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 | W I N T E R 2 01 7
BUSINESS BETTER BUSINESS Q4 2017
IN BED WITH BUSINESS
COUPLE ENTREPRENEURS ON BALANCING LIFE AND WORK
RELOCATION , RELOCATION
THE RISE OF IRELAND’S COFFEE INDUSTRY
WHAT TO CONSIDER WHEN MOVING PREMISES
ER M A
IRISH MAGAZINE AWARDS 2016
HE Y F T
SMALL FIRMS PUTTING THEIR CUSTOMER FIRST
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BROUGHT TO YOU BY
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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 | W I N T E R 2 01 7
WELCOME WINTER 2017
BETTER BUSINESS Q4 2017
IN BED WITH BUSINESS
COUPLE ENTREPRENEURS ON BALANCING LIFE AND WORK
THE RISE OF IRELAND’S COFFEE INDUSTRY
Welcome to Better Business, a magazine dedicated to the small business community.
WHAT TO CONSIDER WHEN MOVING PREMISES ER M A
IRISH MAGAZINE AWARDS 2016
HE Y F T
SMALL FIRMS PUTTING THEIR CUSTOMER FIRST
BROUGHT TO YOU BY
SFA is a trading name of Ibec
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On the Cover: John Purcell and Jason Morrissey, founders of Waterford Greenway Cycle Tours & Bike Hire Photography: Paul McCarthy
I was delighted to see hundreds of you at the SFA Annual Lunch in the Mansion House on November 10th. It was fantastic to speak to you, hear about your businesses and witness the vibrancy of the small business community. As 2017 draws to a close, this issue explores some of the main business trends of the year. Our sector spotlight looks at consumers’ obsession with
Editor: Joseph O’Connor
coffee and the innovation that this has sparked. The HR pages focus on
Managing Editor: Mary Connaughton
understanding the gender pay gap and the steps that you can take in your
Creative Director: Jane Matthews Designer: Alan McArthur Editorial Contributors: Tiernan Cannon, Orla Connolly, Ellen Flynn, Conor Forrest, Valerie Jordan, John Kinsella, Kara McGann, Dean Van Nguyen Production Manager: Mary Connaughton Production Executive: Nicole Ennis
business to ensure equal pay for equal work. Commercial property is also tackled, with a focus on what to look out for when choosing a business premises and the pitfalls to avoid. Elsewhere in these pages you will find guidance on productivity in the workplace, lessons on how to avoid burnout and an early look at the SME Test being designed by Government to assess the impact of new laws on businesses. The finalists of the SFA National Small Business Awards are announced and we
Account Director: Shane Kelly
explore diversification, disability in the workplace and the ups and downs of
Sales Director: Paul Clemenson
going into business with your spouse.
Managing Director: Gerry Tynan Chairman: Diarmaid Lennon Email email@example.com or write to Better Business, Ashville Media, Old Stone Building, Blackhall Green, Dublin 7. 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,
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 245,000 businesses in the country, 99 per cent have less than 50 employees (small) and 92 per cent have less than 10 (micro). These companies can be seen in every city, town and village in the country and together they provide employment to half of the private sector workforce. The Small Firms Association has been the voice of small business for
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entrepreneurship, values small business and rewards risk takers.
Group 2017. All discounts, promotions and competitions contained in this magazine are run independently of Better Business. The promoter/advertiser is responsible for honouring the prize. ISSN 2009-9118 SFA is a trading name of Ibec.
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 Sven Spollen-Behrens Director, Small Firms Association
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CONTENTS WINTER 2017
05 12 14
Big News for Small Business: News, views and profiles from SFA members and small businesses in Ireland
When It’s ‘Diversify or Die’ How tweaking or expanding your product or service can appeal to a whole new group of customers
In Bed With Business Three couple entrepreneurs on balancing work and home life
Cover Story We speak to three small business owners to hear about starting out, surviving and succeeding
Relocation, Relocation What to consider when moving premises and the pitfalls to avoid
Sector Spotlight With more people than ever before drinking coffee in Ireland, we find out what’s happening in the sector
German Regeneration We get up close and personal with SFA Director Sven Spollen-Behrens
Small Business Profile We catch up with payment solutions company Dualtron to see how they are adapting to industry changes
Disability Matters Small businesses are in a unique position to offer opportunities to employees with disabilities
Arts/Culture A look at the challenges of making comedy your full-time profession
A Day in the Life... of Garret Buckley, Founder and Managing Director, Eventhaus
20 24 30 34 38 40
42 62 68
Trading Places We speak to Irish jewellery designer Jennifer Kinnear who has been plying her trade from the south of Spain 2 SFA | BETTER BUSINESS
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Winter 2017 Contents
FROM TOP LEFT: Cathal O’Donoghue and Emma Devlin of Rascal’s Brewing Company share their thoughts on work-life balance, page 14 // Ronan Byrne, Commercial Manager of Dualtron, on the ever-changing payments industry, page 38 // Jewellery designer Jennifer Kinnear on life in Spain, page 42 // SFA Director Sven Spollen-Behrens on the small business agenda for 2018, page 34
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FRANCHISE OPPORTUNITIES IN MUNSTER, CONNACHT & ULSTER FOR NEARLY 30 YEARS EDDIE ROCKET’S HAVE BEEN CREATING HAMBURGERS USING ONLY THE FINEST INGREDIENTS AND 100% NATURAL FRESHLY GROUND IRISH BEEF. WE NOW HAVE 41 EDDIE ROCKET’S – OUR CASUAL DINERS. IF YOU SHARE OUR VISION TO CREATE THE PERFECT HAMBURGER AND WOULD LIKE TO JOIN THE EDDIE ROCKET’S FAMILY, VISIT: rocket-restaurants.com/franchise IRISH FRANCHISE ASSOCIATION FRANCHISE OF THE YEAR 2017
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REGISTRATION CHANGES FOR DOT IE DOMAINS
What does this mean for businesses?
You currently have an advantage which allows you to secure your available domain names today. From March 2018, anyone with a connection to Ireland can register any domain name without proving a ‘claim to the name’. Safeguard your hard-won identity and reputation online - don’t let a competitor take your dot ie domain names. Secure your available dot ie domains today at www.iedr/finalcall
BIG NEWS FOR SMALL BUSINESS
Maha Al Balushi, Executive Manager, Oman Technology Fund and Ben Hurley, CEO, NDRC Caption: Maha Al Balushi, Executive Manager, Oman Technology Fund and Ben Hurley, CEO, NDRC
The rules for registering dot ie domain names are changing. From March 2018, the need to explain why you want a particular name (also called ‘claim to the name’) when registering a dot ie domain name will be removed. The move will make it easier and faster for businesses to get a dot ie. There is a growing demand for dot ie domains and IE Domain Registry (IEDR) who manages the namespace, wants to facilitate Irish businesses in the global e-commerce marketplace. Dot ie domains will still be reserved for people who can prove a legitimate connection to Ireland. A dot ie domain shows Irish consumers that the business is local and it shows the world that the business is Irish. It is important that you protect your brand and register any available names you need before the rules change. Businesses currently have an advantage, in that they have a ‘claim to the name’ allowing them to get the dot ie domains they want now. The only way to ensure that no one registers a domain you want or need is to register it yourself.
NDRC to Run Pre-seed Accelerator in Oman
The Dublin-based early stage technology investor and accelerator NDRC is to run an international pre-seed accelerator in Oman early next year as part of a new venture. The centre, which was established back in 2007, has been retained by the Oman Technology Fund (OTF) to provide expertise and personnel through the three-month programme which will commence in January. It will include a two-week visit by the Omani ventures to Dublin in early 2018 to exchange learnings with Irish start-ups. Speaking about the partnership, NDRC CEO Ben Hurley said: “It is a positive development for NDRC, builds on the international investment being secured by our portfolio ventures, and reflects well on how Ireland’s startup enterprise ecosystem is viewed internationally.”
ACCESS TO TCD STUDENT INTERNS
CULTURES COME TOGETHER IN CARLINGORD
SFA and Trinity Business School have launched a new programme allowing small business owners to gain access to Trinity Business School student interns for summer 2018. Trinity Business School recognises the significant real world work experience that small businesses can offer to students. It can be difficult for small firms to compete with large organisations for top students and the SFA and Trinity Business School believe their partnership can remedy that. For further details contact Clodagh O’Brien/Seanagh Fitzpatrick at email@example.com or Linda Barry at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whilst most businesses are slowing down at this time of year, Carlingford Adventure Centre is buzzing with a wide variety of people coming through its doors. In November, the adventure centre welcomed a group of children from Mexico, Nural Huda Islamic School, a group of Kuwaiti Children through the British Academy of Sport and a number of trainee teachers from across Ireland. The groups have been participating in a wide variety of adventure activities on land, sea and sky, and have also been using conference facilities and amenities around Carlingford. For more on the centre’s services visit www.carlingfordadventure.com.
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Paul Stack, Operations Director of Marco Beverage Systems, a previous recipient of EI R&D funding, with Julie Sinnamon, CEO, Enterprise Ireland
NEW REPORT ON RESPONDING TO BREXIT
A new report setting out work underway, and planned, by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and its agencies in response to Brexit has been published by Government. ‘Building Stronger Business: Responding to Brexit by competing, innovating and trading’ highlights a range of supports available to companies and outlines what they can do to prepare for the consequences of Brexit. To view the document visit dbei.gov.ie/ en/Publications.
EI LAUNCHES NEW INNOVATION FUND
Enterprise Ireland has launched a new fast-track agile innovation fund to give companies rapid access to innovation funding. The new measure has been introduced for companies to respond more quickly to market opportunities and challenges, including those posed by Brexit. Offering fast-track approval and a streamlined online application process, the new fund will allow companies to access up to 50 per cent in support for product, process or service development projects with a total cost of up to €300,000. Julie Sinnamon, Enterprise Ireland CEO said: “Investment in innovation delivers for businesses. Enterprise Ireland has designed and tailored this new fund to precisely meet the needs of Irish companies – substantial financial support for innovation, localisation and product development, a streamlined online application and a fast-track approval process.” A number of Irish companies, including Marco Beverage Systems, Cartoon Saloon, Mcor, Irish Dog Foods, Alpha Wireless and SFA member Ventac, have successfully availed of R&D funding via Enterprise Ireland in the past.
VENTAC WINS EXPORTER OF THE YEAR AWARD
Wicklow-based specialist accoustics company Ventac was named Services Exporter of the Year at the Export Industry Awards 2017. The awards are organised by the Irish Exporters Association to recognise the achievements of companies working within the export industry. There were 50 companies shortlisted across 11 categories with Ventac shortlisted in three. Ventac also won the Overall Award in the SFA National Small Business Awards earlier this year.
NEW BOOK ON THE ART OF BEING AN EFFECTIVE COMPANY DIRECTOR Deciding to become a company director is a step that should be considered carefully before taking on the role and responsibilities. Under Irish company law, a director’s duties and the scope of what a director needs to know have increased enormously. In addition, the public now have much higher expectations of the standards of behaviour of directors serving on boards. Chartered Accountants Ireland have published a new book, A Practical Guide for Company Directors, by corporate governance expert David W. Duffy, which will be an invaluable resource for those who need to know more about what it means to be an effective company director in Ireland. The book is available in all good book shops nationwide and in the online shop at www.charteredaccountants.ie. WHAT THEY SAID “This book should be on every director’s required reading list. Its practicality, coupled with its clarity on the role and responsibilities of directors will enable them to perform their role with much greater insight and confidence.” Anne Heraty, CEO Cpl Resources plc
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Joe Healy, Enterprise Ireland and Lindsey Nguyen, Co-founder of SwiftComply
Irish start-up SwiftComply, a hospitality compliance platform, has won the Startup World Cup Regional Qualifier, sponsored by Enterprise Ireland. The global initiative, developed by Fenox Venture Capital, offers start-ups the opportunity to win $1 million funding at the global competition stage. SwiftComply will now represent Ireland in the Global Startup World Cup in May 2018, taking on regional winners from around the world in California in a bid to secure $1 million funding. ABOUT SWIFTCOMPLY
SwiftComply is a platform that connects restaurants, cities and contractors to make environmental compliance easy. The company received high potential start-up status from Enterprise Ireland in early 2017, and opened an office in the US this summer to be closer to US customers.
SWIFTCOMPLY TO REPRESENT IRELAND IN STARTUP WORLD CUP
RESEARCH REPORT ON GDPR LAUNCHED On November 23rd Ibec and A&L Goodbody launched their joint research report outlining Irish business’s readiness for the new GDPR, which comes into force on May 25th 2018. Pictured at the launch of the report are Nichola Harkin, Employment Law Solicitor, Ibec; John Whelan, Partner, A&L Goodbody; and John Cahir, Partner, A&L Goodbody.
“Our members have identified labour costs as the number one risk to their businesses over the coming year. The other costs causing greatest concern are insurance costs, which are still rising for many businesses.” Linda Barry, SFA Assistant Director, addressing the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Business, Enterprise and Innovation
“The GDPR is one of the most significant legislative changes for business in many years, yet a staggering 70 per cent of businesses are unaware of when the GDPR will become effective.” SFA Director Sven Spollen-Behrens speaking at the opening of the SFA Employment Law Conference in October
“Ireland urgently needs a coherent strategy to support Irish small business. As you know in your own businesses, strategies matter.” SFA Chair Sue O’Neill speaking at the SFA Annual Lunch in November
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APPOINTMENT NOTICE Tipperary-based cleaning firm Ryans Cleaning has appointed Elaine Ryan as Managing Director for Ireland and the UK. Ryan has been with the company since 2009 when she started as financial controller. Quickly establishing an active role within the company, she was promoted to General Manager for Ireland in 2012. During this time, she has helped to grow the company turnover from €3.3 million in 2009 to €6.1m in 2016.
TOP TWEETS Delighted to hear that @VentacIreland have won Services Exporter of the Year at IEA awards - Well deserved guys congrats from all @ SFA_Irl
SFA MEMBERS IF YOUR BUSINESS HAS SOME NEWS TO SHARE THAT YOU WOULD LIKE FEATURED IN THE NEXT EDITION OF BETTER BUSINESS, CONTACT LINDA BARRY ON 01 6051626 OR LINDA. BARRY@SFA.IE
Sue O’Neill@ sueoneillwalsh
Really interesting findings in the Annual Report on European SMEs Ireland one of just five member states whose SME value added grew by >5% in 2016
Small Firms Assoc @SFA_Irl Great speech from @RealBrentPope on passion and business at @SFA_Irl 2017 Annual #sfalunch
Geraldine Moloney @moloney_ger
Catch up on the highlights from the SFA Annual Lunch 2017 which took place in @ CEVMansionHouse on 10 Nov https://youtu. be/aYAUBcI0zuEl
Small Firms Assoc @SFA_Irl
Elaine Ryan, Managing Director at Ryans Cleaning for the UK and Ireland
NEW CO-WORKING SPACE IN DUBLIN A new co-working centre has recently opened in Rathmines, Co Dublin. The centre offers its members 24/7 access to workspaces on a month-by-month basis and is aimed particularly at freelancers, start-ups, small firms and remote workers. A number of different membership packages are available to customers, with no long-term lease required. The premises is run by New Work Junction and is the second co-working centre to be opened by the company, with its first based in Kilkenny. The new space arrives at a time in which the idea of co-working in Ireland is transforming into an increasingly attractive and viable option over more traditional working arrangements. For more details visit www.newworkjunction.com.
Social & Economic Value of Local Ind Shops - €100 spent in local shops generate €250 in the local economy @ RGDATATara @SFA_Irl #futureoftowns
Cllr Marie Casserly @Marie_Casserly Given the red status weather warning we encourage all businesses to minimise movement of employees - safety should be utmost priority.
Small Firms Assoc @SFA_Irl
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FOOD AND BEVERAGE EVENT COMING TO DUBLIN Dr Marina Everri, Head of Research, Zeeko with Cian Sheehy
Start-up Secures Funding For VR Research
Irish edtech start-up Zeeko has announced that it has secured over €100,000 in funding through the Horizon 2020 SME Innovation Associate Programme. The company is using the funding to launch a new research project, initially involving school children in Ireland, to evaluate the side effects of virtual reality (VR) technology on children’s health. Zeeko, which was founded in 2013 by Joe Kenny, works with parents and children to promote a healthy balance for children using screen devices and the internet. The company, headquartered at NovaUCD, is an Enterprise Ireland high-potential start-up (HPSU) company.
Members of the Irish Gin Working Group
SFA member EventHaus has been working tirelessly in recent months on the next Food & Bev Live event, which takes place in Citywest Events Centre on February 6th and 7th 2018. The event will play host to world class competitions including the National Barista Championships, the Irish Cocktail Championships and the hotly contended Chef Ireland Culinary Competition. In addition, Food & Bev Live will welcome the Global Hospitality Tech Summit – set to be the world’s largest conference dedicated to examining recent trends in technology that are shaping the future of the hospitality industry. For further information on Food & Bev Live visit www. FoodAndBev.ie. To get an insight into a typical day at EventHaus go to our ‘A Day in the Life’ feature with MD Garret Buckley on page 68.
SME ASSEMBLY: IRELAND COMMENDED BUT STILL HAS MUCH TO LEARN
FOOD AND DRINK
Gin Revolution Continues with Creation of New Group
Earlier this year, the Irish Spirits Association hosted the inaugural meeting of Ireland’s gin producers to represent this re-emerging sector. Recent figures suggest that gin has grown by 31.6 per cent year-on-year in on-trade value to reach €74 million. Mirroring this, preliminary figures from the CSO suggest that 2017 may see a significant and unprecedented increase in exports of gin from Ireland. The new group will provide a strong voice for one of Ireland’s fastest growing sectors. Speaking about the meeting, head of the Irish Spirits Association, William Lavelle, said: “Consumers are looking at new combinations for which this age-old product can complement modern tastes. In Ireland, this resurgence in interest has been matched by an explosion in the number of brands of Irish gin producers with over 30 Irish brands now on the market.”
At the SME Assembly in Tallinn, Estonia, there was good news for Ireland as we emerged as the top performer on skills and innovation in the Small Business Act Fact Sheets. The Irish entry also qualified for the finals of the ‘Ideas from Europe’ pitch competition. In other areas, such as digitisation and e-government, there were lessons for Ireland to learn from other nations. For more on how Ireland performed across a range of policy areas in comparison to other member states visit www.dbei.gov.ie/en/ Publications/2017-SBA-FactSheet.html.
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rexit is coming. As is often the case with change, we don’t know what’s going to happen or what it will look like, but we do know that something’s going to happen. During any period of change in business you have a choice when it comes to how you treat your people. You can engage with them early, get their feedback, listen to their ideas and concerns; see them as a way to find competitive advantage. On the other hand, you can choose to not bother and allow your staff to become mired in a fog of worry and, without any real information, create their own versions of the truth. As a result, they’ll slowly become more disengaged and your company and customers will suffer. There’s proven benefit in focusing on employee engagement – organisations with highly engaged employees enjoy the following*: 18 per cent higher productivity 2.5 times higher revenue growth 40 per cent lower staff turnover As with all big changes, the uncertainty around Brexit is an opportunity to increase employee engagement levels and strengthen your company’s culture. But only if you handle it well and put your people front and centre. After all, your people are your company. So how do you ensure that you maintain (and even increase) their engagement levels when you’re on a change journey like Brexit? Engage for Success, the taskforce set up by the British Government in 2009 to look at the impact of engagement in the UK economy, identified four key enablers for engaging staff in organisations.
CHANGE AND YOUR PEOPLE THERE’S PROVEN BENEFIT IN FOCUSING ON EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT WHEN YOUR COMPANY IS GOING THROUGH A PERIOD OF CHANGE, WRITES SCOTT MCINNES, FOUNDER OF INSPIRING CHANGE. CREATE A STRONG, EMOTIONALLY COMPELLING STORY
Where have we come from, where do we want to go and how are we going to get there – this is a powerful piece of writing, a call to arms to bring your people together under a single banner, the North Star that helps each of them to understand the role they play in the company’s success.
Provide your managers with scope to grow, treat them as individuals by coaching and stretching them. Your leaders are your connection to your people.
GIVE EMPLOYEES A VOICE
Create ways for staff to raise concerns and to talk about how they feel. You can use online suggestion boxes, run CEO lunches and skiplevel meetings, but often the most effective way to listen is for leaders to simply talk to their staff.
CRAFT BREWER LAUNCHES IRELAND’S FIRST GLUTEN-FREE DRAUGHT BEER
Put simply, ‘do what you say you’ll do’. I’ve worked with lots of organisations, each of which has great values that underpin its vision of where it wants to be. Unfortunately, every time someone acts in a way that isn’t aligned with those values, it undermines integrity. And if that poor behavior isn’t addressed, you simply undermine it further. So big change doesn’t need to be all doom and gloom. Handled well, it creates significant opportunity. You just need to ensure that your people are on board. Scott McInnes is the founder of Inspiring Change. He helps companies to make their communications clear, engaging and authentic in turn driving business success. For more visit www.inspiringchange.ie. *Sources: Engage4Success, CMI, Gallup
Gordon Lucey and Don O’Leary of 9 White Deer Brewery, Ballyvourney, West Cork
A Cork-based brewery has developed a new gluten-free draught stout following twelve months of experimenting. 9 White Deer Brewery’s new draught beer called ‘Stag Stout’ is Ireland’s first gluten-free draught beer and follows the launch earlier this year of ‘Stag Saor’, the brewery’s complete range of gluten-free beers for the bottle market. Commenting on the new beer which was officially launched in November, Gordon Lucey, co-owner of 9 White Deer Brewery, said: “Since we began brewing we had calls to develop a gluten free stout, so many people that have developed coeliac disease or are gluten intolerant have had to do without, and so we listened.”
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PUTTING ALL YOUR EGGS IN ONE BASKET CAN COME AT A COST. TIERNAN CANNON SETS OUT TO DISCOVER HOW TWEAKING OR EXPANDING A COMPANY’S PRODUCT OR SERVICE CAN APPEAL TO A WHOLE NEW GROUP OF CONSUMERS OR USERS AND ENABLE A BUSINESS TO REAP REWARDS.
s a small company starts out, it is often wise for it to focus its strengths on delivering a single product or offering, so as to concentrate its limited resources in one place for maximum effect. By attempting to break into several markets at once, a young company runs the risk of spreading itself too thin. However, once it has gained a substantial footing within a particular market, the time might be right to consider diversifying. Diversification of a company’s products, services or markets can allow for significant growth opportunities, and also serve as an effective means of risk management, ensuring access to alternative sources of revenue should a company’s initial market dry up.
This is precisely the experience of Mayo-based home textile-sourcing company Poplar Linens. Its business initially comprised the supply of a single type of tea towel to UK wholesalers, but after iniatial success, the company’s sales began to decline. Through its dealings with Asian textile suppliers it spotted an opportunity to tap into the market there, exporting luxury European goods to completely new markets like China. The move to diversify proved crucial to Poplar Linen’s survival and success, as one of the firm’s directors, Sean Walsh, explains. “Over the last two decades, we identified licensing as a key point of difference that made us stand out from the crowd,” he recalls. “We also noticed a trend towards the discount sector in retail in the UK, and we started sourcing non-textile products with Disney characters on them – products like Christmas decorations, shopping bags, torches, baby bibs and many other products.” Instead of simply selling a single sort of tea towel and exporting it to one major market, Poplar Linens began to offer a range of licensed towels and non-textile products to places further afield. These new offerings once again raised sales for the company, and also allowed it to diversify its market, providing further sources of revenue aside from its initial UK customers. “We started diversifying into different countries, and we now actively work in the United Arab Emirates, South Africa and Poland. In the last six months, we have shipped to one of the largest retailers in China, with some towels from Portugal. The Chinese market is showing tremendous signs of growth and it seems the consumers there want branded goods that are made in Europe.”
Joined at the Hip Poplar Linens never strayed too far from its initial product offering, albeit selling to very different regions. Sometimes however, diversification can prove successful when an individual or company enters into an entirely new sector. Joe Hayden, for example, is one of the directors of the
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Orchard Centre in Wicklow, which focuses on providing experimental learning and event solutions to the Irish corporate market, multinational firms and public bodies. The centre was opened in 1999 on Hayden’s still-functioning family farm – farming being a profession which Hayden once solely relied on. Today, in fact, the farm produces milk for Bailey’s Irish Cream, which itself feeds into the business of the Orchard Centre – a positive, if surprising, example of diversification successfully at work, with Hayden’s two seemingly unconnected ventures combining to support one another. “[The farm business and the Orchard Centre] are very complementary. The fact that the centre is on a family farm has its own appeal,” Hayden explains. “Bailey’s use us as a showcase farm. We are known internationally as the Bailey’s farm. So that allows Bailey’s and Diageo to bring their clients all over the world to visit the farm, to see how the cream is produced. We then have all the conference, meeting and catering facilities needed for those clients as well. Our two companies are joined at the hip.” Moving from the farming sector into the corporate events sector is a somewhat stark example of Hayden’s willingness to diversify, but there are more subtle indicators of this within the Orchard Centre itself. The centre is not limited to customers of a specific sector, as it constantly diversifies and evolves its services in response to the demands of its customers, as Hayden explains. “In our 18 years, I don’t think we’ve ever run the same event twice. It’s always customised,” he says. “We have gained quite a bit of experience in different sectors – whether it’s in IT or manufacturing or finance. We quickly identify what the issues might be [for the company within a given sector] and we bring our experience to resolving those issues for the company.”
SFA Fact Four key questions to consider when using diversification to grow your business: How do you plan to diversify? Do you have the resources to diversify? What are the implications of the diversification on your business? What are the risks involved?
Bracing for Brexit With the future trade relationship between Ireland and the UK still unclear, the possibility of strict trade restrictions and tariffs following Brexit is very real. This scenario poses a risk to exporting companies trading with Britain, and diversification is one strategy that could prove important in mitigating such risks. InterTradeIreland offers a Brexit Advisory Service headed by Mark Sterritt, Brexit Manager. Sterritt suggests that new markets can offer Irish businesses the means to manage Brexit-related risks. “One of the areas Irish businesses are seeking information on is how to mitigate any potential exposure to Brexit, and diversification into new markets is an option they are exploring,” he says. “We are working with SMEs to consider all options, including product innovation.” Clearly diversification offers Irish firms many opportunities to reduce risks, but the strategy itself poses its own potential pitfalls. There might, for example, be a tendency for some businesses to apply their existing knowledge of one market to addressing challenges within a new one. Pre-existing knowledge might not necessarily apply to a new marketplace or sector, therefore thorough market research is necessary before making any move; whether that’s exploring the nuances of doing business in China or examining the demand for a corporate venue in Wicklow. There are pros and cons for diversification, and the strategy is certainly not a perfect fit for every business. In certain circumstances though, it can allow a business to grow and reduce the risks that it faces and with careful consideration, it might just secure a successful path into the future for a small business seeking security. SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 13
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Couple Entrepreneurs Feature
here is a long-standing rule with leaders of industry; maintain total separation of your business and personal life. While it’s common enough for entrepreneurs to consider venturing out with an old college friend or former work colleague, some Irish businesses are throwing out the rulebook entirely and getting into bed, in business terms, with their significant other. The idea of spending the working week with a spouse may be daunting to some but these entrepreneurs, also known as ‘copreneurs’, are proving that this merging of worlds can be the key to success, offering trust and commitment among business partners and understanding and shared passion on the home front.
IN THE AGE OF THE POWER COUPLE, MANY ENTREPRENEURS ARE FINDING THE PERFECT BUSINESS PARTNER IN THE FORM OF THEIR SIGNIFICANT OTHER. ORLA CONNOLLY SPEAKS TO THREE COUPLE ENTREPRENEURS WHO ARE FINDING SUCCESS BEING MARRIED TO THE JOB.
CATHAL AND EMMA RASCAL’S BREWING COMPANY
Rascal’s Brewing Company was set up in 2014 by entrepreneurs and beer lovers Emma Devlin and Cathal O’Donoghue. Following time spent in New Zealand, where the craft beer market had taken off a few years earlier, the couple returned to Ireland and when the opportunity to buy a secondhand distillery presented itself, the duo ventured out on their own. Despite their preferred titles of chief rascals, officially Cathal is now the head of production with three brewers reporting to him, while Emma manages the administrative side of the business as Rascal’s Brewing Company general manager. The couple agrees that one of the most challenging aspects of their partnership is deciding when to leave work at work. And while their personal relationship can make the flow of ideas and work discussions less formal, they stress that this may not always be a positive for their home life. “It is difficult to have some time out and not think and talk about the business,” says Emma. “It’s easy to take your frustrations out on the person closest to you so we sometimes can bear the brunt of each other’s frustrations more than if we weren’t work partners.” As the business has grown in three years, Emma and Cathal have had the opportunity to hire more staff, which they believe has been a significant factor in allowing them to carve out time away from work to dedicate to their personal life together. “We have a bigger team working with us meaning we can share the workload a lot more than we used to during the first 18 months or so. We used to have to work more on weekends to catch up on things but not so much anymore,” explains Cathal. Finding the formula for balance between work and home can be tricky, even with couples who don’t work together but for the brewing duo, scheduling time together has just as much priority as a business meeting. “Weekends are precious and give us the balance we need in our lives and some time to try and switch off,” says Cathal. While they admit that they have yet to achieve the perfect formula, they continue to practice on getting the balance right. “It’s still a challenge,” says Emma. “During the week especially, as there can be late evenings but again, this is easing off by having more staff working with us.” Aside from getting to spend valued and quality time with each other, Emma and Cathal’s partnership means they have a high level of support and understanding of one another, as Emma explains. “We both can understand what the other is feeling or going through and we always have each other’s backs.” According to Emma and Cathal, one truth any couple getting into business together needs to accept is that, for better or worse, their relationship will never be the same again. In order to come out on the other side stronger and happier, they suggest having a solid business plan in place. “Your relationship obviously needs to be really strong as you will be tested,” advises Emma. “If you have a strong plan on how the business will operate then it reduces the potential stresses down the line. Your relationship will change and life will become a lot less simple so be prepared for that!”
“IT’S EASY TO TAKE YOUR FRUSTRATIONS OUT ON THE PERSON CLOSEST TO YOU SO WE SOMETIMES CAN BEAR THE BRUNT OF EACH OTHER’S FRUSTRATIONS MORE THAN IF WE WEREN’T WORK PARTNERS.” SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 15
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DANIEL AND AILBHE BEN & ANVIL
Ben & Anvil is a creative post-production studio, founded by entrepreneurs Daniel and Ailbhe Cantwell, which offers a wide range of services including visual effects, motion graphics, compositing, animation and VFX consultancy. Daniel worked for a number of years in other creative studios, on awardwinning children’s television shows and other high-profile visual effects work, while Ailbhe’s career focused on team supervision, project management and business administration. Due to the couple’s experience in different areas, they feel they have a strong understanding of both the creative and practical aspects of Ben & Anvil. “This division of labour has been instrumental in ensuring all aspects of the business are covered,” explains Ailbhe. While the husband and wife team have experienced the challenge of separating
work and home life, the couple found that some separation of duties within the business gave them the space they needed to operate effectively. “Being a creative business, it is important that both people feel heard and each has their own equal input,” says Daniel. “After some trial and error, we found that division of labour with a little overlap is the best way to have a smooth working life and get the job done.” When inspiration hits outside business hours, Ailbhe says that not talking about work can be an impossible task. However, while they’ll openly discuss creative ideas at the weekend, she and Daniel avoid the more stressful business conversations until the new working week rolls around. “It is hard to leave work at work but we do try,” says Ailbhe. “It is not always possible and there is definitely room for improvement. It’s natural to discuss new ideas when they crop up, but we leave the heavy work for Monday to Friday.” Like any partnership, trust is key in keeping the Ben & Anvil business running smoothly. For Daniel, this assurance isn’t just about knowing you have someone that won’t leave you high and dry but also knowing that they’ll work with you to the end instead of clocking out when there’s a task to finish. “It is nice to have someone who you trust implicitly, not only to have your corner but to get the job done,” notes Daniel. “If we are working late into the night on a project we are both there to support one another and we dig in to get the job over the line.” Like any couple, Ailbhe and Daniel want to share their experiences and for them, Ben & Anvil is just that, a thrilling experience. Ailbhe notes that the added understanding that working together contributes to a relationship can only be a positive for both work and home life. She says: “It is great fun and a real adventure. It’s lovely to share the experience and excitement of starting a business with your partner, and it is nice to know that your partner understands exactly the pressures you are under.” Exciting as it is, it’s not without caveats. The couple warns that the beginning of any business, while exciting, can be a testing time for a couple, especially if your relationship isn’t totally up to scratch. “It is imperative that you have a strong relationship because it can be very testing – certainly at the beginning when the business is just taking shape and there are a lot of decisions to make and not as much capital as you might like,” notes Ailbhe. While there are always plenty of calls to be made, how a couple make these decisions, big and small, are crucial to success in both business and in their personal lives. Daniel says: “Communication is key to work through any disagreements. Also, it is important that both understand that your relationship is more important than the business.”
“IT’S NATURAL TO DISCUSS NEW IDEAS WHEN THEY CROP UP, BUT WE LEAVE THE HEAVY WORK FOR MONDAY TO FRIDAY.”
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Couple Entrepreneurs Feature
BRIAN AND ODILON AVA SYSTEMS
AVA Systems Limited founders Brian and Odilon Hunt met when they were just in secondary school. Having married years later, their careers branched off into several different avenues before they made the decision to relocate to Sligo and use their combined skills to start their own business, which now delivers technical consultancy services, sales and equipment hire to a broad client base. “Brian is the engineering expert with vast interest, skill and expertise in technology,” explains Odilon. “I have an eye for detail and look after operations, finance, customer service and administration.” Brian had the experience of running his own business in college and even in those days, Odilon was on hand to help him with his VAT returns. However, she notes that his ambitions to be an entrepreneur were born long before that. “Brian is innately entrepreneurial – his first business venture was making crystal sets (wireless radios) when he was ten and selling them to his classmates,” she jokes. In regard to family stability, Brian and Odilon are acutely aware that, as a family, they’re in a position where all their finances are tied up in a single venture. Should it fail, there isn’t another spouse contributing an outside income. Odilon feels that this is something that couples who are in business should consider, especially if they have a family dependant on them. “When working together in the same business we have all our eggs in one basket and our financial security is dependent on the business generating sufficient income,” she explains. “We probably underestimated this when we set up AVA. This created huge stress
when the economy slowed down.” Despite the unavoidable pressures of the economic downturn, AVA Systems prevailed thanks to the couple’s shared passion for the venture, which their three sons happily point out is a constant presence in their parents’ lives. “Our sons would testify that they often have to ask us not to talk about business at the dinner table, but it’s hard to keep the two separate and inevitably there is always something on either or both of our minds that we want to discuss,” says Brian. Entrepreneurs who are in business with their spouse or significant other often report having a more relaxed atmosphere during the working day. While this is an obvious benefit, Brian and Odilon advise adding some structure to your schedule too, with set working hours and lunch breaks. Although every entrepreneur is well acquainted with the concept of working throughout the night to get a project completed, the couple finds solace in accepting that there will never be enough time to get everything done immediately. “Work those long days with no breaks, but only when you have to,” advises Brian. “Prioritise your workload. There will never be enough time for all those great ideas and the daily grind.” One final piece of advice from the duo is to prioritise time apart to get some breathing space as individuals. As beneficial as it is to have a shared passion, the couple believes that it’s always good to bring some new experiences to the partnership. “Have friends and activities you do separately,” advises Odilon. “I’m currently learning German while Brian is planning his fishing trips for next year.”
“OUR SONS WOULD TESTIFY THAT THEY OFTEN HAVE TO ASK US NOT TO TALK ABOUT BUSINESS AT THE DINNER TABLE, BUT IT’S HARD TO KEEP THE TWO SEPARATE.”
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How To ...
Ciara Conlon, Leadership Coach, ciaraconlon.com
TIPS FOR SMALL BUSINESS ON MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR TIME.
DECIDE WHAT MERITS YOUR ATTENTION Start with a ‘mind dump’ and get everything out of your head so that you have a better idea of your workload, then start to schedule the priorities in your calendar. In my experience, 70 per cent of people use their calendar solely for meetings and appointments. Start making appointments with yourself. The habit of scheduling my work has completely transformed my life for the better.
USE THE TWO-MINUTE RULE If you can do something in less that two minutes do it now! If a task takes less that two minutes regardless of its priority best practice dictates doing it straight away. This gives you some quick wins, a feeling of satisfaction and completion. Taking this approach requires you to make upfront decisions about what you need to do, reducing clutter and backlog in the process.
GO WITH THE FLOW It might sound contradictory to the first tip about deciding what merits your attention but it’s not. Work is complicated and dynamic, your plan for the week will rarely come to pass exactly as you planned it. That’s okay, but would the Irish rugby team go out on the pitch without a game plan? Put a plan in place but follow the priorities, go back to the plan as soon as you can.
MAKE MEETINGS MORE EFFECTIVE I’m guessing you already know that meetings are a time suck, but I’m also pretty sure you still allow it to happen. How about taking a stand today? Don’t go to any meetings where your presence isn’t 100 per cent required. Parkinson’s Law dictates a task will fill the time allocated to it – so what about a 30-minute meeting or better still, a stand up meeting? Before long, the word ‘meeting’ will no longer fill you with dread!
TAKE REGULAR BREAKS Sitting is the new smoking, according to Dr. Levine of the Mayo Clinic. Whether you are a pen pusher or a keyboard presser, taking regular breaks will not only improve your health but improve your focus and productivity. Breaks allow us to reenergise so we can focus for longer periods. Alternatively, invest in a stand up desk – theory suggests that both health and productivity benefits.
LEARN TO SAY NO WITH EASE Steve Jobs is known to have said “Focusing is about saying no”. I say productivity, performance, success and happiness are also about saying no. Saying no to the things that aren’t your priority allows time for what is. As time is a finite resource when you say yes to something you are always saying no to something else, make sure you make the right choice.
Motivation You can achieve anything you want in life but only when you
learn to focus on what really matters. A clear vision leads to clear goals and clear goals help motivate and inspire people to keep moving forward. Take control of your future and anything is possible.
CHANGE YOUR OUTLOOK SETTINGS TO START OUTLOOK IN CALENDAR, THIS WAY YOU CAN START YOUR DAY WITH YOUR PRIORITIES (CALENDAR) AND NOT OTHER PEOPLE’S (EMAIL).
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Service BETTER BUSINESS MEETS THREE SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS TO HEAR ABOUT STARTING OUT, SURVIVING AND SUCCEEDING, AND HOW ACCEPTING CARD PAYMENTS THROUGH POSTPOINT HAS HELPED THEM ON THEIR JOURNEY.
WATERFORD GREENWAY CYCLE TOURS & BIKE HIRE Kilkenny native John Purcell had been unemployed for seven years when he decided it was time to go out on his own and follow a similar path to his long-time friend Jason Morrissey, who had been running a bike tour and rental shop in Kilkenny since 2010. In 2014, the pair had identified an opportunity to make use of the new cycling greenway planned for Waterford. It was not until 2016, however, that plans started to take shape, beginning with Purcell opening his own pop-up bike rental shop in a local car park along the greenway armed with ten bikes loaned out from the Kilkenny shop. Despite nemerous challenges, Purcell turned up every morning for five weeks until he decided it was time to take his shop to the next level. That’s when he showed up at the door of Murphy’s Bar in Dungarvan, which at the time had empty premises adjoining the pub, with a proposition for proprietor John Murphy. “I asked him to give me the premises for free,” remembers Purcell. “I said, ‘listen, if you give me a chance I’ll get 1,000 people in your door every week. I’ll make you money.’ He started laughing at me and said ‘no one has ever asked me for anything for free. You are a ‘goer’ so I’ll give you a go. He gave me a chance for about two or three weeks. Once I had the shop then the footfall started coming. After that we signed a contract on the lease.” The seasonal nature of the service brings its own challenges but Purcell and Morrissey have been in business with Waterford Greenway Cycle Tours & Bike Hire ever since, and the official opening of the 46km greenway in March 2017 along with plenty of support from other local businesses has helped them on their journey. When asked where he would like to see the business in five years’ time, Morrissey, who also has a small business focused on cycling safety in the south-east region, says: “To be still trading, creating employment and growing our customer base.” He also hopes to expand the business should plans for the greenway to be further developed from Waterford city to New Ross and further up the Barrow come to fruition. “Cycling is something that seems to be going through a whole new rebirth here in Ireland,” he adds. “It’s more popular than ever, it’s back in fashion and everyone wants to be cycling.” www.waterfordgreenway.com
Accepting Card Payments Morrissey says the company was missing out on a lot of business at the start by not having a credit card machine. “We got it in mid-season this year,” he says of the PostPoint payment provider service. “Before that if someone hadn’t booked online and walked into the shop and had no cash, they often turned and walked away leaving us to miss out on business.”
Request a free Card Payments quote from our website at www.postpoint.ie/ card-payments
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Card Payments Whether you’re starting out in business or looking to switch provider, PostPoint can help you take secure credit and debit card payments. Here’s a look at why.
Reduce Your Card Payment Fees In switching to PostPoint, some of our retailers have saved up to 30 per cent on their card payment charges.
Quick and Easy Setup If you decide to choose PostPoint as your card payment provider a qualified An Post engineer will visit your site to install your terminal. An additional pin pad and terminal stand is available upon request.
Shorter Term Contracts Available PostPoint offers a range of different card payment bundles and contract lengths. While some providers may tie you in to contracts lasting up to three years, we offer six and 12 month contracts.
John Purcell (left) and Jason Morrissey, Greenway Cycle Tours & Bike Hire
Clear Transparent Pricing Structure Our pricing is completely clear and transparent. We detail exactly what you pay on each transaction, including interchange charges and scheme fees. Monthly statements also clearly break down these charges for you by transaction type. So, you will be fully informed of the exact rates you are paying.
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Tommy Kirwan, Greville Arms Hotel
GREVILLE ARMS HOTEL, GRANARD It wasn’t long after Tommy Kirwan had ceased involvement with Drumcoura Lake Resort and Equestrian Centre in Co Longford, a business he had founded 13 years earlier, that he began to receive calls from people in the Granard area asking if he would be interested in investing in the Greville Arms Hotel, which had closed at the height of the recession. Not one to shy away from a challenge and attracted by the rich historical significance of the premises (Michael Collins is said to have first stayed in the hotel in 1917 and it was the scene of a famous incident in the War of Independence when on October 31st 1920, District Inspector Phillip St John Kelleher was shot dead in the bar by members of the IRA), Kirwan took over the Greville Arms in January 2016. Kirwan says business is good in Granard mostly thanks to businesses in the town supporting each other. However, he still sees a serious urban-rural divide in the country and bemoans the lack of support from Government in helping small towns like Granard pick themselves up after the recession. He also says red tape has been a major impediment to the success of his hotel. “If it got help from tourism [bodies] I would see it as a very viable business,” he notes. “At the moment, it’s probably breaking even. If the town got more help, I could see more people being employed in more businesses around the town, but that’s the way it is going. I’ve just seen another pub across the road from me close. We need help down here and we’re not getting it.” The Greville Arms Hotel has six rooms for rent and it serves food from nine in the morning until nine at night, seven days a week. “We sell quality food,” says Kirwan. “You only have to look at TripAdvisor to see the comments. We are trying to get a small B&B off the ground at the moment, which is not too easy but hopefully in the New Year we’ll have it fully up and running.”
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David Carroll, Carroll’s Hallmark Store
CARROLL’S HALLMARK STORE, DUNDALK Ian Carroll started out in retail opening a newsagent and bookshop in the Dundalk Shopping Centre in 1974. “The newsagent was a great place to test new products and at some stage we sold everything from Acorn Computers, CDs, DVDs, videotapes, mobile phones, stationery, greeting cards and gift wrap,” says his son David who now runs the business. “Some of those had a relatively short life span but the greeting cards sector experienced significant growth during that period.” A partnership with Hallmark was made and the first of four Carroll’s Hallmark stores opened in Dundalk Shopping Centre in 1984. According to Carroll, customer service is a huge focus of the business and something he believes sets his stores apart. “While we always endeavour to stay relevant and keep ahead of the trends by bringing the latest ideas in cards and gifts to our stores, we’re very aware that the discerning customer of today expects much more than this,” he says. In addition to its bricks and mortar stores, Carroll’s Halmark is currently developing a website and online presence to give added value to its customers. “Success for us in the next five years would be to have a significant share of the online gift market, which would complement our direct business,” says Carroll.
Competitive Card Payment Rates Carroll’s Hallmark Store has worked closely with PostPoint for over 15 years, first selling stamps, and now accepting card payments through PostPoint in all their stores. “We have grown as PostPoint has grown and we use their merchant services in all our stores,” says Carroll. “We have a brilliant working relationship with our local area manager and I feel that we get a great product that covers all our needs, at a competitive price.”
Get a Free Card Payments Quote Today PostPoint works with local businesses across every county in Ireland. You can find more information about joining PostPoint at www.postpoint.ie. You can request a free quote from our website at www.postpoint.ie/ card-payments.
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RE LOC ATION Feature
AN OFFICE RELOCATION CAN BE A STRESSFUL TASK IF NOT APPROACHED WITH SUFFICIENT CARE, BUT WITH MEASURED PLANNING AND CLEAR LINES OF COMMUNICATION BETWEEN EMPLOYERS AND EMPLOYEES, THE PROCESS CAN PRESENT MANY OPPORTUNITIES FOR A BUSINESS. TIERNAN CANNON FINDS OUT HOW BEST TO APPROACH THE MOVE.
The idea of relocating a business from one place to another is undoubtedly daunting, though with the right care and planning, the process itself needn’t be. There are opportunities to be gained from an office relocation, including increased productivity, the opportunity to rebrand and, of course, costsaving. There are potential pitfalls however, so the process therefore should not be undertaken lightly. There are many reasons why a company might relocate – willingly or otherwise – but in Ireland today office rent prices are a predominant factor. Commercial office space has become increasingly expensive over the years, particularly in main cities. These trends show no signs of reversing, as Paddy Conlon, Executive Director of Commercial Property at CBRE, points out. “Prime office rents in Dublin have now risen to €681 per square metre and are expected to reach €700 per square metre by year-end,” he says. “Meanwhile, prime rents in the suburbs of the capital have also increased recently. Prime rents in
the south suburbs are now in the order of €306.66 per square metre while prime rents in the north and west suburbs are now €200 per square metre and €188.30 per square metre respectively.” Cork city too has seen its office rent prices rise, though the figures currently remain more steady at around €312 per square metre, however the figures are expected to increase in the coming months. CBRE’s figures suggest a stark contrast between rental prices within city centres and their suburbs. Naturally, rent is more expensive in urban centres, but they have risen to the point now that many companies are being forced to weigh up the benefits of a central location against cheaper ones in the suburbs or in rural areas. There are obvious benefits to being centrally located, but there are also problems associated with having a city premises beyond high costs, such as a lack of available parking and storage. Another reason behind moves out of the city, as the team at estate agent Lisney’s suggest, is that businesses that traditionally had younger workers, such as in the tech sector, are now beginning to age.
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“Some tech companies have a lot of city centre accommodation but are now looking to add space in the suburbs,” a Lisney representative tells us. “This is to be closer to their staff, which is now ‘greying’ and having to do school runs, rather than being young professionals living in the city centre.”
Four Factors to Consider when Relocating
Plan Every Detail Be meticulous. Ask the important questions, like how much space will you require, or what essential features do you require from your new office?
Assign A Project Manager Assigning a project manager to deliver the move is a wise decision. This way, the move is treated the same as any other project that your business might be involved in.
Bring In The Professionals If your budget allows, bring in outside professionals with experience in relocation. Consider it an investment to safeguard the business from critical mistakes being made throughout the move.
Communicate With Staff As Alan Humphreys of AIEP pointed out, clear communication channels with employees are vital. Keeping morale high and workers informed is essential to ensure the smoothest transition possible.
All things considered then, it might make sense for certain companies to up sticks and move away from the centre, as Anglo Irish Engineering Projects (AIEP) did. AIEP, a telecommunications company specialising in transmission engineering services for mobile operators and service providers, moved from its location at Ballymount Industrial Estate in Dublin 12 westward to Baldonnell Business Park in Dublin 22. The move was by no means a straightforward task, but a necessary and worthwhile one made simpler with careful, considered planning. “Our reasoning for movement was solely based on growing the company in the direction we believed it required to keep ahead and remain at the forefront of this rapidly changing and expanding industry,” says Managing Director Alan Humphreys. “In most situations companies keep office space to a minimum until they really require the extra space. This was no different with ourselves. We made the change once we knew we had outgrown our office and that the time for change was looking us straight in the eyes.” Once AIEP had identified the need for a move, it was time to set about planning the logistics. The firm decided on its new location based on the present and future needs of the company, including parking, costs and size. Once all of this was settled, Humphreys claims that preparation for the move took just two weeks. The company made use of its own project manager to organise the move, which made the process a lot easier. “The actual move was very seamless, based on our project manager applying the same methodology she uses in delivering other projects to our office move,” says Humphreys. “The move itself took two days to complete, from the first piece of office furniture being put into the transportation vehicle to the phone and internet lines being connected in our new premises.” The move took place over the weekend, so as to not disrupt the daily routine of the company’s work for its clients. While it was imperative that clients felt no impact, how employees were effected had to be considered too. An office move can be a stressful and uncertain time for staff, and it is important to communicate clearly and honestly in order to maintain morale. “We made sure the communication channels pre- and post-move were our prime objective,” says Humphreys. “All staff over a five-day period had a chance to see our new location and their office desks prior to the move, so it wasn’t alien to them when it came to their first day there. Providing the communication early on made the office move a breeze, and not one individual showed any impact in their morale or work ethic from day one.” Clear communication with staff and structured planning can ensure that companies on the move are able to manoeuvre potential hurdles throughout the relocation process. As Humphreys points out: “Pitfalls only happen when you go into the move not fully focused. Get the planning right, and the rest will fall into place.” SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 25
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IN BUSINESS AND THRIVING - SIX INDUSTRY EXPERTS SHARE ONE SECRET OF THEIR SUCCESS
IT George O’Dowd
Founder and MD, Novi Every successful business journey involves a learning process. It’s easy to get disillusioned when things don’t go as you hoped, yet the key is to maintain a positive mindset and a willingness to learn something from every experience – good or bad. At Novi, we foster a continuous learning environment for all our staff. It is important to remain educated on the latest technological developments so we can pass that knowledge on to our customers. In the fast paced IT industry, innovation is everything.
Marketing Jane Manzor
Owner & Founder, Manzor Marketing I set up Manzor Marketing just over a year and a half ago when I saw a gap in the market for specialised marketing services, in particular those targeting the food and drinks industry. My advice to any business setting up is to spend time on your marketing and branding. Start by defining your target market and focus on ‘your why’ (or your 10 per cent difference). Don’t be afraid to go against the grain or to stand out – it is this difference that will give you the edge and push your business forward.
Consultancy Paul Davis
Managing Director, Davis Business Consultants Be willing to be different by not doing things the same way as all your competitors. Don’t let your business consume every hour of your day. Your family is more important. And so is your health. Do everything with integrity, and if it seems too good to be true, it really is! But most important of all: make a difference to the people that buy your product or service. Make their life better because of your business.
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
“Work hard in silence, let your success be your noise.”
Data Security Philip McMichael Managing Director, AMI/DiskShred
The main lesson I have learned as part of AMI’s successful journey has been the importance of treating people fairly. My first job was working for my Dad in our familyowned menswear shop, and he told me: “Always treat your suppliers and your customers as you would like to be treated.” In short, pay your bills on time and be gracious to your customers. People tend to be happy to work with you when they know you will treat them fairly.
If you are a business leader
(October 28th, 1987 – Present) is an American independent musician and member of the hip-hop collective Odd Future.
Coaching Jane Perry
Founder, C Zone Coaching and Consulting Follow your passion. Concentrate on delivering solutions for the issues you feel drawn to solve. When first self-employed I took every assignment I was offered. This brought income, however it also complicated my offering. The decision to specialise in organisational culture and resilience brought clarity, focus and renewed energy to my business. Culture and behaviour at work is very topical now and it is a wonderful feeling to know you can be successful doing what you truly believe will make a difference.
Software and Services Paul Synott Director & Country Manager, Esri Ireland
Take time out and set a personal career vision. Clarity of purpose is key to this. However, you must never forget – no matter how much you enjoy your job and no matter how good you are in your role – it is you, and only you, who can look beyond your current title, position or responsibility in order to set yourself the next big career challenge. You cannot depend on anyone else to do that for you.
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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MOVE OVER TEA, THERE’S A NEW HOT, TASTY KID IN TOWN. WITH MORE PEOPLE THAN EVER BEFORE DRINKING COFFEE IN IRELAND, BETTER BUSINESS FINDS OUT ABOUT WHAT’S HAPPENING IN THE SECTOR.
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Coffee Sector Spotlight
Wandering into an Irish cafe used to be simple. You could have tea or coffee. You could have it black or white. Depending on where you were, you might have been offered the ‘exotic’ alternative of brown sugar alongside the rudimentary bowl of white. Once you’d picked a table, the only decision left to make was the topic of conversation. Fast forward to 2017 and stopping off for a quick cuppa is a very different experience. So-called ‘coffee culture’ has not just landed in Ireland - it’s brewed its way in to the daily routine of millions of people. Want proof of that? Take a stroll along any main street in Ireland. You’re just about guaranteed to have your pick of places to grab whatever variation of coffee you prefer. Take Dublin’s Nassau Street for example. Walk the 700 metres or so from the bottom of Grafton Street to the National Gallery and you’ll have the pick of no less than 15 outlets willing to sell you a hot beverage. Scanning the drinks menu board in most of them can be a lengthy task. Do you want a Flat White? Latte? Filter? Mocha? Americano? Espresso? Machiatto? The choices don’t end there either. Double shot or single shot? Small, medium or large? Whipped cream? Marshmallows? Chocolate dusting? Soya milk? And all that’s before you consider the cake stand! The choices are all yours...
Move Over, Tea Ireland’s burgeoning love affair with the coffee bean is perhaps most surprising due to the nation’s historic status as a nation of tea drinkers. These days, three out of four people in Ireland class themselves as coffee drinkers. “It’s an exciting time for coffee in Ireland. Whether it’s instant, espresso or filter, the Irish people are embracing coffee like never before. With rising consumer confidence and more people back in work, we’re finding people are drinking more coffee, and we expect this to continue,” says Ailbhe Byrne from Food Drink Ireland. The stats back up Byrne’s claim too, with more than 4,500 tonnes of coffee being consumed in Ireland on an annual basis. The value of the retail coffee market, meanwhile, is estimated at just shy of €100 million. “When people speak about a coffee revolution, it’s not just about the volume of coffee that is being consumed but also the cultural or psychological aspect,” says Byrne. “The sector is always introducing innovative new products to satisfy consumer needs and changing taste preferences. In Ireland, soluble
coffee remains extremely popular, and therefore, a range of new products have been launched in recent years that bring together that roast and ground taste with the convenience of making an instant coffee.”
Discerning Tastes Irish consumers now typically demand much more than just a simple instant coffee from a glass jar. Want proof of that, note the opening of the two-storey Nespresso boutique on Dublin’s Duke Street where people queue up to buy their coffee capsules. You’ll find similar queues in department stores buying fancy coffee machines for the home. The taste for a superior coffee doesn’t end there either. A large contingent of coffee drinkers are not just fussy about what their coffee tastes like, but also where it comes from. This has led to a sharp rise in the number of independent coffee shops around the country’s main towns and cities. Running a small café isn’t easy. Costs are typically high and margins notoriouly tight. Add in the competition of cash-rich multinationals and operators of independent outlets have a tough job on their hands. However, independent cafés have decided to fight back. In September, a group of small coffee shop owners – faced with the prospect of another new Starbucks outlet opening in Dublin city centre – came together to run a Free Coffee Day initiative. For one day they offered their coffee to customers free of charge. The stunt may have cost them a few quid at the tills, but it also shone a bright light on the challenges they face, with the campaign picking up mass exposure in the national media. The argument of the independents was that the decision by Dublin City Council to grant planning permission for yet another Starbucks on Crampton Quay in Dublin city centre (at the time there were already 50 Starbucks outlets in the capital, according to the company’s website) was unneccessary.
“THE CONSUMER HAS BECOME MORE SOPHISTICATED IN THEIR COFFEE CHOICES AND ARE MORE LIKELY TO EXPERIMENT WITH NEW BEVERAGES AND PREPARATION METHODS.”
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According to Ciaran Hogan, owner of The Clockwork Door on Wellington Quay, who organised the free coffee initiative: “Our goal with the event was to remind people come to the local places, support the local places. That’s all we were really trying to do,” he said. A recent addition to the Dublin café scene is Java, which opened on Molesworth Street last year. Java is operated by Dublin-based Java Republic, which is arguably best-known as an independent roaster and distributor of coffee. Java Republic is well-established and boasts a strong presence in the Irish coffee market, with distribution deals with the likes of Aer Lingus and a string of other outlets and
brands throughout the country. So, why did they decide to step into the cut-throat café scene? Grace O’Shaugnessy, Managing Director of Java Republic, explains: “Our Molesworth Street café alongside our roastery – which is located at our Ballycoolin site – gives us a great insight into the challenges faced by clients and allows us to talk to our clients with a greater level of experience to help them make their business better.” She continues: “The Irish consumer has become greatly aware of coffee quality be it through travel, education or experimentation. Consumption levels have never been so high
Grace O’Shaugnessy, Managing Director, Java Republic
both in the number of outlets opening and the increase in consumption levels by individuals. This will continue to increase as the millennial consumer looks to consume more out of home than ever before. The consumer has become more sophisticated in their coffee choices and are more likely to experiment with new beverages and preparation methods. I don’t see this as a fad, but what it has done is challenge the Irish coffee industry to raise the bar in terms of the quality of coffee and barista on offer.” On the issue of independent shops being unfairly squeezed by the big boys, O’Shaughnessy understands why frustrations are high. “There has been significant growth in the independent cafés today and will continue into the future such is the demand for something different,” she says. “I can appreciate their recent actions as there are many challenges to running an independent café and having any of the big chains near you can be a threat in terms of losing business. The independent cafés have so much to offer; great food, ambience, personalities, service, a uniqueness that cannot be matched. In tandem with a premium coffee offer, they will continue to do well.”
Taxing Times Ahead? One of the other big talking points in the Irish coffee industry this year has been around the possible introduction of a tax on take-away coffee cups – in an effort to limit the environmental impact of disposable packaging. Dubbed as a ‘coffee cup tax’ or a ‘latte levy’, the idea has been proposed by Environment Minister Denis Naughten, who says it would operate in a similar way to the plastic bag tax. Few could argue that something has to be done – currently around two million
SFA FACT Did you know? More than 4,500 tonnes of coffee is consumed in Ireland on an annual basis, the equivalent to the weight of around 500 African elephants.
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Coffee Sector Spotlight
ABOVE: Some of the Java Republic team pictured at the café and roastery in Ballycoolin
“THE INDEPENDENT CAFÉS HAVE SO MUCH TO OFFER; GREAT FOOD, AMBIENCE, PERSONALITIES, SERVICE, A UNIQUENESS THAT CANNOT BE MATCHED. IN TANDEM WITH A PREMIUM COFFEE OFFER, THEY WILL CONTINUE TO DO WELL.”
throwaway cups are sent to landfill on a daily basis. It’s not just an Irish problem either. Across the Irish Sea, the Scottish government is also reportedly considering a mandatory coffee cup charge in a bid to end the “throwaway culture”. Java Republic is already ahead of the curve in this regard. O’Shaughnessy explains: “Sustainability has always been at the core of what we do at Java Republic. We launched our own 100 per cent biodegradable and compostable cup and lid in October this year. We are delighted to be leading the way in tackling the issue of waste caused by regular disposable coffee cups. Java Republic’s compostable cups are a concrete solution to Ireland’s waste problem as they can be organically recycled. This means we provide a closed loop system from growing the crop to bringing it back to nature again by creating compost that can be used on Irish land.” With the amount of coffee being consumed growing on a daily basis, that pile of compost looks like it will keep growing and growing. SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 31
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THREE MONTHS INTO HIS NEW ROLE AS DIRECTOR OF SFA, BETTER BUSINESS SPEAKS TO SVEN SPOLLENBEHRENS ABOUT THE SMALL BUSINESS AGENDA, BEING THROWN IN THE DEEP END AND A LONGING FOR LIQUORICE.
hen Sven SpollenBehrens arrived in Ireland seven years ago one of the big anomalies of doing business here that struck him was Irish people’s unwillingness to be direct. “I had to learn that in Germany a ‘yes’ is a ‘yes’ and a ‘no’ is a ‘no’ whereas in Ireland there are different variations of a ‘yes’,” he reflects. Despite the various cultural nuances that the German had to contend with, working with small businesses and addressing the challenges they face was a skill that transcended borders, and one that he was comfortable with. Spollen-Behrens’ CV gives some indication of his vast experience, particularly in an international context. After studying Economics in Coventry in the UK, he settled in Brussels where he was CEO of a trade organisation, predominantly focused on SMEs in the German furniture industry. He was tasked with developing a relationship with the European Commission in order to help the companies with their internationalisation strategy. He organised trade missions to places like Russia, Bosnia and Brazil in order to find new suppliers and open up new export markets. Brussels is where Spollen-Behrens met his Irish wife, which would ultimately lead him on the path to where he calls home today, but not before a stint in Berlin to head up an organisation specialised in the high-tech industry, focused on innovative small to
medium sized businesses looking to scale. “They were really fast growing companies that needed help with Government relations but also in relation to opening up new markets,” he says. The arrival of children changed the couple’s course and in 2010, at the height of the recession, they decided to move to Ireland. Since then, Spollen-Behrens has worked on a number of initiatives, which he describes as “urban regeneration projects”. Before taking up his current role as Director of SFA he managed the application process and campaign that led to the successful implementation of the Business Improvement District (BID) in Dún Laoghaire. He was also involved in the setting up of Sligo BID and acted as CEO of the Sandyford BID Company. He would later spearhead similar projects in Dundalk and parts of Wicklow. “Dún Laoghaire was really battered and beaten by the recession, there were lots of vacant retail units, lots of vacant office units so we put together a plan to regenerate the town and within three years we managed to attract 130 new businesses,” explains SpollenBehrens. “Again, it was dealing with small businesses. My experience in Dún Laoghaire encouraged me to help other towns in Ireland as well. It was about working with small business communities linking them up with local Government and developing plans to regenerate the regions.” His experience of working with government and other stakeholders coupled with his knowledge of the small business sector made Spollen-Behrens the ideal
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“I HAD TO LEARN THAT IN GERMANY A ‘YES’ IS A ‘YES’ AND A ‘NO’ IS A ‘NO’ WHEREAS IN IRELAND THERE ARE DIFFERENT VARIATIONS OF A ‘YES’.”
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Spollen-Behrens with Michael McGrath TD and Linda Barry
candidate to succeed Patricia Callan as SFA Director. “I thought that with my experience it would be a good match and so did the SFA Council,” he says. There was no waiting around when it came to showing SpollenBehrens the ropes. On his first day he helped launch the SFA National Small Business Awards 2018 at Government Buildings, followed by a meeting at the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation. Since then, he has met members at the annual SFA Employment Law Conference, SFA Business Bytes and the SFA Annual Lunch among other events. Some might describe it as being thrown in the deep end. “That’s the best way to do it,” he notes. “I got to meet lots of members. In short, it has been really interesting and busy,” he says of the new position. In terms of his objectives for 2018, Spollen-Behrens says it will be about continuing to voice SFA members’ concerns to Government. That will involve focusing on three key issues: competitiveness, accessing and retaining talent and preparing small business for GDPR – the new EU data protection directive coming into force in May. When it comes to the SFA’s other activities, Spollen-Behrens plans to spend some time in areas outside the capital to gauge the mood on the ground and assess how the businesses that have been left behind by the recession can be better supported. “I want to spend some
“MY EXPERIENCE IN DÚN LAOGHAIRE ENCOURAGED ME TO HELP OTHER TOWNS IN IRELAND AS WELL. IT WAS ABOUT WORKING WITH SMALL BUSINESS COMMUNITIES LINKING THEM UP WITH LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND DEVELOPING PLANS TO REGENERATE THE REGIONS.”
time there for two reasons,” he explains. “One is that with my urban regeneration background, I think I have a lot to bring to the table. And two, obviously a large number of our members are Dublin-based but there are lots of members that are not in Dublin and there are a lot of potential members out there too.” Since the economic downturn, debate surrounding an urban-rural divide in Ireland has raged on. For someone working closely with small firms across the country, how apparent is that divide? “It depends on where you are,” says Spollen-Behrens. “I was at a conference in Sligo recently which I helped organise and yes, you’ll see that they are behind – especially in the north or north-east. But for Galway, Cork or Limerick, these are thriving cities in their own right. If you look at the medical devices cluster in Galway, or at the tech cluster in Cork, you can really see some momentum.” Despite these positive signs and a widespread acceptance that we have long since turned a corner economically in Ireland, challenges for small firms remain. For Spollen-Behrens, many of these challenges relate to MEET competitiveness. “One thing Sven Spollen-Behrens is to increase in the lifetime limit of the Capital Gains Spollen-Behrens arrived in Ireland in Tax Entrepreneur Relief up 2010 at the height to €15m; the reduction of the of the recession, headline rate of Capital Gains but he wasn’t the Tax; and also the need to close only foreign visitor the gap between the treatment to come to these shores that year. of the self-employed person On the morning and the PAYE employee of November 18th, when it comes to tax. There officials from the EU is still no equality between and the IMF rolled the self-employed person and into town in what would become a the PAYE employee,” he says. historic day for the “There are still discrepancies. country. “It wasn’t Then, in general, I see the always easy in challenge for small businesses fairness,” he says of of retaining key staff and his early days here. “But like many of the also recruiting staff due to small businesses I competition from the bigger made it through. I guys.” made it through to So if he gets some time in the other side and the Taoiseach’s ear in the New now we can really see that the economy Year, whoever that might be, is recovering and our Spollen-Behrens will have latest surveys show plenty to talk about, mostly that our businesses around the cost of doing are looking to employ business. “In terms of cost more people, they are investing in competitiveness, it’s really their businesses, important that we do not and they’re growing increase the minimum wage again.” any further. Many low margin businesses are already feeling SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 35
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“IN TERMS OF COST COMPETITIVENESS, IT’S REALLY IMPORTANT THAT WE ARE NOT INCREASING THE MINIMUM WAGE ANY MORE.” the pressure from recent increases. Other SFA members have planned wage increases for their staff next year, but they should not be imposed by Government. Brexit is going to be a key issue for next year too and for the years to come so we really need to make the €300m Brexit Fund as accessible as possible for small business.” When not focused on his role as director of SFA, Spollen-Behrens has plenty to help him switch off with his eight and ten-year old children. “I should say running. You know I’m a middleaged man in lycra and all that!” he jokes. “But most of my time is spent facilitating my kids’ social lives. I generally take them from a party to gym practice to whatnot so that’s how I spend my time outside work – together with my wife organising the social agenda of my kids!” Despite admitting to not having a clue about football coaching, he helps manage his son’s under-eights team. “I love watching it but I’m absolutely useless myself,” he says. “I’m more of a tennis man and as I said, a runner. What I am good at is delegating and organising so as head coach I have all the other parents working with me.” It sounds like Spollen-Behrens has more than adjusted to the Irish way of life even if his ‘yes’ remains a German one. However, he does still miss two things about his homeland. “One is driving fast on the motorway, which obviously you can’t do here,” he says. “And two, I grew up next to the first Haribo factory in Europe in Bonn and I can’t get any decent liquorice here for whatever reason.” Something else to take up with the Taoiseach.
Sven Spollen-Behrens speaking at this year’s SFA Annual Lunch
Spollen-Behrens with speakers at the SFA Employment Law Conference
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Small Business Profile
THE LANDSCAPE OF PAYMENTS HAS UNDERGONE DRAMATIC CHANGE IN RECENT YEARS. RONAN BYRNE, COMMERCIAL MANAGER OF DUALTRON, TELLS BETTER BUSINESS WHAT THAT MEANS FOR HIS PAYMENT SOLUTIONS COMPANY.
The Dualtron team
Dave Byrne established Dualtron as a payment solutions company in 1991. Twenty years later, Dave’s son Ronan, who had a background in IT consulting and project management, jumped at the chance to work with his father. Dualtron’s business was changing and growing and he came on board as Commercial Manager. Dualtron operates in two main areas of the payment industry. The first is cash-handling equipment, which counts notes and coins for shops and banks. The other is electronic point of sale (EPOS), and Dualtron has established a niche for itself in providing solutions to ‘closed door’ businesses. Byrne explains: “Traditionally we would have stayed out of pubs, restaurants and high street coffee shops and we would have specialised in those coffee shops or canteens that might be inside a corporate office. For example, people working in a big company would pay for their lunch using their staff ID badge. It meant the restaurant or café could be cash-free – so there’d be no need for change, no floats. From a caterer’s point of view, it would streamline their processes and reduce the queuing time – you get through a queue about three times quicker with our equipment compared to a cash system.” In recent years, that side of the business has seen quite a lot of change, with companies moving away from pre-loaded cards to inapp payment models. These apps allow users to pay, pre-order and top up their balance all through their smartphone. Byrne says it has advantages for the caterer too. “They can reach out to their customers with offers and news through the app. The back end management of that has grown in complexity and strength as well, to the point where we can pull names and prices of products, and feedback on end-ofday sales through the app.” Dualtron has invested in advancing the back end and functionality of its products to put it in a position of advantage over a lot of other systems available in the ‘open world’, and Byrne sees expansion in this market as a key opportunity. “We’ve become quite competitive in terms of moving into not just corporate catering but other markets. A few of our more recent customers would be the likes of University of Limerick – we’ve put our system into one of their coffee shops and that would be an ‘open world’ cash/credit card solution – and we’ve got our system in a new coffee shop on Stephen’s Green. That’s where we see growth
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Ronan Byrne, Commercial Manager, Dualtron. BELOW: Dave Byrne, Dualtron, former Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor and Sue O’ Neill, Chairperson, SFA
Did You Know? Dualtron were winners of the services category in the SFA National Small Business Awards 2017
Small Business Profile
coming over the next while, as well as staying strong in our cashless corporate-catering niche.” It’s not all that long since cash was king, credit cards reserved for big-ticket items and cheque a common form of payment; today, customers are not averse to paying for sub-€1 transactions by card, we’re nonchalantly tapping our cards and plugging our smartphones with this information so we can forgo a wallet entirely. What’s next? “The debit/credit card is huge and only going to grow,” says Byrne. “Most of our last six months’ sales have all had a debit/ credit card attached to the till and those same devices take Apple Pay, Android Pay, Google Wallet, Garmin Pay. Whatever payment method your customer favours they’ll be able to pay using it at your till as long as it’s got a fairly up-to-date contactless terminal. According to Byrne, we could see a near-cashless society the next ten years. “There will probably still be some applications with cash but it will become increasingly niche,” he says. “We see cafés and restaurants that are nearly cash-free already. The other side of our business – the cash-counting equipment – gives us insight into where the demand for processing cash is and in certain industries, there’s no demand. And the price point per transaction will only come down in terms of the point at which people take out their card to pay for something.” In the last five or six years Dualtron has grown from a staff of 11 to 20. It’s undergone a restructuring of its management team to allow for that growth. Byrne says they’ve moved a lot of functions and changed how people report to allow management to concentrate more on strategic aspects of the business rather than dealing with the day-to-day. He says the ever-changing state of technology is a constant challenge for the business. “One example would be five years ago all of our EPOS systems would have had a server in every site and now it’s all completely cloud-based. That’s meant upskilling our staff in terms of IT security and data privacy. “GDPR is coming down the line as well, which will impact on us in terms of staff-data management but really in terms of the customer data. At the moment we’re also preparing for ISO 27001, the information security management systems requirements. We’ve had our first audit and hope to be fully accredited by the end of the year which will put us in a good place for GDPR. “The SFA actually helps us stay on top of changes within the industry – the first we heard of GDPR was through an SFA event,” he adds. Byrne says growth of the economy has translated into growth for Dualton’s business, with many companies refitting and expanding and he expects this to continue next year. As well as expanding into the open world market, Dualtron is working on a new product for the healthcare hospitality sector, which will add a third string to its bow. SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 39
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SMALL BUSINESSES ARE IN A UNIQUE POSITION TO OFFER OPPORTUNITIES TO EMPLOYEES WITH DISABILITIES, OFTEN FINDING SIMPLE SOLUTIONS TO SUPPORT THEIR INDIVIDUAL NEEDS.
nclusivity in the workplace has become a hot topic in recent years, with the aim of providing support for employees of all ages, genders and abilities to carry out their duties. In general, when a business owner seeks to review the process of making the workplace more inclusive for those with a disability, the first step is typically to ensure the physical environment is accessible to all employees. However, according to Seonaid Ó Murchadha, Manager at Employer Disability Information, the national resource for advice and information for employers on the issue, attitudes and relationships within a business can contribute far more significantly to inclusivity. “Essentially if an employer does want to include people with disabilities in their workplace, it is important, yes, to look at the physical environment around them but greater barriers exist in relation to attitudes and procedures and inclusion, both at the interview stage and also for retention,” explains Ó Murchadha. According to Ó Murchadha, one of the most common oversights from businesses when it comes to inclusivity is failing to advertise their desire for disabled applicants during the search for new employees. By outlining that they are an equal opportunity employer, Ó Murchadha
says the employer is sending a clear message that they’re eager to interview with all qualified applicants, whether they have a disability or not. “They can even say ‘applications encouraged from applicants with disabilities’. They can say ‘we’re an equal opportunities employer’. There are so many different ways they can be inclusive,” explains Ó Murchadha. She adds that, at the interview stage, employers need to adjust their perception of the ‘ideal candidate’ to include someone with a disability. For a business currently employing staff with disabilities, or that has a staff member that has developed a disability since their hiring, Ó Murchadha states that open communication is paramount. She suggests carrying out a needs assessment report to reveal any possible oversights within a business and look at the impact of the disability on the employee. “Then look at the job,” she says. “Look at reasonable accommodations where supports could be
included to make sure that person with a disability can do the job to the best of their ability, efficiently and as effectively as they possibly can.” Once any reasonable accommodations are identified and made, Ó Murchadha says that the onus is on both employer and employee to ensure these supports are utilised. “For example, if you’re looking at the health and safety issues of somebody with MS in the workplace and that person happens to work upstairs, just make sure that person always uses the lift instead of the stairs,” she explains. “So obviously the employer is making a commitment to provide the lift. But the employee also needs to commit to actually using the lift. It gets to a stage where both parties are making a commitment to try and make this work through providing supports and using those supports.”
A Valuable Asset Ó Murchadha stresses that the disability of an employee can be an unforeseen
“IT’S MUCH EASIER TO GET THE SUPPORTS IN PLACE FOR SOMEBODY WITH A DISABILITY BECAUSE YOU’RE TALKING DIRECTLY TO THE OWNER/MANAGER.”
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Seonaid Ó Murchadha and Kevin Kelleher, Project Co-ordinator, Employment Disability Ireland
Recruitment with Impact
but valuable asset to a company. “If you’re an employer and you’ve got a very repetitive industry, such as IT, for example, it is actually worth your while sometimes to seek out people who might be neurodiverse. They love the repetition and they’re exceptionally good at that,” she suggests. Small businesses that are fully inclusive also often experience a significant uptake in support from their local community and clients. “People want to work with people like that,” says Ó Murchadha. “It’s the way of the world now. Reputation is powerful in this day and age.” Undoubtedly, most small firms will believe they can’t support disabled employees as well as more larger multinationals, however, Ó Murchadha notes that small companies can offer a number of resources and benefits that these corporations cannot. “They feel that ‘awh well, the big guys like the Googles and the Twitters and the LinkedIns of this world, sure they’re great at that, they do it all of
the time and they have loads of money to do it,’” she says. “The reality is that many small enterprises are much more flexible and much more personal. It’s much easier to get the supports in place for somebody with a disability because you’re talking directly to the owner/manager whereas in a larger organisation, you’ve got to go through all of these various processes.” There are a number of supports available for businesses that decide to take steps to become more inclusive. Ó Murchadha points to the likes of EmployAbility, a scheme for supported employment run by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, which helps people with disabilities to get 12-18 months’ work experience. Other resources such as the Workplace Equipment Adaptation Grant help cover costs associated with supporting a disabled employee or the Disability Awareness Training Support Scheme can address concerns or misconceptions that employers and employees may have about
Gavin Ward is a developer at Galway-based games company 9th Impact. Having faced many reallife challenges living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Ward now spends his days designing virtual challenges for mobile game players having been introduced to his current role through EmployAbility. “Immediately after the work experience programme we offered Gavin a full-time role at the company,” says Finn Krewer, Head of Development at 9th Impact. “He has become a valuable member of the team and takes on critical roles in level design and quality assurance in our development pipeline.” For more success stories such as this one go to www. employerdisabilityinfo.ie
working with disabled people. As for upcoming plans for Employer Disability Information, Ó Murchadha says: “What we’re really hoping to do is set up an employer peer network where employers can share all of this information. We’re seeking people who are even just open to employing people with disability to get in contact with us.” SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 41
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FOR THE PAST NUMBER OF YEARS, IRISH JEWELLERY DESIGNER JENNIFER KINNEAR HAS BEEN PLYING HER TRADE FROM THE SOUTHERN COAST OF SPAIN. SHE TELLS CONOR FORREST WHY A PERMANENT RETURN HOME REMAINS OFF THE CARDS FOR THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE.
Tarifa is a small town in Andalusia, located on the very southernmost tip of Spain and facing Morocco across the Straits of Gibraltar. One of the world’s most popular destinations for wind sports, it’s also well-known for its beautiful beaches, buzzing nightlife and a laid-back atmosphere. Among the roughly 18,000 people who call Tarifa home is Jennifer Kinnear, who’s lived here since things went south in Ireland in 2008. Kinnear is a jewellery designer by trade (she studied silver-smithing in the National College of Art and Design), first selling her creations at Dublin’s Cow’s Lane Market in 2001 and opening up a bricks and mortar store in Temple Bar three years later. Things went swimmingly over the following years – Kinnear built up a customer base and managed to clear the loans she’d taken out to get started, but things began to get rocky in 2007. She spent one more year in Temple Bar as the global economy came to a stuttering halt, and then decided to get out of the game, at least temporarily. A sports enthusiast, brought up sailing in Dublin Bay, Tarifa beckoned and Kinnear made the move to Spain, one she describes
as “obvious”. Work became kite surfing instruction along the Spanish coastline and she moved away from the world of jewellery for a number of years, apart from a collection designed during the winter of 2009. But her roots came calling again and she launched back into the business of making jewellery from her new base in Spain, opening a studio in Tarifa and beginning to showcase her designs once more. One of the biggest challenges facing entrepreneurial expats in Spain is the country’s fondness for red tape, described by one blogger as being home to “quite possibly the world’s most obstinate and unpitying admin staff ”. There are plenty of hoops to jump through, and getting all of your paperwork in order can be a tedious process. Kinnear, however, managed to avoid that almost entirely. “I didn’t actually set up a business in Spain, I kept my business registered in Ireland in the end and went about things that way. I live here, but everything I do is hallmarked Irish. I’m still a very Irish and Irish-inspired person,” she explains. “Here in Spain, there is obviously an awful lot of bureaucracy. The
tax system is different; I still have to be taxed here as well as in Ireland. They write off the difference. There is still a lot of stuff that I have to go through here to be legal.”
Growing the Brand These days, Kinnear has got plenty to occupy her time. Having become a mother to Lucas, she’s also focused on growing her brand back to pre-recession levels, getting back into a variety of shops in Ireland and expanding her international reach, not to mention developing her product line and introducing new designs. I ask her what her greatest achievement is to date, and she pauses to consider. “I suppose having a beautiful product, that’s my biggest achievement,” she replies. “It’s selling quite well out of Ireland at the moment. I’m building the business back up again from 2008 when I stopped for a while.” There’s plenty to enjoy about the Spanish lifestyle – the siestas in the middle of the day, a social life that’s very different to Ireland with bars that welcome children and families in the evening, not to mention the warmer weather and the beautiful beaches.
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Trading Places Interview
Jewellery designer Jennifer Kinnear
A less than average day With Ireland’s weather turning colder and wetter this winter, it’s fair to say that Kinnear’s average day might inspire some feelings of envy. “I would get up in the morning, bring Lucas my son to school, and then I’d be in town from nine, have a little breakfast,” she explains. “And then I’d go to my studio which is in the whitewashed old town of Tarifa which is very beautiful and it’s full of light. I work until about two – I have a helper in there as well – and then I go and pick my son up. We would go and have some lunch and maybe he’d have a nap and then we’d go out and enjoy the sunshine, go rock pool fishing or kite surfing or whatever!”
The latter is where she finds her inspiration these days – discovering unusual creatures and shells while rock pool fishing or beach combing with her son and turning them into wearable pieces at her bright and airy studio in Tarifa’s Old Town. Her focus is on creating items that are timeless and unique, pieces that people want to wear rather than hide away in a jewellery box, designs that span generations and could one day become a family heirloom. Her latest work has been snapped up by consumers in Arnotts, as well as various shops throughout the country and online. The Irish influence hasn’t completely disappeared – some of her recent creations were influenced by home vistas – a cockle shell necklace inspired by a stroll along Dollymount beach, and a visit to a chipper in Stoneybatter that led to a hummingbird pendant based on the pattern of their tiles – visits home are by no means a rare occasion. “All the time,” she says when I ask if she flies home to Ireland often. “I did the
Ballymaloe Craft Fair [in November]. I’m always back. I do trade fairs, I do showcases, I do IJL (International Jewellery London), I’m doing Jewellery and Watch Birmingham in February. So there’s loads on the agenda for next year.” Still, a permanent return to Ireland is off the cards for the foreseeable future – it’s not hard to see why she wouldn’t swap sunny Spain for a much wetter Ireland. “As far as my son is concerned, he’s happy out here, he has three languages – he speaks English, Italian and Spanish fluently,” she adds. “If I was to come back to Ireland he’d lose that. So I’m very happy here.” SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 43
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IN HER NEW BOOK MONEY FOR JAM, OONAGH MONAHAN OFFERS ADVICE FOR WOULD-BE FOOD ENTREPRENEURS ABOUT STARTING YOUR OWN SMALL BUSINESS. IN THE FOLLOWING EXTRACT, MONAHAN OUTLINES SOME OF THE KEY POINTS TO CONSIDER BEFORE TAKING THE LEAP.
he past ten years have seen a huge change in the way people think about the food they eat. Gone are the days of limited choice, low quality and tradition. People are now used to having a wide choice. People talk about food in ways they never did before. Standards have increased and with them, so have people’s expectations of quality, value and availability. The average person now knows their organic from their locally grown, and their air miles from their sustainable. Not alone that, but with cheap air travel and the range of other nationalities now living here in Ireland, the consumer is more open to trying out new foods. But critically now, more than ever before, shoppers are really interested in knowing where the food products they purchase are made and who made them. So what does all this mean for you, the would-be food producer? Let’s say you have been baking or pickling or making jam or whatever at home mostly as a hobby until now, and perhaps the pressure is on to make some money out of it either to add to the household income or with the ambition to grow it into a decent business that will earn you a living. If so, then you need to know what you have to do to turn that hobby into a business. The key point is that, if your products are good quality, with a strong provenance, are consistent, have great taste and flavour and ideally provide something a little different, then there is probably a market for them. Before you do anything else, you must make up your mind about what food you want to produce. Most small food producers get into the food business because they love making something in particular or they have a source of ingredients that they want to use, such as fruit, milk or seaweed. Others get into it because they see a business opportunity in a niche area. Many new producers try to do too many varieties too soon and become overwhelmed trying to manage them all. Some decide to produce foods that they really don’t enjoy making but do so because they think there is a market. Others do not have the skills required to make the food they think they would like to sell. It is best to go with your strengths. If you don’t enjoy making it, you’ll not stick at it. So, the first thing is to say to yourself that you are now in business, selling food for money. It may be just a few jars, loaves or tarts to begin with, even in just one shop or market. But take baby steps, and when your confidence builds, then start to walk with your foods to a
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few more shops ... jog to shops in the next town ... run, grow the business if that’s what you want to do ... all in good time. You will need to consider who will buy and eat your wonderful food – your ‘target market’. Your potential customers fall into two groups – the general buying public (the consumer) and the retailers who will buy from you to sell on to their customers. Both groups look for the same things: quality, taste, value and something new. For the best chances of success, you will need to think through all of the issues that affect how you will make, where you will make and how you will package and label your food. In addition to your job as production manager, initially you also most likely will be the financial controller, sales and marketing manager, office manager and administrator, trainer, staff supervisor (if you have anyone working with you), delivery van driver, and chief bottle washer! If you go to the websites of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (www.fsai.ie), the Food Standards Agency (www.food.gov. uk) or Food Standards Scotland (www.foodstandards.gov.scot), they will tell you that the first thing you should do is acquaint yourself with the relevant legislation. For most people, that’s enough to send them running for the hills. Legislation? No, thank you! It’s understandable that a new producer just starting up may find the legislation all a bit overwhelming. Don’t feel you need to know the legislation inside out and have it all at your fingertips. Just know what you need for your foods. But that’s the problem! How do I know what I need for my food? Ask your EHO or inspector for advice. You can also ask your Local Enterprise Office (www. localenterprise.ie) or Enterprise Unit in your Council to give you a food business mentor (this is often a free service) – just make sure your mentor knows the legislation. You’ll get to know it all yourself well enough in good time. It is very difficult keeping on top of everything, of that there is no doubt. Your chances of success will improve if you at least know all the things you are supposed to remember. Make a list (keeping everything in your head is impossible) and if you can’t do it all yourself, then get some help. There is a useful Action Plan (if I may
Author Oonagh Monahan
About the Author Oonagh Monahan has been working with small food producers for over 18 years, helping them to start up and grow their businesses. She has worked with producers of all varieties of food: everything from fudge, sausages and bread to beer and cream liquors. As one of her clients said: “She is like a big sister – the person you turn to when you need advice, help and encouragement!”
say so myself!) that you can download from my website www.alphaomega.ie to help you identify and remember everything you need to do. My advice is just do it! Get on with it! Make a couple of loaves/pots/jars/bags and get yourself down to your corner shop and see whether they’ll take them from you for re-sale. What’s the worst that can happen? This is an extract taken from MONEY FOR JAM: The Essential Guide to Starting Your Own Small Food Business, second edition, by Oonagh Monahan, reprinted with permission from Oak Tree Press. It is available in all good bookshops and from www.SuccessStore.com.
“IT’S UNDERSTANDABLE THAT A NEW PRODUCER JUST STARTING UP MAY FIND THE LEGISLATION ALL A BIT OVERWHELMING. DON’T FEEL YOU NEED TO KNOW THE LEGISLATION INSIDE OUT AND HAVE IT ALL AT YOUR FINGERTIPS.” SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 45
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FC advert template.inddBusiness.indd 1 Energia_1C_JM_Better 1
30/11/2017 23/11/2017 10:00 11:25
VERONICA TAGLIENI | PROPRIETOR, ROSE CAFÉ My business started out from my kitchen where I produced made-to-order home baked delights. Business was good but it wasn’t long before the challenges of operating in such a small space began to emerge. There is only so much food you can produce in that environment when complying with the proper health and safety standards. In essence, I didn’t have room to grow. All this led to my lightbulb moment, which was the decision that it was time to find a premises and open a café. Based in Mooncoin, Co Kilkenny, Rose Café is a vintage shabby chic style café serving all day breakfast, light lunches and home baked delights since August 2015. The locals have really welcomed us and made us feel part of the community. We have become a meeting point, a place for friends and family to connect in a relaxed environment. As one customer described Rose Café, “it’s not just a café, but an experience.” We receive a wide range of customers but one really rewarding element to the business has been the experience of seeing people from the nearby nursing home stopping by with their sons and daughters for a treat. If I was to give advice to someone considering starting out in business, I would say to just go for it! Engage with your customers and treat them well. Always have a smile on your face when they walk in. It goes a really long way!
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RICHARD PHELAN | MD, DYNAMIC EVENTS As market leaders in event management for over 21 years delivering team-building and corporate events, our focus has always been on creativity, responsiveness, professional delivery and value for money, with customer experience at the core. We have always been a forward-thinking company, but with the advent of the recession, it became apparent that we needed to work harder, and smarter. Our ‘lightbulb moment’ centred on the integration of technology within our business, a shift that has proven critical to our continued success. Internally, we invested heavily in software, systems and platforms that increased our efficiency and supplemented our ability to analyse key data. Externally, this has manifested itself as increased connectivity across all social media platforms, which has broadened our product range. Our dynamic team has grown and evolved in response to these industry-wide developments, all the while maintaining our trademark friendly and personal approach. Technology has, in fact, created a whole new category in our offering with products like GPS treasure hunts, app-based team challenges, learning and development and brand activation. Having delivered over 500 events in 2017 alone, our pro-active and enthusiastic approach to change has given us great confidence to grow and develop our business. www.dynamicevents.ie
Get switched on to better energy savings with Energia. We’re offering a 20 per cent discount to all new business customers and we’ll fix that rate for two years. That’s a substantial reduction in your monthly bill and you won’t need to think about switching again in a year’s time. We’ve got online account management, help with energy efficiency projects and can provide 100 per cent renewable energy. Join the nearly 60,000 Irish businesses that are powered by Energia and you’ll see the benefits in no time. Get a quote at energia.ie/business or call us on 1850 719 376.
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Nuno Pinto Fernandes/Global Imagens
NICKY KELLY | FOUNDER AND CEO, SURFHOLIDAYS.COM Back in early 2014 we were getting lots of traction as a traditional travel agent booking customers’ accommodation and surf schools in surf towns across Europe. We spoke to every person who booked, and every accommodation and surf school partner we dealt with. The personal touch was great but in order to scale the company a different approach was needed. We had to start automating the business and to do that, we had to bring our tech team in-house. I brought in Darryn Mountfort as a business partner and CTO who was tasked with creating a tech team. We re-assessed all aspects of the business with a view to automating every task possible. One significant lightbulb moment came when we decided to pivot from being a traditional travel agent to a surf travel marketplace. We opened up our website as a platform that accommodations and surf schools could add themselves to, instead of us having to do it manually. This allowed us to grow much faster, from having options in 12 surf towns in Europe to now having over 1,000 options in 112 surf towns globally. Next we launched a message host function which allowed holidaymakers to customise their package and build their ideal surf holiday by talking directly to the host. This made it a much faster and satisfying experience for both booker and host. Having our tech in-house has also allowed us to build new products including a white label solution and Kite Surf Holidays, which will be launching in 2018. www.surfholidays.com
Sell your wares Would you like to promote your business to over 200,000 people for FREE? At Energia, we offer our business customers the opportunity to advertise a special offer or discount on our customer rewards site, Energia Extra. We’ll feature your offer on the site for one month and highlight it to our full customer base via our monthly ezine. That’s just one of the great benefits of being an Energia customer. Why not find out more about this great opportunity for your business? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.
FIND OUT ABOUT OUR CLEVER BUSINESS CUSTOMERS at energia.ie/hub SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 49
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A NEW SME TEST WILL ASSESS THE IMPACT OF PROPOSED LAWS ON SMALL AND MEDIUM-SIZED BUSINESSES. THE SFA IS ASSISTING THE DEPARTMENT OF BUSINESS, ENTERPRISE AND INNOVATION WITH ITS DEVELOPMENT AND HAS RAISED A NUMBER OF ISSUES ON BEHALF OF MEMBER COMPANIES. TESTING THE BURDEN OF LEGISLATIVE PROPOSALS ON BUSINESSES The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation is developing an ‘SME Test’ for legislative proposals. The SME Test would be a structured way of assessing the impact of proposed laws on small and medium-size businesses. Many SFA members feel frustrated by having to spend so much time trying to understand and comply with government regulations and there is a sense that more red tape is being added all the time. A wide range of government departments have an impact on the cost and ease of doing business. Particular departments may not adequately realise this or may not prioritise it if businesses are not generally a key stakeholder group for them. A robust SME Test has long been called for by the Small Firms Association. Now that it is in the design stage, the detail is crucial. The SFA is assisting the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation in its work on the SME Test and has made a number of points on behalf of member companies.
IN BRIEF In what cases should the SME Test be conducted? The SFA believes that
the SME Test must apply broadly to ensure that proposals that are harmful to businesses do not ‘slip through the net’. Private Members Bills must be included in addition to legislation that emanates from government departments. What businesses should the test focus on? Where a large company
spends €1 per employee to comply with a regulatory duty, a medium-sized
enterprise might have to spend around €4 and a small business up to €10. The SFA’s position is that the test should focus primarily on micro (0-9 employees) and small (10-49 employees) enterprises, as these are the firms that struggle most with compliance.
How should the findings of the test be put into action? A structure must
be created to ensure that the findings of the SME Test cannot be ignored or brushed aside. If the impact on SMEs is
found to be significant and exemptions or other special conditions are not possible, the legislation should be dropped unless exceptional circumstances apply. In other cases, exemptions, extended deadlines and simplification should be considered. The SFA also emphasised that there needs to be a whole-of-government commitment to the spirit of the SME Test. The SFA will be monitoring the development of the test closely and will keep members informed as it progresses.
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BUDGET 2018 – KEEP SCHEME IS MAIN TALKING POINT FOR BUSINESSES
SENTIMENT SURVEY You responded in large numbers to the SFA Small Business Sentiment Survey in November. The findings will influence the SFA’s media positions and government lobbying. Here are some highlights.
intend to take on additional staff next year
that their % said businesses are (+8 from May 2017, +7 from November 2016)
that the business % said environment is (+1 from May 2017, +12 from November 2016)
(+10 from May 2017, +7 from November 2016)
In Budget 2018, the Minister for Finance announced a new scheme called KEEP (Key Employee Engagement Programme), an incentive to facilitate the use of share-based remuneration by unquoted SMEs to attract and retain employees. The incentive facilitates SMEs in providing key employees with a financial incentive linked to the future success of the company. This was a significant win for the SFA, as it had been one of our four lobbying priorities ahead of the Budget. Reacting to the announcement, SFA Director Sven SpollenBehrens stated: “The introduction of a tailored employee share options scheme (KEEP) for small business is an important initiative, which has the potential to deliver improved management capacity, staff retention and productivity. Currently, only 6 per cent of employees in Ireland are shareholders in the company where they work, compared to the EU average of 22 per cent. Our members are keen to see the detail of the scheme and to start using it to help their businesses to grow and reward their key employees.” More details on the scheme emerged in the Finance Bill and other documents issued by the Department of Finance. The SFA was pleased to see that its two main criteria have been included in the scheme: the income tax, USC and PRSI liability has been removed (capital gains tax will apply on the disposal of the shares) and the scheme can be offered to selected employees on a targeted basis.
Some other parameters placed on the scheme attracted a mixed reaction: n Qualifying company must be micro, small
or medium (up to 250 employees) for the duration of the relevant period and cannot be regarded as a company in difficulty
intend to invest in their business next year
n Qualifying employees must be full-time
employees or directors in the company, working at least 30 hours per week
(+2 from May 2017, +9 from November 2016)
n Grants to any individual in any year are
limited to 50 per cent of their annual salary
n The incentive is available for qualifying
Top investment priorities
share options granted between January 1st 2018 and December 31st 2023
n Business groups have raised a number of
issues with the Department of Business, which is in discussion with the Minister for Finance on the final shape of the scheme. It is expected that businesses will have clarity on all points by the end of the year, in time for the scheme to come into operation on January 1st as planned.
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Gender Pay Gap
MORE THAN JUST
KARA MCGANN, SENIOR LABOUR MARKET POLICY EXECUTIVE AT IBEC, EXAMINES THE INTERRELATED ISSUES THAT CONTRIBUTE TO A GENDER PAY GAP AND OFFERS ADVICE ON HOW EMPLOYERS CAN TAKE POSITIVE ACTION AROUND GENDER BALANCE IN THE WORKPLACE.
There has been increased focus over the last number of months on the gender pay gap in companies. This was triggered by the public’s reaction to the differences in salaries paid to high profile presenters in the BBC and RTÉ. However, this issue has been on the agenda for some time and governments across Europe and the USA have been attempting to tackle the gender gap in the workplace through the introduction of mandatory gender pay gap reporting. Ireland plans to do similarly. Commitments from the Programme for Partnership Government and the National Strategy for Women and Girls 2017-2020 propose to require companies of 50 employees or more to publish their gender pay and bonus gap. The aim of this action is to address barriers to the full socio-economic equality of women and girls in Ireland.
Although they are often discussed interchangeably, equal pay for equal work and the gender pay gap are distinct issues that require targeted solutions. Not rewarding equal pay for equal work is the practice of paying different wages – intentionally or not – to employees who do the same work. It is generally considered illegal discrimination and protected by our equality legislation.
The gender pay gap, however, refers to the difference between what is earned on average by women and men, based on average gross hourly earnings of all paid employees. Typically, it compares the pay received by all working women and by all working men; not only the pay of women and men in same or similar jobs, with the same working pattern or with similar competencies,
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Gender Pay Gap HR
There are a number of complex, interrelated issues that often contribute to a gender pay gap. They include:
Gender Segregated Labour Market
By and large the gap is a reflection of the persistent gender segregation of our labour markets. A number of sectors and jobs continue to be dominated by men or women. This is first and foremost due to traditional gender roles in society and the different educational and career choices of men and women. For example, according to the OECD, the low proportion of women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) fields of study and employment makes a significant impact because graduates of these fields are in high demand and as a result tend to be highly paid. This occupational segregation thus lends itself to a gender pay gap.
Balancing Work and Family Life
Women’s ability to participate in the labour market is constrained by the fact that they spend more time on unpaid work. They spend four times as much time on care work (time spent to care for a child or another adult) and twice as much on household work than men, regardless of the employment status of their partners, making them less available for paid work. Career gaps can result in a ‘motherhood penalty’ occurring due to interrupted employment, detachment from the labour market, possible deterioration of skills and networks, and loss of opportunities for training, promotion and salary increments that would be gained while in employment. These can contribute to a gender pay gap and a lack of gender balance in decisionmaking roles.
Availability of Quality, Affordable Childcare Facilities
The cost of early childhood care and education in Ireland for parents is among the highest in Europe. This is a barrier for families across a range of salary levels not just those on lower incomes. It represents the largest additional household cost associated with taking up employment. Currently in Ireland, despite an increase in investment in this area, the service provided in early childcare and education as well as out-of-school hours care is not consistently appropriate for the children or parents looking to avail of it. Research tells us that usually mothers are the ones who adjust their working arrangements to meet this challenge.
Over-Representation of Women in Part-Time Roles
While working part-time can reflect personal choices, the high share of female part-time employment may also stem from multiple constraints, including family and care-related reasons. Research on gender pay gaps reports that one of the main reasons for the gap is due to women having a lower level of human capital and working fewer hours. While educational attainment is often higher amongst females, it does not offset the loss of work experience. Where females are working reduced hours this ultimately equates to less experience, reduced benefits value (pensions/bonuses which are usually linked as a percentage of basic salary) and therefore can generate an earnings gap with their male counterparts.
Kara McGann is a Senior Labour Market Policy Executive in Ibec. She has been involved in the public consultation on tackling the gender pay gap.
qualifications or experience, but all the men and all the women working in an organisation. It does not indicate or mean discrimination, or an absence of equal pay for equal value work. Gender pay gap reporting, if conducted using an appropriate method that takes into account the size and scale of a business, has the potential to offer a real diagnostic tool to allow us focus on this issue. However, the proposed method will fail to measure what it purports to; create issues through misinformation regarding what a gender pay gap means; and will not identify where the particular issues arise in an organisation.
PRACTICAL SOLUTIONS What can employers do to take positive action around gender balance in the workplace? Conduct transparent and open recruitment and promotion processes. This involves ensuring that job descriptions do not contain unnecessary criteria or biased language and should be focused on the objective job requirements. Interview panels should be gender balanced and receive unconscious bias training. Introduce unconscious bias training to increase the awareness of people to the shortcuts and assumptions that they use. This involves examining the organisational culture to identify where practices and unwritten rules may be acting in contravention of policies and procedures. Examine performance management systems to see what is evaluated. Calibrate ratings to see if bias has caused any differences between male and female employees. Research tells us that men receive more constructive and developmental feedback than females so training for reviewers is key.
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DATE FOR YOUR DIARY The SFA Members’ Christmas Evening will take place on Thursday December 14th 2017 from 6.00-8.30pm at the SFA offices, 84-86 Lower Baggot Street, Dublin 2. Join us for festive food and
Paul Quinn, Government Chief Procurement Officer, and Paula Fitzsimons, Going for Growth
SFA Director Sven Spollen-Behrens speaking at the SFA Annual Lunch
drinks and toast the year with the small business community. This evening is an ideal opportunity to catch up with fellow SFA members and build upon your existing network in an informal and social setting. This evening is free of charge. You are welcome to bring along a friend or colleague but please register in advance at www.sfa.ie/events. We will look forward to seeing you on December 14th!
Shirley Walsh, Permanent TSB, Noel Connolly, AFT Blinds and Eve Connolly, AFT Blinds
Guest speaker Brent Pope, Michael Lauhoff, Bank of Ireland, Sue O’Neill, SFA Chair and Sven SpollenBehrens, SFA Director
A CELEBRATION OF SMALL BUSINESS
IN NOVEMBER, SFA MEMBERS GATHERED FOR THE BIGGEST BUSINESS LUNCH OF THE YEAR. Delegates at this year’s SFA Annual Lunch
SFA members brought together their staff, clients and business contacts in the Round Room of the Mansion House for the SFA Annual Lunch on November 10th. They were joined by the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Ministers, TDs, Senators, senior civil servants, leaders from across corporate Ireland and media representatives for the biggest business lunch of the year. The event was a social occasion and a celebration of Irish entrepreneurship. This was the main theme of the speech made by Sue O’Neill, SFA Chair. She commended members on their hard work, resilience and success over the last year. She also identified the main challenges currently facing small businesses, including a loss of competitiveness, rapid growth in wage expectations and skills shortages. She called on government to act in a more coherent fashion to support small businesses around Ireland. Attendees also heard from Michael Lauhoff, recently appointed Director of Business Banking in Bank of Ireland. Lauhoff provided insights into Ireland’s current economic performance and urged small businesses to step up their preparations for Brexit. Brent Pope was the guest speaker for the event and his speech proved to be the highlight of the day. He drew lessons from his life in rugby, broadcasting and business, focusing on passion and stepping out of your comfort zone. Thanks to all of you who made it along to the event. If you missed it, check out the highlights video on the SmallFirmsAssoc YouTube channel.
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THE FINALISTS IN THE SFA NATIONAL SMALL BUSINESS AWARDS 2018 HAVE BEEN OFFICIALLY UNVEILED BY SUE O’NEILL, SFA CHAIR AND CHAIR OF THE SFA AWARDS JUDGING PANEL. 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 sector to Irish industry. Thirty-nine companies have been selected as finalists, from 13 different counties, across eight categories. MANUFACTURING CATEGORY FINALISTS (up to 50 employees), sponsored by Energia: Aldar Tissues - Dublin Briody Bedding - Meath CUBE - Limerick Future Grass Technology - Carlow Kelly’s of Newport Artisan Butchers Mayo Leinster Environmentals - Louth FOOD & DRINK CATEGORY FINALISTS (up to 50 employees), sponsored by Bord Bia: Good4U - Sligo Kelly’s of Newport Artisan Butchers Mayo Oishii Foods - Dublin Pip and Pear Chilled Baby Food Waterford Revive Active - Galway The Tipperary Cheese Company Tipperary SERVICES CATEGORY FINALISTS (up to 50 employees), sponsored by Three: Adams & Butler - Dublin Homesecure.ie - Dublin Home Instead Senior Care - Dublin Irish Tax Rebates - Kildare Kerona Scientific - Dublin Revolve Marketing and PR - Dublin
Sven Spollen-Behrens, Director, SFA; An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, TD and Patron of the SFA Awards; Sue O’Neill, Chair, SFA
OUTSTANDING SMALL BUSINESS FINALISTS (up to five employees), sponsored by AIB: Coyle Group - Dublin Earth’s Edge - Dublin Loughran Family Malt - Louth Mezzo Music Academy - Dublin Modus Energy - Kilkenny TheTaste.ie - Dublin INNOVATOR OF THE YEAR FINALISTS (up to 50 employees), sponsored by Enterprise Ireland: Aalto Bio Reagents - Dublin APTVISION - Dublin CLIRINX - Dublin Easydry - Louth Future Grass Technology - Carlow Sonitus Systems - Dublin SUSTAINABLE ENERGY FINALISTS (up to 50 employees), sponsored by Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland: Aldar Tissues - Dublin Courtown Adventure & Leisure Centre - Wexford Kelly’s of Newport Artisan Butchers Mayo Starting Small Standing Tall - Limerick
EXPORTER OF THE YEAR FINALISTS (up to 50 employees), sponsored by DHL Express: Adams & Butler - Dublin Easydry - Louth Good4U - Sligo Kerona Scientific - Dublin Kora Healthcare - Dublin PolyPico Technologies - Galway Prodigy Learning - Dublin In addition, five of the best recently established companies have been selected to be profiled: EMERGING NEW BUSINESSES (up to 50 employees and under 2 years in business), sponsored by IE Domain Registry Dundalk Civil and Structural Engineering - Louth Happy Scribe - Dublin Heatese - Meath Medlaw Reporting - Dublin Zoan BioMed - Galway The awards prize package for all finalists includes a strategic management masterclass weekend, participation in the SFA Business Connect event as well as broad-ranging media coverage, valued at €50,000.
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THE REAL COST OF USING STANDARDS WITH BREXIT FAST APPROACHING, A GREAT WAY FOR IRISH BUSINESSES ON BOTH SIDES OF THE BORDER TO PREPARE IS TO GET CERTIFIED TO INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS, SAYS THE NATIONAL STANDARDS AUTHORITY OF IRELAND. A recent survey conducted by the crossborder agency, InterTradeIreland, revealed that just 2 per cent of businesses, north and south, have a plan in place to prepare for the effects of Brexit. With just over a year to go until the country’s relationship with its closest neighbour, competitor and ally is due to change fundamentally, business groups and political leaders may be wondering why some small businesses are failing to prioritise this momentous shift. The cost of doing business may be one explanation. The National Competitiveness Council says high insurance costs and rising salaries are putting pressure on companies, leading to reduced profitability or higher consumer prices. This in turn can force them to divert funds away from company growth and investment purposes – including any potential response to Brexit. One of the most effective ways that SMEs, particularly those that
Fergal O'Byrne, Head of Business Excellence, NSAI
trade with Britain, can prepare for such significant change is by getting certified to international standards, according to the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI). NSAI’s Head of Business Excellence Fergal O’Byrne says certification enables businesses to maintain a competitive edge, innovate and attract new customers. However, he advises that certification is often falsely seen as being prohibitively expensive for smaller companies to achieve. “There can be a perception among some smaller firms that certification isn’t for them, or that the cost of implementing standards is too high, but that couldn’t be further from the truth,” says O’Byrne. “For example, if you take a company that employs between five and 20 people, the cost of achieving certification stands at around €1,500 per year, over a threeyear certification cycle. While this is still a sizable amount of money for any organisation, it’s probably less than they thought – and oftentimes the cost of not being certified can be greater.” One small company that has seen first-hand the benefits of certification is Labplan. The Co Kildare-based laboratory instrument supplier employs just nine people, but has been certified to ISO 9001 for Quality Management Systems since 2003. This has enabled Labplan to build up its client base quickly and effectively, according to the company’s Managing Director Aidan Smyth. “We were recommended to get certified by all our customers, in both the pharmaceutical and educational sectors,” says Smyth. “In fact, certification was a perquisite to deal with pharma companies so, for us, it was a no-brainer.”
“THERE CAN BE A PERCEPTION AMONG SOME SMALLER FIRMS THAT CERTIFICATION ISN’T FOR THEM BUT THAT COULDN’T BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH.” “Most of the cost relating to certification is in the implementation of standards into the grand scheme of things, but the benefits far outweigh any financial impact considering the large amount of work we’ve undertaken as a result. “From a good practice point of view, whether you’re a distributor or a manufacturer, it’s important to use standards. It reinforces good discipline, which can sometimes be difficult for organisations, and you get great support from the NSAI in that regard.” Currently more than 3,000 Irish companies, including SMEs, are certified by NSAI to international standards. As we move closer to March 2019, that number could increase as more and more firms consider their Brexit response, and aim to minimise its impact through the use of international standards. NSAI’s Business Excellence team is available to answer any queries relating to management systems certifications. For more information visit www.nsai.ie/management-systems
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ACCESSING LOWER COST FINANCE NICK ASHMORE, CEO, STRATEGIC BANKING CORPORATION OF IRELAND (SBCI), OUTLINES HOW IRISH SMES CAN BENEFIT FROM AN SBCI LOAN. Providing access to lower cost finance lies at the heart of the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) mission. The SBCI was set up in late 2014 to address issues SMEs were facing in the credit market in Ireland following the banking crisis. Specifically, the SBCI was put in place to secure sources of long-term lower cost funding for SMEs. An initial €800 million of funding from the German development bank, KFW, the European Investment Bank and the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund has been fully allocated to our current lending partners. Up to the end of June 2017, the SBCI had supported 21,132 Irish SMEs with loans totalling €855m. Between them these SMEs employ over 106,728 people. In addition, SBCI has guaranteed an additional €150m in lending to the agricultural sector in Ireland through the agricultural cashflow support loan scheme. SMEs are borrowing funds at an average of 1.15 per cent less than they could source elsewhere. The average loan size is €42,000 with a good geographic spread throughout Ireland.
SBCI finance is available to businesses in almost every sector of the Irish economy, and we encourage any SME that has not thought about an SBCI loan to consider the benefits our finance can bring. The benefits for businesses that secure loans through SBCI include a lower cost and longer repayment periods, delivering cashflow advantages to SMEs. So far, 84 per cent of SBCI loans have been used by SMEs for investing in growing their business, with the remaining 16 per cent split between working capital and refinancing loans from banks that have exited the Irish market.
Nick Ashmore, CEO, Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland
Lowdown on Lenders
SBCI is not a retail bank lending directly to businesses; rather it acts as a channel for lower cost funding from European and domestic sources to financial institutions, with the cost and flexibility benefits passed along to SME borrowers. Along with traditional
“UP TO THE END OF JUNE 2017, THE SBCI HAD SUPPORTED 21,132 IRISH SMES WITH LOANS TOTALLING €855M.”
banks, the SBCI has brought on board four non-bank lenders. The successful rollout of SBCI loans owes much to the commitment and SME focus of our onlending banking partners; AIB, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank along with nonbanking partners Finance Ireland, Fexco, First Citizen Finance and Bibby Financial Services Ireland. Bringing non-bank lenders into the market is a way of driving competition along with providing more niche loan products including leasing, hire purchase and fleet finance, agri-equipment finance and invoice finance. You can find further information on how to apply for SBCI loans and our contact details at www.sbci.gov.ie.
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BONUS EXPECTATIONS NEW RESEARCH BY ONE4ALL REWARDS SHOWS THAT A MAJORITY OF IRISH EMPLOYEES BELIEVE EMPLOYERS SHOULD GIVE THEIR STAFF A BONUS THIS CHRISTMAS
New research by One4all Rewards shows that Irish businesses have a great opportunity to surprise and delight their staff this Christmas. Despite 65 per cent of respondents believing that they deserve a Christmas bonus, and 85 per cent agreeing that employers should give staff bonuses for the holiday season, 51 per cent are still not expecting a Christmas bonus. Additionally, there is low awareness of the €500 tax-free small benefit exemption on non-cash rewards available to all Irish employers. Just under half (48 per cent) of respondents are aware of this exemption. Findings show that despite a low number of workers feeling that they will
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receive a bonus for their hard work, it would go a long way toward improving their holidays. A whopping 72 per cent of respondents say that receiving a bonus would significantly improve their Christmas, and 51 per cent say that they spend some of their Christmas bonus each year on gifting – relieving some pressure from what can be a very expensive season. Michael Dawson, CEO, One4all, said of the new findings: “It is hugely heartening to see that Irish workers believe that they are deserving of a bonus. What is disappointing, however, is the high level of employees that do not expect a Christmas bonus this year, and the low
level of awareness €500 tax-free small benefit exemption on non-cash rewards. In a climate where increasing importance is put on employee wellness and engagement, employers need to consider how these small rewards can have a big impact on their staff during the holiday season.” The One4all Gift Card is accepted in over 8,000 outlets nationwide and online. Taxfree staff rewards up to the value of €500 can be purchased from One4all Rewards online at one4allrewards.ie or via the corporate sales team on 01 870 8181 or email@example.com.
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TOP OF THE PILE
MAZDA HAS RELEASED A HIGH SPEC VERSION OF ITS CX-3 COMPACT CROSSOVER, THE GT LUX. CONOR FORREST TOOK IT FOR A TEST DRIVE.
he Mazda CX-3 falls into the rather generic sounding category of the compact crossover, a taller and chunkier version of the Mazda 2 built to satisfy a market that enjoys the dimensions of a small car but prefers the eagle eye view from something taller. The latest addition to this particular range is the GT LUX, a top of the range version that’s admittedly better looking in the flesh than on paper – well-proportioned, tall but with a sporty stance, adding an extra dash of comfort and style to the mix. Underneath the hood, your options are relatively limited – a 1.5L 105hp diesel block and a 2.0L 120hp petrol alternative. The latter isn’t the most efficient, averaging 6.7L/100km (42mpg), but it’s a fabulous smooth motorway cruiser with plenty of overtaking poke and a pleasant growl, paired with a six-speed manual gearbox particularly suited to heavy traffic. The CX-3’s excellent suspension set-up means it’s a very comfortable car on the road but still fun to drive – agile, plenty of grip and better handling than you might imagine from a family car, although I found the steering to be just a touch on the heavy side. As it’s based on the Mazda 2 supermini, it’s a doddle to manoeuvre.
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Mazda 2.0L GT LUX Engine: 2.0L Skyactiv-G Power: 120hp Transmission: Six-speed manual 0-100km/h: 9 seconds Fuel efficiency: 6/7L/100km (42mpg) Annual tax: €280 Price: €28,596 (CX-3 range starts at €20,995)
Attention to Detail According to Mazda, the CX-3’s interior is the result of a ‘human-centric’ approach, designed with attention to detail and boosted by intelligent technology. Despite mostly featuring plastic material, with dashes of leather throughout (including figure-hugging leather seats), the GT LUX’s interior is indeed a touch of class, one of the best in the segment, wellbuilt and well laid out for the driver,
modern and intuitive, though it could do with a few more storage pockets. Visibility front and to the side is great, though glancing over your shoulder is hindered a little by the narrow rear passenger windows, and the cabin is wellinsulated. And ten points to Gryffindor for a proper old-school handbrake. You’ll also find a decent set of toys – cruise control, speed warning, a head-up display that keeps you up to date with information including speed limits and navigational directions, touchscreen media centre, Smart City Brake Support (helps prevent or reduce low speed collisions), lane departure warning, reversing camera and heated seats and steering wheel come as standard on the GT LUX. Even the base model SE comes with stop/start, keyless entry and hill launch assist from the go. Given its supermini foundations, practicality is where the CX-3 loses a few marks. Headroom is impressive but with two adults sitting comfortably up front, rear passengers will feel a little squashed. Boot space is less than
average at 287L thanks to the underfloor Bose subwoofer, though there is some hidden storage, and space rises to 1,197L by dropping the back seats. So, is it worth forking out for the range topper? Pricing for the GT LUX begins from €28,995 (€20,995 for the base model), which weighs up relatively well against similarly specc’d competitors like the Nissan Juke (€26,945) or the Peugeot 2008 (€27,480), both with 1.6L engines. All three have roughly the same boot space, towing capabilities and spec levels, though the Mazda wins out in terms of overall interior room and styling. If you’ve got a growing family, you might want to consider larger options including the Renault Kadjar or the Nissan Qashqai – bigger vehicles with more space and a similar ride height, though you’ll spend more for the same level of features. But, if you’re in the market for something with a bit of poke, a decent equipment list and you don’t need to cart around a huge amount of luggage every day, take the GT LUX for a test drive. SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 61
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HECKLERS AND JOKES FALLING FLAT AREN’T THE ONLY THINGS THAT CAN TEST A STAND-UP COMIC. MAKING COMEDY YOUR FULL-TIME PROFESSION CAN BE A CHALLENGE, DISCOVERED DEAN VAN NGUYEN.
Comedian Karl Spain
Ireland has long been a roost for standup comics. The local scenes here could reasonably be described as thriving, as new stars continuously germinate on the stages of The International Bar in Dublin, The CoCo Club Cork, wherever. Some, like Dara Ó Briain and Maeve Higgins, have traversed the planet with huge success. Others hustle through the festival circuit every year. Whatever the case, behind each comic is a business.
Laughter is a kind of currency, but currency is also revenue – something that has to be banked each week. You might think comedians survive and thrive on their name and reputation, but not always. According to Irish comedy veteran Karl Spain, not even all bookers see comics as distinct, individual performers. “I don’t think comedy is respected in a lot of ways,” says Spain, who cites some clients’ motivation to hire simply “a
comedian”, as though they could all do an equally good job. “Will I bring my car to a mechanic or will I just go with the young fella with a Scalextric set?” Spain asks mockingly. “They think we’re all the same.” Regardless, the Limerick native has etched out a career as one of Ireland’s most celebrated comedians. He performs onstage regularly and has racked up credits on several TV shows, including RTÉ’s Karl Spain Wants a Woman, a series that aired
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your own abilities. You go, ‘Whatever happens here I can deal with this’, be it a heckle, be it an incident. Couples have started fighting in the front row of a gig. All sorts of things happen.” Even for the most experienced performers, there’s a huge effort that goes into some gags – from the writing through to the live workshopping – before they’re ready for major shows. “There’s people on the Irish comedy circuit who are naturally hilariously funny – so funny you’re crying laughing at them,” says Cooke. “But they’re also quite disciplined. They write and they’re prolific. “Jokes for me are like puzzles. But they’re puzzles in my own head that I’ve come up with and I need to find resolution in it,” he adds. “You can look at it on a piece of paper and see it and turn it upside down from the other angle. But until I go on stage and say it, I don’t know if a joke has legs. But when I hear the crowd laugh, I realise that the audience are telling me more about the joke than I realised.” He adds: “It’s about finding out what you find funny. I would have wanted to be a Bill Hicks. He would have been a big influence on me. But when you start writing jokes, for me, I was coming up with stupid ones.”
in 2005. “My earnings are at a position where I’m doing better than if I had a job,” he tells me. Like most self-employed jobs, the quality of gigs varies from week-to-week. Spain recalls having to break a vow to never turn down a paid job when he was offered €20 plus as many sandwiches and drinks as he wanted to perform at a County Clare pub for four hours. And then there was the time he was shooting a scene for a TV show on a horse, later realising that hiring the animal had cost the production more than his fee. “‘But the horse has been in Game of Thrones and Vikings,’” he was told. “The first thing you as a comedian think, ‘Can I use that on stage?’ It’s always that thing of something funny has happened, even if you’re the victim of it or it’s something tragic for you, you’re already going, ‘Can I use that?’”
Workload Fred Cooke had an unusual tactic when he began a career in comedy. “When I started off, I couldn’t get gigs so I ran my own venue,” he tells me. “Sure I was booking myself, it was great.” For years, Cooke has been a familiar face to anyone who regularly watches live comedy, but has only recently decided to go full-time. “I was working weekdays and then working weekends at stand-up and there was no release,” he says. “I was exhausted.” A reminder of the testing schedule facing anyone who double jobs it. Indeed, the workload of a comedian is greater than you might expect. Because while comedy takes a certain amount of natural talent, it’s also a skill that needs to be nurtured and practiced. That takes time. “There’s skills you learn doing it over and over again,” asserts Spain. “You learn things and you get confident in
Cooke sees a kind of paradox in the comedian’s craft: taking jokes seriously. There’s a tremendous amount of work that goes into his shows, so that when he hits the festival circuit each year, his fans will see a whole new act. “I walk on stage and I’m the clown, and it’s not for [the audience] to know that I’ve worked to come up with a new show. It’s for them to sit back and enjoy it and laugh. On my side, the discipline of coming back with a new show. I enjoy that process.” Though you might imagine stand-up comedy to have a somewhat competitive slant – particularly with there only being so many paid gigs out there – Spain says that those moving through the scene are mostly tightly knit. “Ninety-odd per cent of comedians will look out for each other,” he says. “[They] will keep a gauge of how people are doing.” “We’re all just trying to get on and do our 20 minutes and try to enjoy the night,” adds Cooke. “That’s what I’ve always generally felt in Irish stand-up.” SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 63
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The iconic Shanghai skyline
City God Temple of Shanghai
BUSINESS SHANGHAI RECAPTURING ITS POSITION AS EAST ASIA’S LEADING FINANCIAL HUB MAKES SHANGHAI AN IDEAL PLACE TO DELVE INTO THE CHINESE MARKET, WRITES ELLEN FLYNN.
The rise in the number of middle class Chinese people and their curiosity for the world is having an impact on Ireland, with more and more tourists from China flocking to these shores each year. Whether this trend has impacted your business or not, you might be assessing how you can repay the favour by dipping a toe into the lucrative Chinese market. If you are, Shanghai is an obvious place to start. Known as China’s financial and commercial hub, it’s a popular spot for both tourists and business travellers alike. As Shanghai begins to regain its position as East Asia’s leading business destination, a status it held before World War II, the skyline continues to fill with high-rises as global companies establish bases there. This iconic skyline gives us some indication about China’s economic positioning in the world. Hint: it’s up there. As of yet there are no direct flights from Dublin to Shanghai (or between Ireland and China for that matter), but there are flights from London taking around 12 hours. Indeed, there have been calls from numerous organisations such as Tourism Ireland to develop direct air links between the two countries. Cathay Pacific’s new direct route between Dublin and Hong Kong, beginning
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g for Travellin Business
The ancient town of Zhujiajiao
GETTING THE BEST DEAL Xiao long bao with dipping suace
in June 2018, is at least a start. Upon arrival in Shanghai, from Pudong airport, take the Maglev train to the city centre for a glimpse of how impressively modern this city is. Travelling at 431 km/h (twice the speed of a theme park roller coaster), this air-conditioned, super-clean, magnetically levitated train covers 30km in only eight minutes, though you’ll feel like you’re barely moving! When it comes to finding a luxurious place to rest your head, Shanghai will deliver. For a perfect blend of eastern and western culture in a stylish high-rise building, opt for The PuLi. With 193 luxurious rooms and 36 premier suites, this hotel is the ultimate respite for a business trip, offering state-ofthe-art gym facilities, a pool and a wellness centre run by Anantara Spa. For private events or conferences, The PuLi is a prime spot for business meetings, lunches and drinks providing a variety of venue options including an open-air garden, an all-day private dining room and various multifunctional meeting rooms. The hotel can also host small, tailored banquets for up to 150 people. If you’d prefer to separate business from leisure during your stay then the Mandarin Oriental is also a great spot for any business
meeting or event you may be required to host. With function rooms and conference rooms available for full or half day rates, you’ll be provided with excellent care and attention throughout. Shanghai attracts some of the world’s finest chefs looking to set up shop and make a name for themselves in the early part of their career, which means the city is a prime location for foodies. This, paired with the numerous Michelin star restaurants dotted around the city, make eating in Shanghai a delectable experience, not to mention the delicious food available on almost every street corner. If you’re looking to clinch a deal over a bite to eat we recommend booking in at the Ritz-Carlton Jin Xuan restaurant. With the impressive skyline view over the Bund and a Michelin star menu, you and your guests are sure to complete your business in a great atmosphere with satisfied stomachs. But if you’re out and about and need a quick fix during the day, then you’re also in luck, because street food in Shanghai is second to none. A hot, tasty bao from street vendors will whet your appetite while you conduct errands, and numerous dumpling eateries will provide excellent fare if you’d like to keep it local and traditional. Try the xiaolongbao if you’re able. It’s a classic Shanghai dish consisting of a seafood soup with steamed dumplings. Shanghai might be a city of wheelers and dealers but the city swings with the best of them. To while away the day’s end (and some hours into tomorrow too) head down to Liquid Laundry. Though not a traditional Chinese establishment, it’s not to be missed. The eclectic atmosphere and DJ sets merged with the scrumptious menu and vast array of craft beers and cocktails make it the perfect place to relax after a day’s business is done.
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FLIGHTS There are no direct flights from Dublin to Shanghai as of yet, but there is one direct from London with British Airways getting you there in about 12 hours. HOTEL Working with a local representative company will give you a much stronger negotiating position, and in most cases will save you a lot of money when booking your hotel. TRANSPORT The Shanghai metro is one of the fastest growing transport systems in the world, so if you can brave a bit of pushing and shoving, it will take you wherever you want to go. Taxi cabs are in abundance, but make sure you know where you’re going in Mandarin before you flag one down.
GOOGLE ALERT Many websites like Google and Facebook are banned in China, so be sure to buy a virtual private network (VPN) before you travel if you’re likely to need them during your stay. APPS Before your trip, download the SmartShanghai app which will not only tell you what’s hot in the city, but also provide you with useful travel cards with destinations written both in English and Mandarin, a must when travelling by taxi.
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HOURS IN SHANGHAI ONE DAY OFF? HERE’S HOW TO SPEND IT 9AM | TOWERING VIEWS
Morning is the best time to head up the Shanghai Tower, China’s highest building and the world’s second tallest. Jin Mao Tower and the Shanghai World Financial Center are visible from the top where you can get the requisite tourist photo looking straight up. You’ll also get a glimpse of the tops of all three buildings in one shot, if you’re so inclined.
THE PULI Combining the convenience of urban living with the peace of a resort spa, The PuLi Hotel is a great option for a short or long stay. W: www.thepuli.com/zh-hans T: +86 21 3203 9999 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
1PM | ZHUJIAJIAO
Use this time of the day to take a leisurely stroll around Zhujiajiao, an ancient water town with fascinating canals, bridges, and architecture. 5PM | TEMPLE TOUR
For an authentic feel of Chinese history and culture, The City of God Temple is a must. It was in use in the early 1400s and dedicated to the spirit of Jinshan, or Gold Mountain, where people prayed for peace and good fortune. Make sure to take a tour around the classical Yuyuan Garden while you’re in the area.
7PM | BOHEMIAN SHANGHAI
Tianzifang is a little pocket of bohemia amidst the modernity of Shanghai. Consisting of various craft stores, tea shops and open air bars, it’s a great spot to pick up a trinket, or people watch as the city sky melts into the evening hours. 10PM | NIGHTLIFE
For an evening bite and a slice of nightlife, head to Liquid Laundry for some of the tastiest cuisine Shanghai has to offer. Dance and drink the night away with unique cocktail recipes and a colourful atmosphere.
MANDARIN ORIENTAL With function rooms available for full or half day rates, you’ll be provided with excellent care and attention at the Mandarin Oriental. W: www.mandarinoriental.com/shanghai/ pudong/luxury-hotel T: +86 21 2082 9888 E: email@example.com
The Bund of Shanghai panorama at night
KERRY HOTEL With a name that’s hard to ignore, the luxury five-star Kerry Hotel provides comfortably appointed rooms, suites and restaurants as well as excellent amenities. W: www.shangri-la.com/cn/shanghai/ kerryhotelpudong T: +86 21 6169 8886 E: www.shangri-la.com/shanghai/ kerryhotelpudong/contact-us/email-us
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EXPERIENCING BURNOUT IS A REAL RISK FOR SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN IT HAS TO BE ACCEPTED.
> Spot the Signs
Entrepreneurs generally live, eat and sleep their business. Putting in long hours each day, shouldering the stress of make-or-break decisions as well as responsibility for their staff, many small business owners fall prey to burnout. According to Patricia Murray, Organisational Psychologist with the HSA, there is no ‘certain’ road to burnout, however there are many viable interventions that can be used along the way. But before interventions are made, it is important to identify the signs. “Burnout is a concept which brings together three facets – very low belief that anything you do actually makes a difference,” explains Murray. “It can also mean very low energy levels, nearly exhausted all the time. And finally, signs of cynicism, which brings a sense of pointlessness on a more philosophical scale to your world view.”
> Share the Load
Delegation and sharing the burden are key strategies to avoid burnout. For business owners it is important to have networks where you can meet others who face similar challenges. Often you can diffuse problems by simply talking them out. It is also critical to have access to expertise – easily and speedily. “Time is money for the self-employed so if the process of seeking help is going to be a long drawn out one – like having to wait ten minutes at the end of a phoneline – it’s not a solution!” says Murray. “Also respect the views of others; sometimes leaders – entrepreneurs or self-starters – do not share this tendency and can start on the road to ruin where they actually believe that they are better positioned, and just better intrinsically, than those around them.”
> Work Backwards
So what advice should be given to someone attempting to overcome burnout? “Read up on it – so you can identify the feelings, rather than just intellectually knowing what the theory is,” says Murray. “Bypass the origins and go straight to the behaviours – if you are behaving this way, work backwards. What started this or when did it start? Ask those closest to you – do they think you seem different lately? That’s an invitation for them to speak to you. It’s much much easier to prevent a bad situation turning into a dreadful one and overpowering you, than it is to come back if you actually go over the edge and become unwell from burnout.” W: www.workpositive.ie SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 67
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A Day in the Life
AN EVENTFUL DAY CREATING AND MANAGING EVENTS, NOT JUST IN IRELAND BUT GLOBALLY, EVENTHAUS HAS GROWN ITS EVENTS’ PORTFOLIO TO INCLUDE TRADE AND CONSUMER EVENTS AND CONFERENCES. FOUNDER AND MANAGING DIRECTOR GARRET BUCKLEY TALKS US THROUGH A TYPICAL WORKING DAY.
Garret Buckley speaking at the World of Coffee event in Budapest
6.30AM Alarm goes off and I’m up, ready for the day ahead. A quick scan of my inbox as it’s normally full of emails from the US. One of our clients is the Speciality Coffee Association, and they’re based in America and Europe. Due to the various time zones, there’s often lots of emails to catch up on. 9AM Working across multiple shows, with many organisations, communication is key so regular team meetings are essential. When I founded the company in 2010, it was just an events assistant and myself. Since then, we’ve grown to a team of ten events professionals. There are only two types of people in the events world – those who love and excel at events and those who it just doesn’t work for. We are so lucky at Eventhaus to have a team of passionate professionals who are willing to go the extra mile for an events success. 11AM We’re currently working on Food & Bev Live, which is taking place in Citywest Events Centre next February. We organise this event for CATEX on behalf of the Irish Foodservice Suppliers Alliance and I meet with the steering group committee regularly to update them on stand sales, visitor registrations, marketing campaigns, logistics and to introduce new ideas – everything that’s essential to running a successful event. 12PM We’re in the business of people and so meetings are a huge part of my day. My next meeting is with one of the associations that are responsible for a particular feature at a show. Show content is so important. All of our events invest heavily on features and content, as this is what drives footfall and ultimate success. 1PM I have a quick lunch. We’re based in Malahide so enjoying good food is never a problem – we’re spoilt for choice! 2PM I attend a new business meeting with a sector organisation. It’s our job to help an organisation shape an event, ensure it’s profitable, has longevity and is of real value to visitors. From coffee to gardening and interior design, we work across many sectors applying our specialism of event management and this is one of things that I enjoy most; new people, new communities, learning about new industries. 3PM Time for a project meeting. This could be in Phoenix Park ahead of Bloom, in a beautiful restaurant ahead of CATEX, or in a hardware premises planning The Hardware Show. Our portfolio of events is diverse and includes The World of Coffee, CATEX, Food & Bev Live and on the consumer side, Bloom and House. 5PM It’s the last hour of calls, I catch up on emails and business development before heading home. As the business owner, I’m always on the lookout for new events and clients, therefore I may have left the office but I am often thinking of new ideas, how we can deliver further innovation to our events and of industries that we can help. 7PM - In the winter, it’s squash, and in the summer, it’s sailing! This is my opportunity to clear the mind in preparation for the next day. WWW.EVENTHAUS.IE
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Ashville Media Group is Ireland’s largest publishing and events company. You’ve almost certainly read our magazines or attended our events. Our mission is to connect your brand with the largest audience in Ireland.
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