S U P P O RT I N G E N T R E P R E N E U RS | VA LU I N G SM A L L B US I N ESS | R E W A R D I N G R I S K TA K E RS | AU T U M N 2018
BUSINESS Talking to an Angel STRIKING A DEAL WITH AN ANGEL INVESTOR
BETTER BUSINESS Q3 2018
Eyes on DESIGN HOW ‘DESIGN THINKING’ CAN HELP YOUR SMALL BUSINESS
DEAL OR NO DEAL IBEC’S DANNY MCCOY ON WHAT BREXIT MIGHT LOOK LIKE
Number CRUNCHING ICON ACCOUNTING’S GERARD KIERNAN ON HIS COMPANY TURNING TEN
772009 911007 9
GETTING UNDER THE SKIN OF THE TATTOO INDUSTRY
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EXPERIENCE GREATER CUSTOMER LOYALTY, 20% INCREASE IN RETURNING CUSTOMERS AFTER USING EXPRESS DELIVERY
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S U P P O R T I N G E N T R E P R E N E U R S | VA L U I N G S M A L L B U S I N E S S | R E WA R D I N G R I S K TA K E R S | A U T U M N 2 01 8
WELCOME AUTUMN 2018
BUSINESS Talking to an Angel STRIKING A DEAL WITH AN ANGEL INVESTOR
BETTER BUSINESS Q3 2018
Eyes on DESIGN
DEAL OR NO DEAL
HOW ‘DESIGN THINKING’ CAN HELP YOUR SMALL BUSINESS
IBEC’S DANNY MCCOY ON WHAT BREXIT MIGHT LOOK LIKE
Number CRUNCHING ICON ACCOUNTING’S GERARD KIERNAN ON HIS COMPANY TURNING TEN
GETTING UNDER THE SKIN OF THE TATTOO INDUSTRY
Welcome to Better Business, a magazine dedicated to the small business community.
On the Cover: Gerard Kiernan, founder and MD, Icon Accounting Photography: Paul McCarthy
In this edition, we return to the issue of Brexit; with dark clouds looming, read
Editor: Joseph O’Connor
2019, advice on bringing ‘design thinking’ into your business, top tips on
about some bright ideas from small businesses and the government supports helping them along. Check out our feature on angel investment and hear from investors and businesses on how they sealed the deal. Elsewhere in these pages you will find the SFA response to Budget
Creative Director: Jane Matthews Designer: Alan McArthur Design Assitant: James Moore Editorial Contributors: Tiernan Cannon, Conor Forrest, Valerie Jordan, Sinéad Moore, Dean Van Nguyen Production Executive: Nicole Ennis Account Director: Shane Kelly Managing Director: Gerry Tynan Chairman: Diarmaid Lennon
search engine optimisation (SEO) and a sector spotlight on the trends shaping the tattoo industry. Find out how to switch off from technology without neglecting your business and follow a day in the life of a boutique publishing company. This magazine contains stories that inform, inspire and entertain. It showcases and celebrates the achievements of small companies, provides advice to help you in your business and keeps you up-to-date on the latest trends at home and abroad. Ireland is a nation of small businesses. Of over 246,000 businesses in the country, 99 per cent have less than 50 employees (small) and 92 per cent
Email email@example.com or
have less than 10 (micro). These companies can be seen in every city, town
write to Better Business, Ashville Media,
and village in the country and together they provide employment to half of
Unit 55, Park West Road, Park West
the private sector workforce.
Industrial Estate, Dublin 12, D12 X9F9. Tel: (01) 432 2200 All rights reserved. Every care has been taken to ensure that the information contained in this magazine is accurate. The publishers cannot, however, accept responsibility for errors or omissions. Reproduction by any means in whole or in part without the permission of the publisher is prohibited. © Ashville Media Group 2018. All discounts, promotions and competitions contained in this magazine
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. The SFA Annual Lunch is the highlight of the small business calendar. Make sure to book your place and join us at the Mansion House on November 16th. You can book you place at www.sfa.ie/events. Better Business is the magazine of the small business community. We welcome your feedback, suggestions and ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SFA_Irl.
are run independently of Better Business. The promoter/advertiser is responsible for honouring the prize. ISSN 2009-9118 SFA is a trading name of Ibec.
Sven Spollen-Behrens Director, Small Firms Association
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CONTENTS AUTUMN 2018
05 12 14
Big News for Small Business: News, views and profiles from SFA members and small businesses in Ireland
Eye on Design A look at how design thinking in your business can help develop better products, processes and services
From Asylum Seeker to Job Creator We meet three individuals who came to Ireland seeking asylum, but have since put their entrepreneurial skills to use
Cover Story We speak to Gerard Kiernan of Icon Accounting about the importance of putting people at the heart of business
Talking to an Angel A look at the relationship between start-up and angel investor and how best to strike a deal
Sector Spotlight We get under the skin of Ireland’s tattoo industry to discover the trends and challenges within the sector
Small Business Profile Aidan Connolly of Idiro Analytics fills us in on his experience of working in the big data industry
Deal or No Deal Ibec CEO Danny McCoy on the Government’s response to Brexit and the likelihood of a no-deal scenario
Lessons on Brexit for Small Firms We sought the views of four small business owners on what Brexit might mean for their companies
Trading Places Former athlete Thomas Chamney, who once ran for Ireland in the Olympics, now runs a burrito business in Sweden
Arts/Culture We catch up with author and journalist Sorcha Pollak to discuss migration and what it means to be Irish
A Day in the Life... of Brian O’Kane, founder and Managing Director, Oak Tree Press
20 24 30
34 36 40
59 78 88
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Autumn 2018 ď€Š Contents
FROM TOP LEFT: Ellie Kisyombe, an asylum seeker putting her entrepreneurial skills to use, page 14 // Gerard Kiernan, founder of Icon Accounting, on putting people at the heart of his business, page 20 // Ibec CEO Danny McCoy on what a final Brexit might look like, page 36 // Journalist Sorcha Pollak on penning stories for the parish, page 78
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MINISTER WELCOMES MFI REPORT
SFA MEMBERS IF YOUR BUSINESS HAS SOME NEWS TO SHARE THAT YOU WOULD LIKE FEATURED IN THE NEXT EDITION OF BETTER BUSINESS, CONTACT GILLIAN O’KEEFE ON 01 6051664 OR INFO@SFA.IE
Pictured at the launch of this year’s Futurewize programme were Dr Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin, Futurewize Brand Ambassador, with Khadidja Ouidah, aged 13, from Assumption Secondary School in Walkinstown
Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys has welcomed the publication of Microfinance Ireland’s annual report and accounts for 2017. The annual report and accounts show that €22.6 million of loans have been approved under the Microenterprise Loan Fund since 2012, supporting 3,952 jobs in borrowing companies throughout Ireland. Minister Humphreys commented: “Since its launch in 2012, Microfinance Ireland has provided vital support for microenterprises throughout the country. Last year was a record year with lending activity and the number of jobs supported continuing to grow. Significantly, almost 80 per cent of Microfinance Ireland loan approvals go to microenterprises outside of Dublin, which is vital in supporting this Government’s target of creating 135,000 jobs outside of Dublin by 2020.”
BIG NEWS FOR SMALL BUSINESS
STEM Programme a Proven Success
Junior Achievement Ireland (JAI), a non-profit organisation focused on entrepreneurship education in primary and secondary schools, has announced plans to further scale its successful Futurewize programme up to the end of 2019. Originally launched in 2016, the classroom-based Futurewize programme is aimed at inspiring young Junior Cycle students to explore a new world of career possibilities that are opened up through the study of STEM-related subjects. An evaluation of the first phase of the Futurewize programme showed that 77 per cent of student participants are now interested in studying STEM-related subjects after school, while 99 percent of participating teachers would recommend it to colleagues. By the end of 2019, it is estimated that nearly 24,000 students will have completed the Futurewize programme in combination with the Smart Futures module, which is also promoted as a function of the collaboration between Science Foundation Ireland and JAI.
NOT TO BE MISSED! SFA ANNUAL LUNCH, NOVEMBER 16TH The SFA Annual Lunch is the highlight of the small business calendar. It is an opportunity to celebrate the contribution that small businesses make to the Irish economy and society. This year’s lunch will take place in the Mansion House in Dublin on Friday November 16th with the support of Bank of Ireland. Join over 500 guests, including small business owner-managers, politicians, senior Government officials and media for the biggest business lunch of the year for small business. This is also the perfect opportunity to bring together your invited guests, special customers, clients and valued employees to kick off the festive season. For more information and to book your table or individual place, visit www.sfa.ie/events.
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MANAGEMENT ACCOUNTS MAKE BUSINESS SENSE
Chartered accountant Freda Hegarty provides eight tips on how small firms can use management accounts to drive business growth.
Value the management accounting process.
See it as a tool to help improve business performance – to get insights, support decision making and communicate to others.
Keep perspective on what is important.
Prioritise the metrics that have the biggest impact on performance.
Focus on what you can control.
Consider the metrics that you can control and change.
Keep it simple.
Tell the story.
Make it relevant.
Streamline the process.
Show metrics over time and compared to a budget.
HBAN INVESTS IN DUBLIN MEDTECH START-UP
Declan Quinn, Lead Angel for HBAN’s MedTech Syndicate; Sarah Cagney, Communications & Relationship Manager, HBAN; and Kevin Kelleher, CEO, OstoForm
Angel investment organisation HBAN has announced that its MedTech Syndicate has led a €1.1 million Series A funding round in medical device start-up Ostoform. HBAN Angels contributed €280,000, with venture capital investor, SOSV, Enterprise Ireland, and other angel investors making up the rest of the funding round. The €1.1 million investment will help Ostoform to expand its team by five and fund the patient trials and regulatory approval required to commercialise and distribute its patented technology in both the US and Europe. Ostoform will benefit not just from the €1.1m investment, but also from the expertise of the Galway-based HBAN MedTech syndicate. For more on angel investment check out our feature on page 24.
Spend time understanding and documenting why numbers are changing. Agree how frequently and promptly the management accounts need to be produced. As your business evolves, also adjust the focus of your management accounts.
Automate account production as much as possible so there can be more time spent actioning change. Freda Hegarty is a chartered accountant who provides contract CFO and transactional support to SMEs.
“It is regrettable that the Government has again ignored the SFA’s call to reduce Capital Gains Tax (CGT) to 20 per cent across the board, to make investing in a business in Ireland more attractive. At 33 per cent, Ireland has one of the highest rates of CGT amongst developed economies.” Sven Spollen-Behrens, SFA Director responding to details announced in Budget 2019.
“The last 15 years have seen dramatically changing fortunes for our economy. Through it all, small businesses have remained the backbone of the Irish economy.” Sue O’Neill, SFA Chair, speaking at the launch of the SFA National Small Business Awards 2019.
“My prediction is that Britain will leave the institutions and remain fully aligned on all the things that matter to business.” Danny McCoy, Chief Executive, Ibec, forecasting what Brexit will look like during his interview with Better Business (for more go to page 36).
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We are excited to announce that we will be celebrating Internet Day 2018 in Gorey Co. Wexford, as part of our ‘Digital Town’ initiative to encourage local towns across Ireland to understand and embrace the benefits of the Internet. More: www.iedr.ie/internetday #InternetDay2018
IE Domain Registry @IEDR_dot_ie
Check out what we have to say about #budget2019 and the impact that it could have on small business sfa.ie/0/ budget19 #budget2019 #supportingsmall business
Graduates from Trinity College Dublin founded more venture-backed companies than graduates from any other European university over the last 13 years, according to new independent research. Trinity sits at number 46 in the global rankings for producing venture-backed entrepreneurs from its undergraduate programmes, according to PitchBook’s recently published Universities Report. Trinity is the only European university within the Top 50, making this the fourth year in a row that Trinity has been ranked first in Europe by the private equity and venturefocused research firm. Trinity’s ranking at 46 is up two places from last year. 2018 Trinity Entrepreneurship in Numbers:
n 232 entrepreneurs produced by Trinity alumni
n 212 venture-backed companies formed n $3.26 billion in capital raised
TCD IS EUROPEAN LEADER IN ENTREPRENEURSHIP
SMALL FIRMS SEE FUTURE IN 3D
Three-quarters of Europe’s small and medium sized businesses will use 3D printing technology by mid-2020, according to new research. The study commissioned by Ricoh Europe found 44 per cent of the 2,370 small and medium business leaders surveyed from across 23 countries – including Ireland – have already invested in 3D printing. An additional 30 per cent plan to invest over the next two years. The research found that 70 per cent of the businesses adopting 3D printing plan to use it to explore new manufacturing strategies and techniques. Fifty-six per cent plan to use the technology to reduce the cost of storage, shipping and materials by printing products for customers ondemand. To adapt and experiment quickly in response to changing customer demands, 80 per cent of businesses are also planning to incorporate 3D printing into their product development cycles.
Small Firms Association @SFA_Irl Did you know: hiring a remote worker instead of in-house employee saves a company an average of €11,000 per year! #GrowRemote18
Grow Remote @ GrowRemoteIrl
What small firms think should be done to fix the housing crisis make residential developments more “commercially viable” @SFA_Irl @ibec_irl
@SFA_Irl membership not only includes excellent HR support for you and your business, networking opportunites and support for SMEs, it also offers great #MONEYSAVING opportunities through #SFAAffinity, exclusive offers for our valued members www.sfa.ie/0/ affinity
Small Firms Association @SFA_Irl
NEW PRODUCT TAKES THE WORK OUT OF HOMEWORK
Jenny Quinn and Karen Martin, co-founders of The Homework Box
The Homework Box is a new resource designed to take the work out of homework for children and parents. The box contains the standard stationery required to do homework along with visual tools and whiteboards to make the task more engaging and enjoyable. The brains behind the new product are sisters Jenny Quinn and Karen Martin. Having launched earlier this year, Martin says the feedback so far has been really positive. “Parents like the idea of having similar tools to the classroom to help with homework and having everything in one place. The children like the box and, as the tools are similar to what they use in school, it is easy for them to use and understand. Teachers have also been very positive with their feedback.” The Homework Box, which is recommended for children aged 4-10 years, retails at €49.25 and is available from homeworkbox.ie.
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ROUND TWO OF AVIATION ACCELERATOR TAKES FLIGHT
Peter O’Malley and Galen Lowney, co-founders of Advisable.com
START-UP TAPS INTO DEMAND FOR PREMIUM FREELANCE TALENT Advisable.com, a start-up that helps companies find and hire premium freelance marketing specialists, has raised €1 million from Frontline Ventures and a group of leading angel investors including Breon Corcoran, former CEO, Paddy Power Betfair; Paddy Cosgrave, CEO, Web Summit; Anne Heraty, CEO, CPL Resources; and Oisín Hanrahan, CEO, Handy.com. Advisable.com, founded by Irish duo Peter O’Malley and Galen Lowney, uses proprietary technology and processes to help companies find and hire top freelance marketing talent on-demand. So far, in less than 12 months, the startup has helped a wide range of companies hire top freelancers, from large multinationals like SAP and Avery Dennison to fast-growing start-ups like TravelPerk and Babbel.
Following the success of the Propeller Shannon Start-Up Accelerator at Shannon Airport earlier this year, Enterprise Ireland has announced the launch of phase two of the Aviation Accelerator programme, which aims to further enhance the aviation and start-up ecosystem within Ireland. A partnership between Shannon Group’s International Aviation Services Centre (IASC), DCU Ryan Academy for Entrepreneurs, and supported by Enterprise Ireland, Boeing, Datalex and the Irish Aviation Authority, the programme is now open to applications from potential teams or individuals both in Ireland and from overseas working in the aviation, aerospace and travel tech sectors. For further information on submitting an application visit propellersnn.com.
Tyndall Awarded Over €7m in Research Funding
Tyndall National Institute has been awarded over €7 million for research projects as part of the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme. Tyndall secured €5.4m in its own right and facilitated a further €1.83m for five Irish partner companies in eight EU-wide technology innovation projects. This is a record funding allocation for Ireland’s ICT research led by Tyndall within the European Commission’s ICT research theme. At a national level, Ireland secured €16m in funding through the recently announced European Commission’s Horizon 2020 ICT Funding call, with a total of €7m going to Tyndall projects.
Georgios Fagas, Head of EU Programmes pictured with Chief Executive Prof William Scanlon of Tyndall
About Tyndall National Institute Tyndall is a European research centre in integrated ICT materials, devices and systems. Specialising in both electronics and photonics, Tyndall works with industry and academia to transform research into impactful technologies in core market areas of communications, energy, health, agri-tech and the environment.
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Ireland’s leading business * lender We understand the value of time – your time. That’s why it takes as little as 15 minutes to complete a business loan application and why you’ll get a decision within 48 hours**. And we approve over 8 out of 10 loan applications.
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WARNING: If you do not meet the repayments on your loan, your account will go into arrears. This may affect your credit rating, which may limit your ability to access credit in the future. Level of security required and rate applicable, will be determined by the amount, purpose & term of facility, in conjunction with the nature and value of the security being offered. Lending criteria and terms and conditions apply. Over 18’s only. Maximum credit of €120k available for online applications. *Based on Central Bank of Ireland statistical report on Credit Advanced to Small and Medium Sized Enterprises 2018. **Provided that we are in receipt of all relevant information and documentation. Applications for non-Bank of Ireland customers and applications referred to underwriting may take longer. Excludes weekends and bank holidays. Bank of Ireland is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.
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Skillnet Ireland has released its 2017 annual report, which highlights that only 1 in 17 Irish companies took advantage of subsidised training in 2017. The report also reveals that the number of businesses that accessed training through Skillnet Ireland networks in 2017 grew by 5 per cent, with over 15,000 businesses investing in their staff across a range of sectors. Ninety-four per cent of the member companies that benefited from investment in training through Skillnet Ireland were SMEs.
15,000 IRISH SMES AVAILED OF TRAINING IN 2017
A New Space in Town
Dublin BIC has launched new co-working premises in Dublin city centre. Situated on Dawson Street, Space @ Dublin BIC is ideal for start-ups and scaling companies looking to operate in a central location. The premises comprise 20 private offices, 50 co-working desks, an on-site café, storage facilities and discounted meeting rooms. Managed by Dublin BIC, Space provides an ease of access to finance advice, networking events, in-depth consultancy and business support. For more information visit www.dublinbic.ie.
SUCCESSION PLANNING A PROBLEM FOR SMALL AGRIBUSINESS
Eighty-three per cent of Irish food and agribusiness SMEs do not have a clear succession plan in place, according to new research. The findings of a new sentiment survey carried out by ifac, the farming, food and agribusiness professional services firm, suggests that this is mainly due to three factors: the owners not having thought about it; business viability; and a lack of interest from the next generation. The research also shows that another area of concern is the growing costs for food and agribusiness SMEs.
Paul Hackett, co-founder and CEO of Click&Go
SKILLNET IRELAND IN NUMBERS
people undertook Skillnet training in 2017
total training programmes
381,982 training days
IRISH TRAVEL COMPANY EXPANDS INTO POLAND Irish online travel company Click&Go has expanded into mainland Europe, opening its first office in Poland. Following an impressive level of growth since its foundation in 2010, Click&Go opened its first offices outside of Ireland in January 2018. With an internal investment of €2 million, the Warsaw-based office expects to employ 10 full-time staff by the end of the year. With a similar demographic to Ireland, and a population of 40 million, the new business development is major step for the company which celebrated its eighth anniversary in July. The Polish capital is our business travel destination of choice in this issue. For more, go to page 84.
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WE’RE ALL BORN ARTISTS
IN THE WORLD OF WORK TODAY, THERE IS A NEED TO NURTURE AND DRIVE ARTISTRY, CREATIVITY AND INNOVATION, WRITES SCOTT MCINNES, FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR, INSPIRING CHANGE.
Scott McInnes, Founder and Director, Inspiring Change
“WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT WHAT MAKES ORGANISATIONS SUCCESSFUL TODAY IT CAN OFTEN COME DOWN TO ENGAGED AND PROUD STAFF SERVING ENGAGED AND PROUD CUSTOMERS.”
ll children are born artists, the problem is to remain an artist as we
grow up.” I love that quote from Pablo Picasso, largely because it’s true. When I watch my kids play (when not on the iPads!) it’s incredible what they get up to – a beach scene created in a plastic box, random Lego vehicles and dangerous looking tree swings, among many other things. They aren’t limited by what’s ‘possible’ or ‘acceptable’ or, indeed, by others’ perceptions or opinions. They just do what whatever they want to – because that’s what kids do. Sadly, as we grow up and go to work, we do start to ‘care’ and our creativity is stifled. So why bother trying to rekindle it? GETTING CREATIVE AT WORK When you think about what makes organisations successful today it can often come down to engaged and proud staff serving engaged and proud customers. However, these days, companies have to create that in an environment of fast-moving change, at lower cost and with a workforce of five different generations, each of which has different wants and needs. But one thing is constant – the ability of your people to see things you don’t, to foresee problems you won’t, to come up with solutions you can’t. Allowing staff loose to explore new ideas, new ways of thinking and new ways of doing things can have a positive effect on both them and your customers. PROMOTING CREATIVITY There are some simple things you can do to try and drive a culture of creativity in your business:
1. Enshrine it in your values Your values provide staff with direction on how you’ll achieve your vision. Including a ‘creativity’ value shows that you are open to them doing things a little differently. 2. L ead from the front Simply saying you value creativity isn’t enough. Today there is a common culture of ‘follow my leader’, so seeing your boss doing something is likely to spur a team on to do the same. 3. Provide a platform for creativity Bring your creative value to life by introducing initiatives that let your people exercise it. For example, why not run a hackathon. It doesn’t have to be about tech – it’s about people getting together to explore new ideas and solutions. 4. H old up creativity Celebrating creativity through stories is a great way to bring the value to life for others, perhaps helping them to build confidence to bring their own crazy idea forward. Find and share them in your newsletters, town halls, and on your intranet. 5. M easure impact No matter how open your company is to trying new things, the majority of firms still like to see measurable impact. Have a think about how you can measure the impact of new initiatives – either quantitatively or anecdotally. I’m with Picasso on this one – we need to nurture and drive artistry, creativity and innovation in order to keep a little of the creative child alive in all of us. www.inspiringchange.ie SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 11
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Feature Design Thinking
THERE HAS BEEN A LOT OF TALK IN RECENT TIMES ABOUT ‘DESIGN THINKING’, BUT WHAT DOES IT ACTUALLY MEAN? AND HOW CAN THE APPROACH HELP YOUR SMALL BUSINESS? BETTER BUSINESS TALKS TO SOME LEADERS IN THE FIELD TO FIND OUT.
ou may already be practising ‘design thinking’ – the concept essentially involves developing a deep interest in and understanding of the customer or end user you’re delivering a product or service for, and requires questioning the reasoning for and implications of certain decisions. Dr Peter Robbins, Head of Department of Design Innovation, Maynooth University, explains: “In every industry – from airlines to retail to mobile payments, when you analyse it, one company alone is positioned as the cheapest: the cost-leadership position. And, every other company competes on some sort of design. “Design thinking is a process which helps organisations innovate successfully. Innovation is the principal route to finding growth but innovation is risky, messy, costly and it carries a strong likelihood of failure. Design thinking offers a framework for creativity and this is particularly helpful in certain organisations that have a low tolerance for risk, for novelty and for creativity.” Traditional sectors like finance are now adopting a design thinking approach to understand and address customers’ needs. Lesley Tully is Head of Design Thinking at Bank of Ireland. She says that while banking is an old industry, it is undergoing unprecedented change, with the digital revolution moving from what was once an existential threat to a survival strategy for the industry at large. “The rise of disintermediation, open banking, Payment Services Directive 2 (PSD2), and blockchain all pose considerable challenges, and opportunities,” she says. “Fintechs and banks are successfully applying a design-led approach to shift mindsets. It allows them to surface insights, explore, iterate, test potential solutions, adapt and evolve business models. This radically shapes customer experiences to provide a genuinely customer-centric approach.” Whether a business uses design thinking to exploit opportunities or to solve problems, it can deliver a host of benefits because of its user-centricity. It encourages organisations to really examine customer insight and behaviour and to develop a deep knowledge of their customer.
Three years ago, Bank of Ireland used a design thinking approach to better understand the lives of its business and start-up customers. Tully explains that studying and talking to entrepreneurs helped the bank to address their needs, specifically their requirement for good quality, low-cost and collaborative workspaces. The result was Workbench, a free co-working space for both customers and non-customers to work, attend, hold events, meetings and collaborate with other entrepreneurs. “We recognise how integral design, but more specifically, design thinking, is when trying to understand our customers’ needs and behaviours. Design thinking helps identify possible solutions that respond to our customers’ problems and to satisfy and serve those needs,” says Tully. Design thinking encourages businesses to prototype ideas and makes innovation tangible. It means creating prototypes, getting them into the field and exposed to the target user. From there, the business can re-prototype, pivot or proceed based on real feedback.
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Vermillion Design is a multi-disciplinary creative agency that specialises in print and digital communication. Founder and Creative Director Anne Brady says prototyping and getting feedback are crucial to the success of her projects. “It starts with conceptual design, leading to prototyping and testing internally, then re-prototying and testing on an external audience or user groups. Based on feedback, research and findings, the final product is manufactured and ready to go to market.
Lesley Tully, Head of Design Thinking, Bank of Ireland
Anne Brady, founder and Creative Director, Vermillion Design
Bank of Ireland Workbench, Limerick
“Design is considered in all stages of every project from concept through to final delivery. It is also considered post delivery so the concept stage can be re-thought all over again to make the next version of the product even better for both the client and the end user.” Brady believes that design thinking is a valuable approach, not just for businesses but in addressing global issues. “It will continue to be an essential part of how we find new solutions to ongoing micro and macro puzzles,” she says. “At micro level, design thinking can be applied to the question of ‘how we can cycle safely around our cities?’ At macro level, design thinking will solve our global challenges such as fire, flood, famine and poverty.” Adopting design thinking is a multidisciplinary approach that means bringing multiple teams together under the same user focus. “For companies that embrace it, it equips their staff with some valuable ways of looking at problems – it’s a way of seeing things, a way of approaching opportunities that helps people develop a growth mindset,” says Robbins. “It also underlines the culture of innovation that most leadership teams want to promote. “For the last decade, companies have sacrificed innovation for survival – they needed to focus on the basics just to trade their way out of the recession. But, now more and more companies are taking their foot off the brakes and planning for the future. Design thinking can help create a bright future for Irish businesses.”
DESIGN THINKING IN IRISH BUSINESSES
“IT’S A WAY OF SEEING THINGS, A WAY OF APPROACHING OPPORTUNITIES THAT HELPS PEOPLE DEVELOP A GROWTH MINDSET.”
An innovative tail mounted, non-invasive sensor that monitors contractions in cows and heifers and alerts approximately one hour before active calving.
In close consultation with customers, Dairymaster designs milking parlours centred around cow comfort, operator comfort, farm and shed layout and simple pathways.
The company is aiming to disrupt the insurance industry through its ‘digital garage’ in East London using data and technology to address user needs and shift focus to service rather than price.
Bord Bia uses consumer trends to inform its thinking for new product design, commercial strategy or creating new brands, and encourages Irish food producers to understand how to be relevant to their consumers.
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Feature Asylum Seekers Turned Entrepreneurs
A RECENT CHANGE IN REGULATION HAS ALLOWED FOR ASYLUM SEEKERS BASED IN IRELAND TO SET UP A BUSINESS. BETTER BUSINESS CATCHES UP WITH THREE INDIVIDUALS WHO ORIGINALLY CAME HERE SEEKING ASYLUM, BUT HAVE SINCE PUT THEIR ENTREPRENEURIAL SKILLS TO USE.
ollowing new legislations passed in June 2018, asylum seekers in Ireland are now permitted to take up any form of employment, except for positions in An Garda Síochana, the Defence Forces and the civil service. This is in contrast to previous rules, which stated that asylum seekers were prohibited from working or being self-employed in this country. Under the new regulations, an asylum seeker must have been in Ireland for a period of nine months and be awaiting a first decision from the International Protection Office about their asylum. They are then eligible to apply for a letter of permission to work in Ireland. This change means that approximately 3,000 new workers may be available to work – a positive for those small businesses that are struggling to fill vacancies. It also allows asylum seekers to develop their skillsets, contribute to and become more integrated within Irish society.
Moreover though, it means that asylum seekers are permitted to forge their own path by setting up a business. Given that they arrive in Ireland with their own unique traditions and skills, these people have the potential to offer a product or service to the Irish market that has previously been absent. A clear illustration of this can be seen in food businesses, where an entrepreneur can draw from their own native foods and recipes, offering something outside of traditional Irish tastes. In the following pages, Better Business hears from three entrepreneurs working with food who have either gone through the asylum process in Ireland or are continuing to do so, to learn about the challenges they have faced and the lengths they have gone to in order to succeed. It’s an indication of the positive role such people can play in Irish society and how they, if given the opportunity, can form part of a new wave of entrepreneurs in Ireland.
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Asylum Seekers Turned Entrepreneurs Feature
ELLIE KISYOMBE After arriving in Ireland from Malawi as an asylum seeker in 2010, Ellie Kisyombe found herself living within the direct provision system – and remains so to this day. “The system is so limiting [with regard to] accessing basic life,” Kisyombe tells Better Business. Under the direct provision system, 4,300 people seeking asylum in Ireland are denied the right to work, as well as the right to cook. Personal allowances of only €21.60 per adult and child are issued each week. People in direct provision have no choice but to eat food prepared for them at set times on an industrial scale. “I come from a very strong culinary background, and in direct provision, you are not allowed to cook for your kids,” says Kisyombe. “You’re not even allowed to teach your kids your cooking skills – and there is plenty to teach!” Together with Michelle Darmody, whom she met while doing a volunteership with the Irish Refugee Council, Kisyombe co-founded the non-profit enterprise Our Table, which raises funds and awareness of those living in direct provision. The organisation was set up in 2015, and today boasts 12 employees and 20 volunteers. It aims to create nurturing spaces where people can gain skills, are paid a wage and can gain knowledge of the Irish food industry. In 2016, Our Table opened a pop-up café in the Project Arts Centre in Dublin which provided training and work experience, ultimately creating employment opportunities for the people in attendance. In the longterm, the organisation hopes to create a kitchen that is a training space, where food from various communities can be celebrated and enjoyed. It also plans to set up a garden to supply the café, but moreover, the organisation hopes to build a template for further projects. “I’m a business-minded woman,” says Kisyombe. “I come from an enterprising family. So my goal is to build a very, very successful venture in Ireland. I’m a dreamer! I’m really lucky that I come from a family of dreamers.” Driven by Kisyombe’s entrepreneurial instinct, the project is continuously growing, operating pop-up cafés in Dublin and offering catering services around the rest of the country, all the while shining a light on the indignities of the direct provision system. “Mainly for me, what makes me happy is to wake up in the morning, go to work and run a project which proves to be successful and able to employ people,” says Kisyombe. “I’m making people happy; people are coming to work and getting excited.”
“MY GOAL IS TO BUILD A VERY, VERY SUCCESSFUL VENTURE IN IRELAND. I’M A DREAMER!” Ellie Kisyombe, Co-Founder, Our Table
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Feature Asylum Seekers Turned Entrepreneurs
HAMO MUHADZIC Hamo Muhadzic arrived in Ireland with his family in the midnineties, fleeing the war in his native Bosnia. The family first lived in Cherry Orchard Hospital, which had been converted to house refugees before they were settled elsewhere, finally moving to Tallaght. Muhadzic did not know much about Ireland, arriving not by choice, but rather because the family had applied for refugee resettlement with UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, which chose Ireland as their new home. He had initially hoped to be sent to the United States, but he is much happier with how it all worked out. “I like Ireland. My family like Ireland,” he says. “We can go to Bosnia on holidays.” It wasn’t the smoothest transition in the early days however, as Muhadzic had arrived in the country with no English, which made it difficult to find employment. He had previously owned a restaurant in Bosnia, but now had to start from scratch, learning a new language along the way. In 2001, he established a shop that sold Eastern European food and, noticing an increasing number of customers from the Balkan region, he decided that there was likely a market for a restaurant serving Balkan cuisine. In 2010, Muhadzic opened restaurant His Food in Dublin’s Moore Street Mall, which turned out to be no easy task. “You have to have money to open a restaurant,” he says. “Ireland is very expensive for a restaurant. So I saved and saved and saved, and I took a premises in the Moore Street Mall. It started
as a small restaurant, maybe about 20 seats. After that, we grew to maybe 30, 35 and more since then.” Now employing six staff, His Food made it through some tough initial years to the point where word had spread amongst Bosnians, Croats, Montenegrins and others in Dublin that Muhadzic was cooking real Balkan dishes. Today, given the restaurant’s success, Muhadzic would ideally like to expand. “A lot of Balkan people are living in Cork and Galway,” he points out. “So there’s a chance for something new.” Muhadzic attributes his success to hard work, and he advises anybody who arrives in the country in similar circumstances as he did to spend some time working for someone else, to save money and integrate into the culture. “If you come to Ireland, it’s best for a few years to work hard and save money,” he says. “After that, open up exactly what you want.”
“IRELAND IS VERY EXPENSIVE FOR A RESTAURANT. SO I SAVED AND SAVED AND SAVED, AND I TOOK A PREMISES IN THE MOORE STREET MALL.” Hamo Muhadzic, Proprietor, His Food Restaurant
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Asylum Seekers Turned Entrepreneurs Feature
Izzeddeen and Eman Alkarajeh
IZZEDDEEN AND EMAN ALKARAJEH Izzeddeen and Eman Alkarajeh are a Palestinian and Jordanian couple living in Cork who currently produce and sell food at farmers’ markets. The couple, however, plan to establish their own shop, and have clear ideas as to how it will stand out from the crowd. “I have a unique vision for what I’m going to do,” states husband Izzeddeen. “I’m going to build a modern café with traditional foods. I will be serving western and Arabic café flavours at the same time, and we will be making different pastries and cooking different foods from across our cuisine.” Izzeddeen plans to have the café stand out by giving it a technological twist. “I’ll be integrating social media into the premises,” he explains. “I have special software to fetch
“WHEN I SHARED MY FOOD, A COUPLE OF MY FRIENDS ADVISED ME TO START A FOOD BUSINESS.”
my customers’ social media posts and project them onto the walls, creating an interactive environment in my dining hall.” Alkarajeh and his family came to Ireland after he lost his job in Saudi Arabia, the country where he had met his wife. Eman, who is Jordanian, would have been unable to return to Izzeddeen’s home in the West Bank, due to a ban on family reunification applications. Fearing that the family would be split up, they sought asylum in Ireland, arriving in 2016. “When I came to Ireland, I had my savings,” recalls Izzeddeen. “Unfortunately, because we were waiting in direct provision, we had to spend most of our money on food and other expenses, because my children didn’t like the food provided.” Thankfully, Izzeddeen has started saving once again, and is edging closer towards his target of getting his business off the ground. “When I was in the asylum process, I was exploring the possibility of getting employed in my field, because I have 17 years’ experience in software development,” he explains. “But when I shared my food, a couple of my friends advised me to start a food business. So I
started surveying the market and visiting a couple of friends and people who have food businesses.” One of his friends connected Izzeddeen and his wife to Irish chef and founder of the Ballymaloe Cookery School, Darina Allen. It was, in fact, Allen who suggested the menu items that the couple currently offer. “She knows our food and she advised us to start with this kind of offering in Cork, because it would be loved by the people, as it is different and there would be little competition,” says Izzeddeen. “The plan was to see how it goes in the farmer markets and to see if I could build a good customer base to then go and extend the business and find a premises, and start a café.” With the family now settled in Cork and the food selling well at the markets, the couple is now ready to take the next step.
More From the Migrants Izzeddeen’s story is one of the many migrant stories that featured in The Irish Times’ New to the Parish series. For more on New to the Parish go to our arts/ culture feature on page 82 where we interview author Sorcha Pollak.
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How To ... Tips
Dr Philip Donnellan,
o Pr a e k i l SEO Director, Digigrow
TIPS FOR SMALL FIRMS ON HOW TO EARN PRIME REAL ESTATE IN THE WORLD’S MOST LUCRATIVE MARKET.
GET THE BASICS RIGHT
Performing well in search engine queries used to be quite a technical process. However, it has evolved significantly in recent years, and the majority of once optional elements have now simply become prerequisites required before you can really start to perform. Make sure that your pages all have title tags, that you’ve identified suitable ‘headers’ in the text, that you’ve provided good description tags in the code for each page, and that your images have alternative text associated with them.
CONTENT IS KEY
This one is all about thinking like the search engine. Google’s business is about ensuring that the end user finds exactly what they are looking for as quickly as possible. Someone who has to click from search result to search result is ultimately an unhappy Google customer. This means that a search engine will always favour the website which provides the greatest value to the user. If you want to get in Google’s good books, prove that you are providing value.
KNOW WHO YOU ARE TARGETING
We’ve already mentioned the importance of getting the basics right, but ultimately the words contained within these basic measures and within the rest of the site will have a significant bearing upon which search terms you appear in. We always advise to establish a clear vision about who your potential customers will be, how they are thinking, what kind of words or search terms they may use and then to ensure that these are included throughout your website.
INTERACT, INTERACT, INTERACT
If the search engine wants to make sure that it’s providing its users with the best value every time, then what better way to find out than by asking them. Including comment sections and having people interact with you is SEO gold dust – it shows Google that this is an active, dynamic site where people are engaging and not just leaving as quickly as they can! Of course it helps if the engagements are positive, so if you think you have happy customers, include a rating system!
Delight Your Users Happy users = happy Google. It’s as simple as that. The
same as a shop will want to promote the product that keeps its customers coming back, so too will Google want to promote the best websites which offer the best user experience. So make sure your website delights its users!
KEEP IT NATURAL – DON’T OVER SEO IT!
It is very easy to win the battle and lose the war when it comes to SEO. We all want Google to love us, but ultimately Google will only love you if real people do! Don’t think about the search engine bot when you are designing your website, think about the person who will ultimately visit it. A real person will not love an over-engineered site with millions of keywords crammed in to every nook and cranny, they will want a real, engaging website that provides them with value.
GET YOUR NAME OUT THERE
It’s probably the oldest but most important SEO trick out there – ‘link juice’. How does Google find your website? It crawls websites it already knows and trusts, hopefully stumbles upon a link to your site, follows it, and gets to work finding out what you’re all about. The better and more reputable the website directing the search engine towards you the better, so get out there and start dusting off those connections. Start Simple, Aim Big Once you get the basics right, aim to rise to the top by working step by step on the high value items – readability, content complexity, content depth… the list goes on. SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 19
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Icon Accounting Cover Story
AS HIS COMPANY REACHES A MILESTONE OF TEN YEARS IN OPERATION, BETTER BUSINESS SITS DOWN WITH GERARD KIERNAN, FOUNDER AND MD OF ICON ACCOUNTING, TO HEAR ABOUT MAKING IT IN A NICHE INDUSTRY AND THE IMPORTANCE OF PUTTING PEOPLE AT THE HEART OF BUSINESS.
erard Kiernan didn’t realise it at the time, but when he decided to leave his oil industry career to go out on his own, he was doing it just as the recession was about to kick in. That meant two and a half years of hard graft as a one-man operation, working from his attic trying to grow what was a small client list. Had it been any ordinary accountancy business, it might not have survived. However, Kiernan had spotted a market opportunity – to provide accounting and tax services not to other businesses, but to independent professional contractors. Typically, that can be anyone from a software developer working for a multinational to a financial services consultant. The one thing they will have in common is that they are independent professionals working as day rate contractors. “We provide a fully managed service for these people – everything from their contract setup, their invoicing, their tax returns at the end of the year, their company accounts and monthly payroll,” Kiernan explains. “These are professional people working in
sectors like IT, pharma, engineering and financial services. Our clients are engaged as contractors by the likes of multinationals, government agencies, banking and financial companies.” According to Kiernan, there were a couple of other companies already offering a similar service but there was plenty of room in the market for other players. It helped that Icon Accounting came in with a mid-range price offering, something that wasn’t being provided by competitors. From there, Kiernan managed to build the Icon Accounting profile by partnering with recruitment agencies, and through referrals and recommendations. Ten years on from that initial leap of faith, Icon Accounting has moved from a house attic to an office in Airside, Swords. It employs 28 staff, has around 1,800 clients, and is the second largest accounting service provider to independent contractors in the Irish market. “Where we are in 2018, we’re growing,” says Kiernan. “We’ve added three new staff members this year, we plan on growing 15 per cent and we’re on target for that growth. That’s been consistent over the last few years. It hasn’t been manic but we’ve had good sustainable growth.”
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Cover Story ï€ª Business
Gerard Kiernan, founder and MD, Icon Accounting
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Icon Accounting Cover Story
That growth looks set to continue as industry changes come into effect. In the coming years, we are likely to witness some of the most significant transformations to work as we know it. Globalisation trends, coupled with advances in technology, are shaping our work patterns. The changing nature of work will see a rise in the number of independent professional workers, and that’s not a bad thing for Icon Accounting. “The modern work day has become less about nine-to-five, with a greater focus on flexible workforces and achieving a greater work-life balance,” says Kiernan. “Contracting allows for these changes. However, it doesn’t come without its challenges. One of the primary responsibilities of contracting is the management of taxes and accounting duties. As a service provider, we advise, educate, manage and support professional contractors on company set-ups and taxation, something that can be daunting for those moving into the world of selfemployment. We aim to deliver a distinctive client experience, ensuring accounting and tax management are accessible, comprehensive, offer value for money and are fully transparent.”
People Power When asked what the most rewarding part of the decade-long journey with Icon Accounting to date has been, Kiernan is unequivocal in stating that it has been witnessing the development of people within the business. He subscribes to the belief that if you invest in your staff it will pay back in dividends. “We have people who have been with us seven or eight years,” says Kiernan. “They’ve grown with us and I’ve seen them develop. We have people that came in as interns and who are now qualifying as accountants and senior payroll people. It’s been all about seeing that journey. The company has grown and gone on its own journey, but it’s not
“THESE GUYS ARE WORKING SIX-MONTH CONTRACTS TO TWO-YEAR CONTRACTS AND THEY COULD BE WORKING FROM HOME, THEY COULD BE WORKING ON CLIENT SITES. IT’S ALL EVOLVING.”
about me, it’s not about the company. It’s about the people that make up the business.” As any small firm will attest, being able to offer employees anything near as attractive as the packages being provided by multinationals and big business is a significant challenge. However, it’s something Kiernan has been determined to address. Among the initiatives introduced at Icon Accounting are weekly team challenges
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Cover Story Icon Accounting
“THE COMPANY HAS GROWN AND GONE ON ITS OWN JOURNEY, BUT IT’S NOT ABOUT ME, IT’S NOT ABOUT THE COMPANY. IT’S ABOUT THE PEOPLE THAT MAKE UP THE BUSINESS.”
to Work, the worldwide body that assesses the culture, performance and perspective of staff on a wide range of issues. “We are a small company so it’s difficult to compete against the likes of the multinationals where there are often lots of benefits so we’re trying to phase them in,” says Kiernan. “We put a health plan in place whereby everyone gets a free health check every year. It is things like that that we’re trying to build.” Cognisant of the stiff competition for talent, this year, Icon Accounting introduced a new graduate programme and in the summer, took on two new graduates. Something that Kiernan has identified when interviewing candidates from this generation is their willingness to ask about the benefits available. “They have high expectations,” he affirms. “So we’re trying to compete, we sell the company on our culture, we do give benefits, and there’s a real sense of fairness in the business.”
whereby staff get the opportunity to integrate into different departments. The winners can earn themselves as much as a weekend trip away. A new sick pay scheme, special themed days at work, and employees being encouraged to upskill where possible are some of the other benefits that the company has introduced. It is measures such as these that saw Icon Accounting recently become certified by Great Place
So having gone from what was a one-man operation to a strong performing business with a staff of 28, Kiernan must have learned a few lessons along the way. What advice would he give to others trying to build a company from the ground up? “If you put the hours in, you’ll get the opportunities,” he says. “Opportunities will come. When you get that opportunity make sure to look after your customers. If you look after them they look after you. “I think you can get consumed with business plans as the Holy Grail to success, but in reality, any working environment can change so rapidly. We can all put something down on paper. For me, it’s about getting the head down, working hard and getting your hands dirty.” With ten years’ as a business owner behind him, where can Kiernan expect Icon Accounting to be in a decade from now? “We see the nature of our work evolving,” he says. “People are offering their services in different ways – freelancing and independent professional contractors are evolving. We want to be at the forefront of that. The market that we’re in will be larger; it will offer more services to these professionals – whether it’s international services, financial services or accounting.” We can also expect to see Icon
Accounting receive more business from the UK in the not so distant future. Due to uncertainty around Brexit, there has been a significant rise in the number of British professional contractors looking to supply services in Ireland and Kiernan expects this to translate to new clients. “We do see ourselves going into the UK markets over the next five to ten years and also into Europe eventually.” Before we wrap up, we’re keen to gain some important insider knowledge from Kiernan, the kind that not every industry insider will disclose. Are accountants as boring as they are perceived to be? “They are!” jokes Kiernan. “But seriously, I think it’s more a perception of the firms and the industry as boring rather than the individual. You know, they’re just people like us. From my experience a lot of traditional firms are quite conservative, they don’t embrace technology as quick as other industries, for example. “However, it’s probably a running joke with us that we definitely aren’t [boring]. Our work practices aren’t boring, our outlook with clients isn’t boring, and everything that we do is quite modern.” You heard it here first.
Did You Know? In 2014, Icon Accounting was among three companies that founded the Professional Contractor Service Organisation (PSCO), a group representing the professional contractor services industry. Through submissions to the Department of Finance highlighting the pivotal role and positive contribution of contractors to the Irish economy, it has put forward proposals around expenses, recognition and certification. For a detailed look at how Budget 2019 will impact on professional contractors visit www.iconaccounting.ie/news.
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Feature ï€ª Angel Investment
ANGEL INVESTMENT IS GROWING IN POPULARITY AS A SOURCE OF EARLY-STAGE FUNDING FOR START-UPS. BETTER BUSINESS LOOKS AT THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN COMPANY AND INVESTOR AND UNCOVERS HOW BEST TO STRIKE A DEAL. 24 SFA | BETTER BUSINESS
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Angel Investment Feature
ast year Halo Business Angel Network (HBAN) announced its aim to increase the funding going into Irish start-ups to €25 million a year by 2020. HBAN is a joint initiative by InterTradeIreland and Enterprise Ireland and serves as a “dating agency” of sorts to bring companies and angel investors together. Since 2007, HBAN angels have invested €85m in 407 separate deals. John Phelan is the National Director of HBAN and says the organisation has 12 syndicates of investors that have come together around the country based around sectors such as medtech, tech and food. “We’ve meetings every month and we have pools of companies that we present to each syndicate – that’s the matching element,” he explains. “We make marriages with a planned divorce – investors have to have an exit.” Phelan says the human element is really important in this type of investment and says it’s really valuable for investor and company to see the whites of each other’s eyes. He also says though the relationship between investor and company tends to vary, sometimes they can be quite involved. “We had one company called Phorest that got investment quite a few years ago, and the founder, Ronan Perceval, said one of the investors [tech entrepreneur] Pat Garvey was really instrumental in helping grow the business and gave a lot of time and advice. He is also more than a soundboard in that he opens a whole network in terms of sales and contacts. So some investors bring a huge amount of value other than cash; some are more passive, and we’ve seen everything in between too.”
John Phelan, National Director, HBAN
“UNDERSTAND WHO YOUR INVESTORS ARE AND WHAT THEIR STRENGTHS ARE. AS A START-UP, YOUR NETWORK IS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS YOU HAVE.” A Question of Funding
Dr John Tinsley, Minister Damien English and Dr Páraic Sheridan at the announcement of 15 new jobs at Iconic Translation’s Dublin HQ
Dr John Tinsley is CEO and co-founder of Iconic Translation, a language technology software company. The business is a DCU spin-out and Tinsley and business partner Dr Páraic Sheridan decided to launch with a few existing customers, but when it came to growing beyond that, the question of funding came up. “We looked at the option of VC funding but you’re probably talking about larger sums and it’s a yes-or-no situation when you pitch to a VC. With the syndicates, it’s one to many – you pitch to maybe 20 people and while it may not be everyone’s fancy, it might appeal to five or six. When we raised our seed round we pitched to syndicates in Dublin and Cork through the HBAN and a number of individuals came together to invest.” Iconic Translation received over €400,000 in funding from Bloom Equity and the Boole Investment Syndicate. Tinsley says the relationship with his investors is mixed, with some quite involved and some essentially passive, SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 25
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Feature Angel Investment
but he does advise knowing who your investors are and how they could be helpful in growing your business. “They’re minority shareholders at the end of the day; they will be able to help but it’s up to them what kind of input they want to have. Of nine, one of the angels is a board member, one is an observer on the board and the rest are more passive. They come from quite a wide range of backgrounds and when you’re aware of their skills and disciplines you can leverage that and they tend to be quite open to it, like in teeing up introductions. So understand who your investors are and what their strengths are. As a start-up, your network is one of the most important things you have.” Tinsley also has some advice for companies looking to secure angel investment: “You need to have a compelling proposition and market. The investors will have successful business backgrounds so you need to know your numbers inside out. They’ll be used to looking at these things and if you’re dealing with them for the first time, take time to really understand your numbers and the implications of your proposition. And come prepared for questions.”
International Investment HBAN has expanded its reach internationally this year, launching international syndicates in London, Singapore and New York, which means additional funding is available to Irish start-ups, along with access to new UK, Asian and US markets. Investors from the new syndicates have already invested in five Irish companies. “Access to international private equity and new markets is hugely important for the Irish start-up ecosystem,” says Phelan. “Through the three new international syndicates, Irish start-ups can now leverage the local networks of these international angels to provide them with support in targeting the local markets in which they are located.”
Fidelma McGuirk, founder and CEO, Payslip
The Right Stakeholders Payslip is a global payroll management software founded by Fidelma McGuirk. When launching Payslip, the entrepreneur said she didn’t want just one investor, but a combination. “I have VC, Enterprise Ireland funding and angel investment. Why did I want a mix? I wanted funding but I also wanted investors with a track record of investing that knew about growing investment, and attached to that they’d have weight in the market. So while it was about getting investment into the company, it was also about getting the right stakeholders to support the business and fill in the gaps.” Payslip has received investment through two HBAN syndicates, Bloom Equity and WxNW HBAN Syndicate, and McGuirk also stresses how important the angel network has been. Business leader and tech executive Andrew White of the Bloom syndicate sits on the Payslip board, and McGuirk says his participation has been very positive. “The angels have been very useful. Maybe I’ve been lucky with the ones I have, but the Bloom syndicate are all tech or ex-tech and they offered additional support that I have availed of – they knew people they could introduce me to to help me beef up my offering.” McGuirk also stresses that angel investment is a two-way street and says it’s important to be honest with your potential investors but also to ask them
open questions. “There’s a second stage after the pitch where the investors and business meet and have an open conversation and you find out how interested they are once they really get under the bonnet of your business,” she says. “Choose an investor that understands what it means to be an investor – they need to understand that there may be multiple possible exits. You’re going to be honing your business, your market, your product and pricing and everything else along the way.” For HBAN, Phelan says the aim is to bring in new investors consistently. He believes the Employment & Investment Incentive (EII) needs to be overhauled to drive this type of investment and support Irish companies and investors. “One of the important things for investors coming in is tax. I have potential investors telling me that the property down the road has a much better tax incentive, so why should they put money into a tech company? The EIS in the UK in comparison is a win-win and hence the volumes that have gone into investment there is phenomenal compared to what we have here. “Five years ago, an investor might have needed a minimum of €100,000; now that’s not the case. We’re hoping to drive a lower barrier to getting in and that’s why we have syndicates, so people can come in with €20,000. So if we have efficient EII relief and an investor puts in €20,000 then they should be able to get a good return.”
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Advice Wise Guys
IN BUSINESS AND THRIVING - SIX INDUSTRY EXPERTS SHARE ONE SECRET OF THEIR SUCCESS
PROPERTY Jack Brady
Director, Moovingo Observe and change gears quickly. Act on what customers, colleagues and partners say. We constantly analyse deals both won and lost to understand how we can improve to provide a better experience. Today’s consumer is more than happy to provide feedback – so it is important to take the time to do so. Similarly, to build a successful business you need to ensure your team around you is successful too and they will provide great insights. We’re a relatively new business, but we plan on constantly staying engaged with all stakeholders to help us succeed.
SAAS SOLUTIONS Feargal O’Neill CEO, Gamma
Make sure you keep innovating. Everything changes quickly in technology so whatever you produce needs to be constantly challenged and adapted. I always think: “Can we do this faster/cheaper/better with newer technology?” I ask this every six months and if there’s something exciting, the idea is developed and new products are created. It’s vital to stay flexible – if you don’t, your set-up can’t change to take advantage of the latest, leading-edge innovations.
TECHNOLOGY Faye Thomas
Business Manager, AMI I believe that it’s always important to consider the bigger picture. In business, it’s easy to become overly focused on the task in hand. I always try to think about what is ahead, to identify opportunities and stay focused on the bigger goals. Having a good team that understands the business’s objectives and that works with you to achieve these is also key for success.
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
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work.”
FACILITIES MANAGEMENT Pat Ryan CEO, Ryans Cleaning
I was told I would bankrupt myself going into the UK but I was ambitious. With 30 years’ experience in Ireland, I knew we could offer a far superior service than our UK competitors. I went with my gut as it has never failed me and that decision has grown our business by £3 million in recent years. My philosophy is simple: you can fight from within but you can’t fight from outside, do the deal!
If you are a business leader
SOFTWARE Matt Johnston CEO, EPIC Conjoint
Many start-ups unwittingly set themselves up for failure by neglecting to identify and engage target customers early enough to seek crucial feedback on challenges, opportunities, and willingness to pay. I mean as early as at the ideation stage, before pen hits paper or a line of code is written. All too often unbridled passion, ego and stubbornness can lead to an “I know what customers need” blind faith that can spell disaster down the road when resources are expended and it’s too late to turn back or alter course
(February 24th 1955 – October 5th 2011) was co-founder of Apple Inc.
TECHNOLOGY Peter Bergin
Managing Director, Envisage Cloud We’ve been in business for the last 27 years and a large part of the success of our business has been around the strength of our client relationships. The most important thing to remember is that you are working with people and you have to connect on a human level to achieve success as a team. This is where I have found we really deliver the best design solutions, working in close proximity with the key team members in our client companies, being responsive and proactive and helping to solve problems as they arise.
and you feel you have some words of wisdom to share with the small business community please email firstname.lastname@example.org
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Sector Spotlight Tattoo Industry
CHANGING ATTITUDES AND AN ALL-CONSUMING CELEBRITY CULTURE HAVE HELPED LIFT THE STIGMA ONCE ASSOCIATED WITH BODY ART, MAKING TATTOOS MORE MAINSTREAM THAN EVER. SINÉAD MOORE GETS UNDER THE SKIN OF IRELAND’S TATTOO INDUSTRY. 30 SFA | BETTER BUSINESS
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in 2007, around the time of the economic crash. “That was the start of the real boom period for tattoo studios,” says Murray. “Rents dropped and landlords were suddenly willing to allow tattoo artists on the main street.” According to Murray, the opening up of the labour market in the EU has also contributed to the growth in tattoo artists in Ireland, broadening the talent pool even further.
Sarah McSharry, tattoo artist at Wildcat Ink tattoo studio
Industry Regulation Things have certainly come a long way in the last 20 years but despite growing popularity, there is currently no legislation regulating tattoo studios and artists in Ireland. Tattooing and body piercing businesses are required to comply with public health and health and safety legislation in the same way as any other business but unlike other countries, there are no registration requirements,
lthough there is no published data on the prevalence of tattoos in the general Irish population you only have to look around you to see the extent of their popularity. “Tattoos are mainstream now,” says Ronan Harvey, a tattoo artist based in Co Tipperary. “My client base has always been diverse but I definitely see a lot more people my parents’ ages opening up to our world these days. Businessmen with full sleeves are the norm now.” From sleeves to football crests to Celtic crosses, tattoo trends come and go and are more often than not inspired by celebrity culture, a movement Dundalk-based tattooist Emma Ray says is unfortunate as it “takes from the individuality of tattoos”. Meanwhile, Dolores Murray, founder of Wildcat Ink and spokesperson for the Association of Body Modification Artists in Ireland (ABMAI) worries that customers are spending less and less time choosing and researching tattoos. “They probably spend more time choosing a pair of shoes,” she says. According to Murray, people need to understand the health risks involved and take this into consideration when picking a studio, warning against some customers’ tendency to search for the cheapest deal. “You really do get what you pay for,” she warns. Technology has played a significant role in changing the tattoo industry in recent years. Ray believes that choosing a reputable artist is much easier now than when she first started getting tattooed ten years ago. “I wouldn’t have been able to simply go on my mobile phone and check out an artist’s portfolio online. I’d have to physically go to the shop and see who was available to tattoo that day.” Murray opened her first studio in Stephen’s Green shopping centre 20 years ago when there were just six other studios in Dublin and it was almost impossible to gain a high street presence. “Nobody wanted to rent their premises to a tattoo studio,” she says. However, this all changed
Tattoo Industry Sector Spotlight
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Sector Spotlight Tattoo Industry
“I CAN SEE THE INDUSTRY CONTINUING TO GROW FOR THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE AND, HOPEFULLY IN IRELAND, TOWARDS A MORE REGULATED AND RESPECTED TRADE.”
no minimum structural or operational standards to be attained before opening a studio and no basic training requirements for staff. Consequently, tattoo studios are not subject to inspections of any kind. Unlike other European countries, there is no legal minimum age at which you can get a tattoo in Ireland although Murray says most reputable establishments will refuse to tattoo someone under 18. With risk of infection and allergic reaction, high standards of hygiene are necessary in order to protect the health of the public. Most EU countries not only have regulation in place but also detailed guidance on safe practice covering infection control, waste disposal, aftercare advice, record-keeping, cleaning and decontaminations. Ireland’s lack of regulation is not just risky for customers, it also poses major problems for those working in the industry. Murray says the lack of regulation makes it difficult for tattooists, who for the most part operate as sole traders, to obtain insurance. Helene Lechifflart, who runs The Black Hat Tattoo studio on Dublin’s Parnell Street with her husband Sergy, tells me that
Helene Lechifflart & Sergey Voitjuls, co-owners of The Black Hat Tattoo Studio, Dublin
she cannot get insurance because “there is no legal framework telling us how to act. This is my main issue as a business owner.” Lechifflart warns that without regulation it’s easy to set your own standards. “Anyone can open a tattoo studio – you just need the minimum investment,” she says. “Even if you don’t tattoo well, even if you don’t respect the minimum health and safety requirements, you can still open a business.” “There’s nothing to stop anyone from tattooing from a dirty garden shed and giving someone septicaemia or worse,” Ray warns, unimpressed with the current regulatory environment. However, Harvey, owner of Ink and Earth Tattoo studio (www.inkandearthtattoo. com) in Nenagh, Co Tipperary, disagrees. Having worked in a draconian regulatory environment in California, he appreciates the ease with which he was able to open his studio in his hometown after returning to Ireland. “My first shop was in San Diego,” he explains. “It was not easy to open as there are a lot of regulations in America with regards to health and safety. Opening my second shop in my hometown was much easier. It feels good to come home and be trusted to follow my own conscience. My client’s safety is my safety and I take that seriously.” While steps have been taken to open up the conversation around tattoo regulation, so far nothing concrete has come of it. The Department of Health, in conjunction with the HSE, published its first set of draft safety guidelines for tattoo studios in Ireland in December 2015. The draft publication was open for consultation for a period of time but no further developments have been revealed. The draft guidelines set out best practice in infection control and prevention and encourage the use of template consent forms and aftercare advice leaflets for customers. This guidance was developed in response to concerns raised by tattoo and body piercing practitioners, as well as health protection and environmental health specialists in relation to the lack of robust and consistent guidance on standards of hygiene and safety, leading to variations in standards of practice within the industry. Murray is currently waiting to hear back from a meeting she had with Fianna Fáil TD Mary Butler in May 2018 to discuss a draft bill on tattoo and piercing regulation in Ireland.
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Andre Joak Nordlund
Murray, who is also co-organiser of the Dublin International Tattoo Convention, has been campaigning for better practice and protection for years and founded the Association of Body Modification Artists in Ireland (ABMAI) in an attempt to get a group of likeminded tattoo artists together to agree on a voluntarily set of rules. Murray reveals that ABMAI plans to bring in a new standard of membership that involves studio inspections in the future. She also hopes to establish nationally recognised or accredited training courses for aspiring tattooists focusing first on the health and hygiene side of things before looking at developing courses on the art of tattooing. The Government’s draft document acknowledges that there are no nationally recognised or accredited training courses, standards for practice, agreed knowledge and skills frameworks or arrangements for monitoring and reporting of professional competence, so such a move would be a step in the right direction. “A lot of people resist any sort of legislation. It’s a modern society now and they’re not going to get away with that for much longer,” warns Murray. “It would be nice to have everyone operating on a level pitch.”
Tattoo Convention In August 2018, thousands of tattoo and piercing enthusiasts converged at the Convention Centre Dublin for the Dublin International Tattoo Convention. As well as an opportunity to network and exchange information with other body art enthusiasts, the event gave attendees the chance to pick up new tattoos with 150 tattooists from all over the world on hand. To see some of the highlights from this year’s event visit dublintattooconvention.com.
According to Murray, the tattoo industry in Ireland remains in a growth phase and shows little sign of easing. “I suppose at some stage it has to, but I don’t think it’s reached its peak yet,” she predicts. “Tattoos will never be for everyone, but they have been around as long as people have, throughout the world’s different cultures, and are more popular today than they have ever been,” says Ray. “People will always want avenues of self-expression, individuality and commemoration. I can see the industry continuing to grow for the foreseeable future and, hopefully in Ireland, towards a more regulated and respected trade.” As the industry continues to develop, Lechifflart predicts there will be a growing divide between large studios and chains that are in it for the money and those who are dedicated to the art. “You might be surprised but 80 per cent of the people who are working in the tattoo industry today cannot draw,” she claims. “We often say to
Oisín Vink Photography
Tattoo Industry Sector Spotlight
Emma Ray, Dundalk-based tattooist
our customers that maybe we are more expensive than the tattoo studio next door for €40 per hour but all the tattoo artists in our studio are artists and tattoo artists. You’re going to have a custom design, not a design copied and pasted from the internet. We only work with artists who are actually passionate about art creation.” This sentiment that good quality work will win out in the end is echoed by the other tattoo artists. For Harvey, with increased competition, he believes that only the strong businesses will survive, while Ray says you’re only as successful as the work you put out there. “Regulation would get rid of the people who are in the industry to make some quick cash,” she says. Meanwhile, Murray is confident that it’s only a matter of time before regulations come into force giving the industry the professional recognition it deserves. “EU guidelines are coming out later this year and hopefully the Irish Government will either incorporate that into law or bring their own regulations out. They’ve been sitting on the fence far too long with everybody afraid to make the first move.” SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 33
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Small Business Profile Idiro Analytics
DOWN TO THE
DATA DATA ANALYTICS IS AN ESSENTIAL COMPONENT OF TODAY’S BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT. AIDAN CONNOLLY, DIRECTOR OF IDIRO ANALYTICS, TELLS BETTER BUSINESS ABOUT HIS EXPERIENCES WORKING WITHIN THE SECTOR.
n today’s world of business, the ability to analyse and understand data can prove pivotal to a company’s success. By revealing hidden patterns, correlations and other insights, data analytics can allow businesses to make better decisions – and quickly. By working with data, companies are afforded the chance to identify new business opportunities, reduce costs, and gauge customer needs to create new products or services. “Analytics is a term that has many meanings, depending on who is talking and who is listening,” states Aidan Connolly, CEO of Idiro Analytics, a company that provides advanced analytics to clients in Europe, Asia and the Americas. “On the left of the spectrum are the more straightforward business intelligence, dashboards and reports. On the far right, one finds predictive modelling, machine learning and artificial intelligence. We operate across the whole spectrum, but are most at home on the right – the advanced analytics and big data sectors that we hear so much about these days. We’ve been doing big data since before it was even called big data.” Headquartered in Dublin, Idiro Analytics was founded in 2004, after Connolly had spent a period of time developing his expertise in a variety of settings. “I graduated from UCC in 1990 with a degree in Computer Science and went to work abroad immediately in France, and later Belgium, where I ended up working for the European
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Idiro Analytics Small Business Profile
Commission in the area of advanced technology,” remembers Connolly. “There, we worked on the early internet and engaged with CERN and the team of Tim BernersLee, who founded the worldwide web.” Connolly began working on data management and analytics at this time, and when he returned to Ireland in the late nineties, he was offered a role with Eircell – the telecommunications company which would later be acquired by Vodafone. Telecoms was a booming industry during this period, and the company spent a lot of money on new technologies that could help it understand and serve its clients better. It was here that Connolly first really got to grips with analytics – an experience which, ultimately, encouraged him to set up Idiro Analytics in 2004. Now with 20 staff members, Idiro Analytics mostly serves blue chip clients, though it has also carried out work for innovative SMEs looking to extract more value from their data. “Broadly speaking, our target market is those companies who are looking to improve how they interact, serve and understand their own customers,” says Connolly. “For many of our clients, we provide what can be termed ‘analytics-as-a-service’. In that scenario, we take our client’s data and transform and analyse it with the objective of giving the client a very defined insight.”
Today’s Trends A number of industry trends are currently shaping Connolly’s business. From a technical point of view, many
organisations are now moving to the cloud for their infrastructure needs. The cloud is invariably faster, easier and cheaper than trying to maintain infrastructure in-house, except for those companies that already have the means and resources to do so. Additionally, a general shortage of data analytics talent is shaping the sector, stoking a talent war in the Irish market, as well as internationally. Regulation has also driven dramatic changes to the analysis of data, but Connolly views these particular developments as positive. “Protecting consumer data has to be viewed as a good thing, and the clarity provided by GDPR has removed a lot of areas of ambiguity that hitherto had existed,” he says. “On one hand, companies have stopped certain types of analysis, but on the other, they have invested more in the areas of analytics permitted by law.” Given its status as a small business, Idiro Analytics faces a number of its own challenges. “Business is good but it still feels that the government panders to the needs of multinationals over indigenous companies,” says Connolly. “For example, in the area of talent recruitment, giving grants to large, well-funded multinationals to create jobs for people who already have jobs – for example, in the IT sector – seems counter-productive from a taxpayer and indigenous business perspective.” Connolly also alludes to the housing crisis as having an impact upon his and other small businesses, with the cost of living being driven up and thus putting
pressure on salaries. “Personally, I think there should be an initiative to drive new business to cities and regions outside Dublin,” he says. “It would take the pressure off the Dublin housing market, take pressure off salary inflation in Dublin, and would give a much needed boost to those areas outside of Dublin.” In spite of the challenges facing his company, however, business is going well for Idiro Analytics. The company is on track to grow by about 30 per cent, and deal flow for 2019 is looking strong. Connolly says that the company hopes to establish branches in three to five European capitals, such as Paris, Berlin and Amsterdam, as well as an operational centre in the Caribbean/Latin America region, given the amount of work it does in that region. “We plan to increase our headcount by about 100 per cent over the next three years,” he says. “The business is there to justify that.”
Real Value In his capacity as CEO of Idiro Analytics, Aidan Connolly has developed a strong relationship with the SFA: “They don’t point you to a website or document and say ‘read that’ – they actually talk to us and provide real value to our business. I have to say that they are also very responsive and understand the value of time and timeliness.”
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DEAL BETTER BUSINESS SPEAKS TO IBEC CEO DANNY MCCOY ABOUT THE GOVERNMENT’S RESPONSE TO BREXIT, THE LIKELIHOOD OF A NO-DEAL SCENARIO AND WHAT HE THINKS THE FUTURE HOLDS FOR IRISH BUSINESS.
he subject of Brexit has been difficult to ignore since the UK voted to leave the European Union in May 2016, and it’s impossible to avoid when we sit down to talk to Danny McCoy. But at crunch time for Theresa May’s Chequers vision, the CEO of Ibec, Ireland’s largest lobbying body, is optimistic about what the final deal will look like and pragmatic about its impact on Ireland. “We know Brexit is going to happen in some form, and even a second referendum to reverse it is not going to be without consequences for the business community,” he explains. “It’s not as if you can just wipe this away and go back. Brexit has unleashed a chain of circumstances. It has created huge uncertainty about British society and business. And given the dominance of having a G7 country on our doorstep, it’s going to have consequences for quite some time.” There’s been a lot of talk in recent months about a hard Brexit, but McCoy believes those chances are “absolutely miniscule”. “No business community is going to allow their government to pursue that policy,” he asserts. “We had to listen to that nonsense over the summer
months, and that’s not without consequence; that’s been spooking businesses and you see that in the [Economic] Pulse survey in the Bank of Ireland where business uncertainty and confidence about the future has been damaged.” McCoy is keen to commend the hard-line stance the Government has taken on the Brexit issue since the outset. “The Irish Government has taken a position and stuck to it, which is very positive. We would have been surprised about what a hard line they were taking at the start, particularly the north-south dimension and the all-island aspect because, for business, east-west is by far the more significant relationship. A lot of cards were put on the all-island dimension and the no border on the island. “Where they put the border is a contentious point – for Irish business, a border in the Irish Sea is not very palatable because most of SME Ireland, if they’re exporting, their trade is with Britain. In trying to find a good accommodation in scenarios, the east-west dimension, purely coming from a business context, would be a much more significant relationship, yet the Irish Government has put more emphasis on the north-south dimension.” “The Irish Government, I believe, have in retrospect played a very consistent and strong role and are to be commended for that. I think that has locked in the full support of the other EU26.”
Double Tragedy McCoy refers to a “double tragedy” of Brexit for the UK, and the silver lining for Ireland: by Britain creating uncertainty about its participation in the EU, even before the vote, Ireland has been a winner in terms of corporate tax revenue.
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Danny McCoy Interview
“Our health system get’s a lot of rap but I think the outcomes are very effective. We see in terms of longevity, the experience of people in the medical sector can be quite good. I’d argue very good. You might say it’s inefficient. We tend to lock in business and life by getting into the efficiency argument immediately. We say ‘that’s a disgrace, the children’s hospital is costing more than it was supposed to’. That’s incidental if you don’t have the hospital.”
DANNY MCCOY ON...
The Health System
Ibec CEO Danny McCoy and former Ibec President Edel Creely launch National Workplace Wellbeing Day earlier this year
“The greatest thing a government can do for business, particularly small businesses, is ensure the sustainability of the economy. There really has to be an emphasis on public infrastructure like motorways and housing stock – small businesses will be in this trap like everyone else. As mush emphasis needs to be on the supply side of the economy as on the taxation breaks that people are talking about. Equalisation in the labour market of entrepreneurs versus paid workers is long overdue and an anomaly that shouldn’t be there.”
“While Irish people place very little stock in the European Parliament, it is a very powerful institution. The likelihood, given what’s been happening in the EU26, is that there will be a lot of rightwing radicals in the European Parliament. It will be incredibly significant to have a very changed European context in the future.”
“THE IRISH GOVERNMENT, I BELIEVE, HAVE IN RETROSPECT PLAYED A VERY CONSISTENT AND STRONG ROLE AND ARE TO BE COMMENDED FOR THAT. I THINK THAT HAS LOCKED IN THE FULL SUPPORT OF THE OTHER EU26.”
“Britain has been one of the most dynamic global economies in the last 20 years and it was also expanding in terms of its scale. So for Irish businesses, especially SMEs, it’s been one of the best markets with which to trade. You have a lot of public discourse asking ‘why are Irish companies still so dependent upon the UK?’ In contrast to other parts of Europe, it is by far the most dynamic. They’re the closest to us geographically but also in terms of culture, standardisation of products and taste.” McCoy says we have benefited greatly in terms of foreign direct investment into Ireland since Britain even began to contemplate a referendum on EU membership. “That is one of the big explanatory reasons why the Irish GDP in 2015 resulted in a 26 per cent volume growth or 34 per cent value growth. Normal economies can’t grow by a third in one year. Economies that have a huge tsunami of resources, either through oil or the modern equivalent of oil, which is intellectual property, can and do – Ireland is that economy.” So, to pin him down, what kind of Brexit deal does he predict?
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Danny McCoy, CEO, Ibec with former Ibec President Edel Creely and An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar pictured at Ibec’s annual President’s Dinner at the RDS last year
“MY PREDICTION IS THAT BRITAIN WILL LEAVE THE INSTITUTIONS AND REMAIN FULLY ALIGNED ON ALL THE THINGS THAT MATTER TO BUSINESS. IT WILL NOT DEVIATE FROM EUROPEAN RULES.”
“It’s only in the last year that we’re starting to see some solidity where people believe that Britain will now leave. And the ones with an alternative proposition – the ‘remainers’ – are saying they want to have another referendum. They may, they might not. The most likely scenario now, in my view, is that Britain will be out of the European institutions come next March or there will possibly be some delayed timeframe, and I think the EU will facilitate that delay. “My prediction is that Britain will leave the institutions and remain fully aligned on all the things that matter to business. It will not deviate from European rules. They will try to get an agreement on services so Britain will stay fully aligned. This actually is 180 degrees from where the Brexiteers told the people they would take them. Yes they’ll be out, they’ll have no influence, but they will be fully aligned.”
Over Reliance Meanwhile, as Brexit negotiations continue, Ireland has been forced to take a closer look at itself and its economy. Among concerns raised has been this country’s reliance on foreign direct investment. According to
McCoy, we need to question what aspect of FDI we’re reliant on. “The FDI is actually very diversified; it’s not all eggs in one basket when it comes to food and drink, pharmaceutical, medtech, financial services and so on,” he explains. “It’s not concentrated; it’s spread across the sectors, and makes a huge contribution to our GDP and exports. “Where we have an over-reliance is on corporate taxation. Ten companies pay 40 per cent of our corporate tax. Our overreliance is really from the money we get from taxation and while over-reliance isn’t a good thing, the money is.” McCoy advises that we need to properly invest the fruits of FDI, and thereby assure companies that they have made the right locational choice in Ireland. “How do we use this really positive thing that has happened to us? Take that money and make sure that we spend it on sustainable, renewable, productive assets like public infrastructure, completing the motorway system, making sure universities are ranked higher than they are now. This is not just about corporate taxation. If it was just based on being a tax haven, there would be better places to go in the world than Ireland.”
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FC advert template.indd 1 Affairs_JM_Better Business_Q3.indd 1 246474_1C_Dept of Foreign
17/10/2018 12/10/2018 09:01 12:37
Brexit: Feature Brexit
WHAT’S THE DEAL FOR
AS BREXIT NEGOTIATIONS RUMBLE ON, WE’VE BEEN HEARING PLENTY FROM POLITICAL PARTIES AND LARGE ORGANISATIONS ABOUT WHAT BRITAIN’S DECISION TO LEAVE THE EU MAY OR MAY NOT MEAN FOR IRISH BUSINESS. FOR A CHANGE, BETTER BUSINESS SOUGHT THE VIEWS OF FOUR SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS.
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INDUSTRY: PRODUCT SOURCING
Co-founder and Director, Sweetspot Sourcing Q: On June 23rd 2016, when the initial Brexit referendum results were coming in, what were your thoughts on what was happening?
My initial thoughts were: “I can’t believe this looks like it’s going through!” We were all in the office having the same discussion. My second thoughts were: “How is this going to affect us and when will we know the impact this will have?” Q: Has your business seen many knock-on-effects of Brexit?
This is hard to quantify. Our plans are to grow our business into the UK, but is there a level of reluctance on our behalf? I think the answer is ‘yes’. It is very hard to have conversations with potential customers when we consistently have to have a caveat regarding pricing, because none of us know how Brexit will affect things.
Q: What measures has your company taken to protect itself from the potential negative impact of Brexit or to use it as an opportunity to take your business to the next level?
We availed of the Brexit Advice Voucher that was awarded by InterTrade Ireland. This was really useful. However, because it remains unclear of the impact Brexit may or may not have, the conclusions at the end of the report are not conclusive.
Q: What are your own thoughts on how the Brexit negotiations have been progressing?
I’m definitely not qualified to answer his as I’m dreadful at keeping up with current affairs. However, what happened in Salzburg [where Theresa May demanded a counter-offer from the EU to her Chequers proposal] was worrying, as we are obviously at a stalemate situation.
“IT IS VERY HARD TO HAVE CONVERSATIONS WITH POTENTIAL CUSTOMERS WHEN WE CONSISTENTLY HAVE TO HAVE A CAVEAT REGARDING PRICING, BECAUSE NONE OF US KNOW HOW BREXIT WILL AFFECT THINGS.”
Sweetspot Sourcing co-founders and directors Susan Dempsey and Fiona Craul
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INDUSTRY: FACILITIES MANAGEMENT
CEO, Ryans Cleaning Q: Looking back, what were your initial your thoughts on Britain’s decision to leave the EU?
My honest reaction was utter disbelief. I really felt like it was a poor move on their part. I couldn’t believe the result – I was shocked! Q: Has Ryans Cleaning witnessed many knock-on-effects?
Yes, absolutely, I think it has already. A simple example of this is recruitment. By the nature of the events cleaning aspect of our business, we have a requirement for ad-hoc and casual labour in high volumes at key times during the festival season. This requirement can vary from a few hundred to over a thousand of this type of contracted employee to fulfil small to major event contracts. Many of the personnel who take on this type of cleaning work are foreign nationals and they have without doubt been directly affected by Brexit. As a result, it is becoming harder for us to recruit. This is a drain on our time and other resources within the business as we sometimes have to bring more staff over from other countries to the UK to fulfil requirements during peak season. It takes us longer to work through our recruitment requirements and we often have to rely on agencies to help us to source casual labourers. Q: What measures has your company taken to ‘Brexit-proof’ itself?
“IT’S HARD WHEN YOU ARE IN THE BUBBLE OF DAY-TO-DAY BUSINESS TO DO SO, BUT I BELIEVE TO PREPARE FOR THIS PROPERLY YOU HAVE TO STEP BACK AND SEE THE BIGGER PICTURE LONG-TERM.” do you imagine Brexit might look like when we get there?
I think the talks have been long, painful and have failed to produce anything concrete so far. Britain and Theresa May are very much being treated like, and acting like, ‘the bold child of Europe’, which is making the entire process very tedious. The unrest within the House of Commons on the matter is palpable and at this moment in time, it’s very hard to see what it might look like when we get there. Q: Do you have any advice for other businesses in Ireland that might be exposed to Brexit?
I think the preparation for every eventuality needs to happen now if not already. Without a doubt, failing to plan is a certain route to failure for any business. It’s hard when you are in
the bubble of day-to-day business to do so, but I believe to prepare for this properly you have to step back and see the bigger picture long-term. You have to look at your core base and estimate the impact on each and every aspect of it when considering the possible effects of Brexit. Multiple contingency plans need to be ready to be rolled out and this might require investment, training and additional resources – namely time, which we haven’t got a lot of. I suggest that any business in Ireland that might be exposed to the potential impact of Brexit needs to be extremely assertive. There is nothing surer than the fact that life will carry on after Brexit whatever it may look like when we eventually get there. As with all historical decisions, it will be up to the next generation to sort out the current generation’s opportunities and failings.
Pat Ryan of Ryans Cleaning pictured with Ian Pope, Facilities Manager at Vicarage Road
We have worked hard to build relationships with recruiters from other countries namely Hungary, Poland and Romania to help fill the shortfall we are seeing in the UK. We have logistical and accommodation arrangements in place to facilitate this supply of labour coming in from outside the UK. We have also invested heavily in training and nurturing home talent more than ever. The capability and consistency of our supervisor teams have become even more vital as a result. Q: In your view, how have the Brexit negotiations been progressing? What 42 SFA | BETTER BUSINESS
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Managing Director, Martin Services Q: Looking back, what were your initial thoughts on the Brexit referendum result?
The voters did not know what they were voting for apart from giving two fingers to Europe. Q: Has your business seen many knock-on-effects of Brexit?
As an importer, with the exchange rate we have benefited from not having to increase prices even though our sterling prices have risen by up to 6 per cent. We stopped exporting to Northern Ireland as euro prices were in effect rising. Q: How has your company positioned itself for Brexit?
We have opened discussions with our British suppliers on the future of supply and looked at whether or not they can supply from Europe. In one case, a supplier is looking at establishing an Irish company to supply European customers because it believes that European suppliers will restrict supply to UK manufacturers. Q: What are your own thoughts on how the Brexit negotiations have been progressing?
There has been a lack of Government understanding on how businesses operate. In the UK, there has also been a poor Brexit leader until recently. If there turns out to be a hard exit, business will still find a solution! Q: Do you have any advice for other businesses in Ireland that might be exposed to the potential impact of Brexit?
These companies should be exploring new markets.
“IF THERE TURNS OUT TO BE A HARD EXIT, BUSINESS WILL STILL FIND A SOLUTION!”
Business Development Manager, Poplar Linens Q: Can you remember what your first thoughts were when the Brexit referendum results were coming in?
It was surprise mixed with a little bit of fear. I couldn’t believe that they voted for Brexit. I felt disappointment too at the way the leave campaign positioned itself. At the end of the day, it has driven a divisive wedge down the middle of the UK and harmony seems like a long way off at this point in time. Q: Has your business seen many knock-on-effects of Brexit?
Yes. Mainly it has manifested itself in our large retail partners ‘de-risking’. Without knowing the full impact of the decision or understanding what it will mean for their business, many retailers ordered lower volumes of stock. It was driven by uncertainty in the overall economic landscape. Q: What measures has your company taken to protect itself from any negative impact? Have you in any way used it as an opportunity to take your business to the next level?
As the UK accounts for over 90 per cent of our business we had to act. We took a three-pronged approach. We needed to innovate, seek a new industry to supply and also concentrate on finding new geographic markets. We developed a new product (towels made using recycled plastic bottles under a new brand 3SIXTY), targeted a previously unexplored hospitality industry and ventured in to previously untapped markets like the US and Eurozone, and pitched our new innovation towards our own Irish market. Q: How do you view progress to date on the Brexit talks? What do you imagine will be the final outcome?
Colm Walsh, Business Development Manager, Poplar Linens
It has mostly been a regular stream of false starts from all parties in the negotiation process. We still don’t know what a post-Brexit world will look like. It’s frustrating but not surprising. It’s a huge challenge for all involved to sort out and one that I hope they can rise to. We have to focus on the aspects of our business that we can control like innovation and new markets and hope that with hard work we weather whatever outcome happens. Q: Given the unchartered waters we are entering, do you have any advice for other businesses?
Look further afield, tap in to the Enterprise Ireland network – it can be of great assistance in opening doors in new markets. Focus on the positive aspects of your business and concentrate your efforts on areas where you see potential for growth. We previously didn’t focus much of our attention on innovation within our business. Over the last 12 months, we have made concerted efforts to develop a range of new products that can demonstrate our standout USPs. This has given us a renewed vigour to take on the challenge of Brexit and instil hope and confidence in our team that we can survive and grow through uncertain times. SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 43
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17/10/2018 09/10/2018 09:18 14:52
Preparing for Brexit
A NUMBER OF ORGANISATIONS AND FIRMS ACROSS IRELAND ARE OFFERING SUPPORTS AND SERVICES TO HELP SMALL FIRMS PREPARE FOR AND TAKE ADVANTAGE OF BREXIT. CONTENTS
The Brexit deadline is fast approaching, with the terms of the UK’s departure from the EU still unclear. Brexit is a complex process, unlike other forms of instability that companies traditionally face. It has the potential to completely alter the manner with which Irish firms do business with the UK, yet its true implications remain obscured from view. For all the uncertainties, however, there are a number of measures that Irish small firms can take right now in order to not only withstand the impact of Brexit, but also take advantage of it. There are opportunities for Irish businesses to exploit as a result of Brexit – a fact which is oftentimes overlooked by the scale of the challenges it brings. Ireland is an attractive place to do business, with a highly-educated, English-speaking workforce. It is also a committed member of the EU and the Eurozone, with businesses operating here retaining the benefits of both. Interestingly, a recent survey of company moves since the 2016 referendum conducted by property group Knight Frank, found that Dublin is the clear winner when it comes to UK companies looking for an EU hub, accounting for a quarter of all Brexit-related moves since then, ahead of Luxembourg, Frankfurt and Paris. So the opportunities are clearly there. Given these positive signs, there is every reason to believe that a smart and measured approach to Brexit will see Irish small firms improve and shore up business. Though it can be difficult to know how to go about doing this, small business in Ireland is not alone. Across the country, an array of firms and organisations are offering supports and advice in coming to terms with and preparing for the future realities of Brexit. Over the following pages, Better Business speaks to a number of these organisations, hearing their advice and learning about the supports they offer companies looking to Brexit-proof their business.
DCU Brexit Institute
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Funding turned our Brexit planning into an opportunity to invigorate our business James McCabe Ferm Engineering, Co. Donegal
Get â‚Ź2,000 in free funding to help your business prepare for Brexit: intertradeireland.com/Brexit
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ISLAND SUPPORT INTERTRADEIRELAND’S BREXIT ADVISORY SERVICE PROVIDES FREE BREXIT-RELATED INFORMATION TO BUSINESSES ACROSS THE ISLAND OF IRELAND, EXPLAINS BREXIT ADVISORY SERVICE MANAGER, GRANT GILMORE. The Brexit Advisory Service was set up by InterTradeIreland in May 2017 to provide free, independent and upto-date Brexit-related information to businesses across the island of Ireland. The service equips businesses to manage the potential impact of Brexit through a range of services, such as a free online WTO tariff checker, research papers, networking events, real-life video case studies, and an online planning tool. “We also provide a €2,000 voucher, which is 100 per cent funded, so requires no cash contribution from the business,” says Grant Gilmore, Manager, Brexit Advisory Service, InterTradeIreland. “This funding facilitates a business to either attend a training course to fill a skills gap – such as how to complete basic customs paperwork – or to work on a one-to-one basis with an expert on a Brexit-related issue, like supply chains or trade agreements.”
Grant Gilmore, Manager, Brexit Advisory Service, InterTradeIreland
As Brexit approaches, a lack of clarity continues to prevail around the subject. As Gilmore puts it, “It can feel like being asked to play a game, but no one has explained the rules.” This, he says, is frustrating for businesses and can lead to inertia. “The obvious potential concerns are, what would be the impact if tariffs were introduced?” he says. “Will my competitor be able to gain an advantage by virtue of their location and not by quality of product or service?” InterTradeIreland's services enable SMEs to identify the biggest challenges and potential opportunities that Brexit may bring. Gilmore points out that it is often the businesses that tackle issues head-on and use them as a chance to review how they are currently doing things that are quickest to identify opportunities. “We supported a business in the food and drink sector that, by identifying the potential worst-case tariff for their existing product range, found a product innovation opportunity to reduce the sugar and fat content,” he says. “This vastly reduced the worst-case tariff in a WTO scenario. The outcome was a new product line, generating additional revenue streams and a contingency to protect the business, should tariffs be introduced that would harm existing product lines.”
“IT CAN FEEL LIKE BEING ASKED TO PLAY A GAME, BUT NO ONE HAS EXPLAINED THE RULES.” It is rare to have a two-year preparation period for what will potentially be a major disruption to the operating environment, but this is exactly what Brexit has offered. Businesses should therefore take advantage of this time by availing of the support offered by InterTradeIreland, as well as that of other Government agencies under the ‘Getting Ireland Brexit Ready’ campaign (www.dfa.ie/Brexit). InterTradeIreland continuously works to assist its clients, and it does this by developing upon its existing services. “Our sales and marketing programme, Acumen, is entering a new phase,” explains Gilmore. “Now all applicants to the programme will benefit from an export diagnostic, which will assess current export capabilities and identify areas for development and potential cross-border sales opportunities. Those who are successful will also benefit from up to €18,750 in funding towards the salary of a salesperson to achieve new cross-border sales. We’ve listened to businesses and as a result, we will support SMEs to find the right sales person. “InterTradeIreland really understands that a lot of SMEs need extra sales support and, in addition, we will also be running training workshops to build sales skills into more businesses across the island.” SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 47
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GET BREXIT READY Join the 1500 businesses who have reaped the benefits of Fáilte Ireland’s Brexit supports
GB AND NI MARKET RETENTION
PERFORMANCE & COMPETITIVENESS
PEOPL E C A PA B IL IT Y
TARGETED SUPPORTS FOR KEY BUSINESS ISSUES
ACT NOW... 1. Take the Brexit Readiness Check Today! ✔ It takes no more than 10 - 15 minutes to complete ✔ It is free ✔ No financial information is required ✔ You receive a customised business report delivered immediately to your email.
2. Access the Brexit Online Knowledge Hub ✔ The latest research and insights ✔ Insider tips on targeting key markets
3. Sign up for Key Programmes / Workshops ✔ The International Sales Development Programme: â Sligo – November 20th & 21st ✔ The Hospitality and Tourism Executive Development Programme with IMI – commencing December 4th ✔ SME Business Resilience and Growth Workshops –various dates in Dublin, the southeast and border counties. ✔ Log on to Fáilte Ireland’s website for full range of supports and programmes available www.failteireland.ie/GetBrexitReady
✔ Channel landscape and routes to market explained ✔ Templates and checklists
If you have any queries or would like further information please contact: 1800 242 473 or 01 8874101
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19/10/2018 18/10/2018 15:25 11:11 30/08/2018 12:48
Fáilte Ireland Brexit
A WELCOME SUPPORT MARTINA BROMLEY, HEAD OF ENTERPRISE & HOSPITALITY AT FÁILTE IRELAND TELLS BETTER BUSINESS ABOUT THE EXTENSIVE RANGE OF SUPPORTS OFFERED BY HER UNIT. The Fáilte Ireland Enterprise and Hospitality Development Unit works closely with the Irish tourism industry around core areas of competitiveness and business performance. In practice, this means that when the industry is faced with market challenges, Fáilte Ireland ensures it is equipped with the skills to remain buoyant. One of the clearer challenges to the sector is, of course, Brexit, and so Fáilte Ireland has delivered a Brexit Response Programme. Already, the programme has proven essential to Irish tourism. “Not only have [the border counties] had a very obvious decrease in visitors from Great Britain – around a 5 per cent decrease in 2017, which is quite substantial – but they also have had the double impact from Northern Ireland,” says Martina Bromley, Head of Enterprise & Hospitality at Fáilte Ireland. “So the likes of Donegal, Cavan, Monaghan, Leitrim and Sligo, all of these have seen a huge impact, in terms of a decrease in leisure visitors from the Northern Ireland market.” Bromley suggests that the trouble can clearly be attributed to currency issues caused by the great deal of uncertainty surrounding the negotiation process. “The ongoing discussions around Brexit and its impact have rumbled on for so long that what we’re seeing on the ground is a currency problem and volatility,” she says. “So obviously, as the problem of Brexit has reared its head, the fluctuation in Sterling has affected business and the visitor numbers coming from Northern Ireland.” Given these challenges, many businesses are now looking to diversify into other markets. “Businesses are looking more closely at their source markets and are identifying ways to diversify, targeting new business that they have not pursued to date,” says Bromley. “We see this as a positive
outcome from Brexit. Businesses that are continually monitoring their business mix, looking at their channel management and keeping their distribution options open will be better positioned to face the Brexit challenge having spread the risk.” When it comes to tourist numbers, the European markets are performing well. According to Bromley, Germany has seen an increase of 21 per cent while the North American market has seen doubledigit growth. There are opportunities too coming out of China and the Gulf region and, as part of the Brexit Response Programme, Fáilte Ireland has designed programmes that consider the nuances and cultural differences of these markets, providing industry with the relevant insights and skills to access these markets and win business. Bromley encourages small businesses to take advantage of the resources offered by Fáilte Ireland. The Brexit Readiness Tool, for example, determines where businesses are in relation to their
business mix, market diversification, selling skills and strategic planning. It then directs them to relevant programmes to improve on their skills. It gets businesses thinking about Brexit, and is as relevant to a small business as it is to a mid or large-sized tourism company. “Fáilte Ireland is committed to working with the industry representative and sector groups and with other agencies to assist and support the tourism industry,” concludes Bromley. “The Irish tourism industry is a resilient and progressive industry that has faced many challenges previously, but dealing with the unknowns of Brexit is not easy. Working with our industry to assist is a priority area for Fáilte Ireland.” Further information on Fáilte Ireland’s business ‘Supports & Training’ can be found at: www.failteireland.ie. Brexit support information is available by phoning 1800 242 473 or visiting www. Failteireland.ie/GetBrexitready.
Martina Bromley, Head of Enterprise & Hospitality, Fáilte Ireland SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 49
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TAXING TIMES WITH BREXIT WITH NUMEROUS POTENTIAL TAX CHALLENGES ARISING FROM BREXIT, NOW IS THE TIME FOR BOTH BUSINESS LEADERS AND POLICYMAKERS TO PREPARE, WRITES LISA KINSELLA, TAX PARTNER, CROWE. The impending departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union is likely to be the source of much turbulence for Irish business, presenting both practical day-to-day challenges as well as potentially giving rise to significant changes to the wider business environment in the long run. Uncertainty is the bugbear of business and Brexit threatens to bring this in abundance. It is already raising its ugly head as two years after the referendum we are still not much the wiser as to what form Brexit will take. Notwithstanding the difficulties in doing so, businesses should be making plans and taking steps to prepare for the new reality.
Some of the key issues that Irish business should be considering in the build-up to Brexit include: • Customs • VAT • Withholding Taxes • Impact on Key Tax Reliefs Customs Failure on the part of the EU and UK to strike a tariff-free trade agreement will have a significant impact. The imposition of tariffs will impact on the cost of production for manufacturers that import materials and on the competitiveness of Irish exporters that sell into the UK market. These will have to be factored into business plans. The imposition of customs checks will also create further red tape for business as well as leading to potential delays in moving goods between the two jurisdictions, in
Lisa Kinsella, Tax Partner, Crowe
particular if Brexit results in a hard border between the Republic and Northern Ireland. VAT The
VAT implications of Brexit depend largely on the extent to which the UK remains wedded to the EU VAT regime. For instance, should the UK choose to operate an independent system of VAT, goods imported into Ireland from the UK would be treated as imports liable to VAT at the point
of entry, thereby adding to cashflow costs for Irish business even if such VAT is ultimately recoverable. The same would be true of UK business customers acquiring goods from Ireland. Withholding Taxes will likely mean that the benefits of EU directives in the areas of dividends, interest and royalty payments will no longer apply to transactions involving
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the UK, thereby leading to greater reliance on the Ireland/UK Double Taxation Agreement in order to avoid double taxation. This may entail some practical changes to how such income and gains are returned and reliefs claimed. Key Tax Reliefs in Jeopardy? More worryingly perhaps, there are a range of reliefs – including for example, Group Relief, EIIS and the new flagship share incentive scheme, KEEP – that can be compromised by having a non-EEA company in a corporate structure. In light of the large presence of UK companies in Irish group structures, it might be expected that legislation will be introduced to ensure that such groups are not denied access to these reliefs, but until this is done that bugbear of business, uncertainty, again raises its head.
Responding to the Long-term Challenges
With all of the challenges that Brexit brings, it is important that the Irish tax system is supportive of business. This would be especially true if, as some suggest, the UK starts to use its tax system to compete aggressively with the EU. Some of the areas in which we could look to improve include: • Broadening the availability of Entrepreneur Relief by increasing the limit at which the special 10 per cent rate of CGT on business disposals applies from €1m to €10m; • Introducing a form of Investor Relief, along the lines of that introduced in the UK, that would extend some of the benefits of entrepreneur relief to investors who are not actively involved in the business, thereby opening up
a new avenue of funding for businesses; • Making the Employment Incentive and Investment Scheme (EIIS) fit for purpose, in contrast with the current position where mature businesses are largely excluded from it and where the difficulties that the scheme has encountered in complying with EU State aid guidelines have stalled take-up; • Address some of the restrictions, in particular around group structures that include overseas subsidiaries, which have led to a slow take-up of the new share incentive scheme, Key Employee Engagement Program (KEEP). Brexit is a headache that Irish business could do without, but now is the time for both business leaders and policymakers to prepare so as to be ready to face the challenges head-on when they arise.
Over 75 years supporting and growing Irish SMEs Crowe’s unrivalled expertise comes from advising and guiding owner-managed and family-owned Irish SMEs for over 75 years. We get to know you, as well as your business, so that we can understand the challenges you face and help foster growth, protect value and facilitate succession. Our success comes from helping Irish SMEs succeed. Audit / Tax / Advisory 246275_2L_Crowe Horwath_JM_BetterBuines.indd 1
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To see how we can help your business succeed, contact: Lisa Kinsella, Tax Partner T: +353 1 448 2200 E: email@example.com
www.crowe.ie 08/10/2018 15:58
Brexit DHL Express Ireland
FINDING THE SILVER LINING DHL OFFERS ITS CUSTOMERS THE OPPORTUNITY TO FIND THE SILVER LINING WITHIN BREXIT, AS BRIAN MURRAY, COMMERCIAL DIRECTOR FOR DHL EXPRESS IRELAND, EXPLAINS. With the spectre of Brexit looming, small businesses are under pressure to try and Brexit-proof their companies, while maintaining their focus on the daily business challenges. The uncertainty that remains in terms of what Brexit will look like also adds a difficult dimension to preparing. However, regardless of the outcome, there are certain steps that companies can take now, and DHL can help. While completely Brexit-proofing a small business with a heavy UK focus is almost impossible, DHL customers have been taking practical steps to prepare. We have helped a large number of customers understand the impact of customs changes such as understanding incoterms, creating export invoices, product classification or applying for an EORI number. Some of these businesses have never had to consider customs
processes before but arming themselves with the knowledge could make any potential transition a lot smoother. An important starting point for any business is to examine its current situation. Therefore, we have been strongly advising our customers to use Enterprise Ireland’s ‘Brexit scorecard’ to assess their business's readiness for Brexit. Enterprise Ireland has been providing excellent practical support with its ‘Prepare for Brexit’ website and should be the first port of call for any business. In terms of providing additional practical support, for the past number of years DHL has partnered with the Irish Exporters Association (IEA), which has enabled us to take part in numerous events that provide support for small Irish exporters preparing for Brexit. This partnership has enabled us to work closely with other industry leaders, like
Brian Murray, Commercial Director, DHL Express Ireland
AIB and Euler Hermes, to support Irish businesses. By pooling our expertise we can better provide practical Brexit advice and supports to businesses of all sizes. As part of the IEA events, DHL provides practical Brexit-related advice in addition to support for companies looking to diversify into new markets. These events support DHL’s strategy of encouraging our customers to see the Brexit silver lining and to begin looking at diversifying into new international markets. As a facilitator of global trade and the most international company in the world, present in over 220 countries, DHL is in a unique position to support Irish businesses that are thinking of expanding. The data regarding how Irish businesses have fared since the Brexit vote has been highly encouraging, with a large number of Irish customers using Brexit as a springboard to diversify. It’s no surprise that e-commerce businesses have been very successfully leveraging the opportunity to diversify into new markets. Outside e-commerce, many businesses have seized the opportunity to put dedicated resources into targeting parts of the EU market that are currently supplied from the UK. The silver lining of the Brexit cloud is that Irish businesses have been pushed to diversify into new markets to reduce their risk and take advantage of new growth opportunities. They have shown their resilience and innovation during this time and, as a result, in time, Brexit could have a significantly positive impact on the Irish export industry. Importantly, DHL has been able to reassure our customers that no matter what outcome Brexit brings, our resources and infrastructure will be prepared to maintain the high level of service that they have come to expect from DHL Express.
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BREXIT-PROOFING BUSINESSES AIB OFFERS A RANGE OF SUPPORTS TO HELP ITS CUSTOMERS NAVIGATE THE UNCERTAINTIES OF BREXIT, AS COLIN HUNT, MANAGING DIRECTOR OF WHOLESALE, INSTITUTIONAL & CORPORATE BANKING AT AIB, EXPLAINS. In preparation for the challenges that Brexit will pose to its customers, AIB set up a Brexit Centre to offer support across its local markets and branches. The bank has partnered with Euler Hermes and DHL to ensure its services are the best they can be, and it has launched a €122 million Brexit Loan Fund with the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) for its business customers. It publishes regular economic research and has partnered with the DCU Brexit Institute, bringing together academic experts from across disciplines to provide insights on Brexit. The bank recently published its latest Brexit Sentiment Index, a quarterly survey assessing the attitudes of SME business leaders from both sides of the Irish border in relation to Brexit. The Q2 study found that SMEs from the Republic of Ireland are becoming slightly less negative in their outlook towards
Colin Hunt, Managing Director of Wholesale, Institutional & Corporate Banking, AIB
Brexit, as Colin Hunt, Managing Director, Wholesale, Institutional & Corporate Banking at AIB, elaborates. “Despite Brexit clouds on the horizon, there remains a high degree of confidence in the Irish economy,” he says. “However, as evidenced in our Brexit Sentiment Index, very few businesses are Brexitready, and the results also indicate that it's the larger businesses that are more likely to have a formal Brexit plan. More needs to be done by businesses to prepare.” Some AIB customers are Brexitproofing themselves by protecting against adverse exchange rate movements, and others – particularly exporters – are exploring opportunities in new markets. Indeed, if businesses are proactive, they can overcome the challenges presented by Brexit and even avail of certain opportunities. “Some manufacturing companies and food producers may have opportunity to take a greater share of the domestic market in Ireland if they are more competitive to their UK operators,” says Hunt. “We are also likely to see increased FDI into Ireland, which may also support demand in the construction of both commercial real estate and residential property.” However, Hunt believes that two major hurdles need to be overcome in order to ensure that businesses can make Brexit work for them. First, the UK and EU need to reach an agreement on an exit deal, and second, the UK Government needs to get the exit deal through Parliament. “There are growing risks, with a continuing deep division in British politics about Brexit, in particular the UK’s future trading relationship with the EU,” says Hunt. “There is also ongoing
“DESPITE BREXIT CLOUDS ON THE HORIZON, THERE REMAINS A HIGH DEGREE OF CONFIDENCE IN THE IRISH ECONOMY. HOWEVER, AS EVIDENCED IN OUR BREXIT SENTIMENT INDEX, VERY FEW BUSINESSES ARE BREXIT-READY.” divergence between the UK and the EU that may make it difficult to reach an exit agreement. In addition, given fractures on Brexit within both the Conservative and Labour parties, it is challenging to see how any agreement can get majority support in the House of Commons. Hopefully, we can arrive at a sensible situation in the next few months. Uncertainty is in no one’s interest and it should be brought to an end.” In any case, businesses need to prepare for Brexit, and AIB offers services to do just that. “Our purpose at AIB is to back our customers to achieve their dreams and ambitions,” Hunt concludes. “We have a range of supports already in place, and will continue to add initiatives over the coming months to help customers become Brexit-ready.” For more information, log on to aib.ie/fxcentre/resource-centre/brexit. SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 53
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Get Brexit Ready With our range of Brexit supports At AIB we are actively supporting our customers to prepare for Brexit. So no matter what size your business, when you’re ready to plan for Brexit we’re here to help you.
WE’RE BACKING BRAVE Allied Irish Banks, p.l.c. is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland
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19/10/2018 11:22 10:53
DCU Brexit Institute Brexit
THE BREXIT BREAKDOWN BETTER BUSINESS SPEAKS TO FEDERICO FABBRINI, PROFESSOR OF EUROPEAN LAW, SCHOOL OF LAW & GOVERNMENT, DCU AND PRINCIPAL OF THE BREXIT INSTITUTE, TO GET HIS VIEW ON WHAT BRITAIN’S EXIT FROM THE EU MIGHT MEAN FOR THE IRISH ECONOMY. Q: Could you give us some background on DCU's Brexit Institute and why it was established? A: The Brexit Institute was established at Dublin City University in June 2017 – a year after the Brexit referendum – to examine the legal, political and economic implications of the UK withdrawal from the EU. The Brexit Institute is Ireland’s only and Europe’s first centre specifically designed to analyse Brexit from a research and policy perspective and we regularly inform and advise business, governments and society at large on how to prepare for one of the most momentous events of our era. Q: Are we seeing any positive knockon-effects for Irish business or the Irish economy on the back of Britain's decision to leave the EU? A: The DCU Brexit Institute has undertaken a sector by sector analysis of Brexit’s effects, which has shown that in some areas – notably financial services and higher education – Ireland could benefit from the UK withdrawal from the EU. The overall economic picture however is bleak, and Brexit will negatively affect Ireland. Q: What are your own thoughts on how the Brexit negotiations have been progressing? Anything more the Irish Government could be doing to ensure a favourable outcome? A: The Irish Government has played an excellent negotiating strategy, particularly by making sure that its priorities became the EU’s priorities. The Brexit negotiations are highly asymmetric, since for reasons of size and power, the EU clearly has the upper-hand, so by loyally playing on the EU side, Ireland made sure that its concerns – and notably the question of
Federico Fabbrini, Principal, DCU’s Brexit Institute pictured with Helen McEntee, Minister of State for European Affairs
“THE IRISH GOVERNMENT HAS PLAYED AN EXCELLENT NEGOTIATING STRATEGY, PARTICULARLY BY MAKING SURE THAT ITS PRIORITIES BECAME THE EU’S PRIORITIES.” the border with Northern Ireland – were taken seriously. Q: What do you imagine Brexit might look like when we get there? How is it likely to impact the EU institutions as a whole? The landing zone of the Brexit negotiations is unpredictable at the moment, but I remain convinced that UK membership of the EU internal market and customs union remains a possibility. Ultimately, the UK has always been fond of the EU common market, which it enthusiastically joined in 1973, while it never liked the EU political dimension. An EEA-type solution would therefore reconcile businesses’ economic interest with the political preferences of the British people.
Q: Any news, plans or events the DCU Brexit Institute can share with us right now? A: The Brexit Institute has scheduled a rich plan of events for the crucial months ahead and with the support of our sponsors – Arthur Cox, AIB and Grant Thornton – we will continue to provide thought leadership and expertise on the negotiations. As the leading national and international forum on Brexit, we stand ready to assist private and public organs that are dealing with the challenges posed by UK withdrawal from the EU. For more information visit dcubrexitinstitute.eu SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 55
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The Enterprise Ireland Brexit Advisory Clinics provide practical information to encourage companies to take action to address their exposure to Brexit. The clinics provide the opportunity to get personalised advice specific to your business delivered through one-to-one meetings with independent experts.
Register for upcoming clinics on www.prepareforbrexit.ie/events ✓ ✓ ✓
Dundalk, October 22nd, Crowne Plaza Hotel Waterford, November 8th, WIT Limerick, November 21st, Radisson Hotel
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17/10/2018 02/10/2018 14:36 11:49
Enterprise Ireland Brexit
TAKING ACTION JONATHAN MCMILLAN, MANAGER OF ENTERPRISE IRELAND’S BREXIT UNIT, BREAKS DOWN THE SUPPORTS AVAILABLE TO IRISH COMPANIES PREPARING FOR THE NEW REALITIES THAT BREXIT WILL IMPOSE. In spite of the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, Irish companies should be taking immediate action to mitigate potential risks and position themselves to take advantage of the opportunities. Enterprise Ireland offers many supports to its clients that can be used to help them manage their response. Manager of its Brexit Unit, Jonathan McMillan, explains that in the time immediately following the Brexit vote, Enterprise Ireland’s primary concern centred on raising awareness of the possible implications for Irish businesses, but as the Brexit deadline edged ever closer, this focus has moved on. “When we started, our focus would very much have been on making companies aware that Brexit was happening and what the implications would be,” he recalls. “Then we moved into assessment phase – getting companies to assess what the risks are and helping to prioritise them. Now, we see that companies are in the action phase and, in a recent survey of over 2,400 EI clients, 85 per cent of respondents said they were taking actions to prepare for Brexit.” McMillan suggests that there are three primary areas of concern. “Preparing for changes in customs checks and procedures is a major area of client focus,” he says. “As is assessing and managing your sources of supply, in particular from UK suppliers or imports coming through the UK. Thirdly, companies need to carefully manage their financial planning, including working capital and currency management.” As part of its Brexit services, Enterprise Ireland is now running Brexit advisory clinics across the country. “Companies can come along and hear about the challenges around customs, importing, strategic
Jonathan McMillan, Manager, Enterprise Ireland’s Brexit Unit
sourcing, and on financial and currency management,” McMillan explains. “They can also have one-to-one meetings with specialists and can hear from reallife companies about the actions they have taken to date.” The Brexit Scorecard, an interactive online platform that can be used by all Irish companies to self-assess their exposure to Brexit, is another service provided by Enterprise Ireland. Based on answers supplied by the user, the scorecard generates an immediate report which contains prioritised, suggested actions, resources, supports, and information on events for companies to attend. Almost 3,000 scorecards have been completed online since the referendum result. Furthermore, Enterprise Ireland offers a grant called ‘Be Prepared’, which provides up to €5,000 to help cover consultancy, travel and expenses for both domestic and international
employee travel. It provides strategic support for clients to use internal resources or a third-party consultant to undertake a short project to determine how they can respond to Brexit. While Brexit is undoubtedly a threat and its implications are still unclear, action can be taken. Ultimately, as McMillan suggests, preparing for Brexit will improve a business in other aspects aside from Brexit-proofing itself. “Brexit means you have to really look at your competitiveness and innovation within your operations and the potential to diversify to new export markets,” he says. “Brexit is a threat but it has also focused a lot of people’s minds to ask what they have to do in their businesses to increase their international growth. As such, if it went away tomorrow, we'd have a much stronger SME base today than we did before the vote, with more competitive, innovative and diversified enterprises.” SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 57
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STADIUM OF CHOICE THOMOND PARK STADIUM IS THE IDEAL VENUE TO ENSURE THAT YOUR EVENT IS AN UNRIVALLED SUCCESS IN THE MOST UNIQUE OF SPORTING AND CULTURAL SETTINGS. Thomond Park Meetings & Events Centre offers a comprehensive range of modern conference and hospitality facilities. The versatility of its event suites makes Thomond Park Meetings & Events Centre the ultimate venue for everything from business meetings and seminars, to large scale conferences and receptions. The dedicated corporate and conferencing team will ensure that your event is an unrivalled success in the most unique of sporting and cultural surroundings. Five state-of-the-art event suites and 15 corporate boxes can be adapted and tailored to suit any type of corporate event. The spacious Thomond Suite
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features glass facades providing natural daylight with panoramic views of the stadium and pitch. This suite also has its own entrance with space for registration and reception areas. All suites have inbuilt state-of-the-art audio-visual systems for any display and technological requirements. Thomond Park Meetings & Events Centre’s catering partner, Masterchefs Hospitality, is one of Ireland’s leading corporate and event catering companies. Its experienced chefs offer mouthwatering menus, and their highly trained and dedicated team provide a personal and professional service from start to
finish, ensuring that your event will be a truly memorable occasion. Thomond Park Stadium caters for a wide variety of corporate events including: • Corporate social events • Meetings • Gala banquets and dinners • Exhibitions • Staff Training • Product launches and promotions For more information please contact the corporate and conferencing team on +353 (0)61 421 129 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Trading Places ï€© Interview
BUSINESS OF CONOR FORREST CAUGHT UP WITH FORMER ATHLETE THOMAS CHAMNEY WHO ONCE RAN FOR IRELAND IN THE BEIJING OLYMPICS AND WHO NOW RUNS A BURRITO BUSINESS IN SWEDEN.
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M Interview Trading Places
exican food, apparently, is quite popular in Sweden. The Swedes have acquired a taste for tacos and are gung-ho for guacamole, so much so that Mexican cuisine became the most popular ethnic food sold in supermarkets. So says Thomas Chamney, a former Irish athlete who earned an athletics scholarship to the University of Notre Dame in the US, competed for Ireland at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, and traded the track for selling Mexican street food in Scandinavia. Chamney’s route to Sweden wasn’t quite telegraphed. The end of his tenure as an athlete was marred by injury, to the point where he decided – in 2013 – that enough was enough. His girlfriend at the time was based in Sweden and he made the move there (temporarily), where he spent the first number of weeks “feeling sorry for himself ”, as he describes it. Then, out of the blue, an idea sprang to mind – bringing Mexican cuisine to the streets. Chamney busied himself with research, discovering a potential gap in the market for fast-casual food occupying the space between à-la-carte restaurants and the Swedish version of a chipper. Training was rather low-key and involved returning to Ireland where he worked in a burrito joint for several months, followed by a trip to San Francisco – the spiritual home of the burrito – to get a feel for the culture, authenticity and ingredients. He returned to Sweden before the end of the year and, by Christmas, he’d opened TomTom’s restaurant in the western city of Gothenburg. “When I look back now I don’t really know how I did it to be honest with you, because I moved to Sweden in August and then I spent two months doing an intensive language course to try and learn Swedish,” he explains, and I can hear the humour in his voice. “Swedish people – pretty much all of them speak English to a good
“IF I’D HAD A SWEDISH PARTNER IN THE BUSINESS FROM THE START, IT WOULD HAVE SAVED AN AWFUL LOT OF TIME AND AN AWFUL LOT OF MISTAKES THAT I MADE AT THE BEGINNING.” Thomas Chamney, founder, TomTom’s restaurant
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Trading Places Interview
standard, but when it comes to dealing with the health inspectors or registering a business, dealing with revenue and all of that stuff – it all had to be done through Swedish,” he says. “I was lucky, I spent two months studying and had a little bit better than basic understanding, but it was pretty hard. The tax code and everything, the employment code, the way employment contracts and everything work over here, it’s a lot different, I think, to how they work in Ireland, so I had to learn on my feet.” On the other hand, it didn’t take a lot to create some buzz around the business and turn interest into footfall through the doors – helped by a stroke of good fortune. A restaurant critic from the Metro newspaper turned up one day, enjoyed the experience and gave them a great review. Turnover doubled overnight and that success carried the business through its first year, a key time for any start-up. And TomTom’s has gone on to bigger and
Turn Back Time I ask Chamney whether there’s anything he would change, given the chance to hop in a DeLorean and rewind the clock five years. His mind jumps back to those early days, trying to take his concept off the ground while grappling with the intricacies of the Swedish language. “If I’d had a Swedish partner in the business from the start, it would have saved an awful lot of time and an awful lot of mistakes that I made at the beginning,” he says. “You get a request from some Government agency, I’d have to get all of those documents translated because I couldn’t afford to make a mistake.”
better things from there. One restaurant has turned into two, accompanied by a catering element and a food truck. The latter is quite weather-dependent and sees more use at festivals, events or for corporate or private catering – Chamney explains how the Swedes tend to forgo outdoor food if the sun isn’t out, and the weather in Gothenburg is quite similar to Ireland. “If it’s even overcast, it could be 30 degrees but the sun isn’t out, you’re just not going to get that many people interested,” he says. “So now, I tend to focus the food truck more on doing festivals and concerts. We do a lot of our catering through the food truck, we drive out to an office complex and feed the workers, things like that.” So what’s next for TomTom’s? Chamney has more than one eye on the future and, with the second outlet reaching capacity, he plans to develop a roadmap for the business in the coming months – a choice between a franchising business model or extending the network of stores in which he plays a direct role. It’s clear that he favours the latter. “There’s probably a demand in Gothenburg for one to two more outlets. The city is kind of spread out over a relatively big geographical area,” he says. “We’ll have to look at more locations, but it’s not something that I’m going to rush into, because it is only me running the business, I don’t necessarily have partners. It’s probably something I need to work on – if I have a better management structure [it can] take some of the load of the day-today off me so I can look at these questions.” Business in Gothenburg is clearly going well, but what about life beyond Mexican cuisine? Chamney describes the Swedes as a more reserved people, more difficult to network with in business, and on a personal level, lacking what he refers to as the joie de vivre that’s almost embedded in Irish culture. The tax burden is high, he adds, but the difference is in the value for money. “I have two kids in childcare and I pay maybe €150 per month for that because it’s supported by the State. It’s swings and roundabouts,” he explains, adding that – on the whole – he believes he has acquired a better quality of life in Sweden than he might have had he remained in Ireland. “Life here is pretty good in that sense. My kids are well-looked after, you have healthcare and all of that stuff... Life is pretty good, I can’t complain.” SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 61
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Business Books Extract
WINDOW TO THE WORLD
IN HER NEW BOOK DIGITAL MARKETING, RACHEL KILLEEN OFFERS ADVICE TO RELUCTANT ONLINE MARKETERS ABOUT FINDING YOUR FEET ONLINE. IN THE FOLLOWING EXTRACT, SHE EXPLORES HOW TO GET THE BEST FROM YOUR COMPANY WEBSITE.
ere is a question for you to consider: does your website stand out as excellent in terms of content, design and usefulness for the customer? We discussed content and how to adapt your information to meet the needs of customers in the previous chapter. Websites need excellent content. They also need to be well-designed to attract and hold websurfers. Most importantly, websites must address the needs of customers. Websites are a great, largely untapped resource for entrepreneurs and the statistics prove this conclusively.
• One in five Irish SMEs have no online presence* • Only 40 per cent of SME websites can take sales orders** • The increase in Irish consumer spending in 2017 was driven purely by ecommerce (+7.4 per cent year on year), as face-toface spending is flat*** Your website is a shop window and modern consumers often base their purchase decision on their perception of the online store. Consumers use websites as barometers for competence, capability and delivery. 59 per cent of consumers said that if a business has no online presence, they would be less likely to do business with them in-store** However, the vast majority of business websites have not received enough investment. They are ‘postcard websites’ carrying basic, unchanging information about the business, its location, and product or service descriptions. If you want to make an impact in your market, invest in your website. The age of the static, unchanging postcard website has gone. Customers want and expect much more.
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So what can you do to adapt to customer requirements? You want customers to find your website ‘sticky’ – in other words, when they land on your site, they don’t leave straight away or bounce out of your site – they continue to browse your interesting content, images, videos, news, latest updates and articles. Your fresh ideas and special offers, the human stories around your products and services, will help to reduce the ‘bounce rate’ of your website, meaning that people will want to stick around longer. Here’s how The Little Milk Company made a global impression with their web presence:
The Little Milk Company Set up in 2008, the Little Milk Company comprises 10 family run, organic, dairy farms in Munster and Leinster, Ireland. The company takes milk from their own farms to make award-winning artisan cheeses. The ethos of the company is local, cooperative, organic and family-orientated. The Little Milk Company redesigned their website in 2014. The redesign was based on a number of customer insights. The company sells cheeses to retailers and distributors, and most buyers like to look at a supplier’s website before doing business. As sales increased and their market expanded abroad, the team wanted a website that met the needs of their customers. The team began by identifying websites that they really liked. They attended a Google Analytics course run by Google for small businesses. They spent time thinking about the needs of their customers. Finally they selected Emagine, a website design company they felt could deliver the quality and image that they wanted for The Little Milk Company. The Little Milk Company team was aware that they had to explain who they were, up front. So the top banner of the website’s homepage simply describes The Little Milk Company, its cheeses and contains details about where they can be sampled and bought. According to the designers, Emagine: “On the previous website the story of the food was lost. It didn’t demonstrate
what makes The Little Milk Company unique. Information on available cheeses was nowhere in sight, their farmers and cheese makers weren’t represented at all. We implemented clear calls to action and removed any ambiguity. And we placed their products at centre stage.” The striking aspect of the website is the imagery. The cheeses are artfully presented and there are wonderfully natural portraits of the farmers themselves. In 2015, thelittlemilkcompany.ie won an award for the most beautiful website in Ireland. What can we learn from a website like this that is beautiful and sticky and delivers incisive customer-focused information? Here are three key points: 1. Imagery The Little Milk Company uses high quality photography to illustrate their brand and it works brilliantly. The old saying that ‘a picture tells a thousand words’ is especially true for websites. Spare the words and use high quality images to engage customers (check out noho.ie for expert use of stunning digital imagery). Your images should support your brand or the unique identity of your business. 2. Customer Value Your website has to immediately meet the needs and desires of the customer. The Little Milk Company achieves this by providing the most valuable information up front, because they know what their target audience needs: information about their range of cheeses, its provenance (farms and farmers) and where to buy the cheeses. They then follow up with more detailed information. The lesson is to understand customers using insights and to prioritise your website content so that customers can find what they need easily. 3. Personality The Little Milk Company shows how a website can be used to create a genuine personality for a business. While most websites will be neither radical nor ingenious, it is still important to convey
Rachel Killeen, Managing Director, Killeen Communications
a creative and energetic personality for your business online. Too many businesses are pedestrian. Do you want your business website to be pedestrian? The Little Milk Company has a brilliantly designed website, produced by a small artisan business with a focus on exactly who their customers are. What can you do to produce and maintain an excellent website? Your website should be a shop window to the world. This is an extract from Digital Marketing by Rachel Killeen, reprinted with permission from Chartered Accountants Ireland. It is available from bookstores nationwide or directly from Chartered Accountants Ireland at www.charteredaccountants.ie.
* Indecon International Economics Consultants report ‘Assessment of the Macro-Economic Impact of Internet/ Digital on the Irish Economy’ (March 2016) ** IEDR Dot.ie Digital Health Index researched by Ignite Research (Q4, 2017) *** Visa Europe Irish Consumer Spending Index (February 2018) SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 63
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SFA Policy Pensions
THE PENSIONS DILEMMA THE SFA CONTINUES TO LOBBY AGAINST ANY ATTEMPTS TO SHIFT THE PENSIONS BURDEN ONTO EMPLOYERS THROUGH MANDATORY OR AUTOMATIC ENROLMENT PROPOSALS.
Two-thirds of all private sector employees in Ireland have no workplace pension and are not saving for their retirement. This poses significant challenges to the future quality of life of many individuals and the future finances of the State. The SFA has long resisted attempts to shift the burden onto employers through mandatory or automatic enrolment pension proposals. Early this year, the Government published its ‘Roadmap for Pensions Reform 2018-2023’, which aims to “modernise the Irish pensions system while continuing to target resources at those most in need”. There are six strands to the roadmap: 1 Reform of the State Pension 2 Building Retirement Readiness – A New Automatic Enrolment Savings System 3 Improving Governance and Regulation 4 Measures to Support the Operation of Defined Benefit Schemes 5 Public Service Pension Reform 6 Supporting Fuller Working Lives Strands 2 and 6 are those which are likely to have the most direct effect on SFA members. Work is advancing quite quickly on strand 2 and the SFA has been asked to make a submission to the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection by early November.
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Budget 2019 SFA Policy
The ‘Strawman’ Proposal Automatic enrolment is a system where employees who do not have a private pension are automatically enrolled into a retirement savings scheme. They can leave the scheme or ‘opt out’ under certain conditions. In August, the Government published the proposed parameters for autoenrolment. It involves contributions from the employee, employer and the State. Key features: • Employees aged 23-60, who earn more than €20,000 per year and are not already contributing to a workplace pension would be auto-enrolled • Self-employed people and employees outside the age and earnings categories above will be able to opt-in if they wish • From 2027 the employee will contribute at least 6 per cent of their gross salary; this will be phased in starting at 1 per cent in 2022 • The strawman suggests that the State will contribute €1 for every €3 saved by the employee • Employers will have to match the employee’s contributions, up to a maximum of 6 per cent of gross salary • Employers will have to enrol employees and organise the transfer of contributions to the State-provided Central Processing Authority • It is stated that “supports would be introduced for employers in delivering on their duties in the rollout of AE”, but no details of these supports are provided The SFA is very concerned at the cost that this will impose on employers. In addition to the direct employer contribution, employees are likely to seek wage increases to offset their loss in takehome pay. The administrative burden will add further to the cost for employers.
Next Steps The SFA has lobbied on these issues for decades and this lobbying will now intensify. We are keen to hear from as many members as possible to inform our position on this important issue.
SFA Thoughts on...
IN LIGHT OF THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF BUDGET 2019, THE SFA IS CALLING ON THE GOVERNMENT TO ENGAGE WITH THE ORGANISATION IN A BID TO DEVELOP A ‘SMALL BUSINESS STRATEGY’ THAT WILL ENABLE SMALL BUSINESS TO THRIVE. The SFA has welcomed the increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit announced as part of Budget 2019 but expressed disappointment with the missed opportunity to relieve business costs on small firms and maintain competitiveness as Brexit approaches. Responding to the details announced in the budget, SFA Director Sven Spollen-Behrens stated: “The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for the self-employed has come closer to parity with the PAYE Tax Credit, with the announcement of an increase of €200 to €1,350. However, the blatant discrimination that was due to end in Budget 2018 has still not come to fruition; the SFA will continue to campaign for the gap between EITC, and the PAYE Credit (€1,650) to close fully in next year’s budget. “It is regrettable that the Government has again ignored the SFA’s call to reduce Capital Gains Tax (CGT) to 20 per cent across the board, to make investing in a business in Ireland more attractive. At 33 per cent, Ireland has one of the highest rates of CGT amongst developed economies. It is disappointing that the Government has decided against introducing measures which would stimulate economic activity and add to our competitiveness. The SFA is also calling for CGT Entrepreneur Relief to be extended to compete with the UK scheme.” According to Spollen-Behrens, Budget 2019 will further increase business costs for small businesses with the decisions to raise the National Training Fund levy and to increase the special 9 per cent VAT rate, which previously supported the tourism industry. “With the continuing uncertainty of Brexit, it is very discouraging that Government continues to play a significant role in driving business costs upwards,” he said. “Whilst we welcome the Government’s enhanced investment in Brexit measures, housing, childcare and the amendments to the Key Employment Engagement Programme, we call on the Government to engage with the SFA with a view to developing a ‘Small Business Strategy’ that will enable small business to thrive. As the economy continues to grow, it’s important that we seize the opportunity to support home grown enterprises and stand behind those individuals who take the risk to start their own business.” The SFA Small Business Strategy is available at www/sfa.ie.
All feedback can be sent to email@example.com. SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 65
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Events SFA National Small Business Awards
Celebrating Small Business
THE SFA HAS SEEN A RECORD NUMBER OF APPLICATIONS IN THIS YEAR’S NATIONAL SMALL BUSINESS AWARDS.
In their 15th year, the SFA National Small Business Awards 2019 were officially launched on September 3rd by Awards Patron Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar. The aim of the awards is to celebrate the achievements of small business in Ireland and to recognise the vital contribution of the small business community to the Irish economy. The awards celebrate excellence, achievement and innovation in small business, so this is your opportunity to promote and showcase your business and enhance your credibility both internationally and nationally through the extensive PR and media profile the awards attract. The awards also provide companies with a vehicle to recognise the valuable commitment that employees make to their organisation by highlighting their contribution and achievements. Speaking at the launch, An Taoiseach said: “Around the country, courageous people have turned their ideas into businesses, creating employment and injecting life into our cities, towns and villages. These owner-managers and their employees work incredibly hard and deserve to be recognised for their efforts. The SFA National Small Business Awards are a great way to showcase our indigenous success stories. They provide a fantastic opportunity to recognise and celebrate the achievements of small firms across different sectors.”
2019 PRIZE PACKAGE ALL FINALISTS receive the following prize package to the value of €50,000: ● A comprehensive strategic masterclass weekend sponsored by Skillnet Ireland including communications, media and presentation skills training along with discounted participation on a management development programme during the year ● A profile in a specially commissioned Irish Independent Awards Supplement ● Participation in the Awards Village at the 2019 Business Connect event ● Five complimentary tickets to the Awards Gala Ceremony CATEGORY WINNERS
€50K PRIZE PACKAGE FOR ALL
FINALISTS ● Award trophy and certificate ● One year membership of the Small Firms Association (if you are an existing member your membership for the following year will be complimentary)
OVERALL WINNER ● Winner’s trophy ● A bursary of €5,000 to present to a charity of choice (funded by 2013 Overall winner, Megazyme International) ● Profile in the Spring 2019 edition of Better Business magazine
Sue O’Neill, Chair, SFA, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Sven Spollen-Behrens, Director, SFA pictured at the launch of the SFA National Small Business Awards 2019
The competition is open to all companies in Ireland with up to 50 employees THE CATEGORIES ARE: Manufacturing sponsored by Bord Gáis Energy Food and Drink sponsored by Bord Bia Services sponsored by Three Outstanding Small Business, up to five employees sponsored by One4All Innovator of the Year sponsored by permanent tsb Sustainable Energy sponsored by Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland Exporter of the Year sponsored by Enterprise Ireland In addition, the five best ‘Emerging New Businesses’ (companies that are less than two years in existence) that have the potential to grow and the ability to be an SFA National Small Business Award winner in the future will be selected. Sponsored by Domain IE Registry.
Keep an eye out on www.sfa.ie/awards for the finalist announcement on December 4th.
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Working Time HR
STRIKING THE RIGHT BALANCE OF BEING PLUGGED IN WITH WORKING TIME OBLIGATIONS IS ESSENTIAL FOR EVERY SMALL BUSINESS, WRITES SFA EXECUTIVE HELEN QUINN. In today’s working world it has never been easier to communicate and acquire new clients on a local and global scale. This in turn has radically altered how we work and how we operate our businesses. The nine-to-five is rapidly transforming as more flexible and smarter ways of working emerge. This flexibility and mobility does have its risks though as “always being on” means that our work-life balance can become skewed. Businesses need to ensure their employees take proper rest breaks in line with the Organisation of Working Time Act, which is often referred to as Working Time. This issue arose in a recent Labour Court case between Kepak Convenience Foods vs Gráinne O’Hara. O’Hara was employed as a business development executive on a 40-hour working week. As part of her role, she visited clients and recorded her activities and engagement with them on the company system. O’Hara argued that she was unable
Helen Quinn, SFA Executive
to complete these tasks within her contracted hours. Under the Working Time Act employees must not work in excess of 48 hours per week over a reference period of four months. In the Labour Court hearing, O’Hara argued that she regularly worked in excess of the maximum working week, often working 60 hours per week to keep up with the workload. She produced emails that were sent to clients and her employer between the hours of 5pm and midnight as well as early morning emails.
The email trail included early morning responses from her employer as well. The business argued that it never insisted that O’Hara work outside of her contracted hours, that she received comprehensive training on its system and that she could “comfortably” complete her work within 40 hours but she chose to “adopt a less efficient” method of completing her administrative tasks. The Labour Court found in favour of the employee and awarded her €7,500 based on two factors: Firstly that her employer did not keep a record of her working hours. This is a legal requirement under the Organisation of Working Time Act. Secondly, that the employer was aware that she worked in excess of the maximum working work, which is in breach of the Working Time Act, and “took no steps to curtail the time she spent working”. So what can businesses do to balance the operational needs of their business with their legal obligations under the Working Time Act? ▶ Ensure hours worked and rest periods are recorded using an electronic system or a manual time sheet that staff sign ▶ If your business operates across multiple time-zones consider a rotation system or flexible working arrangements that factor in early morning or late evening shifts ▶ Avoid relying on that super friendly employee who always says yes to additional work or overtime – spread the extra work amongst all staff and ensure line managers do the same ▶ If an employee is regularly sending emails outside of office hours, follow up with them to understand why this is happening. It is essential businesses strike the right balance of being ‘plugged in’ and ensuring staff get proper rest. Aside from your legal obligations, an exhausted employee will be stressed, unproductive and less engaged with your business. For further information or advice, SFA members can contact Helen Quinn, SFA Executive, on 01 6051668 or firstname.lastname@example.org. SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 67
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Business Advice EAPs
Time FOR ASSISTANCE
EMPLOYEE ASSISTANCE PROGRAMMES ARE NO LONGER THE PRIVY OF BIG ORGANISATIONS. STEPHANIE REGAN, CLINICAL PSYCHOTHERAPIST AND CLINICAL DIRECTOR OF IRELANDEAP, FILLS US IN ON WHY SMALL FIRMS SHOULD CONSIDER THEIR VALUE. Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) have been in operation in Ireland since the early nineties. At that time, the cost of human resource losses was only measured by counting the ‘lost man days’. Other ‘hidden’ costs were neither acknowledged nor counted. Today we know so much more about the hidden costs to business in the case of the employee who is low functioning and affecting their colleagues, and of the enormous benefits of investing resources into staff health and wellbeing. This is where EAPs now focus their efforts. We know that life, by its nature, will cause stress points. We know that unmanaged problems will impact on the individual themselves. This impact can be best described as ‘presenteeism’, when the individual is present in the workplace but low functioning. However, the individual also impacts those around them. Within the context of the
workplace these impacts are on the team, the task and the general morale of staff and they have a cost even if that cost is more difficult to isolate and quantify. Physical, emotional and psychological wellbeing is a personal balance for each person, but it is no longer something nebulous. We know that promoting health awareness and identifying the stresses that may require support are some of the most effective ways of encouraging staff to act early to resolve any issues. For this reason, there is an emphasis in all EAPs on early intervention and providing the back-up of access to clinical care. Underpinning the EAP rationale is the recognition that building resilience protects one from the risks associated with stress and, while the employer may help by providing the facility, each person must carry personal responsibility for their own issues.
Therefore, the business owner via the EAP is simply supporting staff members to pro-actively care for their own health and wellbeing. EAP programmes promote health and wellbeing through magazines, internal initiatives and internal communication pathways. They combine best clinical practice with the practicalities of legal and policy parameters of the employee/employer relationship and contract. They support the business owner or manager as they navigate that space between duty of care and performance. While life is a stressor for everyone, managing a troubled or upset employee is a stress that is unique to managers. EAPs support and upskill managers so that they feel a competence and a clarity when intervention with a staff member is required. Finally, when the utterly unforeseen occurs – the accident at work, the employee who dies suddenly or any other crisis-like event – an EAP will have a Critical Incident Response team ready to guide and support management through all the phases of recovery, both for themselves and all involved. EAPs are no longer the privy of big organisations. IrelandEAP is now an SFA Affinity partner at www.sfa.ie and has refined a programme to meet the very specific needs of smaller businesses.
Known Risks It is imperative to protect the employee against known risks in the workplace. These are some points worth considering: • One in five employees need support at any point in time • Eighty per cent of issues presented to EAPs relate to the staff member’s personal life • The biggest stress for employers is not knowing what to do next For more details visit www.irelandeap.ie
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AN AFFINITY FOR
SFA AFFINITY IS AN INITIATIVE THAT BUILDS UPON THE INHERENT BENEFITS OF SFA MEMBERSHIP FOR IRISH SMALL FIRMS.
SFA Affinity is an initiative exclusively available to members of the SFA. It allows member firms to publish and promote offers to other members, leveraging off the established SFA brand and ultimately allowing businesses to secure new deals. It is a hassle-free opportunity for SFA members to energise their marketing strategies and promote their brand. The benefits, however, work in the opposite direction too, as there is an opportunity to take advantage of fellow members’ own offers and promotions. SFA Affinity allows members to reach out to business customers in Ireland, and at a fraction of the cost of other forms of advertising, given that it’s free and exclusive to SFA members. Those availing of the initiative can add their logo, information about their business, contact details and a link to their website. Through SFA Affinity, members can
pick and choose the deals and offers that add value to their business – whether it’s a discount on a courier service or a free audit of their website, with expert advice on improving performance. By browsing the various offers presented through the initiative on a regular basis, members are in a strong position to pick up a good deal at the right time. SFA membership in its own right comes with a multitude of benefits for small firms, yet this initiative opens up further opportunities. The ethos of the SFA is that members share their business with other members. Companies are encouraged to pro-actively support each other. SFA Affinity is a further expression of this ethos. Over the following pages, Better Business profiles two SFA members that make use of the initiative, LawOnline and DEinternational, to discover the services they provide.
FOR MORE DETAILS ON SFA AFFINITY VISIT WWW.SFA.IE.
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IRISH TAXATION You receive a better price with better conditions from Irish Taxation Services than from competitors: Other accountants and tax advisors charge € 65 and up per person for payroll services and 75 € and up for the filing of Vat returns. Our payroll and VAT services start at € 50 per person and per VAT return. You can save by using our services because we are a non-for-profit organisation.
SERVICES ARE OFFERED IN BOTH IRELAND AND GERMANY
Tax advice: • Advice on all tax heads • Registration for tax and filing of tax returns • Application for refunds of taxes (VAT, RCT, and German & Irish withholding taxes)
Payroll tailored for you: • Set up of employee and payroll • Advice on pensions, tax credits and cross border workers • Calculation of tax reliefs
Accounting tailored for you: • Monthly bookkeeping and management accounting • Company secretarial services and compliance • Preparation and submission of your end accounts
Members of the German-Irish Chamber (GIC) will receive a 25% discount up to a maximum of €1,500 per year on Irish Taxation Services. Irish Taxation Services has over 12 years experience in delivering services for Irish, German and multinational clients. More than 120 clients have already availed of our tax services with great success. These clients include:
We were also grateful for your work regarding payroll accounting and the supervision of the subcontractors as well as your extensive provision of tax advice. (KRONES AG)
Irish Ferries, Horgans Delicatessen, Zueblin Ireland, Sisk, Bennett, Evonik Performance, Hoesch Schwerter Prole GmbH, LES GmbH, Dairygold, Glasmalerei Oidtmann, UTW GmbH, etc.
Is an AITI Chartered Tax Adviser in Ireland
Has more than 10 years experience
Has worked for more than 10 years as an
and holds a German University degree
with accounting and payroll for SME’s
accountant with DEInternational. His clients
(Diplom Kaufmann). Patrick, for the last
and multinational Companies in Germany
consist and comprise of small and medium
12 years, has worked as a consultant for all
sized companies as well as multinational companies in Ireland and Germany.
tax and legal services with DEinternational. Phone: +353 (0) 86 047 8222
Phone: +353 (0) 87 764 7176
Phone: +353 (0) 86 047 8218
Visit us at www.irishtaxation.ie Irish Taxation Services in part of DEinternational Ireland, consultancy wing of the German-Irish Chamber of Industry and Commerce.
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BETWEEN IRELAND AND GERMANY DEINTERNATIONAL IRELAND FACILITATES TRADE BETWEEN GERMANY AND IRELAND. IT ASSISTS COMPANIES IN BOTH COUNTRIES WITH TAX ADVICE, ACCOUNTING AND PAYROLL, AS PATRICK BAMMING, AITI CHARTERED TAX ADVISER, DEINTERNATIONAL IRELAND, EXPLAINS. Following its guiding principle of bilateralism, DEinternational Ireland’s mission is to facilitate trade between Germany and Ireland, and to provide valuable assistance to the Irish export industry in both countries. DEinternational Ireland offers tax registration, tax refunds, filing of tax returns. These are presented to you as individual taxation packages, specially tailored to your needs. The organisation provides a tax advisory service offered by a bilingual tax adviser. This adviser provides clients with extensive information about the modifications between German and Irish law, as well as the differing forms of contracts in each country. With more than 30 years of experience, clients can expect comprehensive answers to any taxrelated questions they may have. “One of the many advantages of availing of our services is that you not only save time, but also a great deal of
What DEinternational offers
money,” says Patrick Bamming, AITI Chartered Tax Adviser, DEinternational Ireland. “As we are a non-profit organisation, we can offer these services for a more competitive price than most other tax and legal advisers.” DEinternational's clients benefit greatly from a variety of its services. “All our services are available to both domestic and international companies,” Bamming points out. “In particular, domestic companies may benefit greatly from our Irish taxation services, including payroll and accounting. “Our payroll services include setting up employee and monthly payroll for clients, in addition to tax relief calculations. We can offer advice in areas such as pensions, tax credit and cross-border workers. Our accounting services are tailored to clients by personally managing accounts, operating monthly book-
“ONE OF THE MANY ADVANTAGES OF AVAILING OF OUR SERVICES IS THAT YOU NOT ONLY SAVE TIME, BUT ALSO A GREAT DEAL OF MONEY.” keeping, carrying out company secretarial services, and preparing and submitting end-of-year accounts.” The world is getting increasingly smaller and borders are increasingly blurred. Keeping pace with these developments is essential for companies involved in international trade. DEinternational Ireland helps German and Irish companies to do just that.
Patrick Bamming, AITI Chartered Tax Adviser, DEinternational Ireland
Basic services in Ireland/Germany: • Tax advice • Payroll • Accounting • Fiscal representation • VAT reclaims • Legal information • Company formation • Debt Collection • Recruitment Free services: • Initial consultation • Information on people and markets
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Draft your own legal documents online Our solicitors will also review your draft if you wish LawOnline combines powerful intelligent software and the legal knowledge of our solicitors to enable you to draft your own legal documents online. It is straightforward - just answer our questions and watch your bespoke document being drafted. All at a low cost.
Some of our law areas include: Personal law
> Enduring powers of attorney > Family > Flight compensation claims > Landlord & tenant > Small claims court applications > Wills
> Commercial tenancy > Company formation > Debt collection & recovery > E-commerce (website legals) > Employment > Non-disclosure
CUSTOMER SERVICE Visit www.lawonline.ie or call us on 01 902 0290 (Lines open 8.30am to 7.00pm Monday to Friday and 10.00am to 3.00pm on Saturdays)
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DRAFT BESPOKE LEGAL DOCUMENTS ONLINE LAWONLINE SOLICITORS ALSO REVIEW YOUR DRAFTED DOCUMENT IF YOU WISH. LawOnline uses rules-based AI technology and the legal expertise of its lawyers to enable you to draft your own highly bespoke legal documents online at a low and fixed cost. The process is simple – just answer a list of questions online and watch your document being drafted as you respond. LawOnline explains the questions in detail and offers guidance where necessary. All documents are downloadable in Word or PDF. As an optional service, you can also have your drafted document reviewed by Lawonline.ie solicitors – William J. Brennan & Co. Solicitors (WJB) – for added reassurance that it is fit for purpose. When you have answered all of the questions you will be prompted to send the document electronically to WJB who will then be in touch to address any queries you may have. All of LawOnline’s services are provided for a low and fixed fee covering a range of law areas, which include: • Commercial Tenancy • Debt Collection and Recovery • E-Commerce • Employment • Family • Landlord & Tenant • Non-Disclosure • Powers of Attorney • Wills Below are some examples of the document drafting processes on the
LawOnline site (175 plus in total) and the discounted cost (including VAT) available to SFA members: • Commercial Tenancy Agreement (€100) • Company Formation – CRO Form A1 (€44) • District Court Debt Recovery Claim (€40) • Employee Compromise Agreement (€96) • Employment Contract (€56) • Employer’s Handbook (€140) • Enduring Power of Attorney (€56) • General Power of Attorney (€20) • Non-Disclosure Agreement (€44) • Residential Tenancy Agreement (€44)
Discount Offer SFA members can avail of LawOnline services at www.lawonline.ie at a discount of 20 per cent on the listed prices (all prices are fixed and include VAT). To avail of this discount enter SFA00X in the voucher code box on LawOnline’s checkout page.
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DID YOU KNOW? NOT EVERYONE IS AWARE THAT THE CREDIT REVIEW OFFICE MONITORS CREDIT AND BANKING CONDITIONS FOR SMES IN THE IRISH MARKET. The role of the Credit Review Office is to ensure that viable borrowers have access to credit for business purposes. It provides an appeals mechanism for borrowers who have had their credit applications rejected by an Irish bank (AIB, Bank of Ireland, PTSB and Ulster Bank) however it also monitors credit and banking conditions for SMEs in the Irish market, and has provided a number of useful information sheets available on its website, www.creditreview.ie, in the ‘Publications’ section. These cover topics such as: • What happens if your business loan has been sold on by your original loan
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provider to an investment or hedge fund • What you owe and what can be demanded of you • If you seek to refinance, what to expect and how to prepare • Where and how to get help • Funding capital projects from internally generated business funds, or self-funding • Potential impact on the business and pitfalls to avoid • Implications for bank funding in the future • Non-Performing Loans and Exposures – what farms and SMEs need to know • What is a non-performing loan or exposure?
• How to find out if your loans or credit facilities are non-performing • Implications for bank funding in the future and why you need to get back to performing status With all Credit Review information notes, the aim is to help you to understand how you can ensure your business or farm has access to credit when it needs it. Contact CreditReview.ie and talk to one of our professional reviewers so that you are fully informed on the credit management issues relevant to your situation. Phone 1850 211789 or email info@credit review.ie.
CUSTOMER TRUST AS PART OF ITS PARTNERSHIP WITH FREEDOM TRUST, AVIVA CAN COVER THE COST OF PROVIDING TRUSTEE SERVICES AT NO COST TO THE EMPLOYER, WRITES STEPHEN RICE, PROPOSITIONS MANAGER – CORPORATE, AVIVA IRELAND. One of the most attractive and tax efficient ways for company directors to turn company profits into personal wealth is to transfer them into a company pension. When a company director takes profits from a company as a salary there is an immediate tax liability and this salary is subject to income tax of up to 40 per cent and PRSI/USC of up to 12 per cent. Many company directors are not aware that under Revenue rules a company may be eligible to contribute large amounts to a company pension on their behalf. This company contribution can be made alongside the member contributions, which can also benefit from tax relief. Our financial brokers have told us that many company directors are concerned by the responsibilities and cost of setting up a pension under trust. That is why at Aviva, we are pleased to have partnered with Freedom Trust as our preferred independent trustee for group pension, group life cover and executive pension plans. As part of our partnership with Freedom Trust, Aviva can cover the cost of providing trustee services at no cost to the employer.*
Who Are Freedom Trust?
Freedom Trust Services Limited is a Revenue-approved professional trusteeship company. As our independent partner, they will take on the role of the scheme trustee and make sure that the scheme continues to meet its regulatory requirements.
Why Aviva Has Partnered with Freedom Trust • It removes the significant roles and responsibilities of a trustee from the employer. • It offers members the comfort of independent oversight of their pensions.
• it provides trustee services to employers independent of Aviva. • They are approved by the Revenue as a pensioner trustee. • They have a significant level of pensions knowledge and experience, with its board having over 50 years’ experience between them. • They are a member of the Association of Pension Trustees in Ireland (APTI) and the Irish Association of Pension Funds.
The below shows details of the advantages of having Freedom Trust as a professional independent corporate trustee compared with an employer acting as trustee. Trusteeship Training Independent Corporate Trustee: No requirement for training as Trustee: Training every
two years for directors Expertise in Pensions and Trusteeship Independent Corporate Trustee: Extensive pensions and trusteeship expertise across the firm Employer as Trustee: No specific expertise Knowledge of Governance Requirements Independent Corporate Trustee: Experienced compliance team Employer as Trustee: No dedicated resource Experience of Duties and Responsibilities Independent Corporate Trustee: Detailed knowledge of trustee requirements Employer as Trustee: No detailed knowledge
Stephen Rice, Propositions Manager – Corporate, Aviva Ireland
Conflicts of Interest Independent Corporate Trustee: Independent trustee to avoid conflicts of interest Employer as Trustee: Potential conflict if employer is also acting as trustee Time and Cost Effective Corporate Trustee:
Savings on professional fees and trustee training costs Employer as Trustee: Additional costs for professional fees, trustee training and employer time Exposure and Liabilities Corporate Trustee:
Professional indemnity insurance in place Employer as Trustee: Exposure and potential personal liability * For all new executive pension plans and for new group pensions and group life cover subject to certain criteria such as, but not limited to, minimum annual premium and membership requirements. Please contact your company's financial advisor or visit www.aviva.com. SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 75
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ALL-OUT IN THE
AUDI HAS LAUNCHED THE SECOND GENERATION A7 TO QUITE A BIT OF FANFARE. CONOR FORREST DISCOVERS WHETHER IT’S WORTH ALL THE FUSS.
ight years ago the Audi A7 arrived to much fanfare, an ambitious fourdoor fastback that began with a bold face and lost its way by the time you got to the boot. Fast forward to 2018 and the second generation has really upped the stakes. If you’re to judge this thing on looks alone, the A7 is a winner, from the sculpted doors and 20-inch wheels to a floating roofline that draws the eye towards the updated rear end. At first it doesn’t seem drastically different from the previous version, but when you place them side by side it’s easy to spot the contrasts – sharper lines, a sleeker profile and, at the back, the rear lights have morphed into a continuous, striking taillight first seen on the A8. There’s a much more aggressive feel about this. Audi expects the 3.0L TDi in the fancier S Line trim will be the main seller in Ireland, and it’s not difficult to understand why. The 3.0L V6 my test model came with is more than capable in any situation, equipped as it is with 286bhp and a very pleasant gurgle. Paired to a smooth eight-speed automatic gearbox, it’s capable of rocketing from 0-100km/h in just 5.7 seconds, which is incredibly fun to test repeatedly. A wide and low stance, coupled with Audi’s Quattro four-wheel drive system means the A7 is very planted and it’s almost surprisingly fun to drive on windy roads – not exactly sporty but there’s plenty of grip and it doesn’t wallow in the corners. The steering is balanced and precise, although the A7 is a little prone to understeer. Drive settings can be tweaked depending on your mood. For a big beast it’s pretty economical too, weighing in at 6.4L/100km or 44mpg. That’s partly thanks to Audi’s mild hybrid system (MHEV) – the engine is paired with a 48v
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Audi A7 50 Quattro S Line Engine: 3.0TDi V6 Power: 286bhp 0-100km/h: 5.7 seconds Top speed: 250km/h Annual tax: €290 Price: €104,527 as tested (€81,000 minus extras)
hybrid system with regenerative braking feeding power to a lithium ion battery and a starter motor. Four-wheel steering is another nifty first – the front and rear wheels turn in opposite directions for easier parking, manoeuvring and handling at speeds of up to 60km/h. Beyond that they turn in the same direction for greater stability. It might cost €2,892 to equip but it’s very handy in a tight spot. While the new A7 is a big improvement on the model from the outside, I think the biggest draw of the second generation is its interior. Audi really does know how to make them and this is best-in-class, with utterly comfortable seats and a fabulously sculpted dashboard with design elements echoed in the door panels – stylish, modern but minimalist. One of the standout features is the integrated two-level screen system that results in a much tidier affair without too many buttons. Top marks for safety too, with a range of tools keeping you on the straight and narrow from Audi Pre Sense City (which scans the road for other vehicles and pedestrians) to a system that detects if the driver is ‘inactive’. It’s quite practical too – the A7’s wheelbase has increased by just 10mm but passengers have an extra 21mm inside the cabin, without eating into the boot space. Prices for the new A7 start from around €78,150 but if you’re already spending that kind of money you’ll be tempted to throw in a few extras too. If you pick one, opt for the Tech pack (MMI Nav, reversing camera, Audi phonebox with wireless charging and the virtual cockpit) for a cool €2,900. Overall, it’s a cracking car that looks the business, provides a fun and engaging drive and is packed with as many technological gizmos and safety features as you could ever need, not to mention your money’s worth in miles per gallon. If this was a restaurant, it’d be Michelinstarred – a success story in the making. SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 77
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Arts ï€ª Culture
Love, War PENNING STORIES OF
DEAN VAN NGUYEN CATCHES UP WITH AUTHOR AND JOURNALIST SORCHA POLLAK TO DISCUSS MIGRATION, HER NEW BOOK AND WHAT IT MEANS TO BE IRISH.
Sorcha Pollak pictured with some of those who have featured in New to the Parish
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igration is shaping the news cycle right now. We’ve endured a period of history punctuated by the rise of Donald Trump and Britain’s decision to leave the European Union – just two Earth-shaking revelations among a series of political developments that have in some part been fuelled by antiimmigration sentiment. But as pundits have scrambled to make sense of this new world, often missing from the analysis is a sense of humanity. No migrants upend their lives to move to another country flippantly. Beneath raw data, governmental wrangling and right-wing tabloid scaremongering are a wide variety of human beings with their own stories to tell. For over three years, journalist Sorcha Pollak has helped migrants in Ireland tell theirs. ‘New to the Parish’, her weekly feature in The Irish Times, focuses on one person per instalment. Through the series, Pollak investigates the crevices of migrants’ lives and the challenges and opportunities that arise when attempting to integrate into Irish
life. The subjects have come from all over the world for a variety of reasons. But taken together, Pollak has created a fine composite of modern Ireland. It made sense, then, that the series become a book. New to the Parish: Stories of Love, War and Adventure from Ireland’s Immigrants was published by New Island earlier this year. Featuring some of the key pieces from Pollak’s series assembled next to one another, the writer’s prose give us a unqiue insight into the life of an immigrant in Ireland today.
Ambitions For Pollak, maybe it was something in the blood that led her down this path. Her parents and grandfather were all journalists. The easy narrative is that she followed them into the profession, though Pollak actually harboured the ambition to be an actor before finding herself drawn to journalism during her time studying in Trinity College. Later pitching up in London, Pollak took a job in The Guardian, where she developed an interest in stories focused on migration. Having returned to Ireland, the reporter began working in The Irish Times in January 2014, where she continued to delve into the topic. “It became apparent to me that this was an area I really wanted to cover and it was an area that was quite new in Ireland,” she tells me. Pollak’s interest in migration has been in part inspired by her grandfather. Stephen Pollak arrived in Ireland as a refugee from Czechoslovakia in 1948. Though a communist party sympathiser – he operated as a courier for the organisation – Stephen found himself on the sharp end of its power. Threatened by secret police after penning some material that angered the party, he moved to Ballymena, Co Antrim and, having previously formed a relationship with an Irishwoman, landed on the doorstep of a conservative, Presbyterian family. “I open in the book about the fact that this tiny community – a very conservative Presbyterian community that my grandmother came from – they opened their arms to this Jewish, Czech, communist-sympathising man who could not have been more foreign to them,” says Pollak. “He spoke with a strong accent, his politics were different, his religion was different, everything was different about him and they welcomed him in.”
Dispelling Stigmas Author and journalist Sorcha Pollak
The column started in July 2015, after the Irish Times’ Róisín Ingle, identifying there was a colleague in the office with an interest in migration, came to Pollack with the idea. Initially, New to the Parish was intended to be just a summer series of about eight pieces or so. But feeling it had legs, the pair went to then-Irish Times editor Kevin O’Sullivan about continuing the column until Christmas. From there, the series has continued to run. Pollak’s first task was to find people to feature. Starting out, she spent a day emailing every organisation in the country that was working with communities from abroad. “It’s funny actually, very few stories came through those emails but that’s how I started,”
“[MY] IDEA OF BEING A NATIONALITY OR BEING A CITIZEN OF A PLACE HAS EVOLVED... THROUGH CONVERSATIONS WITH PEOPLE WHO HAVE COME HERE SEEKING ASYLUM, FOR WORK, FOR EDUCATION AND END UP STAYING FOR WHATEVER REASON.”
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“IT WAS A TIME WHEN THERE WAS A HUGE VEIL OF NEGATIVITY LAID UPON PEOPLE WHO CAME HERE AS REFUGEES. SO I WANTED TO SAY REFUGEES ARE HUMAN BEINGS JUST LIKE US.” she says. “The very first few stories were through friends actually. The very first story was a very good friend of mine. His partner is from Mali and I thought that’s a great story to start with.” Since that first instalment, Pollak’s intention with the column was to dispel any stigmas or stereotypes associated with migrants. “There’s this massive otherness to asylum seekers and refugees,” she asserts. “I wanted to create the message that these are all people who have moved here from abroad, for very different reasons, but they’re all migrants. The word ‘migrants’ applies to every single one. It applies to every single one who reads the series who moved abroad for a period. “When it started in 2015, that was the height of the news in the Mediterranean, people crossing eastern and central Europe in huge numbers, ‘the swarms’ as David Cameron described them, making their way towards the UK. It was a time when there was a huge veil of negativity laid upon people who came here as refugees. So I wanted to say refugees are human beings just like us.” A sad reality of writing stories that involve migration, multiculturalism or race relations is that they inevitably lead to racial abuse. Working on the series, Pollak gets the odd letter of complaint plus the occasional email. Abusive Facebook comments and tweets, though, are constant. The most dedicated of her attackers even deep-researched her background, targeting Pollak’s Jewish heritage to unleash anti-Semitic bile. Much of the abuse, though, is reserved for
Sorcha Pollak with broadcaster Áine Lawlor and friends at the launch of New to the Parish
Praise for the Parish “Ireland has been transformed in recent years by the arrival of hopeful settlers from many parts of the world . They are not just ‘immigrants’. They are people with all the richness, diversity and particularity of humanity. Sorcha Pollak is a great listener who tells those individual stories with humour, sympathy, vividness and insight. This uplifting book is both a great read and an essential document of contemporary Ireland.” Fintan O’Toole, writer and journalist
the people she’s interviewing. One thing that really disturbs her about the series is that Pollak can tell whether or not an interviewee will receive a harsh response by their background. “It’s a very easy system – if they’re white and European they won’t get anything. If they’re white and from outside Europe they’ll most likely be okay. If they are Asian, they might get a little but not much. Then you go into black and Muslim and, my God, it just skyrockets. And it’s disgusting... I see it on my Twitter feed daily.”
The Book After a year doing the column, Pollak began thinking of its potential as a book. At the
start of 2017, she approached publishers with the idea and, in June of that year, a deal was struck with New Island. It took six months to complete the manuscript. During the time, Pollak continued to work as a reporter, logging a lot of early mornings and late nights to keep the project moving forward. Rather than simply assembling her greatest hits, Pollak caught up with some of her previous interviewees to provide updates, while new mini chapters were added to give readers additional context. “It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience,” she says, “because I got to go back to these people and really discuss their lives and elaborate on what they said before and find out more.” Pollak’s book captures the evolving idea of what it means to be Irish. In a nation where once anything outside white and Christian was considered different or other, those core tenets of what it is to be an Irish national are now fading. New to the Parish: Stories of Love, War and Adventure from Ireland’s Immigrants provides a fascinating snapshot of this progression. And by working on the series, Pollak’s own perception of what it was to be Irish three years ago is very different to what it is now. “[My] idea of being a nationality or being a citizen of a place has evolved... through conversations with people who have come here seeking asylum, for work, for education and end up staying for whatever reason. “Ireland is a very different country to what it was, even from when I finished college or school, it’s very different. I would hope this series is just a tiny element in helping people understand what Ireland means today.”
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GETTING PHYSICAL THE WORKPLACE IS AN OPTIMUM PLACE TO PROMOTE HEALTH, WITH BENEFITS TO EVERYONE, WRITES DAVID CASEY, WELLNESS & HEALTH PROMOTION MANAGER AT DECARE DENTAL.
Irish Heart’s new campaign, Chairs Can Kill, states that sitting for long periods is thought to slow metabolism, impacting the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar and blood pressure, and break down body fat. The National Physical Activity Guidelines state that we should have at least 150 minutes of activity each week, yet a recent survey by the Irish Heart Foundation revealed that the average person in Ireland sits down for 7.3 hours a day. Employees spend more than half their waking hours at work, with many sitting behind desks, standing at workstations or driving. Sitting for prolonged periods is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. The World Health Organization's (WHO) guidelines have defined the workplace as an optimum place to promote health. Increasing activity
levels will help prevent and manage over 20 conditions and diseases including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. It can also help to promote mental wellbeing. Physically active employees are less likely to suffer from major health problems, be absent from work and are less likely to have an accident at work. In order to develop a successful physical activity programme in the workplace, experts recommend employers begin by developing an overall company culture of health, which serves as the foundation for physical activity and related programmes. This may be achieved by implementing a systematic approach to incorporating healthy practices into all policies and workplace practices. The healthy workplace model, which the WHO sets forth, can provide a benchmark for companies to achieve this. The physical environment provides an opportunity for employers to enhance employee health. Cycle paths, footpaths and trails should be factored into policies to keep employees physically active as part of their daily life, making the healthier mode of transport more accessible. Facilitates should be taken David Casey, into consideration Wellness & Health Promotion when building Manager, DeCare Dental workplaces, as they
can potentially be a barrier to exercise at work. For example, access to shower rooms in a workplace following exercise during the workday provides an opportunity to enhance employee health. Many employers are carefully considering the ergonomics of the workplace, providing standing desks and posture-improving chairs which improve blood circulation, posture and provide an ability to stretch throughout the day. Healthy Ireland has introduced new meeting guidelines. Activity breaks such as walking meetings and healthy food options can increase productivity and creativity. The Irish Heart Foundation states that we should track how long we sit and break our sedentary habits. Physical activity benefits every aspect of health, including mental health. Workplaces directly influence the physical, mental, economic and social wellbeing of workers, and in turn the health and quality of life of their families, communities and our society.
Log on Oral health is closely linked with overall health. Providing dental benefits not only attracts the best talent, but also ensures that employees remain healthy and provide a company with the best they have to offer. Visit corporate. decare.ie for dental plans and corporate dental benefit packages. For more information on DeCare’s Wellness programmes, including its new health and wellbeing manager training, contact email@example.com.
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Technology and Health Health
Digital Detox TECHNOLOGY HAS UNDOUBTEDLY TRANSFORMED OUR PERSONAL AND WORKING LIVES – MOSTLY FOR THE BETTER. IF LEFT UNCHECKED, HOWEVER, TECHNOLOGY USE CAN BRING ABOUT ADVERSE EFFECTS TO OUR SOCIAL, MENTAL AND PHYSICAL HEALTH. HERE, BETTER BUSINESS CONSIDERS THE NEED TO SET BOUNDARIES AND BE ABLE TO SWITCH OFF. > Lack of control
It’s difficult to avoid, but finding ourselves overly connected to technology can cause psychological issues such as distraction, an expectation of instant gratification, and even depression. Over-use of technology can also impact physical health, causing vision problems, hearing loss, or neck strain. Aidan Healy, who is head of learning and development at UnPlug, which offers a range of programmes to empower individuals and organisations to work better in the digital age, suggests that technology can overwhelm individuals and seep into all aspects of their lives. “People suffering tech stress will often report a lack of control,” he says. “Instead of their devices moving them towards their needs, it feels [technology] takes them away from the things that are most important to them.”
> Personal steps
As with all things in life, moderation is key. “Try to limit the amount of times you check your email during the day,” suggests Healy. “The research is clear that those who batch check – for example, three times a day – report lower levels of stress than those who are constantly connected to their inbox.” He also suggests that people put their phone away whenever it is not in use. Having your phone in your line of sight, he says, can be very distracting, as your brain will be anticipating that you might, at any time, receive a message. “Set tech boundaries for yourself at home,” he advises. “Set a time limit, or try to recognise when you’ve been on a device for too long. It’s important to give your brain a chance to rest and to take breaks.”
> Business owners
Taking responsibility for one’s own health can be difficult enough, never mind when trying to look out for a team of employees. Business owners have to strike a balance between staying connected to their employees and respecting their free time – which can prove difficult. Healy suggests that the key to striking this balance is dialogue. “Have an open and honest conversation with your team members and your clients about how technology makes them think, feel and behave,” he says. “A lot of it comes down to trust – if you can set boundaries with your clients and your team, and they trust that they can reach you on that rare occasion when something is urgent in the evenings, you can feel safe switching off outside of office hours.” www.unplughq.com SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 83
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Wilanow Travel Warsaw Royal Castle
With up to 130,000 Polish people living in this country, Ireland’s link to Poland is undeniable and now, more and more Irish companies are choosing Poland, specifically Warsaw, as their gateway to new Eastern European as well as Central European markets. Poland, with a population of 38 million people, is the largest economy in Central and Eastern Europe and Warsaw, its sprawling capital, is one of the fastest developing cities in the European Union. With its strategic central European location and friendly business environment, Warsaw has become a magnet for businesses, start-ups, entrepreneurs and investment, as well as students and tourists. Easy access to key markets combined with a well-educated workforce, good infrastructure, a dynamic stock exchange, as well as support for start-ups through Startup Poland all contribute to Warsaw’s thriving investment climate. Startup Poland helps start-ups that want to boost their business potential by going global. It provides guidance and mentorship and helps entrepreneurs network with other similar businesses internationally. The initiative has helped many companies start and grow their business offering. Google has also chosen Warsaw as the base for one of its campuses. The Campus, located in the Praga district of Warsaw, is a community hub dedicated to helping entrepreneurs to grow and realise their ambitions. With co-working spaces and conference rooms, you can get help from fellow entrepreneurs and experts or host meetings and brainstorm ideas. With all this expertise and support, it’s no wonder many Irish companies now have operations in Poland. Bord Bia opened a new office in Warsaw in 2017
Mermaid statue in Old Town
Pan fried Polish pierogies
HAVING LONG SINCE SHAKEN OFF ITS DARK PAST, WARSAW IS GROWING RAPIDLY AS A BUSINESS AND POLITICAL HUB, PLAYING HOST TO MYRIAD CONFERENCES, SEMINARS AND SUMMITS, AND CONNECTING THE TWO SIDES OF EUROPE, WRITES SINÉAD MOORE.
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A Modern City
Warsaw skyline Old Town, Warsaw
from which it aims to drive exports of Irish food and drink to 11 targeted Central European markets, namely Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. Irish-owned online travel company Click&Go has also recently chosen Warsaw as the base for its first office outside of Ireland, expanding its presence in Central and Eastern Europe. Investment in Poland, and indeed Warsaw is only set to increase in the coming years following Poland’s market status being upgraded from ‘emerging’ to ‘developed’ by global index provider FTSE Russell, making it the first Central and Eastern European country to be reclassified to developed market status. The decision came into effect in September 2018 with Poland joining USA, UK, Germany, France, Japan, and Australia in the 25 most developed economies of the world.
Shaped by its turbulent history, Warsaw, the birthplace of Polish composer Chopin, is now a truly modern city with a perfect mix of Eastern and Western European culture. The Old Town was close to obliterated during the Second World War but has since been rebuilt so precisely that you would be forgiven for thinking it was left unscathed during that period. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980. A walking tour is the best way to discover the many hidden gems in the Polish capital. Walk the Royal Route linking the city’s three royal residences and pick up a Warsaw Pass for free entry to Warsaw’s most popular attractions. If you have some extra time on your hands, you could pay a visit to Wilanów Palace, a short distance from the city centre. Now a popular university town, with many Irish and other European students choosing to study there, Warsaw is always abuzz with youthful energy. It also rates highly in the world Quality of Life Index achieving high scores for safety, healthcare, climate and gaining points for its “very low” cost of living. While Polish cuisine might not be as popular as that of some of its European counterparts, Warsaw offers up an increasingly impressive food and drink culture. As well as traditional meat-heavy dishes, the city has a robust vegan scene, with dozens of meat-free restaurants, not to mention the Forteca farmer’s market. Variety, inventive cooking techniques and quality ingredients are the hallmark of Warsaw’s restaurant scene. An ideal place to experience great food in the capital is at the bi-annual week-long festival, Warsaw Restaurant Week. With a choice of Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Alsatian, Indian, Mexican, Japanese and even Australian cuisine alongside Polish dishes and three courses for less than €12, you will keep going back for more. A trip to Poland’s capital wouldn’t be complete without sampling the country’s national beverage. You can learn all about the unique history and production of Polish vodka at Warsaw’s newly-opened Vodka Museum. Housed in a historic distillation and rectification plant where the Warsaw vodka factory ‘Koneser’ once operated, visitors can experience interactive exhibitions, presentations and screenings, which tell the history of vodka production throughout the ages followed by vodka tastings.
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GETTING THE BEST DEAL
FLIGHTS Ryanair flies direct from both Dublin and Shannon to Warsaw Modlin Airport, with a round-trip costing as little as €100. The airport is located approximately 35km north-west from the city centre with buses and trains on hand to transfer you to the centre.
HOTEL Whether you want to stay in the heart of the city centre, relax in the park district of Łazienki or get lost in the creative district of Praga, there are plenty of hotels to choose from, all within walking distance to many major attractions.
TRANSPORT With an integrated system of trams, buses and metro lines, all using the same ticketing system, getting around Warsaw couldn’t be easier. A threeday city travel card covering two zones can be used for an unlimited amount of journeys.
MEALS Nolita is a popular choice for fine dining in a relaxed atmosphere. For something more affordable, queue up at one of Warsaw’s classic ‘milk bars’ where you can sample traditional food for surprisingly low prices.
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HOURS IN WARSAW ONE DAY OFF? HERE’S HOW TO SPEND IT 9AM | WARSAW OLD TOWN
Start your day in Warsaw’s Old Town beginning with the Royal Castle. As with everything in the Old Town, the castle was damaged in the war and reconstruction was only completed in 1984 after almost 13 years of work. Pause for some people watching in Castle Square – locally known as Plac Zamkowy – before visiting the impressive St. John’s Cathedral, one of the many churches to be found in the city’s historic centre. Afterwards, stroll along the banks of the Vistula River, taking in the exhibition pavilion at the Museum of Modern Art next to the Copernicus Science Centre. 12PM | ŁAZIENKI PARK
Escape from the hustle and bustle of the busy Old Town to Łazienki Park where, during the summer, free weekend concerts take place next to the Chopin monument. Tucked around the corner from the Łazienki Park you will find one of Warsaw’s many milk bars, Prasowsky, where you can pick up a quick and inexpensive lunch. Sculpture in Łazienki Park
The Palace of Culture and Science
RENAISSANCE WARSAW AIRPORT HOTEL The newly opened 225-room hotel situated opposite Chopin Airport aims to “revamp the staid airport hotel experience”. W: renaissance.waw.pl T: +48 22 164 70 00
2PM | THE PALACE OF CULTURE AND SCIENCE
The Palace of Culture and Science is the city’s most dominating feature and Poland’s tallest building. The Soviet-era tower was a gift from Stalin and the Russian people in 1955. The viewing platform on the 30th floor offers breathtaking views of the city. 4PM | WARSAW RISING MUSEUM
Next, pay a visit to the haunting Warsaw Rising Museum – dedicated to the Warsaw Uprising of 1944 – in order to truly understand the spirit of the city. Explore interactive displays, artefacts, photographs and compelling video footage of those who fought for a free Poland and trudge through a replica of the sewers that served as escape routes during the Second World War, before listening to survivors’ stories. 7PM | PRAGA DISTRICT
Take Poland’s first escalator to the district of Praga to experience Polish nightlife. This up-and-coming neighbourhood is fast becoming one of the trendiest areas in the city. Largely undamaged by the war, the area still has many of its original buildings and a growing art scene as well as plenty of bars and nightclubs. The Neon Museum in Praga’s Soho Factory is home to the world’s largest collection of Cold War-era neon signs.
H15 BOUTIQUE HOTEL H15 Boutique boasts 47 luxury rooms and apartments in a historic building where the past meets the present. W: www.h15boutiqueapartments.com/en T: +48 22 55 38 700 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
HOTEL BRISTOL Conveniently located between the old town and historical shopping street, Nowy Świat, Hotel Bristol is touted as Poland’s most luxurious hotel. The hotel was carefully restored after being gutted during the Second World War. W: www.hotelbristolwarsaw.pl/en T: +48 22 551 1000 E: email@example.com
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For more on this creative flair check out their Instagram page @Hopfully_Brewing.
beer AT BETTER BUSINESS WE LOVE GOOD BEER. HERE, WE SHARE INDUSTRY NEWS, SHOWCASE NEW PRODUCTS AND PROFILE THE WORK OF SMALL CRAFT BREWERS ACROSS IRELAND.
BREWERY SPOTLIGHT: HOPFULLY BREWING CO.
ounded by three friends – Cristiano Gasparoti, Alberto Pernas and Vilson Junior – Hopfully Brewing Co. went into production for the first time in April 2017. Having originally considered opening a brewery in either Lisbon, Barcelona or Dublin, after two years of planning, the trio settled for a site in Clonshaugh having purchased Waterfordbased Metalman Brewing’s old brewing kit. Its four main beers are its Beet Juice Beetroot Saison, Lovemaker Pale Ale, California Common Single Hop Shorachi Ace and Graciousa IPA. Something that sets Hopfully apart from other brewers is its dedication to producing innovative designs for its beer labels. The brewery says it is “dedicated to promoting artists and raising creative consciousness through the sociability of craft beer”. It also aims to “break the moulds of making good beer, with an out of standard design, creative flair and unique personality”.
CORNER STRAIGHT UP BOURBON STOUT BY RASCALS BREWING Straight Up Bourbon Stout is a new barrel-aged imperial stout released by Dublin-based Rascals Brewing. Uniquely brewed with ten malts and aged in bourbon barrels, the beer provides a number of rich and complex flavours. It packs a punch too – weighing in at an impressive 8.6% ABV – so it’s one to take your time over. Straight Up Bourbon Stout comes in a 330ml can and is available at selected off-licences nationwide. Rascals Brewing’s latest release coincides with the opening of its new premises in Goldenbridge Industrial Estate, Inchicore. The new Rascals headquarters houses a tap room, a visitor’s centre, event space, pizzeria and, of course, the brewery itself. The venue is also available for rent for launches, parties, breakout days and bespoke events.
RYE RIVER BREWING COMPANY SCOOPS 19 WORLD BEER AWARDS
Hopfully Brewery founders Cristiano Gasparoti, Alberto Pernas and Vilson Junior
Recognised as one of Ireland’s largest independent craft breweries, Kildare-based Rye River Brewing Company was the winner of 19 awards at the prestigious World Beer Awards 2018 in August. Among the awards were best double IPA for McGargles Dan’s Double IPA, best Kölsch style for Grafters Kölsch and best classic style Pilsner for Crafty Brewing Company Irish Lager. The latest wins add to what has already been an extremely successful year for the brewery. In April, Rye River Brewing Company picked up three medals at the Frankfurt International Trophy, a further 12 medals at the Alltech Craft Brews and Food Fair and eight Great Taste Awards.
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THE APPROXIMATE NUMBER OF BEERS ADJUDICATED AT THE WORLD BEER AWARDS 2018 SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 87
Profile A Day in the Life
BOOKWORM REVIEWING PROPOSALS, EDITING MANUSCRIPTS AND MAKING WORDS SING ARE PART AND PARCEL OF BRIAN O’KANE’S JOB, AS FOUNDER AND MANAGING DIRECTOR OF OAK TREE PRESS. HE FILLS US IN ON THE AVERAGE DAY AT HIS CORK OFFICE. 8AM Office-based days start with checking email and news online – then my to-do list for the day’s priorities. 8.15AM Editing is the second stage of my work with authors – polishing their words until they sing! An interesting trend is an increasing number of authors who have their own distribution channels in place but simply want an editing/publishing service – Oak Tree’s reputation brings them to us. 10AM Coffee – and a change of pace: answering authors’ queries, a quick read of a proposal for a new book, a bit of marketing or PR, or liaising with printers. We use print-on-demand both to reduce inventory and to service faraway customers. Recently, we had 80 copies of a US-based author’s book printed in Tennessee and shipped to Oregon, where she is speaking at her local university. 10.45AM Back to focusing on a single project until lunch. For the past few weeks, I’ve been updating my Brian O’Kane with book Starting A Business in Ireland for its 7th edition Caroline McEnery’s The Art – it’s almost ready to go to print now! 1.40PM Back to of Asking the Right Questions, work, and the process of clearing more emails. 2PM A just before its Dublin launch scheduled account review by phone with our UK printon-demand printer provides an interesting pause when I ask about Brexit preparations – like so many businesses, they’re waiting to find out what the final deal will be. 2.30PM More of the morning’s work or a different project, whatever the to-do list says is the next priority. Ebooks are key for us – for inventory minimisation and geographical reach but also to fit changing reading trends. All my personal reading (I’m into rural noir at the moment) is in ebook format and, increasingly, my business reading too. 4.30PM I find small jobs to do until I decide I’ve had enough and quit for the day. Occasionally, a big project takes over and the routine evaporates – early starts, few breaks, late nights, take-aways, for as long as it takes. I once took a 540-page book from first complete manuscript on a Thursday morning to upload to the printer on the Sunday night! About one-third of my days are spent meeting authors or teaching. Early meetings with authors are always interesting – that’s when I can add value by helping them to shape their book. I teach, review business plans and mentor on the Exxcel programme in Cork IT and on the New Frontiers programmes in Dublin, Dundalk, Carlow and Waterford – and more recently, in Wexford, for the BUCANIER programme. I enjoy driving, especially early in the morning. For the past 25+ years, I have driven Toyota Camrys to exceptional mileages – one reached 312,000 miles before I traded it in – but I have recently changed to a plug-in Prius, an amazing car. Each day’s different – but always interesting! WWW.SUCCESSSTORE.COM 88 SFA | BETTER BUSINESS
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Brexit Loan Scheme Who can apply? To be eligible, a business must meet the following criteria: 1. 2. 3.
Be a viable business with up to 499 employees (SMEs and small mid-caps); Be Brexit impacted; Meet the scheme criteria (Brexit related criteria and InnovFin criteria).
Key features of the Scheme €25,000 to €1,500,000 per eligible enterprise; Maximum interest rate of 4%; Term ranging from 1 year to 3 years; Unsecured loans up to €500,000; Optional interest-only repayments provided at the start of the loans.
Loans can be used for Future working capital requirements to fund innovation, change or adaptation of the business to mitigate the impact of Brexit.
www.sbci.gov.ie | firstname.lastname@example.org | www.twitter.com/sbcireland linkedin.com/company/strategic-banking-corporation-of-ireland
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