITMENT. ”
To get there, you need to know how you communicate. How you lead people forward. How you create motivation and commitment. Leadership is more of what you do than who you are. You act in a way that creates commitment, faith, trust. You can’t achieve any of this by virtue of your title. But by acting professionally, you can actually work miracles. So, Boss or Leader? Boss is what you are. Leader is what you do. Or as a woman said to me many years ago: “The boss is the person I must follow, and the leader is the person I want to follow.” The best scenario would be if the boss and the leader were one and the same person. And sometimes they are. So what is your boss like? Is he or she just a boss, or do you also notice distinct leadership qualities? Are we talking about a sufficiently effective communicator? Is your boss completely serious about their task? I’ll try to keep the high-flown phrases to an absolute minimum here. A person who wants to be regarded as a really good leader needs to be a bit of an expert at communication. You can only truly influence your staff if you know how to reach each and every one of them. And from that it follows: anybody who accepts a role as boss needs to understand other people. The very second he or she steps into their new office is the last time they can simply base everything on themselves. From now on, that person is not who is important here. Bad bosses, such as those that you and I have come across over the years, have been bad at communicating. They haven’t listened, they’ve talked too much about themselves; sometimes they’ve behaved badly and sometimes they’ve been decidedly despotic. And in most cases they’ve based everything on their own worldview, a worldview that has been ridiculously onesided. And everybody except them has seen that’s what they’re doing. To be respected in their leadership role, they need to learn how you function. They need to know who you are and how they can reach you in particular and do that in the most efficient and elegant manner. SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 79
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Profile The Data Protector
LIFE in the
7AM I’m up by 7am every morning as I have a teenage daughter, Isabella, who needs to be kicked out of bed. I’ve got two companies – my consultancy Data Influence and CyberPie, my start-up – so every day is busy. 8AM I perform best in the morning so the second Isabella leaves for school, I have my coffee in hand and I’m at my desk. I can get almost a whole day’s work done in that first hour of the day. It’s when my brain is at its best and I haven’t yet been distracted by things happening in the world. 10AM I stop for breakfast which in the summer is granola and yoghurt and porridge in winter. The idea for CyberPie was born in Covid. I got onto the New Frontiers programme last year and the business went live in May. It’s full on; there’s so much juggling and that’s all at the same time as running the consultancy which actually pays the bills! It’s really exciting though and no two days are the same. 11AM I don’t tend to divide up my day between the two businesses, so it’s whatever is most pressing. I keep Mondays completely free – no Zoom calls or client meetings. That’s when I get my big jobs done. 1.30PM I take about half an hour for a sandwich or salad and swap my laptop for my mobile. 2PM The rest of the day is spent on client meetings or completing tasks. I work from my office at home; during Covid my daughter and I painted the box room (it had been baby pink, not great for Zoom), so that’s my space in the house and I love it. 5PM At this stage, I am depleted. The rest of the evening is spent cooking, spending time with my daughter, doing Pilates or taking a walk to clear my head. I think the most important thing I’ve learned running my own business is that there is so much help and support out there. I’ve realised that you don’t need to know everything. If you just ask, it’s all there for the taking. 10PM I’m early to bed every night so I’m ready to do it all again the next day! WWW.CYBER-PIE.COM WWW.DATAINFLUENCE.IE
SMALL BUSINESS OWNER ANDREA MANNING TAKES US THROUGH A TYPICAL DAY JUGGLING TWO BUSINESSES
Andrea Manning, Founder, Data Influence and CyberPie
“THE BUSINESS WENT LIVE IN MAY. IT’S FULL ON; THERE’S SO MUCH JUGGLING AND THAT’S ALL AT THE SAME TIME AS RUNNING THE CONSULTANCY WHICH ACTUALLY PAYS THE BILLS!”
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Action HR Services
Expert HR consultancy services for small sized businesses.
At Action HR Services, we always act in our clients’ best interests. Our approach is based on our values of trust, integrity, hard work and customer centricity, giving you the confidence that we will always put your needs first.
How We Can Help You
At Action HR Services we provide bespoke HR consultancy services in the following areas:
� HR Outsourcing � Contracts and Handbook � Employment Law Advice � Performance Management � HR Best Practice � Workplace Investigations � Employment Law Compliance � Restructure and Redundancy � Training
Our Point of Difference � In-depth HR & employment law expertise � An unmatched commitment � One point of contact � Our passion for HR best practice � A one-stop-shop for HR � A totally customised approach
CONTACT US TO SCHEDULE A DISCOVERY CALL Email: email@example.com | Phone: 086 814 4001 | Web: www.actionhrservices.com
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COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme
• •• •
Key features of the Covid-19 Scheme Loans from €10,000 to a maximum of €1,000,000 per borrower; Terms of between 3 months up to 5.5 years; Loans unsecured up to €250,000 (unless it is a requirement of the product feature, e.g. asset finance, invoice discount facilities); The Scheme permits the refinance and rollover of debt incurred as a result of Covid-19 (e.g. Covid-19 related expenses that were initially funded through short term/temporary facilities such as overdrafts); Loans will be available up to the end of 2021.
• Loans can be used for • Scheme costs •
Working capital or investment requirements.
The interest rate applicable to the loan will be determined by the participating lender. In addition, the participating lender will collect a premium which is payable to the Government of Ireland.
Who can apply?
• • •
To be eligible a borrower must
Be a viable business with up to 499 employees (Micro, SME or small Mid-Cap enterprise), including Primary producers (Agriculture/Fishing); Have or expect to have a reduction of minimum 15% in the turnover or profitability as a result of Covid-19; Meet the eligibility criteria.
How do I apply?
The Covid-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme is available trough a wide range of lenders (banks, credit unions and non-bank finance providers). The updated list of the Scheme providers is available on the SBCI website www.sbci.gov.ie
For further queries on the Covid-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme, please visit www.sbci.gov.ie or call 1800 804 482.
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