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Get a 20% discount on electricity, fixed for 2 years. Call Energia Today on 1850 71 93 76

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Welcome to Better Business, a magazine dedicated to the small business community.












The fundamentals of the Irish economy

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On the cover: Gillian Westbrook, CEO, IOFGA Photograph: Jason Clarke

are strong and economic growth and job





present a new place for new ideas and progress.”





“Every time you tear a leaf off a calendar, you OM

creation are forecast to continue in 2017. Yet the mood amongst the small business community is cautious, according to the SFA’s ‘Small Firms Outlook 2017’ survey report. At the SFA, we want to help small businesses to approach 2017 with the ambition and resolve expressed by American inventor Charles F. Kettering in the quote above. That’s why we are bringing you Better Business, a magazine

Editor: Joseph O’Connor Managing Editor: Mary Connaughton Creative Director: Jane Matthews

dedicated to the small business community. In this edition, we reveal the winners of the SFA National Small Business Awards. We dissect the logistics challenges facing small businesses and

Designer: Alan McArthur

shine a light on the solutions available. We look at the highs and lows for

Editorial Contributors: Tiernan Cannon,

family businesses of handing over to the next generation and we get to know

Orla Connolly, Ellen Flynn Conor Forrest,

entrepreneurs from abroad who have made Ireland their home. We put a

Fiona Kelly, Louise Kenrick, John Kinsella,

spotlight on the waste and recycling sector and provide data on rates of pay

Ciara McGuone, Dean Van Nguyen

and conditions of employment in small firms to help you benchmark your

Production Manager: Mary Connaughton Production Executive: Nicole Ennis Account Director: Shane Kelly Sales Director: Paul Clemenson Managing Director: Gerry Tynan Chairman: Diarmaid Lennon Email or write to Better Business, Ashville Media, Old Stone Building, Blackhall Green, Dublin 7. Tel: (01) 432 2200

rewards package. You will find top tips on closing a sale, staying healthy and grasping your second chance after business failure. This edition 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. Throughout its pages you will discover the often-hidden stories of Ireland’s small businesses – the highs, the lows, the perseverance and the innovation. Ireland is a nation of small businesses. Of over 235,000 businesses in the country, 99 per cent have less than 50 employees (small) and 92 per cent have less than 10 (micro). These companies can be seen in every city, town and

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 2017. All discounts, promotions and competitions contained in this magazine

village in the country and together they provide employment to half of the private sector workforce. The Small Firms Association has been the voice of small business for over 40 years. We are a trusted partner to over 8,500 member companies, spanning every sector and county. 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 or on Twitter @SFA_Irl.

are run independently of Better Business. The promoter/advertiser is responsible for honouring the prize. ISSN 2009-9118

Patricia Callan Director, Small Firms Association


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Big News for Small Business News, views and profiles from SFA members and small businesses in Ireland

A Family Affair The importance for family businesses of having a robust succession plan in place

The Migrant Experience We meet four entrepreneurs who brought their business acumen to Ireland

Cover Story Gillian Westbrook, CEO of the IOFGA, on the potential of the organic sector for Ireland Inc.

Logical Logistics The logistics companies fulfilling the freight, warehousing and distribution needs of small businesses

Sector Spotlight With more businesses looking to up their green credentials, how has the waste sector stood to gain?

Small Business Profile IASIO shows how there’s benefits to be gained from integrating former offenders back into society

Where Research Meets Commerce Brendan Cremen, head of NovaUCD, on fostering a culture of entrepreneurship

Second Chance Saloon We catch up with some of those who have failed in business and gone again

Best in Business A review of this year’s SFA National Small Business Awards

Arts/Culture We explore the Irish Museum of Modern Art’s history, ethos and plans for the future

A Day in the Life... of Keith Mahon, MD of TheTaste

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Spring 2017  Contents

FROM TOP LEFT: Gillian Westbrook, CEO of the IOFGA, on the organic movement in Ireland, page 20 // Adeola Ogunsina, one of four migrant entrepreneurs we profile, page 14 // Brendan Cremen, head of NovaUCD, who shares an insight into the culture of entrepreneurship at the start-up incubator, page 37 // Language app founder Susan O’Brien who traded Ireland for the US, page 44


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Do you know what Irish SMEs think of tech?

We do. Three’s Irish Business Mindset Survey Report reveals how technology makes Irish business tick. From communications and collaboration, to customer engagement and the cloud, see how Irish businesses like yours are prioritising investment.

Get the full report at

Three works for business.

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News  Updates



Rebecca Harrison, 2017 president of Network Ireland




Stephen Kelly, CEO, SAGE with Taoiseach Enda Kenny


Leading Wicklow businesswoman Rebecca Harrison has been named as the 2017 president of Network Ireland, the nationwide organisation which supports the professional and personal development of women in business. Harrison, who runs the department store Fishers of Newtownmountkennedy and Food at Fishers Café in Co Wicklow, has been a member of Network Ireland for 15 years.

Entrepreneurs Concerned About Global Political Uncertainty

Dublin played host to the first in a series of global business forums by Sage last December. The Sage Business Builders Debate, which was officially opened by Taoiseach Enda Kenny at Smock Alley theatre, brought government representatives together with a range of Ireland’s top entrepreneurs to address the key challenges facing Irish businesses today. Research conducted by Sage in advance of the forum revealed that political uncertainty, both globally and locally, is the most pressing cause of concern for almost half of Irish small and medium-sized businesses (45 per cent) in 2017. Despite these concerns, Ireland is open for business and preparing to increase trade, with 53 per cent of businesses planning to increase their export activity during 2017.

SKILLNETS UNVEILS NEW NETWORKS Skillnets has launched four new networks to address the emerging skills needs in the medtech, design, hospitality, and freight and logistics sectors. In addition, funding for more new Skillnets networks in 2017 has been announced. Speaking at the launch of the new networks, Paul Healy, Chief Executive, Skillnets said: “Establishing these four new networks is a direct response to labour market policy and will assist in addressing recommendations made by the Government’s Expert Group on Future Skill Needs.” Skillnets has a track record in developing innovative learning networks and currently supports over 60 groups of private enterprises, particularly small businesses, in sectors and regions across the country. SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 5

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Updates  News



Dr Dieter F. Kogler, UCD School of Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy


A University College Dublin (UCD) researcher has been awarded a prestigious European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant of €1.5 million to establish his own research team and to pursue ground-breaking social science research. Dr Dieter F. Kogler, an early-career researcher in the UCD School of Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy, will receive this ERC funding over five years for a study entitled, ‘Technology Evolution in Regional Economies’ or TechEvo. The aim of the TechEvo project is to produce a series of economic indicators, models and tools which will enable firms and policymakers across Europe to make more informed and better location-based investment decisions to boost innovation and drive regional prosperity. For more on the innovative work coming out of UCD go to our interview feature with Brendan Cremen on page 37.

Find out more and buy your 2-for-1 tickets before the early bird deal expires on

TENDER WORKSHOPS In our last issue, Donnacha Phelan, Director of Keystone Procurement, shared some top tips for small firms on tendering successfully for public sector contracts. Phelan, along with other experienced bid specialists, will be taking part in InterTradeIreland’s Go-2-Tender programme, offering two-day tendering workshops to small businesses. The upcoming dates for 2017 are as follows:







The SFA Annual Conference is a not-to-be missed date in the small business calendar. On May 24th, 300 entrepreneurs, owner-managers, policymakers and media will gather together in the RDS Dublin to explore the search for competitiveness in the current economic and business environment. A mix of keynote addresses and panel discussions will focus on how small businesses can stay hungry and strive for continuous improvement, focusing on people, policy, innovation and inspiration. There will be advice for owner-managers, sharing of lessons learned and networking opportunities that will help your business become BETTER THAN BEST.





For further details go to


The importance and strength of the twoway Ireland-US business relationship was the overriding message to emerge from the recent American Ireland Chamber of Commerce annual president’s lunch, which took place on March 2nd. Chamber President James O’Connor addressed over 450 members about the challenges ahead for Ireland, if the country is to maintain its status as one of the top locations in the world for US foreign direct investment. Before the lunch, Sasha Wiggins, Director at Barclays Bank Ireland and Siobhán O’Reilly of Dropbox, joined James O’Connor and Chamber CEO Mark Redmond for the official launch of the Chamber’s Annual Business Report ‘USIreland Business 2017’. To access the full report go to


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News  Updates


SFA MEMBERS TOP TWEETS Media has helped create an imbalance of attention in favour of start-ups. Policy needs to cater for established firms too #TrinityBusiness


TCD Business School‫‏‬ @TCDBusiness

#sfaawards2017 is now trending in #Dublin

Trendsmap Dublin‫‏‬ @TrendsDublin


With the economy now in growth mode, small businesses have entered a crucial phase of decision-making and the tax implications of these decisions will have a huge impact on their long-term growth potential and sustainability. A new book by Kerri O’Connell, Small and Expanding Businesses: Getting the Tax Right, is a must-read for owners and managers of small businesses and their professional advisors. An accessible, jargon-free guide to the tax issues typically encountered by small and expanding businesses in Ireland, it examines the tax implications of a variety of business decisions. It focuses on four main areas: payroll taxes, VAT, income tax on business profits earned by a sole trade or partnership, and corporation tax on business profits earned by companies, as these are the taxes that affect most Irish businesses.



Events in the UK relating to Uber and Deliveroo could have profound implications for Irish employers and current practices. Last year, a London employment tribunal ruled that people who drive for ride-hailing company Uber are workers, not self-employed — and entitled to benefits like sick pay and the minimum wage. More recently, drivers with the Deliveroo food and drinks delivery service went on strike in London when a new payment structure was imposed upon them. According to Sherwin O’Riordan Solicitors, employment law has not yet caught up with this fluid, evolving gig economy and companies could find themselves unwittingly acquiring new employees as a result. Irish law firms will be watching proceedings in the UK with great interest.

We may not have won but we sure put on a good show ;-) #SFAAwards2017 @SFA_Irl #SmallFirmsRule

Herdwatch®‫‏‬ @Herdwatch

SFA, the small business association within @ibec_irl are thrilled to be named as one of the #BestWorkplaces17

Small Firms Assoc‫‏‬ @SFA_Irl Employee wellbeing is essential to organisational wellbeing & vice versa-Jim Kirwan @GetAmericaMovin #BusinessBytes

Small Firms Association @SFA_Irl

Headline 2016 GDP figures today pretty good but worth noting export growth was the joint lowest the Irish economy has experienced since 2008

Gerard Brady @GerardBrady100



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Updates  News

Gerard Kelly, CEO of Kelmac Group and Dr Noel Carroll, research fellow at Lero

Johnny Ward in Mogadishu, Somalia

WARD REACHES FINAL DESTINATION In our our last issue, we spoke to digital nomad Johnny Ward who was blogging his away around the world. Now, we can report that he has landed in Norway, the final country on his list, making him the first Irish person to visit every country on earth. Speaking to Better Business, Ward said: “It doesn’t feel real actually! I’m honoured my closest friends and family dropped everything and joined me, without them it wouldn’t have been possible. The Norwegian arctic was an epic way to finish! I’ll take a week or two to reflect but then I’m building a playground on the Thai border through my charity, I’ll be racing tuktuks in Sri Lanka with tour company Large Minority, and going around the world in 80 days without flights before the year is out, so I have a lot on my plate!”

LERO BACKS KELMAC WITH €280,000 R&D DEAL Limerick-based Kelmac Group is partnering with software research centre Lero on a €280,000 R&D programme designed to transform the company into a global professional services practice. As part of the plan, Kelmac Group will double its Irish workforce to 12 and open an international R&D technology centre at Plassey Technological Park, Limerick. The €280,000 R&D programme is being jointly funded by Kelmac Group and Science Foundation Ireland.

VOLTEDGE RECOGNISED AT HR AWARDS The Ace Express Freight team accepting their Best Managed Company award


SFA member company Ace Express Freight was among the businesses recognised at this year’s Deloitte Best Managed Companies Symposium and Gala Awards. Ace Express Freight scooped the ‘Best Managed Company’ accolade for a record ninth consecutive year. Established in 1989 by Managing Director Philip Tracey, Ace Express Freight is an Irish family-owned business, which has grown from a small operation offering overnight services to the UK to a global freight forwarding company with world-class partners offering air freight, ocean freight, national, UK and European road freight services, logistic and warehousing solutions and value-added services to clients.

HR consultancy firm Voltedge has been named winner of Best SME HR Initiative at the HR Management and Leadership Awards 2017. The annual awards are the benchmark for companies that demonstrate excellence in HR in Ireland. For the past two years, Voltedge Management was shortlisted in the category of Most Innovative Use of Technology and this year, it was shortlisted in three categories – HR Team of the Year, Most Effective Employee Engagement Strategy and Best SME HR Initiative.

For more on logistics see our feature on page 26 8 SFA | BETTER BUSINESS

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flexible funding solutions FEXCO Asset Finance offers a wide range of tailored and flexible asset finance solutions including leasing and hire purchase that allows small to medium sized enterprises to unlock the value that their business needs to keep moving.

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Updates  News


David Merriman, Head of Enterprise Development at Bank of Ireland; Peter Dunne, co-founder of Carbon Conversion Technology Ltd and Anne Connolly, CEO of ISAX


He Said

Northern Ireland businessman Ken Nelson has been appointed chairman of InterTradeIreland. As chief executive of Local Economic Development Company (LEDCOM) Ltd, one of Northern Ireland’s leading social enterprises, Nelson has more than 25 years’ experience working closely with entrepreneurs, start-up companies, small businesses and social enterprises. During his career with LEDCOM, Nelson has had regular involvement with cross-border trade development activities for micro-enterprises and small businesses.


Ireland Smart Ageing Exchange (ISAX) has announced the launch of Ingenuity, a new accelerator programme targeted at mature business owners aged over 50 who are seeking to scale their businesses. The one day a week programme, which is running in conjunction with DCU Ryan Academy and is sponsored by Bank of Ireland, is spread over nine weeks and is designed to specifically address the challenges facing business owners. It includes workshops, bespoke mentoring and excellent networking opportunities. Bank of Ireland and ISAX are calling on ambitious entrepreneurs with fewer than ten employees to take part.


SHe Said

Ciara Donlon, founder and CEO of THEYA Healthcare


“Recruitment and retention of key employees is a priority for small business in 2017, who often find it hard to compete with larger firms for talent.” SFA Chair Sue O’Neill speaking ahead of a meeting with John Halligan, Minister of State for Training and Skills in Leinster House to discuss skills needs in small businesses.

“Employers have realised the benefits of assessing the overall remuneration package on offer, investing in employees through training opportunities, and meeting their requests for flexible working.” SFA Director Patricia Callan commenting on the findings of the SFA Pay & Conditions of Employment Survey Report.

“Small businesses frequently encounter difficulties in getting people on social welfare to take up a job or increase their hours. These employers are effectively competing with the social welfare system and often find themselves on the losing end.” SFA Assitant Director Linda Barry calling for a review of the social welfare system.

Irish entrepreneur Ciara Donlon, founder and CEO of THEYA Healthcare, the award-winning manufacturers of post-surgery lingerie, has been shortlisted as a finalist for the prestigious 2017 Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards. These awards are an international business plan competition created in 2006 to identify, support and encourage projects by women entrepreneurs. The winners will be announced during the awards week which takes place in Singapore from April 8th to 13th.


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News  Updates

SMALL BUT SOCIAL BETTER BUSINESS SPOKE TO MARYROSE LYONS FROM BRIGHTSPARK CONSULTING TO SEE HOW SMALL FIRMS CAN DEVELOP A SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY THAT GETS RESULTS. “If you are running your social media in 2017 with a strategy that dates from 2014, you are costing yourself money – there’s your headline!” declares Maryrose Lyons, founder of social media marketing agency Brightspark Consulting. As a self-confessed social media veteran, Lyons has seen a dramatic change over the past number of years in how social media is being used to increase a company’s bottom line and unless your business is making that transition, it will inevitably get left behind. “Back then it was very text-based,” explains Lyons. “It was very much about pasting a link to the blog with a witty comment. That’s what you needed to succeed. Whereas now, it has switched and it’s much more about video, it’s not just about posting it and being seen, you’ve got to actually create your video content and then distribute that using ads.”

In terms of which social media platform to invest your time in, Lyons believes Facebook will continue to dominate the space in the near future, particularly with the emergence of Facebook Live, the live video streaming application. “Back in 2014 I was telling my clients that just being on Twitter and LinkedIn was fine, but now Facebook is dominating and it’s giving LinkedIn a run for its money. It’s starting to offer free job ads which is an interesting development for small business owners.” Along with Facebook Live, the disappearing content platforms like Instagram Stories and Snapchat are the ones to watch and, according to Lyons, engaging in old-style social media – publishing a lot of links, not promoting ads – will simply cost you money and fail to get you results. So what are some of the most common

mistakes being made by companies when it comes to social media? “They’re trying to be on every platform, talking to everyone all at the same time,” says Lyons, who stresses the importance of identifying who your target customer is. “When you know who you’re going after, then it’s very easy to target, say for instance, the 34-year old fitness fanatic who will be all over Instagram. “Another problem I’m seeing is companies that publish too much. Again it ties back to this 2014 strategy of five posts a day every day. Now, because it’s about video, perhaps do three quality posts and then propel them out using advertising. You will get much better results.” Having a clear and concise social media strategy is all well and good for the big corporation, but what about the cashstrapped small firm that doesn’t have the resources at hand? “Don’t leave it to the intern,” advises Lyons. “I’ve seen this with clients where the intern leaves the company and they’re scuppered, asking ‘who looks after our social now?’ I’m not saying that everyone in a small firm suddenly has to take responsibility but a certain basic level among staff is necessary. Then it’s authentic, it’s coming from the company, there is a brand voice; all that behind the scenes stuff will naturally flow and that’s social media gold.”

Learn Social Media Like a Pro

Maryrose Lyons, founder of Brightspark Consulting

Lyons is all too aware of the limitations of small businesses, and for that reason she has established an online course called ‘Learn Social Media Like a Pro’. “It’s aimed at small businesses that want to do social well,” she says. “This course is the process I follow when I’m managing social media for clients. It works. It gets results every time.” To check out the course visit


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Feature  Succession Planning


Family-owned businesses often possess unique working dynamics and traits that don’t necessarily translate clearly to outsiders. Passing ownership of a business from one generation to another might seem like a natural and simple process, but it is one that has the potential to exasperate existing tensions or create new ones between family members, and due care must be considered. One just needs to look at the bitter family row currently taking place inside the Kilkenny Group to see the potential consequences of not having a robust family succession plan in place. First and foremost, it is essential that family firms strike a balance between their professional and personal worlds – a balance that in itself can prove difficult to achieve. The succession process can further complicate matters, potentially bringing the personal and professional realms of family life into direct conflict with one another. Alan Murray, Private Client Tax Partner at Mazars, believes a timely and measured approach to succession planning is the most appropriate means of ensuring a smooth transition of ownership. This may involve asking some awkward questions of oneself, of one’s business, and of one’s family, but it is a difficulty that must be overcome in order to ensure the overall longevity of the business. “Ask the difficult questions,” advises Murray. “For example, is your child the right person to manage the company after you have gone or would a management team be better suited? Is the child suited for business? Does


the child want to run the business?” Given the emotive nature of family-owned business dealings, these questions can be quite difficult to approach clearly and objectively. They must be considered carefully though, as the consequences of ignoring them could prove fatal for a company down the line. Murray suggests that seeking the input of an adviser from outside of the family may be necessary, as they are in a position to comment on the state of the business and advise on its future actions without an inherent attachment to the family’s history and politics. “Typically, in the context of a successful family company, a corporate finance house could be asked to interview potential successors to get an independent view on the quality of the next management team,” Murray explains. Ensuring that the next generation is up to the task of running the business is just one of many aspects to succession that needs to be considered. For example, the transition of ownership will not succeed if clear and formal

communication channels are not set up at the earliest possible stages, as Murray points out. “Formal communication channels are extremely important from day one,” he says. “The parents should be given the opportunity to decide what they want to do, and explain that to the children. Also, pre-death, it is important that all children are aware of what all siblings are getting so as to avoid costly and time-consuming litigation post-death.”

Missing the Middle Family firms tend to think clearly of both the long-term business strategy – thinking in terms of generations as opposed to just years – and of the everyday, short-term nuances of the business. What they tend to lack, however, is a medium-term plan – the bridge between their short-term actions and their long-term aspirations. Statistics on the lifespan of family-owned companies across generations illustrate the gap in the middle. According to PwC’s Global Family Business Survey Report, less than one-third of family firms survive


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Succession Planning  Feature

Family Advice

Family business owners share their tips on succession planning

Peter Ferguson, Managing Director, Fergusons Hearing Aid Clinic

Vicki O’Toole, Managing Director, JJ O’Toole Ltd.

into the second ‘Learning to let generation, with only go of our business’, 12 per cent lasting into which advises that the third generation, the outgoing CEO which in turn shrinks to of the firm develops an just 3 per cent that get past appropriate exit strategy for the Rebecca Harrison, MD, Fishers of the fourth. good of the company. Newtownmountkennedy These findings demonstrate Clinton acknowledges that the difficulties of family succession, but Eric the stages set out in this framework are not Clinton, Director at the DCU Centre for always easy for family firms to follow. The Family Business, believes it is possible to emotional elements to family life are difficult overcome these challenges, suggesting that to ignore within business, and can often lead family firms follow the 4-L Framework. This to contradictions and conflicts within the framework, detailed in a research paper by workings of the company. Mary Barrett of the University of Wollongong, “Family firms have to embrace a paradox, elaborates on four sequential leadership and what that means is that they need phases found within successful family firms. to preserve and respect a tradition, but Clinton suggests that these four phases – or also embrace change,” he says. “[The new the four Ls – are necessary to the survival of a generation] want to maybe leave their company, while being passed down from one mark, but what’s very important is that they generation to another. understand what has made the business The first stage, ‘Learning the business’, successful to this point, and then obviously refers to the next generation of family member embrace change.” learning about business, be it through a college Succession planning within a family firm course, through experience within another is a delicate process, filled with paradoxes, company or, indeed, through both. The second but it is a necessary step to ensure long-term stage, ‘Learn our business’, means that the survival. It requires both an awareness of next generation should learn about the family tradition and an openness to change, and it business – the values it holds and the reasons simply cannot be ignored. for its success. “The important thing for the family The third stage, ‘Learn to lead’, imposes business,” concludes Clinton, “is awareness new demands on the new generation running of the inevitability of succession and the the company, as they must professionalise the inevitability that the current CEO is not family firm while simultaneously retaining going to live forever, that there will be change, a culture of trust from within. The fourth and that staying on until your deathbed is not and final stage of the 4-L Framework is always the correct solution.”

Vicki O’Toole, Managing Director, JJ O’Toole Ltd. “All family businesses have the same worries about succession planning. We need to try and not over complicate things, stand back and keep it simple. We all have unique companies, and have an inherent passion for the company we have been handed to look after. There is no way around the process, we all have to go through it!” Peter Ferguson, Managing Director, Fergusons Hearing Aid Clinic “You need to plan, not simply for the transfer of the business, but for the future success of the business. Your decisions should be about what’s best for the business, not alone what is tax efficient. You should always put the tax considerations secondary.” Rebecca Harrison, Managing Director, Fishers of Newtownmountkennedy “Immersing any new family business member in all aspects of the business from the ground up is essential. They should earn the respect of the team and learn the ins and outs of the company. As the title ‘succession planning’ suggests, take the time to sit down and plan. Plan out the new family member’s journey within the firm, and make clear the expectations.”


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Feature  Migrant Entrepreneurs

Migrant THE




uring the Celtic Tiger years, more than one in eight immigrants in Ireland either owned or part-owned a business, a higher percentage than the number of businessowners among the indigenous Irish population at that time. That’s according to a 2008 study conducted by Thomas Cooney, Professor of Entrepreneurship at DIT. While those numbers would have dwindled somewhat during the recession, as the economy continues to recover, we are once again witnessing higher numbers of migrants here engaged in entrepreneurial activity. But their path to success is not an easy one. According to Cooney, immigrant entrepreneurs face very different and distinctive challenges from those faced by native Irish business people. “The biggest one facing these entrepreneurs is discrimination or racism,” he says. “That’s usually from suppliers and customers.” Cooney adds that the level of discrimination can vary depending on an individual’s nationality. “Building trust is a huge issue and that varies depending on which part of the

world you come from. If you are an immigrant from western Europe or America then the level of trust is high, it’s lower for an Eastern European, it’s lower again for someone from South America and Central America, lower still for Asia, and if you are from Africa you will be faced with the lowest level of trust.” The challenges for migrant entrepreners don’t stop there. Access to finance is a real bugbear, which is why a large proportion of migrant entrepreneurs start out in sectors where there are no barriers to entry such as retail and restaurants. Additionally, migrant entrepreneurs have limited access to business networks, and some face day-to-day language barriers. At a time when Ireland is attempting to strengthen its connections in international trade, Cooney believes it’s important to support this pool of entrepreneurial talent and that the responsibility for reaching out to these individuals lies largely with enterprise agencies. Nonetheless, we can all play our part. Afterall, these are people who are overcoming major obstacles to follow their passions, and who are making a great contribution to both Irish society and the wider economy.


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Migrant Entrepreneurs  Feature

Adeola Ogunsina, founder and Managing Director, On-Site Refueling


On-Site Refueling markets itself as a niche service, offering reliable and costeffective refuelling for truck fleets while they are parked overnight, saving on cost and refuelling time when drivers are on the road. For founder and Managing Director, Adeola Ogunsina, who had a strong knowledge of the fuel industry thanks to his previous work in Africa and a good history with the bank due to his experience running five franchised Shell service stations, starting a business in Ireland was a straightforward process in comparison to his native Nigeria. “I knew where to go to have my company

registered, I knew I needed the training and I needed the regulations,” he explains. “There wasn’t too much bureaucracy and too much restriction, as long as I had everything. Starting a business in Ireland is easier because it can be a real a one-stop shop, as long as you have a business plan.” Despite what he saw as a straightforward process in getting the business off the ground, Ogunsina

believes that the most prominent challenges he faced growing On-Site Refueling stemmed from not being an indigenous Irish citizen. However, such cultural barriers proved to be more motivation than hinderance to the Nigerian, and it encouraged him to improve his offering to customers beyond that of his competitors. “For me, I would say that it was a blessing in disguise, it was an advantage of sorts in as much as, in the service we rendered, it made me overcompensate, to prove to the customers that we could go beyond what was required,” he says. Ogunsina also recognised that owning a business would require additional skills to those needed to run a franchise and therefore set out to find supports as a small business owner. In this respect he found Ireland to have a number of significant resources. “When I started my company I had so many issues that I needed advice on,” he says. “I was a part of Skillnets training and I joined the SFA and got advice on HR and a few other things to do with legal positions which they deal with. Since then I’ve been a member because the advice I got was very important and I feel that, at this point, they’ve really been there for me.” Ogunsina also credits his relationship with the bank and the prosperous business environment within the Fingal region for his success to date. He soon hopes to build on this by expanding his fuel services and targeting new business within the construction sector over the coming years.



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Feature  Migrant Entrepreneurs


Darya Recker, founder, NueVentures and Clever Books


With a background in finance and IT, Travelling Languages founders Rosanna Fiorenza and Salvatore Fanara underwent a significant adjustment when they moved to Ireland and transitioned into the education sector. Today, they have welcomed up to 1,000 students through the doors of their total immersion language courses, which promise to enable students to speak fluent English twice as quickly as traditional language programmes. The total immersion aspect of the course means that it’s not only important for students to understand the technicalities of the English language but to make an active effort to embrace the Irish culture as a whole. Fiorenza says: “When they have lessons in the morning they will obviously get all of the training from the teacher. But then they have lots of activities in the afternoon, completely in English, when they are surrounded by native speakers. They are always integrated with the local culture and they get to travel around Ireland. So they don’t just get to visit only Dublin but they get to move on and visit other villages as well.” Due to the fact that Travelling Languages’ success hinged

From a young age, Darya Recker had a burning desire to visit Ireland and when a job opportunity presented her with the possibility of living here, she sold her education and language business in the Ukraine and packed her bags. “I love challenges and learning new things and I always invest in my education as well as learning experiences by working in different locations and for different companies,” says Recker. “This was a great start to learn about Ireland, people and the business environment as well.” However, given the stubborn nature that every entrepreneur possesses of wanting to do things their way, it wasn’t long until Recker left her her job and began a new business of her own. And they came thick and fast. Recker’s first venture was a single pilates studio which she soon

expanded to three locations. Her second enterprise, NueVentures Global, is involved in export sales, while her latest start-up, Clever Books, merges reading with augmented reality to create an interactive educational experience for children. Although she acknowledges that the process of starting a business in Ireland is more clear-cut than in the Ukraine, Recker notes that there are some obstacles to doing business here. She explains: “You need to ‘feel’ the country and people to be able to understand how business works. People in Ukraine and Russia are more straightforward and this is not the case in Ireland, for example.” As well as having her own business, Recker is forging links with businesses overseas. As a representative of the Council of Russian Business People Abroad, she regularly speaks with Russian entrepreneurs interested in

on the ability of Fiorenza and Fanara to understand Irish culture, they actively integrated themselves into their local community upon arrival and soon found themselves venturing out on more social occasions with Irish acquaintances than with Italian. A total immersion in Irish culture, you could call it. “Irish people and Italian people are very similar,” says Fiorenza. “We’re open, friendly and helpful. I didn’t see any type of barrier in that sense. Also, because in the very beginning what we wanted to do was to know the Irish people and the Irish culture better, it was a must for us to be able to integrate.” Thanks to their frequent networking within the local business community, Fiorenza and Fanara found support in their Local Enterprise Office, which aided them with grants for marketing and the hiring of new staff. “Bureaucracy is something that everybody hates, no matter which country you’re from. But if I can compare Ireland with Italy, especially from the bureaucracy point of view, Ireland is heaven,” explains Fiorenza. “It’s so much easier and so much quicker. There is a lot of support from government bodies or any body pushing to have a company set up and settle here. It’s really easy to find support, set up your own company and feel at home.”

Rosanna Fiorenza with Salvatore Fanara, co-founders of Travelling Languages


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Migrant Entrepreneurs  Feature

conducting business in Ireland. “When doing seminars in Russia and the Ukraine, by request of local Chambers of Commerce, I am a big advocate of Ireland. After spending eight years of my life here I have fallen in love with this country and its people,” says Recker. When it comes to assimilating into Irish culture, Recker found little difficulty adapting to her new surroundings. “In Dublin where I live the community is multicultural and generally Irish people are very open and friendly so far as I have experienced.” Part of this integration can be attributed to Recker’s involvement in organisations such as Enterprise Ireland, whom she found a valuable support in the building of her business. “I visit networking events and Enterprise Week events organised by Enterprise Ireland. I find them very useful to meet new people, find partners, and learn new things.”

Remi Daniel, Founder and Director, DVTV


Remi Daniel, a music and video producer from Nigeria, originally began his career as an accountant. An avid photographer, Daniel decided to turn his hobby into a career and when he arrived in Ireland with his family in 2001, he expanded his photography venture into a digital enterprise known as DVTV. “We create videos that speak to that niche audience that engage with our clients,” says Daniel. “It’s about aligning our clients’ business strategies with their customers’ strategies. We don’t do viral videos, we do videos that speak to who you’re looking for.” Daniel believes that both Irish and Nigerian small businesses survive on similar business practices, focusing on good customer service and word of mouth. Difference in business for the two countries lies in the size of their market and, according to Daniel, the quality of services provided in Ireland is much higher. In terms of challenges, as an immigrant, Daniel found his lack of connections and limited access to funding to be the most notable obstacles. “My job is skills-based and highly technical, which requires expensive, cutting-edge technology,” he explains. “If you don’t have money you can’t afford to buy this technology and this machinery.” Alongside this, due to his lack of familiarity with Ireland, Daniel found start-up funds difficult to both find and access. “In Ireland we hear of several systems in place for small businesses but none of them could be reached,” he says. Daniel notes that he would have prefered to have secured a “regular job” before beginning his business but found that due to his overtly non-Irish name and a lack of connections within the Irish community, many opportunities were closed off to him. Undeterred, however, he considered this cultural barrier fuel for his ambition. “I never complained,” he says. “I don’t give into complaining, I just look for solutions to solve my problems. Because I couldn’t get a job I had to start my business, just to keep on going, because I can’t just sit in one spot and do nothing. So the cultural barriers worked out well for me.” Since then Daniel has generated a steady flow of business for DVTV and current projects for the company include work with Focus Ireland, the Professional Speakers Association of Ireland, Maynooth University and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.”


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How To ...  Tips

Jo Collins, MD, Sales Performance

e l a S t a h T ke









LISTEN Most sales people fall into the trap of talking too much and are very eager to talk about their product or solution. The key is to listen. Remember: it’s not about you, your products or services. Obviously, you will want to introduce yourself, share your name and the purpose of your visit (or phone call), but what you don’t want to do is ramble on about your product or service.

ASK AND DISCUSS NEXT STEPS Summarise the meeting with an agreement on what you are going to do and what the client needs to do. Agree a date and a time for your next meeting. This is a really good technique to use with clients. The meeting will close with both of you having to do something. This will give you a great indicator regarding their interest in choosing you, your product or service.


SELL WITH QUESTIONS Forget about trying to “sell”, instead focus on why your prospect wants to buy. To do this, you need to be interested in your prospect’s business; you need to ask questions – lots and lots of them. Take some notes and paraphrase what you think you have heard, this is a really good skill to perfect. Ask plenty of open questions to get your customer talking.

INTRODUCE A TWO-STEP SALES PROCESS Step One: The first meeting is not about selling, you are fact finding. You want to learn and build rapport. Based on what you learn, confirm a second meeting to present.

LOSE THE JARGON Talk to your prospect as you would with your friends, family or colleagues. Selling is about having a good conversation, with a decision, which can either be yes, not right now or no. It makes no sense to complicate the process with jargon. The only thing that clients are really interested in is the benefits of doing business with you or how the product or service is going to help them.

ASK FOR THE BUSINESS Seven out of ten sales people do not ask for the business. After all your hard work, you need to know if you are going to work together in the future, so find a closing technique that works for you and ask for the business.

Step Two: Reflect back on everything you have learned. This will demonstrate that you listened and understand their business. Your proposal will deal with key issues that are important to your client. Gain information, build rapport and present a solution.

Awareness Unlocks Potential. Review previous sales meetings. Examine what you could have done differently. Step by step, start to correct your approach. If you would like a fresh approach to increasing sales, lets chat: email Jo@, call 087 2730463 or visit


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Business  Cover Story



up of livestock farmers. It includes a diverse range of growers, farmers and businesses, anything from craft brewers to beauty product manufacturers; a clear sign of the growing trend of organic production here and the different industries embracing it. However, despite the positive signs – including the fact that the amount of land used for organic farming in Ireland is on the rise – we still lag far behind our European peers when it comes to organic production. Eurostat figures released in October 2016 show that organic farming took place on just 1.6 per cent of available agricultural land in Ireland in 2015. Only Malta reported less, and our results are in stark contrast to countries like Sweden (17 per cent) and Austria (21 per cent) where the organic movement has flourished in recent years.

But that’s where Westbrook identifies the opportunity. “Across the EU, it’s absolutely huge,” she says. “Five years ago, the trade of organic food was at around €18 billion but in five years it has risen to over €30bn. So there’s an awful lot of demand out there.” Demand in Ireland too; new figures from FiBL show that Ireland is the second fastest growing organic market globally. In 2015, Irish consumers spent €31 per capita on organic food, which is up 23 per cent on the previous year.

In the Business of Food Westbrook has been at the helm of Athlone-based IOFGA for five years now, so she has seen firsthand this shift towards organic. She’s also well placed to witness progress at a global level through her role as chairperson of the

Photo: Jason Clarke

reland has a massive market sitting on its doorstep, waiting to be exploited. That’s according to Gillian Westbrook, CEO of the Irish Organic Farmers & Growers Association (IOFGA), who forecasts that in the next ten years, as much as 10 per cent of utilised agricultural land in Ireland could be used for organic production. “It’s going to be a challenge, but it’s not impossible,” she says. “It just needs a bit of will power to get there.” Will power is not in short supply at Westbrook’s organisation, which for 35 years has been at the forefront of the organic movement in Ireland. A voluntary organisation and a company limited by guarantee, IOFGA currently has a membership of over 1,100 people, and that’s not simply made


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Cover Story  Business


Gillian Westbrook pictured in the farmyard at Airfield Estate in Dundrum, Co Dublin, which allows easy access to all visitors to learn about how a working farm is run.


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Business  Cover Story

“THERE ARE SOME VERY LARGE MARKETS THAT ARE KNOCKING ON THE DOOR. THE CHINESE AND ASIAN MARKETS ARE MASSIVE. THE POSSIBILITY OF THEM OPENING UP TO US NOW IS QUITE EXCITING.” International Foundation for Organic Agriculture. To IOFGA, she brought with her 25 years’ experience of working with various state agencies, private companies and member organisations, with one general theme throughout – food. One of those organisations was the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA), a body which, unlike other agri groups, is an avid supporter of organic farming. During her time working there as executive research officer, she was also on the board of IOFGA, which meant she was in familiar territory when she made the move in 2012. The Belfast native meets us on one of her member’s sites, Airfield Manor Estate, the impressive 38-acre working farm and gardens located in Dundrum, Co Dublin. There, in something of an Anglo-Irish accent developed from having lived and worked in England for two decades, she tells us more about what it is that IOFGA does. “The core of our work is very much about organic certification,” she explains. “For something to have an organic logo and be described as organic, it has to comply with EU regulations on organic. Those [regulations] are quite complex to

SFA FACT Did you know? Despite being a member organisation itself, the IOFGA is a member of the Small Firms Association, and Westbrook says it faces similar challenges to that of any small business. “As wonderful as all these scientific, legal and regulatory issues that we’re involved in are, we also have the every day running of an office. We use the SFA for various advisory aspects and membership has been really helpful.”

say the least and quite onerous as well. It’s not something that most consumers realise, but there is a full system in place and every single part of the food chain has to be certified. Our key objective is holding the integrity of organic. And so, every aspect of the chain has to be visited, inspected and checked that it is correct. So it’s a huge amount of work.” IOFGA has a staff of 20 (including part-time and full-time), over half of whom are inspectors, and collectively their key objectives are to inspect, certify and network with organic farmers and producers. So what exactly does it mean to be organic? By definition, organic farming brings together the best environmental practices, a high level of biodiversity, the preservation of natural resources and high production standards based on natural substances and processes. Or, as Westbrook describes it, “organic is really about finding a solution to a problem. It’s also a really nice way to farm,” she adds. “If you asked a consumer to draw you their ideal fruit production system, I guarantee you, there wouldn’t be any sprays or chemicals in that drawing. So it really does represent what the consumer wants.” Westbrook does concede that it is a difficult way to farm, but states that the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks and, ultimately, farmers would not be engaging in organic production if it did not make economic sense. “Farmers generally go into organic farming because it is profitable,” she says. “If it wasn’t, we’ve failed at something. There is a premium on organic food – the farmer gets a better farm gate price. The retailer tends to charge more for it, and the consumer is pleased to pay for it. Then, of course, we’ve had a huge influx of discount stores here, and they’re selling a lot more organic food, making it much more affordable for everybody, which is what we like to see!”

A Long-Term View The profile of the organic farmer or producer is changing too. Westbrook has witnessed a strong uptake among younger farmers who are more conscious about the environmental impact of not choosing the organic route. They are also taking a longterm view of their business, identifying how they can maintain standards and practices that will keep the land in good condition for years to come. “They are considering what they can leave to their children,” explains Westbrook. “Although we wouldn’t have anything like the same issues you get in other EU countries in terms of the land receiving too many chemicals over its lifetime, we can certainly see that farmers are actually now looking at basic economics. So they can see that there’s a farming system there – not only is it economically viable, but it’s also environmentally friendly. “A lot of farmers will tell us that they’re really not that happy about using sprays, but they don’t have any alternative. And when you’re seeking advice on agronomy or on how to grow crops, the problem is that that advice tends to come from the salesman selling you the chemical.” IOFGA has worked to overcome such challenges by establishing their field talk programmes, a series of meetings whereby organic farmers and producers engage in conversation, assess markets and share information on best practice methods. “Remember, farmers are massively adaptable,” says Westbrook. “If they think there’s a market for something, they will grow it. They will produce for that market. And so, we’re now starting to link more effectively the market with the farmer. Recently, for example, we had a man who supplies Michelin-starred restaurants in the Netherlands. We invited him over, and he came and looked at some of the cattle in Co Offaly. He was so impressed that he’s only going to purchase his beef from here from now on.”

Beyond Brexit This bridge between new markets and Irish organic farmers will form a key part of battling the potential impact of Brexit. While Ireland is heavily reliant on the British market in the general agriculture sector, exports of Irish organic products are more evenly spread throughout European markets. “We’re actually in


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Cover Story  Business

a – I wouldn’t say good position but – a less vulnerable position than some of the other companies,” Westbrook explains. “Sweden, Germany and France are quite big purchasers of our organic product, and that could be anything from aquaculture to beef, sheep and cereals.” Westbrook notes that while the UK market is not insignificant to Irish organic producers, it is difficult to measure given that, from a statistics point of view, it tends to be calculated as general agri-food exports, without differentiation between organic and conventional. She hazards a guess that it stands at between 10 and 12 per cent of overall organic exports. “So it’s not insignificant if it were no longer available, but there are other areas. And we’re seeing signs of demand – which we can’t keep up with,” she says. “There are some very large markets that are knocking on the door. The Chinese and Asian markets are massive. The possibility of them opening up to us now is quite exciting.”

Something to Shout About

Photo: Jason Clarke

In terms of the year ahead for IOFGA, Westbrook is excited about getting the message out that organic is the future. She cites EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan who was speaking at BioFach – the world’s leading trade fair for organic products – in Germany a few years ago, where he declared that ‘organic is the shining light of the agri-food industry’. In the months ahead, Westbrook and her team will spread that very message through largescale marketing and promotion campaigns, by working closely with chefs to encourage more uptake of organic food on menus, by continuing its successful field talk programmes, and much more besides. “We ran a big project two years ago across Europe looking at how producers have increased their productivity,” she recalls. “It was very popular and enabled us to get ideas from other countries and bring them back. It’s surprising how many farmers have come together and said, ‘actually, we can do this here’, and they’re absolutely right. And they are doing it! We always shout that Ireland has the best food in the world; now it’s time to shout, ‘Ireland has the best organic food in the world’. It’s such a clean product, because you’re starting from an unpolluted ground in the first place, and that’s what makes it so exciting.”


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Commercial Profile

DELIVERING BESPOKE SOLUTIONS FOR ALL BUSINESS TYPES WHETHER YOU’RE A BUSINESS WITH UP TO 250 PEOPLE, A LARGER ENTERPRISE OR A PUBLIC SECTOR ORGANISATION, VIRGIN MEDIA BUSINESS HAS THE RIGHT DIGITAL PLATFORM FOR YOU. Getting your essential business internet stuff sorted without breaking the bank is essential and Virgin Media Business can help. From business broadband and phone lines to professional services, we partner with you to design, build and deliver the optimal way for data (and voice) to flow in and out of your business. Digital is mainstream; going online, handling emails, web searching and a bit of social media. Even the smallest business needs the speed and reliability of our fibre optic business broadband. This is where Virgin Media Business enters. Our super fast broadband brings a superior experience of the internet. Fast and reliable with round-the-clock support. Virgin Media Business recently published its third Business Insights Report. Researched by Amárach, it asked a panel of Irish business decision-makers how they rate their growth prospects for 2017-18. The results showed a trend of gradually rising confidence since the 2012 Virgin Media Business survey, with 86 per cent stating that growth would be either good or very good. In fact, 80 per cent of Irish small and medium businesses and corporates said they had a positive outlook for growth. Meanwhile, 74 per cent of business decision-makers said their growth into 2018 will be due to digital technology, while the majority also plans to invest in digital to fuel that growth. On average, bosses believe revenues will grow by 19 per cent this year. With the addition of the right digital and online strategy, they say revenues could grow by 26 per cent. Businesses also believe that the delivery of better customer experiences is becoming more and more dependent on digital. The availability of high

Patricia Callan, SFA Director with Aidan D’Arcy, ‎Head of Business Division at Virgin Media Ireland, launching the #Disrupt competition

speed broadband is also central to the relationship between businesses and customers.

Go Super Fast With Virgin

You can select any one of Virgin Media Business’ super fast bundles, which include free phone lines and speeds ranging from 100Mbps up to 400Mbps. It’s connectivity at the speed of business. Virgin Media Business wants your company to be more productive and find new ways to expand your business. Virgin Media Business is Ireland’s fastest business broadband provider. Not only that, the company is thrilled to be known as having the fastest delivery times to get your business connected quicker than any other service provider. Virgin Media Business will never take it for granted. That’s why we've put together a robust Service Level Agreement (SLA). It lets you know exactly what we promise to deliver as

part of the business broadband services you have ordered from us. And don't take our word for it - we're the recipient of the Best Business Broadband, InBUSINESS Awards 2016.

How do businesses get in touch?

Check out or call 1800 940 980

One Lucky Irish Company Won 24,000 Virgin Media Business teamed up with Better Business and the Small Firms Association and offered members the opportunity to win €24,000 worth of marketing spend. Congratulations to our lucky winner, Irish Organic Farmers and Growers Association (IOFGA), who feature as the cover story in this issue.


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Feature  Logistics



or a small firm starting out, or one that is in growth stage, logistics challenges will undoubtedly come into play. The function of logistics is crucial to any company because it is the quintessence of its relationship with its suppliers and customers. Managing logistics inefficiently can prove costly and even fatal for a business, and given the air of uncertainty that has been created in the wake of seismic global events of late such as Brexit, it is important that small businesses take their logistics needs as seriously as any other part of their business and implement a robust strategy.

Expertise While rapid growth for any business is always welcome, with that comes fresh challenges and new hurdles for which a company might

The Elephant Storage team

not yet be equipped. The business might, for example, suddenly require additional space for storing its products, or perhaps it needs to transport goods cheaply into a new foreign market. A quick solution is not always feasible, which is why it can pay to turn to a company in the know, who can provide the expertise required. Consider the services offered by Dublinbased Elephant Self Storage. Elephant runs a self-storage facility with 800 storage units ranging in size, from small lockers to jumbo rooms measuring almost 1,000 sq ft. The facility allows its clients to simply pay for the space that is being used, without having to commit to a long-term lease. “Running a business is costly and small businesses need to work hard to maintain a healthy cashflow,” says Jude O’Meara, Managing Director at Elephant. “We provide a business service that assists them in keeping costs low, while providing a beneficial logistical service which, for many, gives the business an opportunity to expand at a fraction of what this would otherwise cost.” The storage solutions on offer at Elephant are a valuable service to many small firms, but beyond this, the company also offers short-term rentals of its ‘flexi-offices’, found on-site at the storage facility. Businesses can rent a fully equipped flexi-office in order to avoid the costs and long-term commitments of taking out a lease on offices of its own. “Rent is one of the largest overheads a small business has to account for, and this generally requires a long-term lease in excess of five years,” says O’Meara. “In addition to rent, small firms also have to factor in the cost of furnishing the office, electricity, heating, maintenance and insurance, among other overheads.” Of course, storage and office space are a small sample of the obstacles that smaller firms must navigate when it comes to logistics. If a company is required to export its products abroad, there are myriad problems that it might come up against. With many e-commerce retailers, for example, shipping is one of the biggest challenges they


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face. Then there’s the cost of getting the goods through customs. By seeking the services of a logistics management company, these tasks can become much more manageable. Titan Logistics, for example, uses the resources, capabilities and technologies within its organisation to design, build and run comprehensive supply chain solutions. “One obvious challenge for small businesses,” the firm’s managing director Paul Collins points out, “is getting access to competitive freight rates.” Titan helps to address this by allowing clients to gain access to its extensive network of freight partners, enabling small businesses to transport their goods at far lower costs than if they were to organise the process themselves. “Through Titan’s combined buying power, small firms are enjoying freight rates normally reserved for large multinationals,” says Collins.

Foreign Affairs Offering the kind of rates usually only available to big business is undoubtedly a great advantage for small firms, but freight costs are not the only challenge facing exporting companies, particularly if they are trading beyond the European Union. “The key issues for small businesses exporting outside the EU normally relate to their understanding of the different rules applicable within different countries,” suggests Michael Tracey, General Manager at Ace Express Freight. A small firm, for example, might lack the expertise to comfortably manage foreign regulations and restrictions that come with trading outside of the Internal Market. Working alongside a logistics solutions company with experience in dealing with

these markets, such as Michael Tracey’s firm Ace Express, or Paul Collins’ Titan Logistics, can help a fledgling exporter to reach the kind of far-flung markets that would have seemed unthinkable to take on alone. It is particularly pressing today that Irish firms understand the opportunities and challenges that come with trading in less familiar territories such as the Middle East and Africa, particularly as the consequences of Brexit loom large on the horizon. While it is necessary to identify such alternative markets, the UK will undoubtedly remain a crucial trade partner in the future given the historical and geographic ties between us. Companies, however, will now have to navigate new rules and regulations around this partnership. In relation to Brexit, Tracey notes that “the critical issue will be, how can we in Ireland achieve seamless movement of goods in a cost-effective manner?” Brexit is sure to have wide-reaching effects, regardless of a company’s size or industry. Even those within the logistics industry are putting their Brexit-proof measures in place, both for themselves and for their clients. Titan Logistics’ Paul Collins is certainly not waiting around, and is busy preparing for the potentially turbulent period ahead. “We are planning for a hard Brexit and taking steps to acquire technology to facilitate hard border trade compliance,” he explains. Small firms need to plan carefully for the future – they need to identify the logistics challenges they cannot overcome alone, and avail, where possible, of the services offered by logistics solutions companies. Doing so might just allow them to not only navigate their way through, but flourish in, these uncertain times.

 Feature

Things to Consider When Choosing A Logistics Partner

Flexibility If a business is in the early stages of establishing itself in the market, it can be difficult to predict sales and, therefore, its warehousing and distribution needs. For this reason, a flexible partnership with a logistics provider, which has the resources to work on a reactive basis, is essential. Scalability A pay as you go model for the service is often the most economical route, allowing the partnership to increase alongside the success of the business, rather than paying for an agreed warehouse footprint. Familiarity If you’re in the businesss of exporting mushrooms, does your logistics provider have experience with a company in the same line of business? If it does, then any teething problems with adapting resources are instantly eradicated. Location Centrally located providers offer an immediate solution to keeping service costs down. If efficient transport links are in place, the business will see a better service for its customers. Experience Choosing a logistics provider with vast experience can have the added value of being able to seek tailored expert advice. It can make for a partnership where the provider offers more than just warehousing and distribution.


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Advice  Wise Guys




IT Eamon Moore

Managing Director, E-MIT


Focus on what your business does best. Part of being successful is learning when to say no in situations that do not connect with your overall business strategy. After that, as a business owner or senior leader in your organisation, focus on what you do best in your role in order to contribute effectively to this strategy. When you have figured out this part, surround yourself with great people to fill the gaps for you.

How do we define success?

HR Carol Ann Casey Managing Director, CA Compliance

For CA Compliance, tenacity is critical to our success. Since 1999, we have been a trusted and reputable brand. We are dedicated to deliver and determined to achieve a purposeful resolution for each matter in hand. Key to this are people, professional development, acumen and outstanding customer service. Accountability, creditability and impartiality are core to our success.


Technology Diarmuid Hudner CEO,

Tackling a problem as global as cyber-bullying isn’t easy, especially when you are building behavioural technology to influence how social media is used in the future by an entire generation. The ability to continually re-evaluate and start afresh is essential in maintaining a progressive strategy. Mindset is everything in how you approach problems. We follow the mantra: ‘When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change’.

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

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realise how close they were to success when they gave up.” Thomas A. Edison


Exporting Darren Fortune Managing Director, Ventac

One of the key factors to our success in export markets is having a shared vision in Ventac, which is important in creating a common focus for all team members. Creating this clear vision has aided us in identifying our sweet spot customers, increasing our competitiveness and in differentiating ourselves as a solution-focused supplier. At Ventac, we position ourselves as ‘the complete noise control solutions provider’ to commercial vehicle manufacturers across Europe.

If you are a business leader


Thomas A. Edison

(February 11th, 1847 – October 18th, 1931) was an American inventor and businessman whose great innovations include the incandescent electric light bulb and the phonograph. A savvy businessman, he held more than 1,000 patents for his inventions.

Sports Tech Bruce Bale CEO, Sportdec

At Sportdec, the key factor for us to become successful is truly disrupting a market, in our case the sports fan experience. We deliver every feature that fans need in a single solution, which no other sports, game or betting company offers. To attract, retain and monetise customers, you cannot focus on just being better, because competitors will continually evolve, improve and imitate. Therefore, your product or service must deliver a genuinely unique proposition that stands out from the rest.


Health Kathleen Ward Founder, Kathleen Ward Health Clinic

Fate and faith got me here! Despite being a nurse and having gone through conventional treatments, when my daughter was diagnosed with asthma, I turned to reflexology for help. This commenced my lifelong studies of various disciplines in holistic health. At the Kathleen Ward Health Clinic our mission is to treat each person at a physical, spiritual, emotional and mental level. I was a pioneer in setting up a multi-disciplinary clinic 33 years ago and have succeeded as a result of always going the extra mile for clients.

and you feel you have some words of wisdom to share with the small business community please email


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Sector Spotlight  Waste

Wealth FROM




n our sector, we always know how businesses are doing as well as any economist because we see the level of waste being produced at the back doors of factories.” That’s according to Gary O’Neill, Managing Director of Allied Recycling. “When they’re busy, they’re dumping it out but when it quietens down, the waste arising obviously dies off.” O’Neill cites how the amount of gypsum, the waste generated by plasterboard used in the building industry, has increased significantly of late, having almost ground to a halt during the recessionary years. Although his company isn’t directly effected by Brexit, O’Neill says that any downturn in the fortunes of the industries he deals with will obviously impact on him.

Twenty-five years in business this year, with depots in Naas and just outside Kells and a staff of 40, Allied Recycling primarily services Dublin and the midlands for both commercial and domestic waste collection. The major change that O’Neill has witnessed over the years is the move away from landfilling. This observation is supported by the statistic that between 2003 and 2009, waste sent to landfill as a percentage of total waste generated was estimated to be close to 60 per cent. By 2012, this figure had fallen to just over 38 per cent. O’Neill notes how a new generation of managers in Irish companies, particularly those in the technology sector, are very “waste savvy”. “Years ago, you’d hear managers complaining that they didn’t have time to separate out their waste, whereas now companies want monthly reports which tell them exactly where every kilo of their waste is going. If there’s a way of recycling it, they want it done. Every factory in the country with a canteen now wants their waste to be recycled in a brown bin because it is saving them money,” he explains. The level of savings being made by companies with an effective waste management regime has also been highlighted in research conducted by Cré, the Composting and Anaerobic Digestion Association of Ireland, in conjunction with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Following the introduction of commercial food waste legislation in 2010, the study found that one large hotel made annual savings of €21,000 and reduced the amount of waste which had previously been going to landfill by 70 per cent. The research valued each kilo of food waste at €2 – based on the ingredients used, cooking energy, labour costs and landfill disposal expenses. Although much has been achieved in terms of encouraging the segregation of food waste in recent years, EPA figures show how


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 Sector Spotlight


much more still needs to be done since. In 2015, it was estimated that just 27 per cent of Irish food waste was segregated and collected – 61 per cent coming from the domestic sector and 39 per cent from the commercial sector.

The Export Option One impact of the rise in landfill levies has been to drive waste management away from landfill towards cheaper alternatives such as the export market. As a result, waste collection companies are exporting waste to the likes of Netherlands, Sweden and further afield. According to Percy Foster, Chief Executive of Cré, approximately 530,000 tonnes of household residual waste was exported in 2015. The scheduled opening of the controversial Dublin waste-to-energy thermal treatment plant at Poolbeg in Dublin later this year will absorb a proportion of the municipal waste that cannot be reused or recycled, but a large proportion of waste will continue to be exported for incineration.

A consultation paper commissioned by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government in 2015 on the potential to reverse the trend of exporting 34 per cent of our domestic waste focused on the need for greater emphasis on recycling. The paper estimated that 2,100 jobs could be created directly if all processing of recyclables and bio-waste was to be carried out in Ireland. Although the bio-waste industry is still in its infancy here, particularly compared to countries such as the US where the industry was valued at €300 million in 2015, an increasing number of Irish companies are using technology to create new products out of waste. One such company, EnviroGrind, produces high quality compost from its plant in Donegal. Having served on an industry advisory board to government and worked in the sector in the US, Managing Director Martin Eves is passionate about the potential for a viable bio-waste sector in Ireland. “The goal has to be that we view waste as a valuable resource. The SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 31

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Sector Spotlight  Waste

sector is constantly sub-dividing and, if you can provide the technology, you can create new products. Technology must not just keep pace but it must be ahead of the legislation. Up to now, legislation has been the driver but that needs to change, there needs to be a complete re-focus,” Eves insists. Having played a key role in developing a process to recycle gypsum at the Kingscourt plant in Co Cavan, Eves has also designed and installed systems for similar recycling plants in Australia and other countries and, through his company, he continues to maintain and upgrade these plants on an ongoing basis. He is also currently working with Enterprise Ireland on developing a revolutionary process at a plant in Carlow to separate and recycle aggregate building products which previously would only ever have been landfilled. Previous government reports have recognised the importance of the waste recovery industry in generating employment and greening the economy. They align with the recommendation made by the National Competitiveness Council that expenditure levels in the sector should mirror that of comparable countries since our infrastructure is deemed to lag behind other countries. On the subject of waste-to-energy, Eves states that while it is to be welcomed as an alternative to landfilling, an excessive concentration on incineration fails to realise the potential that recycling has to put more money back into the economy. He is also adamant that there is a greater value in developing localised processing plants instead of all the focus being on large centralised processing plants – from the point of view of both generating jobs in the bio-waste sector and reducing the environmental footprint required to transport waste around the country. Percy Foster references another Cré member, Novamont, an Italian-based company that has a presence in Ireland, which is leading the field in creating bio-lubricant products that are currently being used to replace oil in tractors and machinery. Foster is also supportive of companies like EnviroGrind who manufacture nutrient-rich waste streams from food processing factories that are high in phosphorus and can be used to displace the use of chemical fertilisers and reduce the level of greenhouse gas being produced by the agricultural industry. From an Ireland Inc. perspective, Foster also highlights the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions as another positive effect of waste reduction which, he suggests, is particularly relevant as the EU’s drive towards the “circular economy” sets increasingly higher targets. In ‘Towards a Resource Efficient Ireland: A National Strategy to 2020’, the Government states its commitment to engaging with small businesses to assist in the transformation of consumption patterns and waste management behaviours. The document also quantifies the considerable potential benefits: if Ireland were to achieve a target of a 2 per cent reduction in domestic material consumption each year, it is estimated that this would yield savings of about €928m in the first year and €7 billion by 2020. Food for thought.


Kate Purcell and Liz Fingleton demonstrate the Obeo Food Waste Box


he selling proposition on the website for Obeo, the Dublin-based company that produces a countertop sized compostable box for food waste recycling for the home, is that: “It’s really strong, doesn’t leak and, most importantly, doesn’t smell, even after three days!” Co-founder Liz Fingleton explains that the concept for the Obeo box arose out of the frustration she and her businesss partner, Kate Purcell, both felt when trying to deposit their own domestic food waste. At the time, Purcell, a product designer, was doing a Masters’ in Sustainable Design at the National College of Art and Design while Fingleton, a chartered accountant, was looking for new business opportunities outside the corporate world of KPMG where she was working. Spotting a gap in the market, the pair teamed up and spent 18 months in research and design and, assisted by an Enterprise Ireland grant, launched their product on the market in 2014. Although it is currently on sale in a number of supermarkets including Dunnes Stores and SuperValu, according to Fingleton, the future is online. “There is a real appetite for our product online – it is easily transportable and can be ordered on a subscription basis, which means that it is cheaper for customers to buy online.” At present, Obeo is the only box of its kind on the market and, having launched on Amazon in November, it now plans to drive the export end of the business. Another initiative that they have negotiated is a discount code system with Greyhound Recycling for customers who use Obeo boxes. In recent months, Purcell has also turned her attention to developing a range of biodegradable products that will provide an environmentally friendly alternative to cling film and tin foil.


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Small Business Profile  IASIO


THERE’S BUSINESS IN INTEGRATING FORMER OFFENDERS BACK INTO SOCIETY, AND IT’S A WIN-WIN FOR ALL INVOLVED, AS BETTER BUSINESS DISCOVERED WHEN IT EXPLORED THE WORK OF IASIO. It is safe to say that Paddy Richardson is a man who cares about community, and his career to date is testament to that. Prior to working in his previous role as head of employment programmes at Business in the Community (BITC), he spent 19 years employed as a services manager for people with intellectual and physical disabilities. But it was his work at BITC, developing and managing programmes in the criminal justice sector, that would pave the way for the establishment of the Irish Association for the Social Integration of Offenders (IASIO) in April 2012, where Richardson would take up the position of CEO. Five years on, and IASIO is a private limited company with charitable status, offering dedicated services to former offenders. It receives grant funding from the Department of Justice and Equality through the Probation Service and the Irish Prison Service. The organisation’s team of 37 staff (primarily career guidance officers) works with adult offenders in the criminal justice system with a specific focus on alternatives to offending, custody and re-imprisonment. This is achieved through three criminal justice programmes, two of which are dedicated employment services that work with former offenders – both prisoners and probationers

– supporting reintegration efforts, exploring future directions, and ultimately assisting with access to appropriate training, education and employment opportunities. “Every year we get between 3,200 and 3,300 people referred to us,” explains Richardson. “It is a considerable amount of people and the success rate has proved to be very high. The most important thing here is to make sure that the people we deal with are people who want put their offending behaviour behind them

and that they’re not being forced to do so. Our highly qualified staff establish this very quickly by carrying out risk assessments and psychometric tests.” According to Richardson, the organisation’s real added value comes from the area of direct employment, a key factor in reducing recidivistic behaviour, not to mention acting as recruiter for a number of employers. “Since 2012 we have had over 2,000 people placed in employment – and they’re real jobs – while 13,000 were referred to us, of which 11,000 engaged and 7,184 were placed, so they went into training or education.”

Benefits for Business So apart from the obvious manpower, what does a small business stand to gain from hiring staff through IASIO? For one thing,

Vivian Geiran, Director of the Probation Service, Paddy Richardson, CEO, IASIO, Frances Fitzgerald, Minister for Justice & Equality, Patrick Lynch, Chairman, IASIO, and Michael Donnellan, Director General, Irish Prison Service pictured at the launch of the IASIO biennial report


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IASIO  Small Business Profile

many former offenders are highly skilled and motivated but have been deprived of opportunity. High quality skills training is currently provided in all Irish prisons, and these skills are based around labour market demands so ex-offenders generally make up a significant pool of potential employees which is not being fully tapped. Indeed, research from Ibec in the past has found that many companies report that the employment of ex-offenders has a positive effect on their business leading to a highly motivated and dedicated workforce. “These companies will have an organisation behind them, there are no recruitment needs,” insists Richardson. “And we have staff who understand business, who understand training, education employment and the business needs of employers. They have the experience to deal with all kinds of situations that might arise. “It’s a thing I always have to explain a bit further; we don’t get people jobs to stop them from commiting criminal behaviour. The fact is that by getting them jobs they stop doing it. People who have been in prison from a very young age or in a life of crime begin to change once opportunities are open to them. For a lot of people, when they first engage with us and are given that opportunity by the probation or prison service, it might be the first time anyone ever sat down with them and gave them options and gave them hope.” Witnessing this sense of hope being ignited in these people is something that drives Richardson, however he is quick to point out that the organisation is far from a group of “do-gooders”. “We don’t have time to be working with people who are wasting our time,” he stresses. “When we have somebody engage with us, they have to put as much work into it as we do and they have to want to do it. Since 2012 no issues have arisen from any placement we made with an employer; that’s something that I say with great pride. It’s because there is so much effort being put into making the placement appropriate in the first instance.” That effort is generally one year in the making as the organisation engages with a potential client for up to 12 months before they are placed. “If there’s six months left on their sentence that’s very tight from our point of view to start getting them into a different mindset about what it is they want to do when they come out,” says Richardson.

“WE DON’T GET PEOPLE JOBS TO STOP THEM FROM COMMITING CRIMINAL BEHAVIOUR. THE FACT IS THAT BY GETTING THEM JOBS THEY STOP DOING IT.” Potential So what about some of the success stories thus far? Richardson says there’s too many to mention but one particular client comes to mind. “We had a guy who is in his thirties now and who had over 60 charges against him over the years,” he recalls. “He had been

SFA FACT Did you know? Companies interested in recruiting staff through IASIO should email programmes managers Barry Owens or Adrienne Higgins, or visit for more information.

in prison since a young age and he engaged with us. We got him into university through a millenium project and they paid his fee of €5,000 per year. He’s now a programmer, but he is also doing voluntary work in prisons and in communities for people who are suffering from drug addiction.” Richardson is clearly passionate about the work he does, something he conveys vividly in conversation. “We’re very proud of what we do but we’re not arrogant about it,” he says. “It’s a tough job, but if it was easy, somebody else would be doing it. What it’s down to at the end of the day is our people and state services working together. Having said that, no matter how good we are, no matter how good the prisoners are, the probation services, the Gardaí, the courts, it’s a community effort, and if the community turns its back on people who want to change their offending behaviour, that’s a real shame.” SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 35

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15/03/2017 16:10

Brendan Cremen  Interview


Research MEETS


BRENDAN CREMEN, UCD DIRECTOR OF ENTERPRISE AND COMMERCIALISATION, TALKS TO BETTER BUSINESS ABOUT THE ROLE AND IMPACT OF THE START-UP INCUBATOR NOVAUCD, THE LAUNCH OF THE UNIVERSITY BRIDGE FUND AND FOSTERING A CULTURE OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP. “The starting point is always the research,” says Brendan Cremen, UCD Director of Enterprise and Commercialisation. “We do about €100 million worth of research annually in UCD, across all different areas, from software to electronics to drug discovery and life sciences. The most important element that comes out of all that research is the people who are trained to do it; people are the most important thing that the university produces. But having said that, we’re also producing about four companies each year directly from this research.” In 2002, NovaUCD, the research and innovation centre at UCD, was born of a joint venture between UCD, Enterprise Ireland and six industrial sponsors to harness and ultimately commercialise the research and ideas that were coming out of the university. “How do you harness ideas and turn them into an economic benefit? One of the ways – and only one of the many ways – is to generate start-up companies and put the necessary support structure around them

so they have the best opportunities to raise finance and grow and generate wealth and jobs,” says Cremen. At the first stage of the incubator’s process, what’s known as the ‘technology transfer’ team engages closely with the researchers from an early stage to understand what aspect of their research could be turned into a commercial idea. “If something looks like it has the potential to be a commercial opportunity my guys will work with the researchers to protect it. Most of what we deal with here is fairly deep technology, be that on the software side, or materials, drugs or electronics, but all of them require development, detailed analysis, commercial evaluation and, importantly, protection, which in most cases means patenting.” The second aspect involves training and preparing the academics for the commercial world. VentureLaunch is the university’s three-month accelerator programme that takes more developed,

viable ideas and prepares the researchers, or academics, to take their intellectual property to an external company. “The idea”, says Cremen, “is that between preparing the idea and preparing the people, we can bring the two together and ultimately launch companies. However, in many cases it never gets to that stage. An idea could go back into the research phase and get turned into something else altogether. Entrepreneurship and starting up is a non-linear process. You don’t move forward steadily all the time; you might make one step forward and two steps back. So it’s both a deep-engagement and a handholding process. “What we really want is to build quality into these companies. You want to build a quantity annually, but actually what you really need to do is build quality into them and make them as investible as possible when they come out. If they’re not investible when they come out they will inevitably die quickly.” SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 37

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Interview  Brendan Cremen

Success Stories


Photo: Nick Bradshaw, Fotonic

Brendan Cremen, UCD Director of Enterprise and Commercialisation pictured at NovaUCD

Several successes have emerged from the incubator over its history. Three companies formed at UCD – Bianca Med, Log Entries and Changing World – have had pretty major ‘exits’ (being bought out or going to IPO) within three to five years to sums of around $60-$70m. Cremen says that these exits not only validate that good ideas are being produced at UCD, but they are bringing multinationals into the country, as they have used it as a base to do further research, and thereby creating employment. Many other NovaUCD companies haven’t actually gone to exit but have grown themselves into sustainable companies, including the water-treatment company OxyMem and the pharmaceutical company APC. On average the incubator produces four companies per annum. Some ideas however are not deep enough to sustain an individual company but can still be commercialised by licensing the intellectual property to existing companies. NovaUCD manages around 20 licences a year – figures that are comparable with other leading universities internationally. “There are lots of examples over the last 10 years but I think the general word is impact: these companies have had a large impact. Nova companies have generated in the region of 1,500 jobs and that is a very tangible, measurable outcome.” Looking towards the future, the university is also now engaging its student body in start-up programmes, with the aim of fostering a wider culture of entrepreneurship. “The whole concept of entrepreneurship, driving ideas and testing ideas with a commercial lens, is a great thing for students to do, whether they’re later employed in start-ups or large corporations. It’s a skillset that’s transferrable to industry and that engagement around entrepreneurship will last a lot longer than some of the companies might,” says Cremen, who has a background in both industry and start-ups. NovaUCD is currently home to more than 30 companies, and is set to expand its incubation space over the next few years to accommodate the increasing demand for companies interested in co-locating with a university. “We welcome ‘spin-ins’, and not just our


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own spin-outs. These are tech start-ups that want to engage with the university to help develop their product. We’re mixing the DNA of the university with the DNA of companies born outside the university and that creates an energy and a dynamic environment.” Last year UCD and Trinity collaborated to set up a €60m venture capital fund focused exclusively on investing in early-stage companies with global potential that are built from the research of all Irish universities and third-level institutions. The fund is part of Atlantic Bridge, one of the biggest technology funds in Europe, and will provide capital for accelerating the commercialisation of research and scaling companies into the US and beyond. Asked whether he feels there is enough support and encouragement for start-ups in Ireland, Cremen says: “We could always be doing more. The fact that UCD and Trinity set up a fund indicates that there was a gap there, but overall I think Ireland has a very positive environment for start-ups. “By improving the qualities of our programmes and our research, we are making the companies much more able to access

funding and therefore grow and scale much more quickly. I would hope over the next five or ten years, instead of exits in the $60, $70, $80m range, we’ll be looking at exits in the $200m range. And I’d hope we’d be looking at organic companies employing hundreds of people and not 100. That’s the level we’re aspiring for and we believe it will happen.”

Champagne Super Novas: Five Successful Spin˜Outs ChangingWorlds





In December 2008 ChangingWorlds was acquired for $60m by Amdocs, the USquoted technology company and leading provider of customer experience systems. ChangingWorlds was founded in 1999, the spin-out of a research project in UCD led by Prof Barry Smyth. At the time it provided personalisation software to mobile operators to remember users’ internet preferences and browsing history.

BiancaMed was launched by Dr Philip de Chazal, Dr Conor Hanley and Prof Conor Heneghan to commercialise research undertaken at UCD’s School of Electrical, Electronic and Mechanical Engineering. Its proprietary technology is a sensitive, non-contact device called SleepMinder™ for monitoring sleep and breathing for the home and hospital markets. In 2011, the company was acquired by leading respiratory company ResMed.

A cloud-based solution for collecting, searching, visualising, and analysing machine data and logs, Logentries was co-founded in 2010 by Dr Trevor Parsons and Dr Viliam Holub from UCD’s Performance Engineering Laboratory in the School of Science. In 2015, it was bought out by Rapid7 for approximately $68m. Rapid7 has continued to expand its presence in Ireland and Logentries is still headquartered in Dublin.

APC provides pharma processing technologies and customised solutions to pharmaceutical companies that require the efficient delivery of their services to the global market, reducing risk, cost and time to market. The company was founded by Prof Brian Glennon and Mark Barrett as a spin-out from the School of Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering, and received the NovaUCD start-up award in 2011. The company grew too big for the incubator at UCD and now employs approximately 100 people in Cherrywood, Dublin.

Prof Eoin Casey and Dr Eoin Syron, both researchers in the UCD School of Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering, founded OxyMem, the recipient of the NovaUCD 2015 Innovation Award. OxyMem’s Membrane Aerated Biofilm Reactor is revolutionising the wastewater treatment industry and reducing the operating costs for wastewater treatment and saving energy. OxyMem currently operates a 25,000 sq ft facility and offices in Athlone, Co Westmeath, and employs over 40 people.


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Feature  Second Chance Entrepreneurship






hat do Henry Ford (Ford Motors), Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn), Vera Wang (fashion designer), Jeff Bozos ( and Arianna Huffington (The Huffington Post) all have in common? Your first thought is probably that they are all very successful business people. The word ‘entrepreneur’ might also come into your head. Either way, you wouldn’t be wrong. But those five also have something else in common: before they made it big, they’d all experienced failure in business. Finding five names to illustrate the point is not a difficult task. The world of business is littered with stories of business owners who have had to experience failure at least once – often numerous times – before they made a success of it. That’s no surprise when you consider the statistic that 8 out of 10 people who start businesses fail within the first 18 months. The most common reason why businesses fail is that they simply run out of cash. Others include a failure by companies to properly differentiate their product from what else is in the market, leadership breakdowns or an

inability to align a profitable business model with proven revenue streams. But, the good news is that all that failure certainly doesn’t go to waste. A study by economists from Stanford and the University of Michigan in 2014 found that failed entrepreneurs are far more likely to be successful when they go at it a second time. Admitting you failed can be a tough thing to do in most walks of life. But not always in business. Given enough space and time to lick their wounds and reflect, entrepreneurs who go again are typically only too happy to tell you they have failed – and the reasons why. Question is – how long is enough to lick wounds and reflect? Even as a seasoned journalist, calling up someone to seek their views on ‘second-chance entrepreneurship’ can be intimidating. “I’d like this piece to be positive ... forwardlooking ... key learnings,” I sought to explain appeasingly when Jillian Godsil – whose PR business went to the wall during the downturn – answered my call. My trepidation was misplaced as she laughed away my rambling intro and declared herself “far from precious” about her story. “It’s pretty much all available on Google anyway,” a charming and upbeat Godsil explains.


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Second Chance Entrepreneurship  Feature

SFA FACT Did you know? Changes to bankruptcy laws in Ireland introduced in January 2016 saw a reduction in the bankruptcy period from three years to one year. Jillian Godsil, who was declared bankrupt in February 2014, was among those to benefit from the changes.

Businesswoman Jillian Godsil

“I realised a long time ago that given that I have been through all this crap – with a capital C – I should try and use it,” she adds. Rathfarnham-born Godsil graduated from Trinity College with a degree in History and English. She moved to London, met and married an investment banker (Mike), spent a few years living in Australia and Singapore before returning to Dublin in 1994 and started a family and a PR company. Godsil and her husband bought a stately home – Raheengraney House – in Wicklow, with the intention of turning the eightbedroom property into a guesthouse. Like many in Ireland, the Godsils’ grand plans were derailed by the emergence of the recession and also the collapse of their marriage, which resulted in Mike returning to the UK where he was declared bankrupt. “Everything that could go wrong, went wrong,” she explains. “In the blink of an eye I encountered financial failure, bailiffs and reposession. My collapse was as much to do with divorce as the failure of my business. I could have survived one, but not both together.” The value of Raheengraney House nose-dived and the property was eventually

repossessed. Godsil told the Irish Independent in 2014: “I contemplated going to the UK to become bankrupt, as many people do, but I couldn’t afford it. I couldn’t leave my kids behind. There are a lot of people like me who don’t have money in an account in the Cayman Islands and have family circumstances so they can’t just up and leave. I was a debt zombie for six months.” Fast forward three years and Godsil is in a much better place. Her PR career has been revived and she’s happily working away in a number of interesting marketing roles – not least the marketing officer role with League of Ireland football team Bray Wanderers. Godsil is also helping out Dublin energy company Get Solutions on the marketing and PR side. Godsil says: “It took me a while to realise it, but failing in business means you have one crucial thing: contacts. When I came back out, I had loads of them.” But, what about the reaction from those contacts to her having failed? “Admit you failed and people are okay,” she says. “As long as you’re honourable and nice to people, you’ll be fine when you go back out. Perhaps there is a bit of stigma, but only if you hide

it. I am not ashamed of failing. On the day I walked out of the court after being declared bankrupt, there were 800 others in the same boat. Some time later I started to think about that and realised, I was not alone. These days I’m quite happy to say ‘I was bankrupt’.” When asked about the advice she would – and does (she’s often asked by aspiring entrepreneurs, particularly women) – give to anyone starting a business, Godsil’s counsel is simple. “Fail faster. They say it in the tech world all the time, and it’s true. If you’ve failed, work out why you failed and get up again. You’ve failed means you know people. Use that to your advantage,” she explains.

Fear of Failure Fear of failure remains the biggest barrier to starting a business in Ireland. That was one of the findings of the 2013 GEM Report, which highlighted that the fear of failure among the Irish entrepreneurial adult population rose from 35 per cent to 45 per cent between 2006 and 2013. According to Professor Thomas M. Cooney, a Professor in Entrepreneurship at the Dublin Institute of Technology, the root of the problem is the stigma which is attached to failure in Ireland. Cooney says that an entrepreneurial failure should be viewed in the same way as an apprenticeship – as is the norm in other countries. He explains: “An entrepreneur was telling me about a business he had in Silicon Valley which failed. Soon after it collapsed he was asked at a party what he did. He replied that his business had just failed and the immediate question back at him was, ‘so, SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 41

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Feature  Second Chance Entrepreneurship

what’s your next business idea?’ That would never happen in Ireland. We need to see failure as a learning experience rather than a case of ‘you’ve had your chance’.” Cooney says that his own research has found that people with prior startup experience are more likely to start a high-growth firm than people who don’t. Cooney believes that the Irish could learn a lot from attitudes across the Atlantic Ocean. “There’s a conference in the US for failed entrepreneurs where they celebrate their failure,” he says. “That’s what we need here. We need those kind of events where you stand up and say, loud and proud, ‘I’ve failed - here’s my story’. “If someone has tried to run a business truthfully, to the best of their abilities, and it hasn’t worked out for whatever reason, we need to take those people by the hand and say, ‘okay let’s go again. What other ideas do you have?’ The attitude was like that old notion of ‘if you succeed you’re a gangster

most successful companies wouldn’t have made it if they had been set up in Ireland. He points to Ray Kroc, the man responsible for transforming McDonald’s from a local burger joint into a global fast food chain, as a prime example. “Kroc had ten failures before he succeeded with McDonald’s. I wouldn’t have fancied his chances walking into an Irish bank and asking for a loan with ten failures behind him. A highly successful Irish serial entrepreneur told me a story where she was looking to raise money in New York and the concern that venture capitalists had was that she had no failed business behind her. Now could you ever imagine that happening in Ireland?” asks Cooney.

Sharing War Stories The deep and brutal recession which engulfed Ireland during the 2008 to 2013 period means you don’t need to look too far for entrepreneurs who have encountered

“IT TOOK A LONG TIME TO CLEAR MY HEAD, BUT I’M BACK IN A POSITION WHERE I KNOW THAT I’LL NEVER MAKE THE SAME MISTAKES AGAIN.” and if you fail you’re a chancer.’ Either way we weren’t giving people any credit,” adds Cooney. An aversion to risk could perhaps be understood during the downturn. But with the economy revival, surely attitudes are changing? “It has changed, but not enough,” says Cooney. “The problem is, you’re talking culture here and changing culture takes a long time.” When it comes to the root causes of why risk is such a dirty word in Ireland, Cooney points the finger firmly at the school system. “We’ve got a points system that doesn’t allow failure,” he contends. “That’s not conducive to creating a culture where it’s okay to try things, where it’s acceptable to try something, not succeed first time and then try again. The attitude should be ‘let’s celebrate what you’ve tried to do, see what you’ve learned and move on’.” Cooney believes that some of the world’s

failure. Many of them – no doubt still scarred by the experience – remain shy when it comes to sharing their story. Others, however, such as the former car dealership owner George Mordaunt, are happy to share their war stories. Indeed, Clonmel-native Mordaunt, who at one point owned four showrooms and was churning out 40 new cars a week to a spend-happy public, went further than most by writing a book – Shepherd’s Pie (Mercier Press) – chronicling his journey. Mordaunt has since returned to the car game – albeit on a much more modest scale. “If today was the first day of the global financial crash, I’d be very confident of navigating my way through it,” says a wisened Mordaunt, who these days operates two car businesses:, a one-stop-shop service for Irish people seeking to import a car from the UK; and Pay As You Go Auto, which allows people,

typically those who can’t get a car loan via traditional avenues, to buy a car on a payas-you-go basis. “It took a long time to clear my head, but I’m back in a position where I know that I’ll never make the same mistakes again. Sitting here today I am a far wiser and more levelheaded business person,” he claims. “You reach a tipping point at which you either break or go into survival mode. I opted for one last throw of the dice. But I did so with the awareness that whatever I did had to be unique and in the motor industry. I picked two business models which allow me to control the return on investment much easier than I could ever do with a traditional forecourt model car business.” While Mordaunt is optimistic about the long-term prospects of his two ventures, it’s apparent throughout our 20-minute conversation that his outlook on business has been changed irrevocably by his journey over the past decade. He admits that he’s still paying back ‘big sums of money’ from his previous businesses. “I’m happy to be paying it back too,” he states assertively. “I’m not in business now to prove a point. I’m driven by a need to succeed. Business, now, for me, is all about survival. I work harder now than I’ve ever worked, but it’s more fulfilling these days as the business is more protected,” he says. Mordaunt will turn 50 later this year. He recalls that 10 years ago he was at the helm of a business employing 70 staff and turning over in excess of €30 million. But he has no inclination to go back to those heady days. “Life is much, much calmer now thankfully. Between full and part-time we now employ 10 staff. A calmer life. When you’re calmer and cooler, you make better decisions. No way would I want to go back,” says Mordaunt. He sounds like he means it too. Mordaunt’s advice to anyone thinking of going down the entrepreneurial route is to make sure that being self-employed is definitely for them. He says: “It’s a life that doesn’t suit everyone – and there’s nothing wrong with that whatsoever. If you have aspirations of being self-employed you need to make sure that your business is going to stand out in its market. It either needs to be unique or one of the cheapest in its space. Failing that your customer service will need to make you stand out.”


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Second Chance Entrepreneurship  Feature Author, businessman and speaker George Mordaunt

Photo: Maxwell Photography


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Interview  Trading Places




FOUNDED BY IRISH BUSINESSWOMAN SUSAN O’BRIEN, SMIGIN AIMS TO CAPTURE A PIECE OF THE LUCRATIVE SELF-LEARNING LANGUAGE MARKET. CONOR FORREST SPOKE WITH O’BRIEN TO DISCOVER MORE ABOUT THE CHALLENGING STARTUP PROCESS, WORKING IN THE US UNDER A RADICALLY DIFFERENT WHITE HOUSE, AND HER ADVICE FOR BUDDING ENTREPRENEURS. The diversity of languages across the globe is astounding. Though there isn’t enough evidence to pinpoint when human language first sprung to life, from the early days of ancient Sumerian in 3000BC the number of languages spoken on Earth has bloomed to roughly 6,500, ranging from the Wukchumni dialect of Tule-Kaweah – once spoken by a Native American tribe in California, with only one fluent speaker in 2017 – to the entire branch of Mandarin which is spoken by almost one billion people. A tool for communication between cultures, it is also, in an era of globalisation and mass movement, a lucrative business opportunity. Self-learning tools like Duolingo, Rosetta Stone, Memrise, Babbel and Smigin attract millions of users who want to take the first steps towards a second

language for work or a new life in another country, or simply to memorise a few phrases for their next foreign holiday. Smigin, now based in New York, is the brainchild of Irishwoman Susan O’Brien and allows people with busy lifestyles to learn conversational language on the move. O’Brien studied languages in University College Cork (UCC), and subsequently lived and worked in several countries, working in various roles in business development, sales and marketing. Her inspiration came while working in non-English speaking countries where she met people who wanted to engage with locals in their own language, but didn’t have the time to sit down and learn complex grammar rules and stilted phrases. Smigin’s first focus was on the development of a mobile app; following its launch it invested in

the creation of a more robust online learning platform for those who want to take their language skills to the next level, but still wish to focus on the conversational aspect. “Smigin is a mobile app for people who travel but don’t speak the language. The Smigin app allows people to build useful, everyday phrases in multiple languages, so they can stop learning useless words they will never use, and instead start having real conversations abroad,” O’Brien explains. “I’ve lived the need and never saw the benefit of learning phrases like ‘The boy is under the ball’. Instead I wanted to be able to order a coffee or a glass of wine and not feel like the idiot tourist in the room.”

Challenges As with many start-ups, securing sufficient funding was one of the challenges Smigin faced in its quest for success, and O’Brien advises that entrepreneurs should be prepared for a tough process, and to realise that it could take twice as long as you might anticipate. For Smigin, however, there were a number of interested parties in getting the app off the ground. Veteran ad and media executive David Verklin was one of the earliest angel investors in New York, while O’Brien also met with both Apple and Google during the company’s early-stage development process, who offered advice on getting the product developed and into the hands of the public. According to O’Brien, fundraising isn’t the only avenue where you should allocate


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Trading Places  Interview

SFA FACT Did you know? Considering her position at the helm of Smigin, it’s not surprising that O’Brien has six languages under her belt, with varying degrees of proficiency in each. The toughest language she has ever learned is Japanese, she explains. “I studied it in school and have forgotten most of the complex grammar rules, but still get a kick out of people’s reactions when I speak basic everyday Japanese when I travel to Japan for work.”

Susan O’Brien, Founder and CEO, Smigin

additional time or resources – your budget may very well require a buffer zone for unanticipated costs. “The most important lesson I’ve learned is to estimate your costs and then add a buffer. For example, you need to raise enough money to fund your runway for 12 months. Estimate your costs for 12 months and then add another three months on top of that. It always takes longer than you think and running out of cash is not fun!” she tells me.

Stateside Evolution O’Brien moved to the US eleven years ago when she was recruited by a public company, before the idea for Smigin had ever occurred to her, and she has settled across the Atlantic in those intervening years. Like many other entrepreneurs born in another country, she watched as a controversial presidential election process unfolded on her doorstep, eventually resulting in the inauguration of President Donald Trump in January. Uncertainty – particularly for those living in

the US on a visa – is rife given Trump’s opinions on immigration and jobs in the US. “Recent policy moves have been disconcerting,” says O’Brien. “When news of the travel ban broke there was instant concern as everyone wondered what might be next. It’s natural to look to your own circumstances in an extreme situation and these past few weeks have been pretty extreme for all immigrants in the US. Any form of uncertainty is going to breed angst and the recent aggressive moves (including the travel ban) have unnerved a lot of folks. It’s the de-facto topic of conversation with any Irish person you meet. The new administration has initially talked of reviewing multiple classes of visas including H1B, E and L visas, so anyone currently on those visas – myself included – is going to have some feelings of disquiet.” However, O’Brien is more optimistic about

the future of Smigin. The plan for 2017 is to continue to add more languages to the Smigin platform – which currently features Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Mandarin – and the company is working on several strategic partnerships within the travel and education sectors. O’Brien is also involved in a new venture known as The Wannabe Entrepreneur which launches this spring, a digital platform for early stage Irish entrepreneurs who have an idea but don’t know how to bring it to fruition. There’s no doubt that it’s a perfect platform for O’Brien to share her years of experience in business and one of the most important lessons she has learned – you can’t go it alone. “Your network will be critical to your success. You can’t do it alone and when things go wrong – as they inevitably do – your network can help you problem solve and find solutions,” she advises. “You cannot underestimate the power of being connected to, and having a relationship with, leaders and influencers in your space, so start building those relationships before you actually need them.” SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 45

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Business Books  Extract



ENGAGEMENT IN AN EXTRACT TAKEN FROM HIS NEW BOOK PERSUADE ON PURPOSE, ERIC FITZPATRICK SHARES TECHNIQUES TO CREATE COMPELLING MESSAGES THAT CAPTURE THE ATTENTION OF AN AUDIENCE. Audiences need to feel that they are part of your presentation. They need to believe that you are having a conversation with them that they can contribute to, even if they don’t contribute out loud. In many ways the aim of a presenter is to get the audience to contribute to the presentation inside the confines of their own head. This means getting your audience to think about your presentation and how it can benefit them. It means delivering the presentation in a way that resonates with them and making sure that they don’t get distracted and start thinking about something else. To do this, presenters need to employ ‘audience engagement techniques’. These are elements in presentations that will make some parts of your presentation stand out from the whole, which are then easier to recall a week later because of how they connected with the audience. In a twenty-minute presentation a presenter will use between 2,500 and 3,000 words and the reality is that most of these words will be forgotten almost as soon as they have been said. The challenge is how

as a presenter, when your words are being forgotten, do you make sure your message is remembered? Audience engagement techniques work because they generate a reaction in the audience. Whether that reaction is physical, emotional or intellectual, it is more easily remembered than words. If you ask an audience what they can remember about a presentation a week after they heard it, the first thing they will recall is something that applied directly to themselves. It might be that they laughed, or carried out a physical action, or made sense of something the presenter said that they then applied to their own personal circumstances. Once they recall their reaction, they can remember the relevance of that reaction and that helps them to remember your message.

Techniques to Engage your Audience > Humour Humour is a powerful tool for sales professionals. Victor Borge once said, ‘Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.’ Making an audience laugh, in an appropriate manner, goes a long way towards helping a presenter connect with them. An audience’s laughter is a signal of their acceptance of the presenter or the presenter’s point of view. This acceptance makes it easier for them to buy into a presenter’s ideas.


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 Business Books

About the Author Eric Fitzpatrick is a sales presentations trainer, executive speaking coach and conference speaker. He has spoken, coached and trained in the US, the UK and throughout Ireland. Fitzpatrick is a member of the Sales Institute of Ireland, the Professional Speakers Association and the Irish Institute of Training and Development. He lives in Dublin with his wife Catherine and daughters, Louise and Amy.

Laughter is an internal reaction to an external stimulus and when trying to recall the details of a presentation a day, a week or a month after it was delivered, we find it easier to remember our internal reactions. Once we remember the internal reaction it becomes easier to remember the information that generated that reaction. Humour engages an audience and holds their attention. That said, for many presenters, making an audience laugh can be challenging. Some presenters believe that they are not funny, while others are afraid that audiences won’t laugh where they are supposed to. The good news is that anyone can learn to be funnier, can learn how to inject humour into presentations. Of course, sometimes audiences won’t laugh when you want them to and will laugh when you weren’t expecting them to. That said, the reward when you get an audience to laugh is definitely worth the risk.

> Dialogue Dialogue is a tool that can be used by a presenter to reinforce a point they are trying to make. It works when the presenter decides to become the person or persons in the example they are using to make that point. Instead of just giving the example as something that happened in the past, dialogue allows the presenter to deliver the example as if it is taking place in front of the audience. This changes how the audience receives it. They become more active when they feel that the story

Author Eric Fitzpatrick

“SOME PRESENTERS BELIEVE THAT THEY ARE NOT FUNNY, WHILE OTHERS ARE AFRAID THAT AUDIENCES WON’T LAUGH WHERE THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO. THE GOOD NEWS IS THAT ANYONE CAN LEARN TO BE FUNNIER.” is unfolding in front of them and this increases the impact of the message. As an example of dialogue, I tell a story about my eight-year-old nephew. I use this story to illustrate that on occasion we can all make an assumption that we know the correct answer to a question or problem, but then discover that our assumption is wrong. The story goes like this: One day my nephew was sitting at the dinner table with the rest of his family when his mother decided to explain who the Suffragettes were. She looked at him and said, ‘There was a time in history when men could vote and women couldn’t and a group of women got together to address this terrible injustice.’

She then asked her son a question: ‘Do you know what those women were called?’ Her son looked at her confidently and said, ‘I do, mum. They were called prostitutes.’ When giving this example I become the mother (and give her a distinctive voice) and deliver her words as if I am her. I then become the son (and give him a different voice) and deliver his reply as if I am him. The dialogue brings the example to life in front of the audience, which increases the impact of the message. This is an extract taken from Persuade on Purpose by Eric Fitzpatrick, reprinted with permission from Mercier Press. SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 47

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SFA Policy  Update




SFA partners with Government to combat late payment culture The Small Firms Association has partnered with the Government on the new Prompt Payment Code Portal, which was officially launched on February 28th by Minister of State for Small Business Pat Breen. Getting paid on time is a never ending problem for small business. SFA surveys show that cashflow management is consistently among the top risks identified by small businesses in Ireland. On average it takes 62 days for a small firm to get paid, even though the majority of contracts offer credit terms of just 30 days. This culture of late payments makes it difficult to pay staff and suppliers, it requires firms to extend overdraft facilities and consumes a great deal of management time. This makes it extremely challenging to run a successful business. On the launch of the new portal,

Major PAYE modernisation coming down the tracks

Linda Barry, SFA Assistant Director, Revenue plans to modernise the PAYE tax commented: “The launch of the new collection system, with the changes coming into Prompt Payment Code Portal is a marker effect on January 1st 2019. The system would in the sand. From now on, we must incorporate real-time reporting, as has been consign the culture of late payments to successfully introduced in the UK, and the aim is the past. We are calling on all businesses to improve the accuracy, ease of understanding that want to get paid on time and are and transparency of the PAYE system for all committed to paying on time to join the stakeholders. A major part of the modernisation prompt payment movement by signing is that reporting by employers to Revenue would up to the Prompt Payment Code at www. be fully integrated into the payroll run.” In a submission to Revenue, the SFA outlined The new portal makes it easy for the views of small firms on this modernisation companies to sign up to the Prompt project, expressing a broad welcome as well as Payment Code by filling out a very short some specific concerns raised by members. form. By signing up to the code you are SFA members broadly welcomed the saying to your customers, and indeed move towards modernisation. There was to any potential customers, “I pay on general agreement that it makes sense to use time”. Signatories have reported a technology to provide access to accurate number of benefits, including real-time information. Employers a stronger, more trusting generally perceived a reduction in relationship with suppliers administration arising from the The average and a point of distinction proposed changes. number of days it from competitors. Despite the broadly positive takes a small firm response from the small business to get paid community, a number of queries and concerns were raised, including:


• The burden of transitioning to the new system • Integrating the new system with the social welfare system • Flexibility regarding revisions • The need for training and support from Revenue • Specific assistance required by companies with manual payroll systems Patricia Callan, Director, SFA, Gerard Brady, Senior Economist at Ibec, Anne Heraty, CEO of CPL and Ibec President, Pat Breen TD, Minister of State for Employment and Small Business

Revenue is planning a design workshop with SFA members in April 2017. If you would like to be involved, email


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Update  SFA Policy

Action Plan for Jobs 2017 On February 1st, the Government launched the Action Plan for Jobs 2017. The Action Plan for Jobs (APJ) process is a whole-of-Government initiative under which all departments and agencies work together to deliver on the agreed action points for each year. The SFA was closely involved in the preparation of the Action Plan for Jobs through direct meetings with ministers in the second half of 2016 as well as through our participation in the Advisory Group on Small Business. On the eve of the publication, SFA representatives received an advance briefing from Minister Mitchell O’Connor and were pleased to see many of their proposals contained in the Action Plan.


Since its introduction in 2012, the APJ has been a huge support to businesses maintaining and creating jobs. Small businesses employ half the private sector workforce, some 800,000 people, and through the APJ the barriers to their expansion are being tackled. Sixty-four per cent of SFA member companies plan to take on additional staff in 2017. With the new measures outlined in the Action Plan for Jobs 2017, the SFA estimates that small businesses will create over 20,000 new jobs. These jobs will be in a wide variety of sectors, giving a boost to villages, towns and cities across Ireland. Brexit poses a significant threat to small businesses, both exporters and those trading in the domestic market, and the APJ 2017 places a much-needed focus

on specific measures to support The percentage companies of SFA member companies planning at this to take on additional challenging staff in 2017. time. The SFA welcomed the inclusion of an Export Finance Initiative and the expansion of the successful Trading Online Voucher Scheme, both of which it called for from Government. The APJ 2017 also provides for the application of the ‘think small first’ principle across Government. The SFA’s position is that the detail of the SME-test is crucial. All new proposed legislation, including Private Members’ Bills, should be subjected to a thorough regulatory impact assessment on the costs to business. Other actions amongst the 164 listed in the Action Plan include a retail support programme, workplace innovation employer toolkit and measures to support entrepreneurship and female participation in the labour market.



Business-focused advice and insights

The full benefits of SFA membership plus essential insights from Ibec sectors SFA+ membership options: SFA+ Food and Drink SFA+ Property SFA+ Software SFA+ Medtech

Connecting members in a thriving community

Essential sectoral insights

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Find out more and sign up online at or call 01 605 1664 small-firms-association @SFA_Irl smallfirmsassociation

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Management training tailored to small firms 15/02/2017 12:06

15/03/2017 16:25

HR  Non-Pay Benefits




The Small Firms Association Annual Pay and Conditions survey reveals some interesting insights into current business trends in Ireland. Among them is the finding that 60 per cent of the companies surveyed will be giving employees an average pay increase of 2 per cent this year. However, what is more notable in the survey is the focus smaller companies are now placing on improving a variety of benefits on offer to employees as opposed to just basic pay. This is enabling smaller firms to compete with larger companies in attracting and retaining top talent. Employee benefits undoubtedly offer a way to improve employee motivation and engagement but before they are put in place, a number of factors need to be considered. This is to ensure they are valued by employees, support HR practices and are aligned with wider business goals. Firstly, companies need to examine what their existing and future employees need and want from their benefits and how they can best meet these preferences. This information can be obtained from employee surveys, staff forums or through employee appraisal meetings. It is important to identify an employee’s driving force and then tailor and review the rewards package in order to meet their needs. From the survey, some examples of non-pay benefits that are commonly offered by small companies emerged.

Ciara McGuone, SFA Executive

They include: • 82 per cent of small firms provide and/ or support formal training/education for their employees • 34 per cent of small companies supplement maternity benefits above social welfare payments • 65 per cent of small firm employees are covered by a company or occupational pension scheme • 42 per cent have medical health insurance schemes in place for employees • 56 per cent of firms have formal flexible working arrangements in place It has been shown that these types of benefits greatly increase employee retention as they demonstrate that the employer is willing to invest in the employee and their career development. It is important to note, however, that employee benefits should not be regarded as just a retention tool. They can also play an important role in the recruitment process. Research indicates that there are many factors contributing to an organisation’s employment

proposition and what makes them attractive depends on a prospective employee’s circumstances. This has led to the concept of ‘total reward’, where organisations adopt a bundle of mutually supporting financial and nonfinancial rewards (such as flexi-time) that align to the needs of the business and its employees. Such an approach has led many to regard employee benefits as a strategic tool to assist recruitment and retention, and align employee behaviours and business objectives. In addition, when a benefits package is put in place, it is important that employers communicate this on an ongoing basis to employees to ensure these are appreciated and valued. An effective means of doing this can be giving an employee a total reward statement at the end of the year which assigns a monetary value to the additional benefits offered by the company. The SFA survey results clearly indicate that employers have realised the benefits of assessing the overall remuneration package on offer to employees, and that many are now offering additional incentives such as training opportunities and flexible working, rather than just increasing basic pay in order to retain and recruit top talent. For further information or advice on employee reward, contact Ciara McGuone on 016051668 or


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Marketing  Advice




Embracing digital marketing can be overwhelming for small businesses with a limited budget, time and often expertise. Ensure your valuable resources are well spent by analysing your website and social media channel performance to see what is working and cut what isn’t.

> Google Analytics

Most social media channels have built-in analytics where you can analyse the performance of your posts including:

Louise Kenrick, SFA Executive

Google Analytics is a freemium web analytics service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic to help you gain customer insights. The tool helps you track how many people visit your website, where these visitors live, what they are searching for on your site, which webpages are most popular, how many visitors convert into leads, where these converting visitors come from, what marketing tactics drive traffic to your site, at what point visitors leave your site, whether your website is mobile-friendly and much more. If you don’t know where to start, check out the Google Analytics Academy where you can learn analytics with free online courses delivered by Google measurement experts. The foundations course is suitable for beginners starting with a step by step guide on how to create a Google Analytics account, set it up on your website, collect data, and navigate reports.

> Digital Garage Breakfast Briefings

Access the Google Analytics Academy at

Email to receive details of these events.

Learn and network in a face-to-face environment through Google’s Digital Garage Breakfast Briefings held in the Foundry, Barrow St, Dublin on the last Friday of the month. The briefings are delivered by leading Google specialists, on topics such website usability, Google AdWords, YouTube and Analytics to help improve your digital awareness, Google product knowledge and subsequently your business performance.

• Twitter Analytics: Every word, photo, video, and follower can have an impact. Twitter’s analytics help you understand how the content you share on Twitter grows your business with a handy 28-day summary provided. • Facebook Insights: Find out more about who likes your page and who likes, comments on and shares your posts to improve your targeting. See how they’re similar or different from other companies on Facebook. • LinkedIn Analytics: On a company page, LinkedIn’s analytics tracks impressions, clicks, interaction and engagement of your posts. Also check out their ‘company page featured resources’, which provides helpful tips and insights on how to engage with and build your followers. If you would like more information about these and other free tools, or to discuss other marketing challenges in your business, contact Louise Kenrick, SFA Executive, on 016051664 or SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 51

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Business Advice  SFA Feature


RICHARD O’FARRELL, MANAGING DIRECTOR OF EDC, OUTLINES HOW BUSINESSES CAN BENEFIT FROM USING NEXT GENERATION VIRTUAL REALITY TECHNIQUES. Do the engineers you work with use Building Information Modelling (BIM) to help you to plan projects? If not, it’s time to make the switch – you’ll never look back. Mechanical, engineering and plumbing (MEP) solutions have become increasingly complex and challenging. By using latest-generation 3-D modelling and virtual reality displays, BIM allows us to “walk” our clients through our designs, giving them a

virtual tour of what to expect and what we can deliver. 3-D modelling and virtual reality allow us to respond quickly to any challenges or questions raised by our clients and to keep them in the picture on plans and progress at all stages of the project. Put simply, while MEP solutions may seem complex, we believe that if you can see it, you can understand it. Ireland is in a unique position to become a world leader in the use of BIM for pharmaceutical, industrial, commercial and residential projects. One of the advantages in Ireland is that the regulation around the use of BIM is relatively light, particularly when compared to the UK. For example, the industry in Ireland is not obliged to fully implement COBie, the complicated process of assigning technical data to a 3-D model. If we are clever, we can learn from the pitfalls facing the UK and come up with innovative solutions to help streamline the process and Richard O’Farrell, inform our own Managing Director, edc legislation.

At edc, our experience has shown us that utilising BIM will save clients time and money over the initial course of the project and beyond. Industry statistics back this up, stating the net saving on a project from using BIM is 20 per cent greater than going with outmoded systems, such as computer aided design (CAD). Our top tips for achieving these cost benefits are: • The design team must fully commit to exploring and utilising every benefit 3-D modelling has to offer • The client needs to get an asset-model at the end of the project to feed into its own facilitates programme. We strongly believe that if this is not part of the package, you are losing one of the big benefits of building a specific model. To see for yourself, you can take the virtual reality tour on media. To take a virtual tour through one of our virtual reality videos, just click on the direction buttons and special icons on your laptop, tablet or phone to “walk” through, pause and explore an example of a total MEP solution. Using your smartphone unlocks one more feature. The button that looks like a mask puts the phone on virtual reality mode. Just pop your phone into a Google Cardboard or similar virtual reality headset and you can take a walk through. If you would like more information about BIM and how it can benefit your business, contact Richard O’Farrell, Managing Director of edc, at or visit our website at

About edc edc is an Irish owned, multidiscipline, multinational MEP and fire engineering consultancy. It currently employs over 40 staff in its three offices in Cork, Dublin and London. edc is a proven industry leader in innovation and new tech, having become the first company in Ireland to achieve BIM Level 2 accreditation in 2014.


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Commercial Profile

CONNECTED TO SMALL BUSINESSES PADRAIG SHEERIN, HEAD OF SME AT THREE IRELAND, DISCUSSES HIS COMPANY’S RELATIONSHIP WITH SMALL FIRMS ACROSS IRELAND AND ITS SPONSORSHIP OF THE SFA NATIONAL SMALL BUSINESS AWARDS. The world is increasingly defined by the notion of connectivity, and this, of course, includes the world of small business. If small firms are to compete in an ever more globalised world and economic marketplace, then high quality connection services are an absolute must. Three Ireland helps Irish small businesses in this regard, offering high-speed and secure connectivity solutions. The company is cognisant of the communication challenges faced by small firms, and has designed its services specifcally with these in mind. “We know data has become more and more important to customers, both in the consumer space and in business,” says Padraig Sheerin, Head of SME at Three Ireland. “The ability to email on the go – whether there's large attachments, video collaborations, things like that – certainly all-youcan-eat data helps us stand out in a competitive domestic market.” Three considers the wide-ranging services it provides small businesses – such as 3Connect, the office telephony service that integrates to a company's mobile phones – to be of pivotal importance but it believes its tailored approach to its clients' needs gives it an extra competitive advantage. “Our customer care is very important to us,” says Sheerin, “ and we're very proud of the fact that it is Irish-based in Limerick.” By actively engaging with the small business community in Ireland on a regular basis, Three has developed a unique insight into their specific needs, leaving it well placed to comment on the current climate for small businesses in Ireland. “Obviously Brexit is a big factor for a lot of small businesses here,” Sheerin points out. “Anybody who is exporting to the UK is

Padraig Sheerin, Head of SME, Three Ireland concerned with the level of uncertainty that exists at the moment.” Brexit presents a number of challenges for all businesses in Ireland and the UK, and it is an event which many small companies will have to tackle head on. “Certainly attracting and retaining the best talent is a common objective and challenge for all companies, big and small at this point,” Sheerin adds. On March 1st, Three once again sponsored the SFA National Small Business Awards, an event which Sheerin is proud to be backing. “It's something that we've been involved in for a number of years, and we've been delighted to be involved again this year,” he beams. “We deal with small businesses everyday as part of what we do within Three. We know that the Small Firms Association is a strong body

representing small business, so any opportunity we can get to be involved more closely with small business and its representative bodies, we're delighted to take.” The fact that the health of the small business community has a huge impact on the overall health of the Irish economy is something that Sheerin and Three recognise. “We know there's over 235,000 small businesses employing over 800,000 people, so they touch every aspect of society from an Irish perspective, and every one of us from a personal perspective will either have family or friends who are involved with small business,” he says. “So both from a professional and personal perspective, we want to partner with small businesses to help them to achieve their ambitions and objectives.”


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Events  SFA National Small Business Awards 2017




n March 1st, the SFA National Small Business Awards – now in their 13th year – culminated with the announcement of Ventac as the overall winner. Ventac, noise control specialists that design, manufacture and supply acoustic solutions for commercial and industrial vehicles worldwide, was selected from over 500 entries and 34 shortlisted finalist companies across eight categories. All of the finalists now join an alumni group which has grown to over 300 successful business owners who are available to support and advise each other. The purpose of the National Small Business Awards is to celebrate achievement, innovation and excellence in Irish small business. They shine a light on the courage, drive, risk taking and achievements of those in small businesses – all of the things that make up the fantastic entrepreneurial spirit in Ireland. The awards were presented by Pat Breen TD, Minister of State for Employment and Small Business and Sue O’Neill, SFA Chair.

The category winners are: > Manufacturing (sponsored by Energia):................... Ventac, Wicklow Highly commended:.................................................Briody Bedding, Meath > F ood & Drink (sponsored by Bord Bia):............................................Simpli Baked, Offaly Highly commended:................................ The Foods of Athenry, Galway Highly commended: ..................................................Kelly’s of Newport Artisan Butchers, Mayo > Services (sponsored by Three Ireland):....................Dualtron, Dublin Highly commended:................................................Vibes and Scribes, Cork >O  utstanding Small Business - up to 5 employees (sponsored by AIB):.....................................Sweetspot Sourcing, Kildare > Innovator of the Year (sponsored by Enterprise Ireland):.....Aalto Bio Reagents, Dublin > Sustainable Energy (sponsored by SEAI):.......................Killary Adventure Centre, Galway Highly commended:.........................................................JPK Fencing, Galway >S  mall Business Exporter of the Year (sponsored by DHL):........................................Aalto Bio Reagents, Dublin Highly commended:.................................................................. Ventac, Wicklow

Darren Fortune, MD, Ventac, Sue O’Neill, SFA Chair, Pat Breen TD, Minister of State for Employment and Small Business and Patricia Callan, SFA Director

MANUFACTURING/ HIGHLY COMMENDED EXPORTER Ventac, based in Blessington, Co Wicklow, provides noise control solutions for international vehicle OEMs of commercial and industrial vehicles, including the bus and coach, agricultural, construction and specialist market sectors. Ventac’s solutions include the provision of a full noise analysis to determine the exact source of the noise problem. With its innovative approach towards noise control, Ventac aims to aid its customers in meeting new vehicle noise regulation standards, promoting its customers’ competitive advantage through noise control, minimising environmental noise pollution and maximising user comfort.

Darren Fortune, MD of Ventac, said: “It’s a tremendous achievement for the company. We’ve been on a journey for the last three years with the SFA and every year it’s been getting better. The company has been growing. To win the award is tremendous for the company and we’re so delighted.”


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SFA National Small Business Awards 2017  Events

SERVICES Dualtron is Ireland’s only supplier of both cash handling solutions and cashless payment systems for catering and vending. The service driven company is the number one supplier of note sorting equipment for retail banks and retail ATM sites. This means supporting customers in virtually every town and village in Ireland. The Dualtron team of 11 experienced onsite engineers supports its customers and, as well as an after sales service, the company provides a range of value added managed services including project management, scheduling and compliance management.

Dave Byrne, Dualtron, Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD and Sue O’ Neill, Chairperson, SFA

Dave Byrne, MD of Dualtron, said: “Winning this award is fantastic. It’s our third time in the finals and I’m delighted for our staff and management who made it all possible, I’m really thrilled for them all.”


Michelle Kells, Key Account Manager, Energia, sponsor of the Manufacturing category with Darren Fortune, Ventac

Simpli Baked is the only bakery making tortilla and wraps in Ireland. Specialising in flavoured wheat tortilla and thin crust pizza bases allows the company to grow customers abroad in addition to the Irish market. Currently, Simpli Baked serves customers in the UK, Ireland and the EU. In addition to making excellent tortilla, the company has developed the skills to make gluten free tortilla. The company puts its success to date down to its customers and its team of employees.

Chef John Grennan with Deirdre Coyle and Kieran Walsh, Simpli Baked

Kieran Walsh, MD of Simpli Baked, said: “I’m absolutely delighted and surprised to be recognised by our peers. It’s a delight to show the appreciation we have for our team and my family for their support through the long nights and the stressful days.” SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 55

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Events  SFA National Small Business Awards 2017

INNOVATOR OF THE YEAR/SMALL BUSINESS EXPORTER OF THE YEAR Headquartered in Dublin, Aalto Bio Reagents was founded in 1978 and is now firmly established as a leading manufacturer and provider of raw materials to the in-vitro diagnostics industry and research laboratories globally. The company supplies the largest multinational companies in the industry with a broad range of purified human proteins, monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies, fungal, parasitic, bacterial and viral antigens, as well as disease state plasma for invitro diagnostic applications. Aalto Bio believes in building strategic partnerships with its customers, working with each individual client to address their specific product pipeline development needs.

Philip Noone, MD at Aalto Bio Reagents, said: “Winning this award is a validation of all of the hard work of the team and this is a team award. We have an exceptional team, we’re a true Irish SME, we have ten employees at the moment and all of those employees punch above their weight every day and this is a recognition of the team’s work in getting us where we want to go.”

Sue O’Neill, Chair, SFA, Minister Pat Breen, Audrey Bradley and Philip Noone, Aalto Bio Reagents, with Bernard McCarthy, MD, DHL Express Ireland, sponsor of the Small Business Exporter of the Year Award

SUSTAINABLE ENERGY Together with Gaelforce Events and Connemara Adventure Tours, Killary Adventure Centre has created a company in the West that is inspired by adventure. From its foundations in the middle of the Atlantic to modern day expeditions, Killary leads the way. Last year the company received over 15,000 visitors to its centre and over 6,000 to its events. With a wind turbine, biomass boiler, composter amongst other things, sustainability runs through the core of the businesses. Killary hopes to use this award to move the company forward with the next generation.

Sue O’Neill, SFA Chair, Minister Pat Breen, Mary Young and Shane Young, Killary Adventure Centre, Majella Kelleher, SEAI, sponsor of Sustainable Energy Award

Shane Young, Activity Manager, Killary Adventure Centre, said: “Winning this award is quite nice, it’s recognition of what we do. We believe in saving the environment as much as we can while running a successful business, so it’s the icing on the cake. It’s really nice to get this recognition from our peers and from such a well respected organisation like the SFA.”

Sue O’Neill, Chair, SFA, Pat Breen TD, Minister for Employment & Small Business, Fiona Craul and Susan Dempsey, Sweetspot Sourcing, with Graham McDonnell, Head of AIB Dublin Central, sponsor of the Outstanding Small Business Award


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SFA National Small Business Awards 2017  Events

OUTSTANDING SMALL BUSINESS Sweetspot Sourcing specialises in the sourcing and manufacturing of bespoke products used either for promotional or retail purposes. It uses a worldwide network of suppliers and factories, and offers clients direct access to the capabilities of these suppliers and factories. Its USP is creating unique products with a high perceived value. It is a specialist in products used for in-store promotions, on pack offers, gift with purchase and promotional items. Sweetspot makes it easy for clients to produce products directly with factories and does this by offering a full service solution from design to delivery.

Sue Dempsey, Director at Sweetspot Sourcing, said: “We’re absolutely delighted and if the truth be known, probably a bit surprised. It’s great to be acknowledged for the achievements that we have accomplished over the five years. It’s a really special accolade.”

EMERGING SMALL BUSINESSES In addition, the five companies selected as Emerging New Businesses (up to 50 employees and under two years old), sponsored by IE Domain Registry, were: > Ann Marie’s Dressing Room is the first online virtual dressing room to allow users to try on fashion items on a self tailored mannequin and try before they buy. > CLIRINX is a medical research IT company that provides state-of-the-art software and IT services to medical researchers who study human diseases. > is the first safe educational social network developed specifically for primary and special needs schools. > Epic Ireland is the dramatic new 21st century visitor experience that showcases the unique global journey of the Irish people. > SalesOptimize is a B2B e-commerce sales lead generation SaaS tool that helps any business selling to online retailers find their future customers.

Sue O’Neill, Chair, SFA, Pat Breen TD, Minister for Employment & Small Business with Emerging New Business winners, Elizabeth Fulham, Sales Optimize; Gerry Nesbitt, CLIRINX; Diarmuid Hudner, Cybersmarties; Ann Marie Corbett, Ann Marie’s Dressing Room; Karen Keogh, EPIC Irish Emigration Museum and Oonagh McCutcheon, Customer Operations Manager, IE Domain Registry, sponsor of the Emerging New Business category

AWARD SPONSORS The SFA would like to thank this year’s award sponsors:


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Commercial Profile

GETTING SMART ON ENERGY THE SUSTAINABLE ENERGY AUTHORITY OF IRELAND (SEAI) HELPS BUSINESSES TO CUT OPERATIONAL COSTS BY MANAGING THEIR ENERGY USAGE. Large industry has a strong track record in adopting a structured approach to energy management and maximising its energy efficiency savings, but many small and medium enterprises still lag behind. Many small businesses lack the resources required to focus on energy consumption, or they might have different requirements for energy saving initiatives. The SEAI can help these businesses to manage their energy usage and costs. SEAI recommends giving someone responsibility for looking at a business's energy usage and costs and identifying where the big spend items are. There is easily 10 per cent worth of savings to be made from simple changes like switching to an alternative electricity provider or changing tariffs. Behavioural changes are also important. Switching off equipment when not in use, or installing time and temperature controls can also deliver savings. Once these simple changes have been enacted, further consideration can be given to investing in proven energy efficient technologies. “Many businesses fail to spot the link between energy efficiency and the bottom line,” says Majella Kelleher, Head of Energy Demand Management with SEAI. “One euro saved in energy costs could be equivalent to €20 in sales depending on your business. It is likely to be much easier to save a euro than to generate extra sales of €20. In addition, while we don’t know the future of oil prices we can be pretty sure they will rise over time, so a company that controls its use of energy is really proofing against the impact of such increases.” With over 200,000 small and medium sized businesses in Ireland, there is a huge potential for savings within the sector. SEAI has engaged with over 4,000 of these companies, leading to some significant savings for many of them.

Eltex Manufacturing for example, a small electronics firm based in Tipperary, has benefited from SEAI support, undertaking a review of its facility and services and making the decision to upgrade. “We replaced our lighting, heating and upgraded the building fabric,” says the firm's managing director Seamus O'Dwyer. “The end result for us was a higher quality and more comfortable work environment, but more importantly we reduced our electricity bill by over 40 per cent. We've benefitted significantly from these interventions, and my advice to any Businesses looking to get started with energy savings business is to act should visit SEAI’s Energy Show taking place in the RDS, sooner rather than Dublin from April 5th to 6th. The Energy Show is Ireland’s wait and future proof premier energy exhibition for business and is free to attend the business against the inevitable.” Green Isle Foods in Sligo completely overhauled the energy costs, meaning even a small 5 refrigeration and hot water production per cent saving would result in a €110 system for its Donegal Catch frozen million windfall for these companies. fish range, resulting in annual savings For businesses looking to get their equating to €27,000. Family-owned share of this windfall, SEAI offers lots of Kerrigan’s Mushrooms in Meath information, tools and resources online installed a biomass steamed boiler to to help. replace an oil boiler. The company is To get started, visit the business now saving almost €10,000 per annum support centre at and plans for further energy upgrades or drop by SEAI’s Energy Show in the which could generate another €20,000 in RDS, Dublin from April 5th to 6th where cost savings. you will find all you need to know about A recent study by SEAI indicated that sustainable energy for business. For the small and medium sized business more information on the energy show, sector was spending €2.2 billion on log on to


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Commercial Profile

STANDARDS AND SUPPLY CHAINS BETTER BUSINESS SPOKE TO MARC DOYLE, QUALITY ASSURANCE MANAGER AT SELF-ADHESIVE LABEL PRINTING COMPANY LABEL TECH, TO HEAR HOW NSAI CERTIFICATION CAN HELP SMALL FIRMS UP THEIR GAME. Marc Doyle is a stickler for the rules. Perhaps it is to be expected, given that he works as Quality Assurance Manager for one of the country’s most successful self-adhesive label printing companies, Label Tech. Amid the hum of the production floor, the Dublin-native is striving to improve processes and practices at the company, ensuring the highest quality service for its suppliers and customers. His efforts first bore fruit in 1997, when Label Tech was certified to the ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems mark by the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI). Since then, Doyle says he has noticed how certification to key international business standards is fast becoming a requirement to maintain old – and attract new – business. “Being certified to ISO 9001 demonstrates to both our customers and suppliers that we have robust systems in place, from order intake right through to delivery. It’s almost essential that you can show potential new customers – whether they be in Ireland or across Europe – that you have up-to-date certificates, otherwise it is likely that they won’t want to do business at all,” says Doyle. Label Tech’s customers include large supermarkets, craft beer brewers and pharmaceutical companies. The company exports 25 per cent of its total sales, primarily to Northern Ireland and the UK. Many of its suppliers are small, locally-run businesses. “All of the labels we design and print here must be of the highest quality,” adds Doyle. “Therefore we need our raw materials to adhere to the same standards. All our suppliers, no matter how big or small, must have an internationally scalable quality management system, of which ISO 9001

Marc Doyle, Quality Assurance Manager at Label Tech is the most recognised.” Certification can often mean the difference between a business getting on and maintaining its position on a supply chain, or not. “More and more firms, particularly larger multinationals, are examining both the social and environmental impact of the products and services they offer,” says Fergal O’Byrne, Head of Business Excellence at NSAI. “Many multinationals are keen to project a greener image and some will only consider companies that are certified to the ISO 14001 Environmental Management systems standard. These requirements can extend and apply along the whole supply chain, eventually impacting small firms.” Currently, more than 1,000 Irish companies, including many small firms, are certified by NSAI to international standards. Many small businesses only begin to realise the importance of using standards when an existing contract is put out to tender and management systems are scored as part of the

process, giving certified companies an edge. Certification is also emerging as a requirement to tender for contracts in Britain. While fears are growing that restrictions may be tightened postBrexit, NSAI says certification can give Irish businesses an advantage. “We will still be Britain’s nearest supplier, so we must play to our strengths, which would be quality-ofservice, reliability, punctuality, language and time zone,” says O’Byrne. “Having a professional, efficient management system in place will be important because we may well be undercut by cheaper unit costs coming from places like Asia and South America.” Marc Doyle agrees. The printing firm is among hundreds of Irish companies preparing for all eventualities, whether the current uncertainty sticks or not. NSAI’s Business Excellence team is available to answer any queries relating to Management Systems Certifications. For more information, visit management-systems.


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Commercial Profile

ENERGY SAVER THERE ARE SAVINGS TO BE MADE AMONG SMALL IRISH BUSINESSES BY ADOPTING AN APPROPRIATE ENERGY EFFICIENCY STRATEGY, WRITES CORMAC MANNION, ENERGY SERVICES MANAGER AT ENERGIA. Energy costs can be one of the largest overheads for many businesses and it’s an overhead that is seldom understood and often ignored. Adopting an energy efficiency strategy in a business can help eliminate wasteful energy usage and reduce this large overhead to more manageable amounts. The environmental impact of running a more efficient business should also be considered and this has become a focal point in the battle against climate change in many countries. For every kWh of electricity that an Irish business uses, this kWh will on average have resulted

in the release of nearly 0.5kg of CO2 into the atmosphere. Improved energy efficiency can help achieve 49 per cent of emission reductions by 2030. Irish businesses have become much more energy conscious over the last number of years. This has been due to a number of factors, namely fluctuating energy prices and also energy companies reaching out more to their customers to help them manage their energy usage more efficiently. Organisations such as SEAI have provided a number of programmes such as the Better Energy Communities grantaided programme and also their mentoring service for small businesses. There is still a major challenge to be met, insofar as many small businesses do not have the resources to look after their energy bills and develop programmes to reduce them. However, help is at hand with many energy companies providing expert advice to their customers to guide them when making energy efficient investments. Energia saw a significant increase in customers undertaking energy efficiency upgrade Cormac Mannion, Energy Services Manager, Energia projects in 2016,

with a total reduction in consumption of over 70 million kWh as a result. No matter what industry you’re in, there’s plenty of scope for reducing energy consumption in a variety of areas. Upgrading lighting can be an easy win. By replacing old light fittings with more efficient LED equivalents, businesses can reduce the energy used on lighting by up to 75 per cent. Heating, refrigeration, air conditioning and use of equipment are all areas that businesses should review in terms of their efficiency. For example, retailers could reduce their lighting costs by up to 50 per cent by switching to more efficient bulbs, cleaning and maintaining light fittings regularly, and using sensors and timers to control usage. By using better heating equipment with smart controls and making simple changes in temperature regulation, savings of up to one-third could be achieved. In older buildings, 50 per cent of the heat can be lost through badly insulated walls, floors and ceilings. Upgrading the insulation in your building will have a huge impact on heating costs and regular upkeep will help maintain energy efficiency. In hospitality and food manufacturing businesses, kitchens can be one of the highest areas of waste. Ensuring that kitchen equipment is switched off when not in use or fitting timers will reduce energy use. With refrigeration, there are many easy tips to cut consumption. Avoid overstocking and always replace any broken or damaged seals. Keep all equipment clean and regularly maintained. We’ve got lots more industry specific advice to help your business reduce energy consumption and run more efficiently. For more details visit


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Ashville Media Group is Ireland’s largest publishing and events company. You’ve almost certainly read our magazines or attended our events. Our mission is to connect your brand with the largest audience in Ireland.

(01) 432 2200 ▲

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15/03/2017 16:11 26/01/2016 09:04

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Commercial Profile

THE RIGHT COVER FOR YOU AVIVA PROVIDES AN AWARD-WINNING CUSTOMER SERVICE AND PUTS ITS CUSTOMERS AT THE HEART OF EVERYTHING IT DOES, AS JOHN QUINLAN, CEO OF AVIVA IRELAND, EXPLAINS. Aviva, Ireland’s leading composite insurer in Ireland, has been insuring Irish customers for 237 years. We help over one million customers in Ireland and 33 million customers in 16 countries worldwide to protect the things that matter most to them. We offer a comprehensive range of general insurance products, including motor, home and commercial, as well as a wide range of life insurance policies, including pensions, protection plans and savings and investment products.

on your business to minimise costs and ensure that you are getting the right level of cover for your business.

Strength and Security

We pride ourselves on the calibre of our staff. We employ over 1,100 people across three locations in Dublin, Cork and Galway, and we have recently created 50 new jobs in our Digital Hub in Galway. We provide award-winning customer service and put our customers at the heart of everything we do.

• There are many reasons to choose Aviva. We insure 33 million customers worldwide, have £9.7 billion in John Quinlan, surplus capital, and CEO of Aviva Ireland a Moody’s A1 and a Standard & Poor’s A+ financial credit rating. • We promote and reward safer driving Supporting the Community through our Aviva Driving School. We We are active in the local community and are working with the Government on the are proud sponsors of Aviva Stadium, implementation of the recommendations Irish rugby and soccer, including the FAI in the Cost of Insurance Working Group’s Junior Cup. We are also involved in charity report so as to drive down the cost of initiatives through our employee volunteer claims for the benefit of our customers. programme and our partnership with Pieta

Comprehensive Business Insurance

An End-to-End Claims Service

Award-Winning Customer Service

As one of Ireland’s largest commercial insurers, we insure approximately 90,000 business customers nationwide. We cover a wide range of businesses across a diverse range of sectors including food and beverage, manufacturing, industrial, engineering, agriculture, shops, offices and more. We have a wide risk appetite and will look at risks across all segments. We cater for the full spectrum of business needs, from business liability to property and equipment, product recall costs and motor and fleet insurance, as well as savings and investments, staff pensions, life and income protection and home insurance. We have a dedicated risk management team of engineers and risk surveyors who will carry out a detailed risk assessment

We provide an end-to-end claims service through our claims centres of excellence in Cork, Galway and Dublin. Our Aviva Motor Services is aimed at getting our customers back on the road as quickly as possible. We collect the car, carry out repairs through certified repairers, provide a courtesy car for up to ten days if the car is written off and return the car cleaned, inside and out. We will soon be launching a similar service for our property customers.

Moving with the Times

We are investing significantly in the digitisation of our business to make it easier and more convenient for our customers to do business with us and to make our claims process as efficient as possible.

House. Whether it’s making sure our customers’ homes and businesses are fully protected, helping them stay safer on the road, driving reform of the insurance market, or supporting Irish sport at grassroots level and Irish communities through our charity work, we always go the extra mile. For expert advice, talk to your local insurance broker or visit Information correct at time of print March 2017. Group figures, credit rating, Corporate Social Responsibility and heritage information source Aviva annual report and accounts 2015, Aviva Insurance Limited, trading as Aviva, is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority in the UK and is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland for conduct of business rules.


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15/03/2017 15:48

Mandatory Electronic Filing is fast approaching

FROM 1ST JUNE 2017, ELECTRONIC FILING OF ANNUAL RETURNS IS MANDATORY You must: • File B1 Electronically • Upload Financial Statements • Pay Fees Electronically





The return may be digitally signed using ROS, otherwise, the signature page must be printed, signed and delivered to the CRO. Paper Forms and Paper Financial Statements filed on or after 1st June 2017 will be returned. If this leads to your annual return being late you will incur penalties and lose your audit exemption.

Be Ready! B1, B2, B10 and B73 Paper Forms will not be accepted on or after 1st June 2017.

Check our website on for further important information

Register with CORE now at



Oifig Poiblí: Teach Pharnell, 14 Cearnóg Pharnell, Baile Átha Cliath 1

Public Office: Parnell House, 14 Parnell Square, Dublin 1

Fiosruithe: Bóthar Uí Bhriain, Ceatharlach Íosghlao: 1890 220 226 Fón: +353 1 804 5200 Faics: +353 1 804 5222 Ríomhphost: Láithreán:

Postal Enquiries: O’Brien Road, Carlow Lo Call: 1890 220 226 Tel: +353 1 804 5200 Fax: +353 1 804 5222 Email: Web:

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Commercial Profile

FILING CHANGES THE COMPANIES REGISTRATION OFFICE WILL INTRODUCE MANDATORY ELECTRONIC FILING FOR THE FORMS B1, B2, B10 AND B73 FROM JUNE 1ST 2017. Companies and presenters are advised to start preparing now to ensure that they are in a position to file documents electronically from 1 June 2017. If you are filing electronically for the first time, you must register on CORE as a new user. Once you are registered you can log in and go to ‘file a form’, select your submission and complete the form. There are links on CORE to help you if you encounter any difficulties. Log on to now to familiarise yourself with CRO’s online filing system. A large proportion of CRO customers are already enjoying the benefits of electronic filing which include: • No fee for filing forms B2, B10 and B73 electronically • A fee of €20 for filing an eB1 compared with the current €40 fee for filing a paper B1 • Errors on documents are minimised as the user is alerted if any information

they enter is inconsistent with the information already held on CRO’s records for that company • A faster and more efficient registration of forms • A reduction in the amount of paper to be printed and posted to the CRO

Changes to Filing Form B1

From June 1st 2017, the sole means of filing a B1 and financial statements and paying for an annual return will be in electronic form. However the signature page must still be printed off, signed and delivered to the CRO (unless digitally signed using ROS). The main changes to filing B1s electronically from June 1st 2017 are as follows:

PDF of Financial Statements

• All financial statements must be uploaded as a PDF attachment on CORE/software package within 28 days

of the date the eB1 was submitted. Hard copies of the financial statements will not be accepted by the CRO after June 1st • The PDF of the financial statements can be attached to the eB1 in your ‘workspace’ in CORE/software package, in much the same way as you attach a document to an email • The B1 signature page must not be delivered to the CRO until after the financial statements have been uploaded as a PDF. Please note that the signature page will be returned by the CRO if the financial statements have not been uploaded on receipt.

Electronic Payment

The filing fee and any late filing penalties must be paid electronically by credit/debit card or by CRO customer account. You will not be able to complete the submission of the eB1 without first making the payment at the submission stage. It will not be possible to pay the filing fee of €20 and/or any late penalties by cheque, postal order, money order or bank draft. However, it will continue to be possible to topup a customer account by cheque after June 1st.

Changes to Filing Form B2, B10 and B73

B2s, B10s and B73s can currently be filed electronically for free. There is no change to the electronic filing of these forms. These forms can be signed using the Revenue Online Signing service or a signature page can be printed off and sent to Companies Registration Office, O’Brien Road, Carlow. The only change here is that after June 1st 2017 these forms cannot be filed manually. For ongoing updates on mandatory electronic filing, please consult


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Lifestyle  Motoring





udi, like fellow executive brands BMW and Mercedes, has spent a great deal of time and effort in building a range of vehicles to suit every need and desire, from the entry level A1 for urban dwellers who want something small and light on its feet, to the R8 supercar (at €235,000) for the very wealthy petrolheads. The A3 is somewhere in the middle – not too big and not too small, not the cheapest Audi on the market, but not the most expensive either. I recently spent the week behind the wheel of the A3 saloon, powered by a

1.6TDI with 110bhp. A truly gorgeous looking car, particularly in the top spec S Line trim (which adds a few items like sporty side skirts and bumpers), it’s not simply a hatchback with a proper boot

bolted on – it looks like a proper saloon in its own right. Given the fact that it’s an Audi, you expect a little premium inside. And it ticks all the boxes – the dash is made from that pleasant spongy material, the driving position is comfortable, and there’s ample room front and back. There’s a few gadgets to keep the tech heads happy, including a retractable media screen and a nifty virtual cockpit. The boot offers 425L of space, rising to 880L with the rear seats folded, though the high boot lip can be a little awkward for loading. On the tarmac it really comes to life;

Audi A3 Saloon 1.6TDI S Line S-Tronic Bhp: 110 0-100km/h: 10.7 seconds Top speed: 203km/h Fuel efficiency: 5.6L/100km (50mpg) Annual tax: €180 Price (as tested): €42,351


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Motoring  Lifestyle

firmly planted and fun to drive on twisty roads. Although 110bhp doesn’t sound like a lot, it never feels like you’re lacking in power. It’s also quite efficient, managing an average 5.6L/100km (50mpg) – that’s partly because it’s paired to a smooth 7-speed DSG gearbox. The engine is a little loud, but for the most part it’s a refined drive. You could always opt for the 1.0L or 1.4L petrol engines, or a more powerful 2.0TDI. Given the fact that it’s a very good drive, with a high quality cabin and quite good looks, you might be expecting a price tag to match. And you’d be right. The saloon versions begin at €28,960, but can quickly rise – my particular test model cost a fairly hefty €42,351 in the top spec with a few toys. But you do get what you pay for.

Round Two Like its brother, the S Line A3 five-door sportback is easy on the eye, and much more imposing when compared to the ordinary three-door hatchback. The boot is a tad smaller at 380L, but once you drop the rear seats it rises to an impressive 1,220L. The same level of quality is found inside the cabin. Audi has very much

taken the minimalist approach with the A3 – you’re not overwhelmed with buttons and dials, allowing you to concentrate on enjoying the drive. My particular model was equipped with the 1.4L petrol engine – the faster of the two with an extra 40bhp. While 0-100km/h will take you 10.7 seconds in the saloon (top speed is 203km/h), the 1.4L will get there in 8.2 seconds and tops out at 220km/h. It is a tad less economical with combined fuel economy of 6.4L/100km (44mpg), although it does come with cylinder on demand technology, which can shut down two of the four cylinders to save fuel when they’re not required. The starting price is cheaper too at €27,960, though the higher spec S Line starts at €32,610 with a 1.0 petrol engine. Having driven both, it’s hard to choose between the two, though I’d certainly opt for the zippier 1.4L petrol engine. The decision really comes down to looks. If hatchbacks are your thing, and you like a little extra boot space, the sportback is an easy choice. If you prefer the look of the saloon, you won’t be disappointed with Audi’s take on the concept. His and hers, perhaps?

Audi A3 Sportback 1.6TDI S Line S-Tronic Bhp: 150 0-100km/h: 8.2 seconds Top speed: 220km/h Fuel efficiency: 6.4L/100km (44mpg) Annual tax: €200 Price (as tested): €43,792


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OF Arts  Culture




he Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) celebrated its 25th anniversary last year, but the institute’s genesis can be traced back to the 1960s. Before the establishment of the Dublin gallery, there were the ROSC Art Exhibitions. These government-led events allowed Irish audiences to take in the work of renowned international artists. For many, it was their first opportunity to engage with this new-age form of creative expression. Six ROSC exhibitions took place in Dublin between 1967 and 1988. Out of this newfound Irish awareness of contemporary artistic philosophy grew the IMMA. Opened in 1991 by then-Taoiseach Charles Haughey, the museum has since served as a centre of Irish modern art that empowers

artists and the public. “We support artists to make the work that they want to make,” explains the museum’s director Sarah Glennie. “But also, we empower the audience to connect with that work in different ways.” For mortals looking to extract meaning from this wild kick we call existence, contemporary artworks can serve a deep purpose. Like cinema, music and theatre, modern art is a direct reflection of how its creators view the world. It can deal with the broad concerns of society, or bottle the minute emotions that make us human. Art allows people to connect with what’s going on around them in a much more poetic way than through the news. It’s one person’s perspective on how it feels to be alive. When you engage with the work it gives you some space to think about what it means to be conscious.

As the home of Ireland’s national collection of modern art, IMMA’s role is to spawn such thinking. “Through a collection you’re freezing in time what was the now of that particularly period,” says Aoife Flynn, Head of Audiences and Development. “If we purchase or acquire work that was made in the year 2000 that is dealing with the concerns of 2000, when you look back at that 50 years hence, it gives you insight into what were the key societal concerns of that time. We talk about it as collecting the work of now for the future.”

A Collection Emerges IMMA was actually established without a collection. Very quickly, though, a selection of work was formed to fill its space at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham. Artists like


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Culture  Arts


Photography by Marc O’Sullivan

British sculptor Antony Gormley were commissioned to make unique pieces for the museum’s opening. Other works have been bought, donated or loaned. Currently, the collection stands at over 3,500 artworks by Irish and international artists. Flynn explains the museum’s criteria: “We’re looking for work that exemplifies a real highpoint in an artist’s career,” she says. “We tend to acquire works that have a resonance with our audience. There’s a whole story behind them. Maybe they were commissioned for the space here so they’re unique to us, or our audience has reacted to them in a particular way so that when they’re displayed in the future you’re not just talking about the work itself, you’re talking about everything it means.” The museum’s ability to further enhance its collection was severely impacted by the

economic crash. For a few years, IMMA had an acquisition budget of exactly zero. Two things changed in 2016, though. The Hennessy Art Fund for IMMA was established, allowing the purchase of new works. Secondly, the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht supported the

institute in the commissioning of two works by artists Jaki Irvine and Duncan Campbell as part of the 1916 centenary programme. “Because they very much dealt with how 2016 looked at 1916, I think they have huge historical importance for the next 50 years,” says Flynn. SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 69

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Arts  Culture

Photography by Ruth Medjber Photography by Marc O’Sullivan

Moving forward, the IMMA 1000 fund has been created to support the museum’s work with Irish artists. The initiative was conceived by businessman John Cunningham, Director of CheckRisk, who was moved by a talk Glennie gave to a group of business leaders in 2014. Together with a number of founding donors, Cunningham raised €20,000. This, plus the support of Goodbody, created a founding fund of €60,000 in year one. Seeking to crowd fund via €1,000 each from individuals, IMMA’s goal is to raise €250,000 by the end of 2018.

Future plans Looking all the way to 2022, IMMA hopes to launch new strategies later this year. Central to its plans will be expanding

its presence digitally to, as Glennie describes, “create a very open space of shared thinking – shared knowledge”. The museum is hoping to expand its presence in the physical world too, by taking full advantage of its Royal Hospital Kilmainham location. “It’s a site that creates great opportunity for us, for artists and for our audience,” says Glennie of their historic location. “That collision of the historical and contemporary, it’s a very a powerful context for artists to make and show their work, and also for audiences to experience the work, so we want to make sure that we really use the fill site.” She continues: “Our collection archive holds a huge wealth of knowledge and

information about the artists who made the work, where it was first shown. We have recordings of artists giving lectures about the works, images of previous exhibitions, texts that were written. So we want to build on site a new collection and learning centre that will be both a home for the collection, providing secure storage, but also providing access to that storage for researchers and students.” These plans come just as the museum enjoys a surge in its footfall. Last year it welcomed just over 580,000 visitors to the site – 100,000 more than the previous year, and 350,000 more than the year before that. In 2015, IMMA was one of the top three most visited free attractions in Ireland, alongside the National Gallery and National Botanic Gardens. For Flynn, these stats are evidence of the country’s artistic cravings. “There was this argument in Ireland for a long time that Ireland wasn’t a visual nation and our audiences were behind when it came to visiting art,” she says. “Looking at that 2015 list to see two national visual arts institutes in the top three most visited [free attractions] is really telling. People are really embracing art.”


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Health Checks  Health


> Get Checked

Cancer research has shown that early detection can result in a 90 per cent survival rate, compared to a 5 per cent survival rate for late diagnoses. Despite the stats, when not suffering from any symptoms of illness, most people find it difficult to prioritise a doctor’s check-up over what appear to be more pressing items on their to-do list. “As we get older we have a higher risk of developing conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease or type 2 diabetes,” says Susan O’Dwyer, Healthcare Development Manager at Boots Ireland. “Many of these conditions do not have obvious symptoms, particularly in the initial stages, and therefore going for a regular health check can help spot early signs.”

> On-Site Services

The greatest barrier between most people and regular check-ups is the idea of taking time off work. Employers can encourage employees to invest in their health by organising regular onsite health checks in areas of eye health, diabetes and cancer screenings. Many of the big healthcare companies such as VHI and Boots now offer such services to small businesses. For employees without these means, there are other resources available outside of standard working hours, such as the local chemist. O’Dwyer notes: “There are many general health checks that can be completed in your local community pharmacy such as blood pressure measurement and diabetes risk assessments. At Boots, our pharmacies open late nights and at weekends, some open seven days a week, making access to health checks easy and convenient.”

> Tech Pioneers

Alongside these more traditional resources, there has been an emergence in recent years of a number of innovative healthtech start-ups in Ireland whose services centre around screenings. Companies like LetsGetChecked, and VideoDoc are fully vetted companies that now allow patients to test for conditions such as cancer, heart disease, liver damage and even infertility. LetsGetChecked connects customers and laboratories for self-testing, while enables patients to speak to Irishbased doctors outside of normal working hours and obtain a prescription through the post a short time later. With the ongoing advancement of health technology, all of us – regardless of our working hours – will be more empowered to take pro-active steps to take care of our health. SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 71

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Travel  London

Grouse, Corrigan’s Mayfair

The Shard


London Eye

In recent years London has shaken off what remained of the financial crisis with shows of strength such as the 2012 Olympics, which celebrated diversity and accessibility. It presented itself as a city on the upswing and it would be fair to say that, despite the UK taking a long hard look at itself in the wake of its decision to leave the EU, that swing is still very much in motion. Indeed, it’s no wonder that four different airlines travel to the capital every morning from Dublin, carrying up to 4.5 million passengers on that route alone in 2015. Today it is the busiest air route in Europe and the second busiest international air route in the world, behind Hong Kong-Taipei. London is easily reached from mainland Europe with numerous low cost airlines flying into six different airports surrounding the city. High speed trains connect the airports to the city centre and any traveller worth their salt will already have an Oyster card in their possession. If not, you can

BUSINESS LONDON DUBLIN TO LONDON IS ONE OF THE BUSIEST AIR ROUTES IN THE WORLD AND, BREXIT OR NO BREXIT, IT WILL UNDOUBTEDLY REMAIN SO FOR YEARS TO COME. ELLEN FLYNN PUTS THE ‘B’ WORD ASIDE AND LOOKS AT LONDON AS A BUSINESS TRAVEL DESTINATION. purchase one easily at one of the 270 London underground stations. An Oyster card allows you to travel on the London underground, use local bus services and overground trains. Once in town, those iconic black cabs can take you anywhere you need to go, and with London’s congestion charge keeping motorists at bay you’ll have little problem getting to your destination in reasonable time. While the cabs and tube are ideal for those longer journeys (and for avoiding unpredictable weather),

Santander’s city bike scheme is an

excellent way to get around. In business, travelling to London can often be a day-long affair, but if you’re staying longer and looking for luxury, seek out the Shangri-La Hotel at The Shard in the financial district. Taking up floors 34 to 52 of London’s tallest skyscraper, the unique and spacious 202 contemporary rooms and suites all feature floor to ceiling windows and offer dazzling views of the city. Be warned though – with the Gong providing chic,


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London  Travel

g for Travellin Business

TING Restaurant, Shangri-La Hotel, The Shard, London

Leicester Square street sign


1 2

FLIGHTS: Ryanair and Aer Lingus are obvious choices to fly from Dublin, but it’s worth remembering that BA offers reasonably inexpensive early bird flights.

Santander’s city bike scheme, Brick Lane

signature cocktails and the Lang and TING with British dining with an Asian twist, you may never want to leave! For the more budget-conscious business traveller, there are lots of hotels in the city with excellent amenities for competitive prices. The DoubleTree by Hilton offers excellent WiFi, as well as a relaxing spa and wellness centre, while the Radisson Blu Mercer Street in Soho has reasonably priced boardrooms and function rooms for hire, plus a lively location. If charged with holding a function during your visit, The Shangri-La boasts three conference rooms – five-star service included – with stunning views of the metropolis below. The Ren reception room can hold 140 people, while the Li and Yi caters for more intimate boardroom meetings for up to 30 people. If you’d like to take your business elsewhere, the Park Crescent Conference Centre in prime location opposite Regent’s Park offers full AV equipment, excellent WiFi and caters for up to 300 people, while the Abbey Conference Centre near Parliament Square offers light and airy spaces with a hitech spec at a reasonable price. Every conceivable type of cuisine is available in London due to its diverse blend of cultures. While Britain isn’t world famous for its exotic or adventurous cuisine, London is home to some of the best restaurants in the world, so no better city to be peckish in after a day’s work. With eateries like L’Anima providing soulful

Italian cuisine with a bright, contemporary interior and Corrigan’s Mayfair serving timeless dishes in a richly furnished gentlemen’s club, you won’t be disappointed with the different styles and flavours. If you’re looking for something with a little less fuss that’s easier on the pocket, you can head down to Soho to try (arguably) the best fish and chips in London. Golden Union Fish Bar offers chunky, flaky, fresh fish in a crisp, beer batter served with fluffy, golden chips, all in retro decor. When it comes to unwinding at the end of a long day, London doesn’t disappoint. It’s a city renowned for its nightlife, from the West End for theatre to Soho for dancing, cabaret and comedy clubs, there’s something for everyone. If you’re looking for last minute tickets to the West End, check out lastminute. com, or if you’re in the area, the ticket booth in Leicester Square always has some tickets on the go for knocked down prices. If you’re looking for more rooftop views of the city, the sky bar Rumpus Room might be for you. Situated on the 12th floor of the Mondrian Hotel, it effortlessly blends 1920s chic with contemporary furnishings, all the while offering an impressive view of the sparkling city lights. Offering bespoke cocktails and generously spaced booths with the privacy to continue business into the late hours, it’s a popular spot for those looking to talk or unwind to some smooth jazz sounds from the live acts that play every Wednesday night as part of the Skyline Sessions.

HOTELS: Hotels like the Hilton offer reward schemes so if you’re a frequent traveller, make sure to build up those points, which you can eventually cash in for a free stay down the line. If you arrive too early to check in, leave your bags with your hotel while you go about your business in London town.


TRANSPORT: Although you’ll want to use public transport for longer journeys, London is an ideal city for walking and cycling in. With Santander’s city bike scheme costing only £2 for 24 hours hire, you’d be mad not to stretch your legs and catch more of the terrific sights above ground.


MEALS: Trot down to Camden Market for some tasty street food that won’t break the bank, and to save on cash, there are plenty of chain restaurants and cafés where you can get delicious sandwiches and lunches to go.


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Travel  London





If you’re looking for a touch of glamour, the Shangri La hotel at the Shard is the place for you. Located in London’s tallest building, the dazzling views of the city and unique five-star service will leave you wanting for just one thing: an extended stay.


For art lovers out there or the culturally minded, a visit to the Tate won’t disappoint. Situated right on the Thames, the Tate offers an international collection of modern art, featuring artists such as Picasso, Dali and Dumas as well as rotating exhibitions of exciting new work in photography, sculpture and fine art.

W: T: +44 2072 348000 E: Tower of London



For a livelier time, why not head down to the bustling Camden Market to see if you can pick up a bargain or two of handmade crafts or antique decor. With more than 1,000 unique shops, stalls, bars and cafés, you’ll be amazed at what you can find in this treasure trove of London.

Steeped in a bloody history, the tower is always worth a visit. Learn of its various uses throughout history and feast your eyes on the lavish crown jewels.


If you’ve become weary of the city bustle, traipse up to Hampstead Heath to get a slice of nature. In the summer, enjoy wild swimming in the pools or take to the hills and follow one of the numerous trails that wind through London’s ancient parkland.



If there’s one thing London is famous for it’s the exciting theatre scene. With shows from all over the world clamouring to get a slot in some of the world’s most prestigious theatres, there’s something everyone will enjoy. From classical Shakespeare at the Globe to fun, colourful musicals like Hamilton and The Book of Mormon in the West End, you won’t be sorry to whisk yourself off to the theatre for the evening.

RADISSON BLU, MERCER STREET Ideally situated right by Covent Garden, the Radisson Blu offers its guests access to some of London’s best eateries, bars and theatres while providing top notch services. Seamlessly melding historic charm with modern elegance, satisfaction is guaranteed. W: T: +44 2078 364300

DOUBLETREE BY HILTON, WEST END You won’t be disappointed with the great service offered at the DoubleTree by Hilton. Found in the bustling West End, it pairs an electric atmosphere with amenities that cater to your every need and comfort. W: T: +44 0207 2422828 Tate Modern


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Commercial Profile

ACCESSING FINANCE FOR BUSINESS THE CREDIT REVIEW OFFICE ENSURES THAT VIABLE SMALL AND MEDIUM-SIZED ENTERPRISES HAVE ACCESS TO FINANCE IN ORDER TO GROW AND DEVELOP. Among its many functions, the Credit Review Office provides an independent appeals process for small and mediumsized businesses, sole traders and farmers that have had credit facilities refused, reduced or withdrawn. It operates a helpline for business borrowers having difficulty getting credit, as well as monitoring bank lending by the pillar banks, including how much new money is being approved. The office considers applications from businesses that have had credit facilities of up to €3 million refused, reduced or withdrawn by AIB, Bank of Ireland, PTSB and Ulster Bank. It also considers refinance applications to these banks

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which occur when a borrower has an existing loan with a bank that has left the Irish market, or has had their loan sold to a hedge fund. In the experience of the Credit Review Office, credit is available for most businesses that can demonstrate current or future viability. Lending decisions are firmly based on cash flow and projections – but banks will seek to reduce risk, so security may still be required. The bank will also be reluctant to take all of the risk, generally wanting to see a cash input from the business itself to part fund the project. The CRO recommends good preparation and documentation before

applying for credit – this will greatly improve the likelihood of a successful outcome. The key message to businesses seeking credit is to be a prepared borrower, aware of the finance and funding options available, with a clear business plan and up-to-date financial information and realistic projections based on clear assumptions. If you're a borrower who believes that your business is viable but has been refused credit, appeal the decision to the Credit Review Office. It is able to recommend credit be provided to over 50 per cent of businesses that apply. For further details visit

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Profile  A Day in the Life

A TASTE OF THETASTE KEITH MAHON, MANAGING DIRECTOR OF THETASTE, FILLS US IN ON A TYPICAL DAY AT THE ONLINE FOOD AND DRINK MAGAZINE. 7AM I start by logging in to our online bank account to check our cash position, what payments came in the previous day and send the weekly transfers to our accounts. After that I check in on sales and support from the previous day, making sure all customers have received a reply from the team and that there is nothing outstanding. 9AM I work with the team to see what small bites of news we can upload to the site. We originally started out as a monthly online magazine, however the appetite for food, drink and travel news is at an all-time high and we need to make sure that our audience gets its stories first from our site. Our vision is to be a culinary kaleidoscope to champion every taste, food, wine, whiskey and more. In June 2016, TheTaste was voted Best Digital Food Magazine in the World in the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. 10AM I analyse the current campaigns we are running for top brands, restaurants and hotels, identifying which of them needs additional targeted online adverts or ezines. I then review the list of restaurants and hotels requesting to be members of TheTaste and work out a plan to visit and review each of them. One of our core principles is that we will not work with any venue that we haven’t visited ourselves. 12PM Social media is at the heart of what we do and I normally dedicate at least one hour per day to communicating our news, features, interviews, reviews, offers, recipes and competitions to our online social family. 1PM It’s time for lunch, which is a great opportunity to try out new places! 2PM I try to dedicate one hour each day to review our site, working through any issues or developing improvements. This is also an ideal time to see what our competitors worldwide are doing and what trends are taking off. 3PM For the next three hours I tend to be out of the office meeting new potential clients or catching up with our existing members. It is so important to have face-to-face time with clients. This is when you develop lasting relationships. 7PM With the food and drink industry thriving again, we find that on most nights there will be events to attend. Aside from supporting clients at such events, it is an excellent networking opportunity. If there are no events taking place, we finish the day with a restaurant or hotel review.


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Gather with the energy experts. Your competitors are.

5 &6 APRIL th



Ireland’s leading companies and experts from the energy sector will be at the Energy Show 2017. Give your company a competitive edge with seminars, product demonstrations, new technologies and networking opportunties at the must attend event for everyone with an interest in energy and business.

@seai_ie #EnergyShow17

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Better Business Q1 2017  
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