S U P P O R T I N G E N T R E P R E N E U R S | VA L U I N G S M A L L B U S I N E S S | R E WA R D I N G R I S K TA K E R S | A U T U M N 2 01 7
BUSINESS HARD GRAFT AT CRAFT BETTER BUSINESS Q3 2017
DIXON ON DATA
A LOOK AT THE IRISH CRAFT BREWING INDUSTRY
DATA CHIEF HELEN DIXON ON THE NEW GDPR
HE Y F T
BROUGHT TO YOU BY
ER M A
IRISH MAGAZINE AWARDS 2016
VOYA’S MARK AND KIRA WALTON ON MAKING WAVES IN THE SEAWEED BUSINESS
THE BENEFITS TO BUSINESS OF EMPLOYEE SHARE OPTION SCHEMES
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S U P P O R T I N G E N T R E P R E N E U R S | VA L U I N G S M A L L B U S I N E S S | R E WA R D I N G R I S K TA K E R S | A U T U M N 2 01 7
WELCOME AUTUMN 2017
BUSINESS HARD GRAFT AT CRAFT BETTER BUSINESS Q3 2017
DIXON ON DATA
A LOOK AT THE IRISH CRAFT BREWING INDUSTRY
DATA CHIEF HELEN DIXON ON THE NEW GDPR
Welcome to Better Business, a magazine dedicated to the small business community.
ER M A
IRISH MAGAZINE AWARDS 2016
HE Y F T
BROUGHT TO YOU BY
VOYA’S MARK AND KIRA WALTON ON MAKING WAVES IN THE SEAWEED BUSINESS
THE BENEFITS TO BUSINESS OF EMPLOYEE SHARE OPTION SCHEMES
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Since taking up the post as Director
On the cover: Mark and Kira Walton of VOYA Cover Photograph: Paul McCarthy
of the Small Firms Association on September 1st, I have had the opportunity to meet some of you, the members of SFA. I look forward
Editor: Joseph O’Connor Managing Editor: Mary Connaughton
to meeting many more owner-managers over the coming months and to hearing
Creative Director: Jane Matthews
your experiences and concerns.
Designer: Alan McArthur Editorial Contributors: Tiernan Cannon, Orla Connolly, Ellen Flynn, Conor Forrest, Valerie Jordan, Louise Kenrick, John Kinsella, Ciara McGuone, Dean Van Nguyen Production Manager: Mary Connaughton Production Executive: Nicole Ennis Account Director: Shane Kelly Sales Director: Paul Clemenson Managing Director: Gerry Tynan Chairman: Diarmaid Lennon
Already, I have been inspired by the stories I have read in this latest edition of Better Business – the rise of the craft brewing industry, how small companies are carving out a niche in the new world of data analytics and the incredible talent and perseverance of our featured female entrepreneurs. Elsewhere in these pages, you will find guidance on setting wages in your organisation, top tips on running a successful corporate event and a run down of the small business priorities submitted to Government ahead of Budget 2018. If you think you could be the best small business in Ireland, turn to the feature on the SFA National Small Business Awards to find out how to enter. This magazine contains stories that inform, inspire and entertain. It showcases and celebrates the achievements of small companies, provides advice to help you
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, however, accept responsibility for errors or omissions. Reproduction by any means in whole or in part without the permission of the publisher is prohibited. © Ashville Media Group 2017. All discounts, promotions and
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 over 40 years. We are a trusted partner to over 8,500 member companies, spanning every sector and county. We want to make Ireland the most vibrant small business community in the world – an environment that supports entrepreneurship, values small business and rewards risk takers. Better Business is the magazine of the small business community. We welcome your feedback, suggestions and ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SFA_Irl.
competitions contained in this magazine are run independently of Better Business. The promoter/advertiser is responsible for honouring the prize. ISSN 2009-9118
Sven Spollen-Behrens Director, Small Firms Association
SFA is a trading name of Ibec.
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CONTENTS AUTUMN 2017
05 12 14
Big News for Small Business: News, views and profiles from SFA members and small businesses in Ireland
A Fair Share A look at the benefits to business of introducing employee share option schemes
Trials of the Female Founder Four successful female entrepreneurs making their mark in Ireland
Cover Story We speak to Mark and Kira Walton, the couple behind Irish beauty and skincare brand VOYA
The Data Game How using data in the right way can help shape your business and boost your bottom line
Sector Spotlight We check the pulse of the craft brewing industry and chat to four brewers proving that size doesn’t matter
Dixon on Data Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon on the new GDPR and what it means for Irish businesses
Small Business Profile We meet Seán Kelly, the man behind award-winning company Kelly’s of Newport Artisan Butchers
The Art of Setting Salaries Employers and recruiters offer advice on setting and revising employee salaries
Trading Places We catch up with Dr John O’Shea, one of many Irish ex-pats forging a successful path in Singapore
Arts/Culture Writer Kevin Curran speaks about his two novels and capturing a new-age Ireland
A Day in the Life... of Karen Keogh, Head of Operations at EPIC Ireland
20 25 30 36 40 42 44 68 76
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FROM TOP LEFT: Seán Kelly, proprietor of Kelly’s Artisan Butchers, on what makes an award-winning food company, page 40 // Metalman Brewing’s Gráinne Walsh, who shares her thoughts on craft brewing challenges, page 30 // Shirley O’Kelly, one of four female entrepreneurs we profile, page 14 // Dr John O’Shea, an Irish ex-pat forging a successful path in Singapore, page 44
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ARE YOU GDPR READY? Many companies are feeling paralysed by the significant General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) legislation coming into effect in May 2018 and are not sure where to start. A straightforward GDPR readiness assessment can help to determine what actions you need to take going forward.
BIG NEWS FOR SMALL BUSINESS Michael O’Hara, Managing Director, DataSolutions, and David Keating, Security Specialist, DataSolutions
If you answer yes to these three questions you need to get GDPR ready: Does your organisation hold customer, employee or supplier data?
Is the data stored in multiple sources?
For more on GDPR and what it means for your business go to our interview slot with Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon on page 36.
Would it be a challenge to provide an audit trail of your customer data? To be prepared for GDPR, you will need to have an in-depth understanding of your customer data and processes clearly mapped to the guidance provided by legal counsel. Technology products, services and solutions provider Tech Data is helping small firms apply the right duty of care to their customer data – which is critical to becoming GDPR ready. You can request a consultation to discuss a GDPR readiness assessment by emailing services. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Three-Quarters of Firms Upped Security After WannaCry
New research has found that 73 per cent of companies have made changes to their IT security as a direct result of the WannaCry ransomware incident. The research, carried out by IT firm DataSolutions, also found that one-fifth of senior IT decision-makers in Ireland would pay a ransom if under attack from cybercriminals. In May 2017, approximately 200,000 computers in 150 countries, including Ireland, were infected by the unprecedented WannaCry ransomware attack. Despite widespread upgrades to Irish security systems since the attack, DataSolutions found that a significant 30 per cent of respondents still don’t think that their organisation is capable of protecting itself against emerging threats.
SFA APPOINTS NEW DIRECTOR Sven Spollen-Behrens has been appointed as Director of the Small Firms Association, effective from September 1st 2017. SpollenBehrens has extensive senior management experience, having led trade associations in Berlin, Brussels and Dublin. His background working on urban regeneration projects in Blackrock Village, Dún Laoghaire Town, Sligo and Sandyford, as well as his experience of setting up and running his own business, have given him an in-depth and first-hand knowledge of the challenges that small companies face in Ireland. He is looking forward to meeting many SFA members at events over the coming months. He can be contacted on 01 605 1602 or at email@example.com.
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One of Ireland’s leading entrepreneurs, Jerry Kennelly, who featured in the last issue of Better Business, has been presented with the TK Whitaker Award, the highest honour that the Irish Academy of Management (IAM) can bestow. Previous recipients include Denis Brosnan (2014), Margaret Downes (2015) and Dr Martin Naughton (2016). The pre-eminent body for academics researching management and business in Ireland, the IAM, recognised Kennelly for “his significant contributions to business and the wider community of current and future entrepreneurs in Ireland and beyond”.
NORTH-WEST AWARDED AS EU ENTREPRENEURIAL REGION Minister of State at the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation Pat Breen has welcomed the EU decision to award Ireland’s northern and western region as European Entrepreneurial Region 2018. The counties involved are Donegal, Mayo, Galway, Sligo, Roscommon, Leitrim, Monaghan and Cavan. During a visit to Galway, Minister Breen welcomed the announcement and emphasised the importance of start-ups and small business to the rural economy. “New start-ups and small businesses are critical for the Irish economy as a whole, and for balanced regional development,” he said.
ENTREPRENEUR RECEIVES PRESTIGIOUS AWARD
Entrepreneur Jerry Kennelly receiving the TK Whitaker Award
WRC OPENS SLIGO OFFICE
Minister Joe McHugh has formally opened the Sligo Regional Services Office of the Workplace Relations Commission. Speaking at the opening event on June 19th, the minister said: “It is a very significant moment as it represents the first step in the WRC extending its full range of services across all of its regional offices to ensure that the same services provided in Dublin are available across the country.” The process is due to be rolled out across the country, with the next phase in Shannon, and the Cork and Carlow offices of the WRC following in due course.
RECRUITERS TURN TO PROFESSIONALS
Recruitment firm Three Q PERMS & TEMPS has announced that it is extending its services to professional sectors – from office support to sales and marketing – as well as expanding its workforce. Until now, the recruitment specialists provided permanent and temporary recruitment solutions for the hospitality and medical sectors. “We believe that increasing and strengthening the skills and relationships within our business has led to the growth of our agency,” says Zanine Wyeth, Sales and Recruitment Manager. “We are pleased that in the current economic climate a small business like ours has the strength to grow, and we want to help you expand your workforce and grow with us.” Three Q PERMS & TEMPS is now offering SFA members 20 per cent off their first hire. If you wish to avail of this offer please contact Zanine at 01 8783335.
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The Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment is working on a new Europen project which brings together partners from nine countries to exchange experiences and practices on the implementation and delivery of green public procurement. The project, GPP4 Growth, will support public procurers to identify and utilise new opportunities to leverage their purchasing power to stimulate green growth. The latest data (2015) indicates that approximately €18.3 billion of government expenditure is spent on procurement of works, goods, and services for the state. This purchasing power could offer a significant opportunity to promote environmentally friendly and resource efficient goods and services. Small firms are a vital component in the provision of goods and services throughout the country. They are important stakeholders in how and where the public purse is spent. The design and delivery of government procurement policy impacts significantly on small firms and their clients. By taking an interest in public procurement practices and getting involved, small firms can ensure they are ‘shovel-ready’ for the opportunities that arise in supplying goods and services to public bodies. For more information, contact Irene.Cadogan@DCCAE.gov.ie
NEW POLICY ON REGISTERING .IE DOMAIN NAME PROPOSED The IE Domain Registry (IEDR) has announced that public consultation on the liberalisation of .ie domain registration and naming policy has begun and will run until September 30th. Currently, to register a .ie domain name, an individual or business must prove that they have a valid claim to the desired name and a real, tangible connection to the island of Ireland. IEDR’s proposal is to retain the requirement for registrants to prove their connection to Ireland, but drop the need to prove a valid claim to the name. If the policy change is approved, any individual or business with a provable connection to Ireland will be able to register a .ie domain name on a first-come, first-served basis. Further information and an FAQ on the proposed policy change is set out at www.iedr. ie/liberalisation. Members of the public interested in submitting their opinions on the proposed policy change should visit www.iedr.ie/public-consultation by September 30th.
GREEN OPPORTUNITY FOR SMALL FIRMS
IRISH INNOVATORS MAKE MARK IN THE US Dublin-based company and Innovator of the Year at the 2017 SFA National Small Business Awards, Aalto Bio Reagents, has been making waves Stateside. The manufacturer and provider of raw materials to the in-vitro diagnostics industry received coverage in Medical Product Outsourcing, a US-based online magazine dedicated to the growing trend of medical device outsource manufacturing. The article focused on how the Irish company was the first in the world to produce proteins needed to diagnose the Zika virus disease linked to severe birth defects. The coverage came in advance of Aalto Bio Reagents’ first attendance at the AACC Annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo held in San Diego in July. At Better Business, we expect to hear more from this company on the international stage in the years ahead.
“An increase in the minimum wage imposed by Government would ignore the realities facing many small businesses, especially those operating on low margins.” SFA Assistant Director Linda Barry criticising the recommendation of the Low Pay Commission for the National Minimum Wage to increase to €9.55 per hour.
“It is vital to celebrate the major contribution that small firms have made to growth, job creation and regional economic recovery in recent years.” SFA Director Sven Spollen-Behrens speaking at the launch of the SFA National Small Business Awards 2018.
“It is very positive to see that 51 per cent of SFA members are growing and 72 per cent intend to invest in their business over the coming year.” SFA Chair Sue O’Neill commenting on new SFA data on the finance and investment priorities of small firms.
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A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO VAT The contribution of valueadded tax (VAT) receipts to the Irish Exchequer is substantial; it constitutes approximately one-quarter of the entire annual Exchequer revenue. VAT impacts on all businesses and it does not discriminate in terms of scale – the same issues affect businesses large, medium and small. In new book, A Practical Guide to ValueAdded Tax, Finbarr O’Connell and Ethna Kennon, two expert and experienced authors, discuss and explain the main VAT issues regularly encountered by Irish businesses and their advisors. The book is published by Chartered Accountants Ireland and retails at €40. It is available in all good book shops nationwide and in the online shop at www. charteredaccountants.ie.
NUMBER OF INSOLVENT FIRMS DOWN ON LAST YEAR New figures from financial advisory firm Deloitte Ireland show that there has been an 11 per cent decrease in the number of corporate insolvencies in the first six months of 2017 when compared with the same period last year. Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidations (CVLs) account for the majority with 59 per cent (a 14 per cent decrease on last year), followed by receiverships (33 per cent). The service industry incurred the most corporate insolvencies during this period with 170 appointments. This was followed by the construction industry with 65 and the retail industry with 60. Geographically, Leinster continues to record the most insolvencies (69 per cent), with Munster in second place (20 per cent).
TOP TWEETS We’re currently running a public consultation on the liberalisation of .ie domain registration and naming policy: www.iedr.ie/publicconsultation
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
IE Domain Registry@ IEDR_ dot_ie
DHL Express are delighted to be part of @SFA_Irl awards again for 2018! #SFAAwards2018 #Exporting #SME
DHL Express Ireland@ DHLExpressIre
Number of female entrepreneurs in 2016 is the highest noted since 2000 – the 2016 GEM Survey has just been published
Enterprise Ireland @Entirl By dimming or switching off #lighting when rooms are empty, occupancy sensors can reduce #electricity use by 30%.
80% of medtech biz in Irl are SMEs: Get industry foresight & networking w/ #IrishMedtech + HR advice from @SFA_Irl
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CGS BACKS €75M IN LENDING TO IRISH SMES Minister of State at the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation Pat Breen has welcomed the latest quarterly report from the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) on its operation of the Credit Guarantee Scheme (CGS) for SMEs. The latest report shows that in Q2 of 2017, CGS facilities were sanctioned for 34 Irish SMEs, for a total of over €4 million in funding that will create or maintain 223 Irish jobs. Since the Credit Guarantee Scheme became operational in October 2012, 471 facilities totaling €75 million have been sanctioned. These sanctions are supporting or maintaining more than 3,000 jobs.
Sweden values its entrepreneurs - we need to also. EC clears way to cut share options tax for startups
Sue O’Neill@ sueoneillwalsh
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VENUE PROFILE: MARKREE CASTLE
Minister David Stanton with Suzanne Kearney, SECAD, Dorothy O’Tuama, entrepreneur, and Toni McCaul, SECAD at the announcement of €330,000 in funding for the new WREN initiative
New Funding for Cork and Limerick Female Entrepreneurs
New funding has been announced for female entrepreneurs living in Cork and Limerick. The Women’s Rural Entrepreneurial Network (WREN) project will see more than €330,000 in funding, provided by the Department of Justice and Equality and the European Social Fund, allocated to promote entrepreneurial skills amongst women in these regions, through a tailored and focused approach. South & East Cork Area Development (SECAD) will lead the project, working in partnership with Ballyhoura Development in Limerick and Cork Institute of Technology’s Rubicon Centre and Hincks Centre for Entrepreneurship Excellence. Under the WREN project, training programmes will include personal development and business skills training, one to one and group mentoring, themed networking and experiential learning events. You can read about the experiences of four successful Irish female entrepreneurs on page 14.
IRISH DIRECTOR BAGS CANNES AWARD Guinness Enterprise Centre (GEC) resident Ian Hunt Duffy from Fail Safe Films has won Gold in the Short Film category at this year’s Young Director Awards in Cannes for his short film Gridlock. The prestigious Young Director Awards has been seeking out and supporting international creative talent in commercial film production since 1998, and is the only awards dedicated to rising young directors.
Markree Castle is a historic Irish castle venue located in Co Sligo, on the route of the Wild Atlantic Way. Recently purchased by the renowned family of Irish hoteliers, the Corscaddens, the castle has been extensively renovated and now joins the family’s Romantic Castles of Ireland hotel and venue portfolio. Having reopened in March 2017, extensive renovations have seen the furniture and original features painstakingly rebuilt and restored. The considered redecoration and modernisation of the castle has allowed it to reclaim its position as one of the finest historic homes and luxury wedding and events venues in Ireland. Given the luxurious brand that VOYA is, it was the ideal location to photograph Kira and Mark Walton for this issue’s cover. If you wish to take advantage of the quality settings of Markree Castle, whether it’s a wedding, a conference or an event, contact the Markree Castle team now at firstname.lastname@example.org, call 071 916 7800 or visit www. markreecastle.ie.
ABOUT THE GEC The Guinness Enterprise Centre is a not-for-profit enterprise centre for ambitious and innovative companies located in Dublin 8. It provides a modern, spacious and flexible working environment, offering private, shared or co-working office space, supported by business support services. The GEC is managed by Dublin Business Innovation Centre (Dublin BIC), the public-private business support organisation which has supported the creation of over 500 start-ups. www.gec.ie
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The EU-Philippines Business Network (EPBN) has invited EU-28 chambers of commerce, industry associations, national trade promotion agencies, and other strategic partners to join its efforts in bringing EU companies to the Philippines through its upcoming multiindustry and sector-specific business missions. Considered to be excellent entry-points into the fast-growing Filipino market, these EPBN-led trade delegations offer EU businesses the opportunity to take advantage of customised B2B meetings, trade exhibition stands within designated EU pavilions, and various networking possibilities. A limited number of EU co-financing grants are also available to support the participation costs of interested EU business delegates. If your business is interested in attending one of these missions visit www.epbn.ph for more details.
WHAT’S IT WORTH? IEDR WENT ON A MISSION TO FIND OUT THE VALUE OF A WEBSITE TO IRISH BUSINESSES.
INVITATION FOR BUSINESS MISSIONS TO THE PHILIPPINES
There are over 50,000 companies with an annual return date of September 30th and a filing deadline of October 28th, according to the Companies Registration Office (CRO). If you are filing an annual return in respect of one of these companies, you are requested to ensure that your correctly completed return is delivered to the CRO on time. The only way of doing this is by filing online. The CRO has introduced mandatory electronic filing for the submission of an annual return and its associated financial statements since June 1st 2017. For more details visit www.cro.ie.
Tech-savvy Irish SMEs take home an additional €24,000 in revenue every year if they have a website, according to new research from IE Domain Registry (IEDR). IEDR, the company responsible for managing and maintaining Ireland’s country domain name, .ie, conducted a survey to find out the value of a website to Irish businesses. It asked 500 Irish SMEs* if they have a website and, if yes, how important it is for generating revenue for their business. The research, conducted by Ignite Research in March 2017, showed that this additional €24,000 consists of an extra 22 jobs or sales a year with the average value of these coming to €1,089. Dublin-based SMEs got the highest average number of additional jobs or sales (41), followed by the rest of Leinster (16) and Munster (14). This is not necessarily a surprise given the findings of the dot ie Domain Profile Report, which showed that Leinster accounted for 67 per cent of all new .ie domains registered in 2016.
BRINGING IN BUSINESS IEDR asked 336 companies that have a website what role it plays in bringing in new business or sales.
47 38% 15% %
says it is very important
says it is important
says it has no impact
How important is a website for bringing in new business or sales?
Eighty-five per cent of SMEs with a website said it is important for generating new business or sales. Of this group, two in five said that they are generating additional work through their websites. With an average of 22 additional jobs or sales coming through each year, SMEs with websites can make an extra €24,000 a year compared to those without. By selling online, Irish SMEs have access to a virtually borderless marketplace, open 24/7, 365 days a year. Even having a basic website is a vital part of doing business today.
So what should SMEs do online?
It is clear that the internet has shifted consumer expectations. Irish shoppers appreciate the convenience and accessibility of a website, particularly if it offers a list of products and the option to buy online. If you don’t have a presence on the web, you’re missing out on a huge number of potential customers and with 80 per cent of Irish consumers searching for information online, you’re effectively invisible to them. For more information go to www.iedr.ie/blog/what-is-thevalue-of-a-website.
*Consumer research based on a survey of 1,000 Irish consumers by Ignite Research in March 2017.
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Feature Share Option Schemes
EMPLOYEE SHARE OPTION SCHEMES HAVE BEEN DEEMED LARGELY UNWORKABLE IN IRELAND DUE IN PART TO A SYSTEM OF HARSH TAXATION, BUT INCREASINGLY THERE ARE CALLS FOR THE GOVERNMENT TO STEP IN. TIERNAN CANNON FINDS OUT MORE.
otivating employees to perform to the best of their abilities is a constant task for employers. There are means aside from lucrative salaries that can be utilised to achieve this aim, but the conditions must be right. Employee share option schemes, for example, can present workers with a strong incentive to increase productivity and to stay with a firm for the long-term, but their potential in Ireland is limited by a system of high taxation. In an environment where the schemes can function appropriately however, the potential benefits are numerous – for employer and employee alike. The schemes work by granting employees with options to acquire shares in the company they work for, which can then be exercised within a specific period. Upon doing so, the
employee will acquire shares in the business, meaning that they are linked directly to the success of the organistion, ensuring it is in their best interest to see it succeed. This can serve as a motivator to the employee, which in turn encourages overall productivity and growth within the business. The benefits to this scenario are clear, yet in Ireland such schemes struggle to offer any real value. According to a report published by the SFA, the level of Irish employees with shares in their company stands at 6 per cent, compared to the EU average of 21.7 per cent. This comparatively low percentage may be attributed to changes to the system of taxation of employee share option schemes in Ireland over recent years, which have meant that the potential gains an employee might receive from such schemes are offset by a high tax rate, significantly reducing their appeal.
Typically, staff in smaller companies will have lower incomes than those within bigger firms. Naturally then small firms require additional incentives to retain key staff members and to encourage workers of a big firm to join them, which is important not only for small businesses but also for what Gerard Brady, Head of Tax and Fiscal Policy at Ibec, refers to as the wider “business ecosystem”. Movement of personnel from bigger firms to smaller ones improves management skills and allows small firms to scale up quicker and more effectively, but given the rates of taxation on employee share option schemes in Ireland, there is less impetus for this outcome. “Smaller companies find it harder to compete on wages, and [employee] share options have high taxes,” says Brady. “So even if a person takes that risk [of moving from a big company to a smaller one] and they take a lower salary and you give them share options instead, the tax is so high that they’ll end up losing around half of whatever gain they make from the stock options. Really there’s no incentive there.” In response to this dilemma, Brady explains that Ibec is lobbying for changes to the tax system on employee share schemes. In June 2016, the organisation released a report containing a series of recommendations on the tax treatment of share options, with one such recommendation referring specifically to the UK’s Enterprise Management Incentive (EMI) scheme. The EMI is a tax-advantaged share option scheme designed for smaller companies which effectively waives income tax liability, without the fixed costs of other revenue approved schemes. A similar scenario exists in Sweden, which in June this year saw the European Commission approve a scheme which eliminates income tax on employee stock options in small companies. It is Ibec and Gerard Brady’s view that schemes similar to these and targeted at small firms be implemented in Ireland to make working in a small or start-up company a more attractive prospect. In his speech announcing the 2017 Budget, the former Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan committed to “a new, SMEfocused, share-based incentive scheme to be introduced in Budget 2018.” It remains to be seen what form this scheme will take,
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Share Option Schemes Feature
s n o i Opt TAKING THE SHARE OPTION Four key reasons why companies offer employee share schemes:
“EVEN IF A PERSON TAKES THAT RISK [OF MOVING FROM A BIG COMPANY TO SMALLER ONE] AND THEY TAKE A LOWER SALARY AND YOU GIVE THEM SHARE OPTIONS INSTEAD, THE TAX IS SO HIGH THAT THEY’LL END UP LOSING AROUND HALF OF WHATEVER GAIN THEY MAKE FROM THE STOCK OPTIONS.” but Daryl Hanberry, Tax Partner and Head of Global Employer Services at Deloitte, is confident that the Irish government will be studying schemes from abroad closely. “The Government did say the scheme was going to be focused on small firms, so that would indicate that there’ll be some regime – like the EMI scheme in the UK or the new regime in Sweden – which will look at small enterprises,” he says. “We would assume that they are using those as the basis for what they’re targeting.” Both Hanberry and Brady suggest that these foreign schemes offer a possible template for Ireland. This sentiment is echoed by Clare McDonald, Director for Business Development & Client Relationships at
Stelfox. McDonald, however, suggests that in any case – whether the future Irish system is unique or based upon a similar, pre-existing scheme – the existing one must be considered. “Whether we adopt the UK’s EMI scheme, or if Ireland creates its own scheme, it would need to compliment the aspects of the taxation of share based remuneration that are working effectively and also address the areas... that are not,” she says. It remains to be seen what form the government’s commitment to a new scheme will take, but with numerous parties lobbying for change in the vein of the systems in place in the UK and Sweden, it would appear that change is afoot which may spark some life into employee share ownership in Ireland.
Share schemes help to align the interests of key members of staff to overall company objectives enabling you to get the best out of your employees.
Attracting New Staff
Potential recruits are increasingly looking for benefits outside the obvious ones – an employee share scheme tends to grab their attention.
As the benefits of a share option scheme mounts, scheme participants have all the more reason to stay and help build the company value for all shareholders.
By using a share scheme, companies unsure about how to address succession planning are gradually able to provide for members of staff to hold a larger share in the company and effectively begin to take control.
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Feature Female Entrepreneurs
FOUNDER ACCORDING TO THE LATEST GLOBAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP MONITOR, IRELAND HAS EXPERIENCED A NOTABLE JUMP IN THE NUMBER OF WOMEN STARTING THEIR OWN BUSINESSES IN RECENT YEARS. ORLA CONNOLLY CHECKED IN WITH FOUR FEMALE ENTREPRENEURS HELPING SET THE TREND.
ith entrepreneurship in Ireland returning to prerecession levels, Ireland now ranks 6th highest in Europe for new business owners, according to a survey by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM). While, like most countries, male leaders of industry are still the majority in Ireland, the GEM survey reports that female entrepreneurship has also risen to 37 per cent in recent years. This translates into one in every 14 women in Ireland currently running their own business, the highest number on record for GEM since 2000. While the figures point to progress being made, issues like the role of women within the home and a lack of female-led industries still present serious challenges in business. So the question begs, what is it really like for female entrepreneurs in Ireland?
“ISSUES LIKE THE ROLE OF WOMEN WITHIN THE HOME AND A LACK OF FEMALE-LED INDUSTRIES STILL PRESENT SERIOUS CHALLENGES.”
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Female Entrepreneurs Feature
“WOMEN SEEM TO LACK CONFIDENCE AND I DON’T REALLY KNOW WHY, BUT I KNOW TALKING TO A LOT OF DIFFERENT WOMEN, THAT SEEMS TO BE THE PROBLEM.” SHIRLEY O’KELLY - TIMBERTROVE After 19 years in the motor sector and 30 years running her construction business Timbertrove, Shirley O’Kelly is no stranger to succeeding in male-dominated industries. “All through my motor trade days, I would have been dealing with mostly males and when I set up the sawmill with [my husband] Henry, it was the same thing,” explains O’Kelly. “I do think women have to constantly prove themselves. I think we do have to work a bit harder and be more determined.” Having proved herself a success in the motoring and construction sectors, O’Kelly believes that self-confidence is crucial for women in business, especially while interacting with other industry professionals. “I’m very focused, very determined. I know what I want and I constantly have goals set for myself,” she explains. “For any female or anybody in business, I think the main thing is you have to be really passionate and determined not to let anybody hold you back.” O’Kelly is quick to note how achievable it is for a woman to succeed at the top level of male-led sectors. However, she does highlight how her career didn’t come without an element of proving herself to male co-workers and customers alike. She explains: “I remember when I was in the servicing department and when a customer would come in, they would always want to talk to one of the lads because they would think I wouldn’t know anything about the mechanics of a car. What I did was learn about the mechanics so I was able to deal with it.” Her confidence and dedication in her field eventually led to O’Kelly being named general manager of Michael Orr Motors & Gordon Kellett Motors before she moved on to start the highly successful Timbertrove. But for O’Kelly, a lack of confidence among fellow female entrepreneurs is an all too common occurrence. “Women seem to lack confidence and I don’t really know why, but I know talking to a lot of different women, that seems to be the problem,” she says. The key to overcoming this uncertainty is knowledge, according to O’Kelly, something she herself put into practice while expanding Timbertrove. When she decided to add a café business to the site – something she knew little about – she armed herself with numerous guides on running the new venture. “I’ve learned an awful lot by reading about other successful people and how they did it,” she says. “If female entrepreneurs do lack confidence there’s plenty of books out there on personal development. That’s been a huge help to me.” SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 15
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Feature Female Entrepreneurs
KATHLEEN WARD - KATHLEEN WARD HEALTH CLINIC When her eldest child developed asthma, Kathleen Ward tried every conventional method of treating the condition. As a registered nurse she examined traditional medicinal avenues with no success. Once she explored holistic therapies, however, the condition completely disappeared. It was this that convinced Ward to move away from traditional medicine and further examine alternative treatments. Since then, Ward has built a successful business, the Kathleen Ward Health Clinic, where she offers treatments such as naturopathy, herbal medicine, homoeopathy, dietetics and behavioural therapy. She has also expanded the business to hire a physical therapist, chiropractor, acupuncturists and counsellors. Despite her current success, it wasn’t easy getting banks to take her initial business plan seriously, much of which Ward attributes to being a woman. “Certainly looking for money from banks in the beginning was like looking for hens’ teeth,” she quips. “They didn’t believe that because you were a woman you could run a business. Many times in the beginning, I was turned down for small loans.” Ward maintains that these drawbacks enabled her to become even more focused on perfecting the business side of her work, allowing her to think not only as a therapist but also as an entrepreneur. Another barrier that presented itself was the ideology that women were the chief homemakers, creating significant obstacles for female entrepreneurs and working mothers. While Ward believes this burden has been lessened recently due to fathers taking a more active parenting role, she notes that childminding costs still cause a hindrance to many women returning to the workplace. For Ward, who worked full-time while raising her children, the key to success was putting sustainable structures in place. “For those who want to be serious in business, I think you have to say ‘I won’t be available between these times and others have to fill in that void’,” she says. “I reared six children and worked full-time and I didn’t get a lot of family support but if you put structures in place, you can do it.”
JOYCE RIGBY JONES VOLTEDGE MANAGEMENT LIMITED
SHARON DOWLING CATERING DISPOSABLES
Since 2011, Joyce Rigby Jones has run Voltedge Management Ltd alongside her business partner Fredericka Sheppard, providing outsourced human resources consulting to SMEs. Unlike other industries, Rigby Jones notes that human resources is a sector that chiefly attracts a majority of females. “By the very nature of human resources, it tends to be very female-dominated. So all of our employees and associates at the moment – apart from a few of our coaches – are female.” She attributes this high volume of female staff to the emotional intelligence and effective people management skills essential in human resources, that she finds common among female management teams. She says: “There are lots of good male managers out there but I do think sometimes that women can be really empathetic and can get the best from their teams and we do see that with clients as well.” When it comes to management roles, Rigby Jones states that in her experience, women tend to have a significantly less forceful approach, which in turn can have a profound effect on decisionmaking and employee management. “There are definitely times when women can be very positive, particularly at senior management level,” she says. “We bring a certain quality and decision-making that perhaps isn’t always there in the totally male environment.” Being a female-dominated industry, human resources doesn’t experience a lack of women in senior roles, something we often see in other sectors. As an alternative to facing gender-specific barriers in these industries, Rigby Jones suggests entrepreneurship as a potentially easier route to success for women. “It’s easier for women to be an entrepreneur in some ways than to be in traditional positions in companies where you tend to get more of a disparity between the numbers of females and males,” she explains. “With entrepreneurs, if you have a good product and you’re female, you’ve just as good a chance as if you are male.” As a female entrepreneur, Rigby Jones sees little difference from the job of her male counterpart, other than a keen understanding of the challenges of juggling home life and work life. She notes: “We still run a competitive business, we’re still very driven by what we do and I don’t think that would be any different whether it was a male or female.”
With clients that include Musgrave MarketPlace, Pallas Foods and BWG, Catering Disposables has been a leading supplier of packaging products and disposables to the wholesale and food services since starting out in 2003. Sharon Dowling is an equal director of the company, alongside her brother and father. With luxury and environmentally friendly packaging becoming more in demand than ever, Catering Disposables continues to experience double digit growth and Dowling is proving that she can keep pace with her male counterparts. Like a lot of women in business, Dowling is a mother and feels that her dual responsibilities as entrepreneur and parent, while presenting significant challenges, have allowed her to develop skills in time management and organisation. She explains: “Trying to balance having children in school with work and childcare costs can be a lot. I’d find that a challenge but you have to be very organised to balance everything.” Even so, Dowling notes how she still felt the pressure to be a full-time mother, rather than pursuing a successful career. “You do have your moments where you struggle with the guilt of not being there but I think I’m organised and a better mother because I work. When I go home I focus on the kids and when I’m at work I know they’re in school and I know they’re in a good place,” she explains. Like many female entrepreneurs, Dowling feels that mothers are still recognised as the primary care-givers of a family unit and hopes that as the paternal role continues to evolve there will be more understanding within male-led industries of parental demands. “I’ve worked in other companies before and if it’s maledominated it tends to be less understanding,” she states. “Things are changing now and men are more involved with their children but it always sort of falls back on the mums. I think when more females are higher up in the company, you can see there’s more of a balance. If it’s mainly men, and the older generation as well, there are different expectations.” One area in which Dowling feels women need to develop their skills is networking. “There are different things coming into the market like Today’s Women in Grocery and they’re having women networking events, which definitely helps,” she explains. “Predominantly men would be better than women at networking so they’re doing these events, with nearly all women, to get leads and contacts.”
“WE BRING A CERTAIN QUALITY AND DECISION-MAKING THAT PERHAPS ISN’T ALWAYS THERE IN THE TOTALLY MALE ENVIRONMENT.” Joyce Rigby Jones 16 SFA | BETTER BUSINESS
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Female Entrepreneurs Feature
Kathleen Ward gets a selfie with Gavin Duffy
Joyce Rigby Jones (left) pictured with Fredericka Sheppard
To find out how two organisations – Enterprise Ireland and the Irish Film Board – are supporting women in different industries turn to pages 60 and 61. SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 17
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Proud to Support Irish Female Directors
— The Farthest Director Emer Reynolds
— The Breadwinner Director Nora Twomey
— Kissing Candice Director Aoife McArdle
— Maudie Director Aisling Walsh
— School Life Director Neasa Ní Chianáin
— Good Favour Director Rebecca Daly
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How To ... Tips
CEO, Alchemy Event Management
l u f t n e v E t I ake
TIPS ON HOLDING A SUCCESSFUL CORPORATE OR BUSINESS EVENT
ASK YOURSELF WHY? Be clear in your mind what the objectives of your event are. To generate sales leads, to build your brand, to entertain your clients are three examples. Set measurable targets for the event and regularly check your progress against these. Don’t lose sight of why you planned the event in the first place! Visualise ‘what success looks like’ and work to make that vision a reality.
EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED Every event ever organised has thrown the organisers a curveball of some sort – it’s unavoidable. Whether your MC gets sick at the last minute or the event banners have come out with the wrong shade of blue for your sponsor’s logo, you need a back up plan for everything. Something will surprise you so be ready.
TAKE A DEEP BREATH RUNNING EVENTS CAN BE STRESSFUL BUT IT WILL ALL BE WORTH IT AT THAT QUIET MOMENT WHEN YOU STAND BACK, WATCH YOUR EVENT TRIUMPH AND WHISPER TO YOURSELF “I DID THIS”!
PICK A CHAMPION Give one person overall responsibility for the event. It’s the best way to make sure things get done. Make sure that this person has the drive and authority to keep the project moving. The key role is to motivate the event team to great things. Others in your organisation will have plenty of tasks on their plate and you need an event champion to keep things on track and to crack the whip when required!
BUDGET At the beginning, you should produce a detailed budget. This will focus your mind and, crucially, make sure that the finances you have allocated are sufficient to get you over the line. Review and update your budget regularly, particularly if you are counting on outside sources for revenue such as sponsorship or ticket sales. It means you can cut your cloth to your measure and avoid overspending. Remember to include a healthy contingency for that unforeseen expense that always pops up.
HAVE A PLAN Sit down at the outset and break the event down into its individual parts. The more detailed the better. For each task assign a person responsible and provide a deadline. Remember, it’s not a task until you have a ‘what’, a ‘who’ and a ‘when’. If possible, use project management software. We use Basecamp but there are many good online products out there like Teamwork or Smartsheet. These tools will make the project motor and allow your event champion to see at a glance where things are at.
TIME YOURSELF Develop a timeline. Start at the moment you come up with the event concept and finish where all of the post event PR and guest communications are complete (it’s important to remember that the project doesn’t stop once the actual event is over). Once you have estimated the time resource you require – double it. Events take longer than you expect. If you plan for this you won’t get caught out.
You can’t organise an event alone. Pick your team carefully and keep them motivated. People love events and seeing them unfold is very satisfying. Keep your team focused by getting them to buy into your vision of the event. If you are enthused, they will be also. www.alchemyevents.com
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Business Cover Story
‘Fake it till you make it’. It’s not quite Kira and Mark Walton’s mantra in business but it’s certainly a strategy they used in the early days of their company; one which helped them achieve the success they enjoy today. The husband and wife team are the founders of VOYA, a Sligo-based award-winning spa business specialising in luxury organic skincare products made from hand-harvested seaweed from the Atlantic coast. It was back when the company was but a fledgling start-up in the mid-noughties that the pair received a phone call from the global director of a five-star hotel spa
asking if someone from the team could “pop out” to their Dubai office to discuss the prospect of doing business. Little did the hotel giant know that that team comprised Kira, Mark and one other member of staff. “Rather than tell them we had actually only one employee at the time, we said ‘no problem’, and all three of us flew to Dubai two days later,” recalls Mark. “We never lied to them and never gave them reason to think we were incapable. However, we were certainly conservative with the truth!” That approach certainly paid off. VOYA secured a deal to provide its products for
BETTER BUSINESS SPEAKS TO MARK AND KIRA WALTON, THE COUPLE BEHIND IRISH BEAUTY AND SKINCARE BRAND VOYA, ABOUT MAKING WAVES IN THE SEAWEED BUSINESS.
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“WE HAVE GENUINE INTEGRITY, AND PEOPLE ARE AMAZED WHEN THEY COME TO VISIT AND SEE OUR STAFF SUSTAINABLY HAND HARVESTING SEAWEED THE SAME WAY WE DID 300 YEARS AGO.” SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 21
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Business Cover Story the high-profile brand across the globe. Mark won’t be drawn on the hotel in question, but says the deal certainly paid dividends and played a significant part in taking VOYA to the next level. Today, the company has 43 staff and distributes its products to 37 countries around the world with a presence in a number of prestigious locations, from Ashford Castle in Ireland to the Burj Al-Arab in Dubai. From Bath to Bottle VOYA started out as family-run seaweed baths established by Mark’s brother Neil near his home in Strandhill, Co Sligo. Mark and Kira were without a steady income at the time and as the popularity of Neil’s baths grew, they began to wonder if there was some way to replicate the seaweed spa experience in people’s homes. Combining the family knowledge of the therapeutic properties of wild seaweed with the expertise of highly skilled cosmetic scientists and dermatologists, it wasn’t long before the Waltons were in business, bringing their first products to market in 2006. In the 11 years since, VOYA has been carrying the unique qualities of seaweed into spa treatments, beauty and skincare products. Today, VOYA’s range includes over 50 products, from advanced organic facial creams for skin conditions to home fragrances. It also provides a full amenities range for bedrooms and communal areas, which Kira describes as “a wonderful and seamless way to introduce clients to the spa offering”. The Lazy Days Seaweed Bath kit, which was VOYA’s first product to launch, remains the company’s top seller. “It’s the one we’re most proud of to this day,” notes Kira. VOYA also prides itself on the authenticity of its products, something that the Waltons believe makes the brand stand out. “We have genuine integrity, and people are amazed when they come to visit and see our staff sustainably hand harvesting seaweed the same way we did 300 years ago,” says Kira. It’s an attractive component to a strong brand at a time when unattractive truths behind many of the beauty industry giants are emerging, such as the use of sulfates parabens in everyday beauty products. The Waltons are quick to highlight that their integrity has nothing to do with keeping on trend with the use of organic and nonchemical products, claiming that VOYA was one of the first companies to have produced certified organic cosmetics for more than a decade. “Our aggressive internal R&D
“AT THE RISK OF SOUNDING ARROGANT, WE HAVE TO BE CAREFUL IN NOT GROWING TOO QUICKLY AT TIMES.”
programme, coupled with external commercial and academic research partners, has kept VOYA at the forefront of so-called ‘green chemistry’,” explains Mark. “Green beauty is very much on trend but this hasn’t shaped our business – this was the route we set off on ten years ago, we just haven’t deviated.” So given the Waltons’ experience and expertise in all things seaweed, how does Ireland’s marine algae compare with that of other coastal nations? “The west coast is blessed to have a plenitude of algae species available for use in cosmetics,” explains Mark. “Irish species have an incomparable wealth of mineral elements, macro-elements, vitamins and
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“I THINK WE HAVE A BLAME CULTURE ASSOCIATED WITH BUSINESS FAILURE, IT’S PENAL AND WE ARE CREATING A RISK AVERSE BUSINESS CULTURE WHICH STIFLES INGENUITY.” trace elements. The mineral content of some seaweeds accounts for up to 80 per cent of its dry matter and the coast of the Wild Atlantic Way has some of the cleanest unpolluted waters on earth.” Risk Aversion What about the biggest challenge facing small businesses in Ireland today? Mark cites the risk averse culture that has crept in in recent years, and how it acts as an impediment to firms looking to access capital. He believes there should be more joined-up thinking at a national level when it comes to the support being offered to entrepreneurs. “I think we have a blame culture associated with business failure, it’s penal and we are creating a risk averse business culture which stifles ingenuity,” he says. “Also, our lending institutions are prehistoric in their lending policies; a startup should be able to raise capital based on the strength of the business plan, not the value of the personal home being used as a guarantee. It makes the notion of a limited liability company farcical!” VOYA has received financial support from various organisations throughout its journey. After an initial loan from one traditional bank, the company received funding from Enterprise Ireland. It also secured grant aid from Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) and what was then the County Enterprise Board. More recently, it has used the services of financial leasing provider GRENKE to help it to plan and map out critical asset acquisitions that have allowed the business to grow and expand. While accessing wide-ranging support from government agencies has been a huge boost to VOYA, Mark says his experience with them has been a mixed bag. “I think one of our Government’s greatest assistance to Irish business is the development agencies, though their success is dependant on the calibre of the people businesses interface with,” he explains. “Our experience over the years has been mixed. We were fortunate – we found that local boards, BIM and EI greatly accelerated the business’s performance, though through rotation of development advisors and as
we grew, we were not always working with equally talented people. Our business was not negatively impacted, but we did miss opportunities as a result of this. More joined up thinking at a national level is needed. Rewarding the performance of development advisors, as they would be in a commercial capacity, would help too.” Undoubtedly, Brexit is another challenge that looms large for many small business owners, though the Waltons don’t seem too deterred by it. Kira explains that the company is probably more hedged than many other businesses as the UK is a small part of VOYA’s revenue stream – around 75 per cent of its turnover comes from exports with sales in the UK accounting for approximately 15 per cent of that. Like anyone in business, it’s a case of wait and see. “I think the global impact of protectionism – which is what I really view Brexit as – and the ripple this could have, may be a bigger concern,” explains Kira. “I just hope pragmatism rules during the leave negotiations.” The Couple Dynamic For some people in business, the idea of running a company with their partner is enough to make them shudder. For others, being married to their business partner is an asset to both their professional success and personal relationship. So how do Mark and Kira feel about being joined by the hip in both business and life? “Kira and I started this business and whilst we have no regrets, I would caveat anyone also thinking of doing this,” says Mark. “The positives are that we share everything, see everything together and have a rich tapestry of experiences to recall. The down side is that we share everything, see everything together, which means there is no ‘tell me about your day’ at the end of the day. A bad day for one of us is generally a bad day for both! “It’s unfair on a relationship to spend 24 hours together; if you have problems at work they tend to follow you home. It has taken a lot of discipline to learn when to stop talking about work – you need an off switch!”
In terms of the future for the business, VOYA plans to continue its expansion, grow sales and launch new brands in the months ahead. Right now, the company is about to relocate to a new premises, a 27,000 square foot plant in Co Sligo, a move that will help VOYA keep up with market demands and orders. In addition, Mark and Kira have officially opened VOYA USA, which increases VOYA’s ability to expand further in the US with full control of distribution. “We also have an exciting side venture that should kick off in 2018 in a related but quite different industry,” says Kira, without disclosing any of the fine detail. “We want to challenge ourselves and to stay hungry and innovative, but also leverage some of our R&D.” “We have been lucky since the beginning as growth has been a steady enough constant,” adds Mark. “In fact, at the risk of sounding arrogant, we have to be careful in not growing too quickly at times. We are entirely family-owned and have no external investors. The American market is booming for us and we are investing in it accordingly at the moment. There’s been uplift in the Irish market too, which we want to maintain and grow strategically.”
Giving Owner Managers A Good Night’s Sleep VOYA is one of many small businesses in Ireland that uses GRENKE to help it manage its finances. We asked Mark Walton how the financial leasing provider has assisted him and Kira on their business journey. “We are definitely from the school of managing our business from our current account,” he says. “It has taken time for us to allow in finance, especially as our profits were often our stock. GRENKE has allowed us to realise our cashflow. It really helps our business and us personally when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep!” For more on how GRENKE can help your company’s cashflow visit www.grenke.ie
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SUCCESS CALLS FOR VISION AND THE RIGHT FINANCING
Talk to us IF YOU HAVE A BUSINESS VISION YOU NEED THE RIGHT FINANCE AND LEASING PARTNER
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GRENKE will support you with tailored financial solutions that fit your needs and allows you to grow your business. We will work with you to plan your asset investments and upgrades allowing you concentrate on what you do best and growing your business.
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Data Analytics Feature
ata: It’s everywhere. Pick up any business title or industry journal from the past five years and you’re just about guaranteed to find an article about or mention of ‘big data’. Essentially it’s a term used to describe all of the content that’s being created in the digital age, including everything from our phones and tablets to our computers and every other internetconnected device in between. The amount of data in the world is fairly stacking up too. Ever heard of an exabyte? Well, it’s kind of like the equivalent to the amount of storage that you’d find on 60 billion-or-so 16GB iPhones. One thousand exabytes is equal to one zettabyte. Still with me? Well, in 2013 the amount of data in the world was estimated to be around 4.4 zettabytes. By 2020, that amount is forecast to hit 44 zettabytes. Before you hit control, alt and delete on this article, let’s simplify things a little: there’s a lot of data in the world and volumes are growing all the time.
DATA ISN’T JUST SOMETHING FOR CORPORATES TO WORRY ABOUT. FROM ENCOURAGING REPEAT CUSTOM TO KEEPING TABS ON DELIVERY COSTS, USING THE DATA YOU PRODUCE IN THE RIGHT WAY CAN HELP SHAPE YOUR BUSINESS DECISIONS – AND BOOST YOUR BOTTOM LINE.
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DOWN TO THE BUSINESS OF DATA Two examples of how companies have become data smart
Aidan Connolly, Idiro Analytics have broad applicability across business but for the small business sector one could begin by using analytics to properly understand sales patterns. For example, in a shop, what are the correlations between sales and the various shop assistants. Are some people better at selling some products than others? Are there higher returns when X sells a product? Maybe indicating that the incorrect product was recommended.
Anthony Kelly, Smart Factory
Gathering data on the down-time of machines and analysing the reasons for down-time is a vital metric. Take the example we have seen of a company with a €300,000 machine and they need more output to meet demand. The company was investigating whether to fund another machine. Some very simple data gathering showed that the machine was being used only 53 per cent of the time. An analysis then of the different reasons showed possible re-arranging of shifts and tooling changes which would allow them to increase production without spending a large amount on a new machine.
It’s not just consumers that are producing it either – businesses too are increasingly creating more and more content. However, many of them – particularly small businesses – often struggle to get their head around what they have, let alone what they should do with it. Sound familiar? Anthony Kelly, Founder and Technical Director of Limerickbased Smart Factory, which specialises in transforming data into actionable intelligence, believes there is a growing awareness of the value of data within small firms. Kelly says: “Often small firms are being pushed by market forces, and possibly the larger companies they supply, to achieve more aggressive production output. This is moving them to look more closely at the actual numbers within their processes. The younger generation of engineering staff has been educated with more technology to hand and are naturally more comfortable dealing with data. They expect to operate within a data-rich environment.”
Data Mining: Never Been Easier
Yet, even starting to think about using data to benefit the business can be a mind-boggler for many small company owners. But, thanks to technological advances, mining data has never been easier. Used in the correct way, the information that your data tells you can be used to take the guesswork out of decisions and allow for better-informed decision-making. But are small firms aware of this potential? Aidan Connolly is founder of Idiro, a Dublin-based firm which aims to help organisations, from Fortune 500 companies down to young start-ups, understand and improve their businesses through their data. He says: “Unfortunately, we see limited appetite in the small business sector for analytics. This may be due to a lack of appreciation for what analytics can do or it may be due to the fact that many small businesses focus on operations rather that strategy, which is often how large
“THE YOUNGER GENERATION OF ENGINEERING STAFF HAS BEEN EDUCATED WITH MORE TECHNOLOGY TO HAND AND ARE NATURALLY MORE COMFORTABLE DEALING WITH DATA. THEY EXPECT TO OPERATE WITHIN A DATA-RICH ENVIRONMENT.”
corporations use analytics. Certain small companies, particularly those with strong technological skills, are using data better than their peers but they remain in the minority. For many companies, their data analysis is limited to conventional spreadsheets which is definitely useful but, used properly, data analytics can not only tell you what happened last month or last quarter but they can also help you predict future trends that will impact your business. This is how large companies are getting an edge over their rivals but the opportunity is the same for smaller ones.” Conolly sees two main areas where analytics is important. The most obvious one is where detailed examination of the use of machines and production equipment is required – as well as the flow of materials through a process. The second, which he believes is commonly overlooked by businesses, is where human operators are involved in a process. Are there inefficient procedures in place? Are different shifts behaving differently? Can human resources be allocated more efficiently? “Data gathering and analysis can be used to investigate the answers to these questions,” he contends. The fact that many firms are still ignoring their data presents an opportunity for the smart ones to gain a competitive advantage, according to Connolly. He argues that analytics can help shine a light on virtually any aspect of a business, as well as its clients and suppliers. “Analytics can help predict employee absenteeism or product failure,” he says. “They can help recommend the most appropriate products or services for customers based on their previous purchasing behaviour or the behaviour of similar clients. Analytics can be used to correlate data patterns that the human eye misses.” Connolly says data in such instances can highlight things such as the impact that weather has on sales. He adds: “A business’s data is the first step towards having an effective analytics strategy. Without data there can be no analytics. So, even if a business is not in a position to use analytics now, they should still begin to accumulate data in anticipation of the day when they will be able to do analytics.”
Any small business owner or manager reading this would be well entitled to say, “sure, that’s great - but how do I get the ball rolling?” The advice from Connolly is simple: start small. He says: “Excel is a great tool and its
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visualisation capabilities enables users to paint a picture via graphs and charts that often tells more than columns of figures. However, as mentioned above, it is imperative that data on the operations of the business are being captured. As a company becomes more sophisticated they may need to move to more complex tools that enable more complex analytics.” Connolly also advocates putting in processes and assigning responsibilities to help ensure that the analysis of data remains consistent. “Generally, we would recommend that someone within an organisation becomes the go-to person for analytics,” says Connolly. “It is easy to make mistakes when manipulating and transforming data which could subsequently cause one to make an ill-informed business decision. Therefore we recommend that a company has a dedicated staff member work on your analytical needs.” While a tight guard should be kept on who in the company is involved in analysing data, over at Smart Factory, Kelly highlights the importance of making sure that all staff are engaged in the process and know why data is so important to the success of the business. Kelly explains: “In our work, we have seen examples where just visualising targets to employees can increase production output by up to 10 per cent. Simple things;
“IT IS EASY TO MAKE MISTAKES WHEN MANIPULATING AND TRANSFORMING DATA WHICH COULD SUBSEQUENTLY CAUSE ONE TO MAKE AN ILL-INFORMED BUSINESS DECISION. THEREFORE WE RECOMMEND THAT A COMPANY HAS A DEDICATED STAFF MEMBER WORK ON YOUR ANALYTICAL NEEDS.” if the operator sees that they only need two more items to complete a lot, they are more likely to complete the batch as opposed to just heading to a break or going home. It might only take them two minutes and without seeing how close they are to the target, they may just leave it.” In other words, presenting data to staff can keep staff motivated and prevent them from becoming disillusioned with targets. Kelly continues: “In our experience the small firms’ staff already know what the issues are – they just need to have the data gathered and presented in formats that allow for ‘actionable intelligence’ to be used on a day by day basis. It is not necessarily the case that another member of staff is required – especially in a small business. Often the expertise in small firms is already there. They just need help with gathering the
data, visualising it and creating processes around analysis. Often this could involve external experts on a contract basis. It is unlikely in my view that small firms could justify dedicated staff for data analysis.” For any small firm trying to determine whether delving into data is a pursuit worth their time, the last word goes to Idiro’s Connolly. “It has often been said that data is the new oil. All the most highly valued companies on the Nasdaq have businesses predicated on the intelligent use of data. If a company wants to thrive in the 21st century it will have to become analytically enabled. Small businesses face a challenge because they often are more resource constrained than large companies. However, the technology to do analytics is not expensive. All that is required is determination,” he says. SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 27
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Advice Wise Guys
IN BUSINESS AND THRIVING - SIX INDUSTRY EXPERTS SHARE ONE SECRET OF THEIR SUCCESS
Finance Andrea Linehan
Commercial Director, Grid Finance
My advice is to treat your brand as your ‘strategy informant’. It is not your logo, your colour palette or your slogan. A strategically developed brand informs who you hire, what your culture is, what your core operations are, who you partner with and what your customer experience is. Developing, managing and championing your brand is imperative and it should be used as a litmus test to assess the appropriateness of proposed initiatives in any aspect of your business, ensuring consistency in decisionmaking and in execution.
How do we define success?
Transport Adeola Ogunsina, Managing Director, On-site Refueling
Do something to help you stand out from competitors. Our concept of reducing operational costs by bringing fuel to the truck instead of the truck to the fuel moved us beyond the point of being classed simply as a fuel supplier. We are considered an important partner, helping customers improve service delivery to their customers. Our staff also play a significant role. They are not only employees of a fuel company, but rather ‘truck people’ with vast experience in running truck fleets and managing truck fuel programmes.
Engineering Turlough Kinane Managing Director, Thermodial
Since its foundation 30 years ago, Thermodial has placed customer service and staff development at the heart of its business ethos. We work with our customers in maintaining uptime in their organisation and minimising risk for critical heating and cooling systems, while constantly working with our staff on developing their skills through on and off-site training. We value our staff loyalty and the team we have built is key to keeping our customers satisfied.
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
“I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite.”
Communications Fiona O’Connor
Director, Drury|Porter Novelli Prior to joining Drury | Porter Novelli, I worked in a broader marketing role, with a strong commercial and operational remit. This experience brings huge benefit to my clients in Drury; in designing their communications strategy, I bring that commercial focus to bear, ensuring that all activity supports broad corporate goals. My starting point is always to get under the skin of the business and understand their challenges and ambitions.
If you are a business leader
Food Services Lorraine Heskin Managing Director, Gourmet Food Parlour
I am of the belief that you should always walk in the shoes of the people or person you aspire to be. If you have a business that you want to set up or bring to the next stage, go to a person that is doing something similar to what you want to do and get as much information as you can from them. Information is key and the more information you can get – be it positive or negative – the more guidance you will have.
G. K. Chesterton
(May 29th, 1874 – June 14th, 1936) was an English critic and author of verse, essays, novels, and short stories.
Analytics Stephen Nolan Chief Operating Officer, Nutritics
The biggest risk you can take as a business is not taking any risk at all. Take a chance and go and meet a potential client across the other side of the world and do that extra bit of work that they weren’t expecting. Do it right, and word of mouth becomes a very powerful sales tool for your business. If you don’t take that risk, someone else will.
and you feel you have some words of wisdom to share with the small business community please email email@example.com
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GRAFT AT CRAFT BETTER BUSINESS CHECKS THE PULSE OF THE CRAFT BREWING INDUSTRY IN IRELAND AND CHATS TO FOUR BREWERS PROVING THAT SIZE DOESN’T ALWAYS MATTER.
alk into most off-licences these days and chances are you’ll come across a new brand of beer produced by one of the many independent breweries now operating across the country. And it’s no wonder when you look at the stats. According to research carried out for the Independent Craft Brewers of Ireland and Bord Bia, it is estimated that there were some 90 microbreweries operating in the Republic of Ireland in 2016, a number that has more than quadrupled since 2012. While the figures show that the craft beer revolution – as it has been hailed – is still in full flow, how long before we reach saturation point? Is there still room for more small players? Can we expect to see consolidation in the market and how are the craft brewers here really getting on? According to Jonathan McDade, Head of the Irish Brewers Association
IRISH BEER IN NUMBERS
(IBA), an organisation within Ibec which represents Ireland’s major brewers and beer distributors, the craft beer market in Ireland is in a healthy state. Published in August, the association’s latest Beer Market Report shows that the market share of craft beer in Ireland is estimated to have been 3.4 per cent in 2016, which represents almost a threefold increase in market share since 2014. “It’s quite impressive,” says McDade. “I do expect the market share of craft beer to continue growing but probably not at as dramatically as it has done in recent years. Production output for 2016 did not meet projected estimates while beer consumption in Ireland over the past few years has flat-lined after more than a decade of beer consumption declining.” The prospect of beer consumption declining again in the future is not the only issue that smaller breweries have to grapple with. McDade cites upskilling workforce, distribution obstacles and general route-to-market issues as other challenges they face. Perhaps an even more pressing issue, which hasn’t garnered too much attention regarding the impact it could have on small brewers, is the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill. The bill is proposing stringent placement and content restrictions on advertising, the introduction of an “Irish-only” label and visual segregation of alcohol in all retail outlets. “The proposals on labelling will make it more challenging for micro breweries to absorb the additional costs of producing one label for export, and another exclusively for the domestic market,” warns McDade. “The proposed ‘beer curtains’ for retail outlets will see less established craft beer brands out of sight from the browsing consumer on the shopfloor. The structural seperation in retail outlets and the proposed advertising restrictions will effectively provide a market advantage to the more established beer brands.”
An opportunity for craft brewers to get a larger slice of the pie
of beer is produced for export
Ireland’s craft beer market produces
192,000HL *Source: Irish Beer Market Report 2016
direct jobs supported by Irish beer industry
Irish beer exports are worth
of the price of a pint is tax
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Craft Brewing Sector Spotlight
MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE Without the introduction of draconian measures such as socalled ‘beer curtains’, small brewers already face the challenge of getting the word out there about their products, something that Gráinne Walsh, founder of Waterford-based Metalman Brewing, is all too aware of. “In a world of constant communication, it can be very challenging for us to get our message across,” she says. “We are rather scarce on resources – which means we are rather scarce on power and money! – so we have to shout very loud to be heard above everything else. As indie brewers, the best approach we can take is to come together with a united voice – we have more strength when we act together.” Walsh points to two important legislative changes that were implemented in recent years as a result of pressure placed on the Government by independent brewers acting in unison. Increasing the production cap that defines an independent brewer to promote growth in the industry was one, while changes to the way excise duty is collected from microbrewers in order to help them with cashflow was another. Most recently, the Government approved legislation that will allow independent brewers to sell beer to brewery visitors – something that they are currently prohibited from doing. Walsh says it will be a significant win for the independent drinks community when this legislation is passed into law. Indeed, it was by visiting breweries abroad with her husband Tim and sampling beers that prompted them to leave their corporate jobs and set up Metalman in 2011. So being able to tap into the potential that beer tourism offers is clearly a matter close to Walsh’s heart. “Having run an operating brewery for the last six years, I can genuinely say that it is really frustrating to have enthusiastic beer drinkers turn up at your door wanting to buy your beer, only to have to turn them away and say ‘sorry, we’re not allowed sell beer’. It’s also really embarrassing when you see the look on their faces as they try to puzzle out why a brewery would not be allowed to sell beer! I really believe that introducing this legislation will encourage fantastic growth in the independent drinks industry, as well as in local tourism around the country in general.” Overall Walsh admits that is a very challenging market to compete in due to the size and strength of some competitors, but she is hopeful that the industry here will continue to grow. “Growth in independent beer is driven by consumer demand, and by retailers who support that demand, who are happy for a bit of a disruption to the status quo that we’ve had in the market for the last few years,” she notes. “As long as we can continue the momentum in this way, I think independent Irish beer will continue to flourish.”
“AS INDIE BREWERS, THE BEST APPROACH WE CAN TAKE IS TO COME TOGETHER WITH A UNITED VOICE – WE HAVE MORE STRENGTH WHEN WE ACT TOGETHER.” GRÁINNE WALSH, METALMAN
Gráinne Walsh of Metalman Brewing
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CRAFTY TACTICS One complaint you’ll regularly hear within craft brewing or consuming circles is the way in which major beer producers have responded to the market disruption caused by independent brewers. Since Molson Coors acquired Cork brewers Franciscan Well in 2013, we haven’t seen much movement by large breweries in Ireland to take over the small independent ones. Rather than further market consolidation, instead we have seen a move by the big players to offer a wider selection of beers to the Irish consumer, often marketed or labelled as the kind of products produced by a microbrewery – a move that the uninformed consumer might not be privy to. It’s seen by some of the legitimate craft brewers as underhand tactics, while others like Seamus O’Hara, founder and Managing Director of Carlow Brewing Company and one of the industry’s most recognisable pioneers, consider it to be an indication that the independent brewers are doing something right. “It’s a bit frustrating and certainly it can cause confusion in the market,” he says. “On one level it frustrates me a bit. On the other hand, it’s a sign that the craft beer sector, which has been a fledgling new sector, is a success and that we are starting to achieve some scale and momentum.” According to O’Hara, the business model of big breweries is not about disrupting the market and having a diverse range of
beer. However, if they are willing to fragment the market with new offerings, it creates more opportunity for the independent producer. “Craft companies are more nimble and are able to be creative and responsive to the change in consumer demand that comes off the back of that,” he says. “The underhanded stuff is what frustrates us. But business is business and if they want to help us disrupt and fragment the market, that’s the sector we’re in so we’ll soldier on.” A family business established back in 1996, Carlow Brewing Company is doing more than soldiering on. This year has been a significant one for the brewer, having acquired a new cider brand with the takeover of Craigies Cider. O’Hara also sold a stake in the company to Spanish brewers Hijos de Rivera and announced plans for a new brew pub in Dublin’s CHQ building. So what will the partnership with Hijos de Rivera mean? “They had been acting as our importer in Spain for a couple of years so we got to know them well,” O’Hara explains. “The significance for us is having their backing in terms of trying to develop and grow our business. You need that financial backing as you grow. It’s a strategic investment which brings with it a knowledge of the beer industry and potential international reach... It was a company that we found, a family-owned business just over 100 years old, and it was a really good cultural fit for us.”
Seamus O’Hara of Carlow Brewing Company
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Craft Brewing Sector Spotlight
Scott Baigent and Cameron Wallace of Eight Degrees Brewing
BEERS WITH ATMOSPHERE One brewer our readers might be familiar with having seen their red ales and pale ales readily available at SFA events is Eight Degrees Brewing. Born out of a recognition that despite having a great pub culture, the beers on offer in Ireland back in 2010 didn’t match the atmosphere, Cork-based Eight Degrees Brewing was set up by Australian Cameron Wallace and New Zealander Scott Baigent. As Wallace tells it: “We rustled up some cash and investment, went to Berlin to study the microbiology of brewing at the VLB institute, and we jumped in with both feet.” Wallace echoes Walsh’s sentiment that marketing poses the biggest challenge for small brewers – or simply put, getting people to try the beer. “Once they taste it, more often than not they are hooked,” he says. “It’s like a completely new mindset, so often I hear the comment, ‘but I didn’t know beer could taste like this’. Getting them to try it is always the biggest obstacle. Craft or micro-produced beer is about giving the consumer a wider choice, and something different. This philosophy encourages consumers to be promiscuous, so we can’t expect loyalty always.” According to Wallace, craft brewers are facing a David versus Goliath battle when it comes to competing with the larger breweries and, again, references some of the unsavoury tactics being taken to ensure that
the smaller players are not gaining too much of a stake in the market. “The big boys are flexing their muscle at the moment and being very aggressive especially on the draught side of things, making it extremely difficult for microbreweries to get a tap anywhere,” he explains. “But we are tenacious, our small stature makes us nimble, we can adapt quickly to changing consumer preference. We, as an industry are focused even more so on quality, because we know marketing budgets and bully tactics will not prevail in the long-term.” So Eight Degrees Brewing seem up for the challenge, and it helps when they have a multitude of other craft brewers on their side. It’s something that’s noticeable at any craft beer event you attend, including the annual Irish Craft Beer Festival; there is great camaraderie between those operating in the industry. “Camaraderie is very important,” says Wallace. “Together we can achieve so much more and really build a sustainable industry with market shares approaching five or even 10 per cent in the coming years. A good example is the Hagstravaganza festival in Sligo where over 20 breweries locally and internationally share ideas and collaborate over a beer or two. It’s inspiring and fun and reminds us of the reason why we got into this industry in the first place.”
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Craft Brewing Sam Black of Blacks Brewery & Distillery
NEW ARRIVALS One of the more recent arrivals to the craft beer market, but which has already made its mark with its attractive labelling and flavoursome beers, is Blacks Brewery & Distillery in Kinsale. Established in 2013 by husband and wife team Maudeline and Sam Black, the couple’s love of brewing came about when Maudeline purchased a homebrewing kit for Sam as a St. Valentine’s Day gift. As Maudeline says, they’ve been living the dream ever since. So having been one of the later entrants into the market, does Maudeline Black believe they crept in just in time before the market became overcrowded? “Are we reaching saturation point? I think we probably are,” she says. “There is one brewery for every 47,000 people in Ireland currently, which is more breweries per head of capita than in the US, which most people would consider to be at saturation point.” One advantage Blacks has over other new entrants is that in 2015, the company began producing spirits, including poitín and gin. According to Blacks, they were the first co-located brewery/distillery in the country and are now focused on growing the distillery side of the business. It’s no surprise then, that like other craft brewers, they see great opportunities down the track through the Craft Brewers and Distillers Bill. “It will certainly help Blacks’ cause,” Sam Black says. “The bill has good potential for us as we are uniquely placed having both a distillery and a brewery on one site, coupled with being in Kinsale, a major tourist destination town. Hopefully we will have some solid idea of what it entails and how to make the best of it for the tourist season in 2018.” The new legislation would certainly be more armour for the small producer in competing with the big guys, something Blacks has found to be a challenge to date. “With the rapidly growing number of craft breweries and also the larger macro breweries launching an increasing amount of ‘crafty’ beers, it’s hard to find shelf space for all of your desired range of output,” says Maudeline. “We love brewing different styles of beer and last year we had six brand new beers launching in bottle, but this year we have only launched new products on draught release.”
So is there anything else the Government could be doing to give craft brewers in Ireland the extra leg up they need? According to the IBA, it could start by reducing the excise burden in Budget 2018. Excise in Ireland has gone up 42 per cent in the past six years and Ireland has the second highest excise on beer in the EU. We’ll have to wait until October to see if it’s part of the Government’s plans. One thing that is not in doubt is Ireland’s love affair with beer. According to IBA’s Beer Market Report, it remains the country’s most popular alcoholic drink, with a 46.2 per cent market share. Now, with a wide varierty of innovative products bursting with all sorts of flavours on their side, craft brewers intend to fight their corner and grab a larger slice of the pie. Afterall, in a country which ranks sixth in Europe when it comes to beer consumption, there is room for both big and small producers to co-exist in the market. As Walsh of Metalman puts it: “It’s like the food industry – sure, there’s a place for global fast food joints, but that’s not what everyone wants, all the time. We still want small independent cafés, Michelinstarred restaurants, family-owned pizzerias, ethnic cuisine. Essentially, as consumers, we want variety, and we want to be the ones who choose what we consume. In Ireland we’re farther along in terms of choice in the food industry than we are in the beer industry, but we’ll get there eventually.”
“THE BILL HAS GOOD POTENTIAL FOR US AS WE ARE UNIQUELY PLACED HAVING BOTH A DISTILLERY AND A BREWERY ON ONE SITE.” SAM BLACK, BLACKS BREWERY & DISTILLERY
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07/09/2017 18/08/2017 16:45 10:03
Interview Helen Dixon
AS THE COUNTDOWN FOR THE NEW GDPR CONTINUES, BETTER BUSINESS GOT IN TOUCH WITH DATA PROTECTION COMMISSIONER HELEN DIXON TO FIND OUT ABOUT THE NEW DATA PROTECTION LEGISLATION AND WHAT IT MEANS FOR IRISH BUSINESSES.
o matter how small your business, the chances are it will be subject to the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). That’s the message Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon is keen to get across to small Irish businesses and now, as the start date for the new GDPR approaches, Dixon is busy preparing her office and helping organisations prepare themselves. The existing Data Protection Directive in Europe was enacted in 1995, or when Mark Zuckerberg was 11-years old. It predated much of what was to happen in technology and social media over the next 20 years. In Ireland, the main law dealing with data protection legislation is the Data Protection Act 1988, which was amended by the Data Protection (Amendment) Act 2003. Both will be replaced by the GDPR in 2018, which will also encompass rulings from the Court of Justice of the EU over recent years. The aim of the new regulation is to give consumers transparency around how their personal data is used and to improve trust in the digital economy. And while it will require changes to the processes of most companies, it will ultimately create a simpler environment, estimated to save European businesses €2.3 billion per year. “We are in the middle of the fourth industrial revolution, the internet technology revolution, that has driven, over a very short space of time, every organisation to being a technology organisation,” Dixon explains. “Now every corner store has an electronic point of sale; every government department operates a website and has databases and electronic interfaces. Every organisation is now a tech organisation
and increasingly every organisation is becoming a data organisation.” What individuals really are concerned about is whether they have control over their personal data: in a 2015 survey, 67 per cent of respondents said they were worried about having no control over the information they provide online, and seven out of ten people felt concerned about their information being used for a different purpose from the one it was collected for. “Individuals are increasingly online, engaging with so-called freemiums, supplying large quantities of their personal data and they’re growing increasingly concerned with what they’re actually supplying. The Commission has an eye on the development of the digital economy and it’s very clear that the economy can only develop where there’s trust of consumers so they wanted to ensure a new law could underpin the development of trust between data subjects and organisations.” Dixon is rarely out of the news these days. Since her appointment in 2014, she’s been involved in several high profile cases, including the Schrems’ case against Facebook’s sharing of EU citizens’ data with the US, which eventually struck down the ‘safe harbour’ agreement. The landmark ruling meant that tech companies like Google, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft could no longer self-certify when transferring data outside of Europe. Right now, however, much of Dixon’s focus is on GDPR. “This is a significant once-in-a-generation overhaul of the data protection laws in Europe,” she says. “It undoubtedly applies to every business – every organisation that has even one employee is processing personal data and undoubtedly most organisations are processing much more than that in respect of their clients and customers.” The GDPR will come into effect in May 2018.
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Michael Dawson pictured at the launch of the Junior Entrepreneur Programme 2017
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Interview Helen Dixon
Dixon is keen to emphasise that there is limited organisation processing special or sensitive data time to prepare and stresses that if a business and organisations that are monitoring individuals hasn’t started preparing, the time to do so is now. on a large basis. There are specific requirements “We commissioned Amárach to conduct some for the data protection officer: they have to be Did You Know? research for us targeted at small businesses and appropriately qualified, they’ll report into the GDPR comes in discovered that awareness and preparedness highest level of management and they’ll need to on May 25th 2018. were very low. Our message around GDPR is be trained in new data processing operations and To find out how you are going to make it more painful if you take new technologies. it will affect your a last-minute approach and organisations need “The lead-in time is quite tight if you need to business, visit www. to do more to engage with this process. recruit or appoint a data protection officer, so gdprandyou.ie, and check out the 12 “It’s not a surprise that many companies, organisations need to be looking at that now,” steps businesses particularly small businesses, have not yet begun Dixon recommends. should take to to get GDPR-ready or even considered what Other requirements that organisations need to prepare, or contact that might look like. Larger organisations, with prepare for relate to the mandatory data breach SFA on 01 605 1668. greater resources, are likely to be more advanced notification – it will be necessary to report any in their preparations and are generally more breaches to the Data Protection Authority within cognisant of data protection requirements. 72 hours of identification and to notify the data Therefore, we are focused on helping SMEs who subjects. An organisation also needs to look at may feel that the GDPR doesn’t apply to them or that there is little to its security measures around mitigating risk and if they identify risks fear in ignoring it, when in fact this is far from the case. We have set that cannot be mitigated, they’ll have an obligation to consult with the up a dedicated microsite (www.gdprandyou.ie) and we’re rolling out Data Protection Authority. more relevant guidelines for organisations and preparing guidance for Dixon’s team is undergoing changes, too. Under the GDPR, the smaller organisations that have indicated to us the specific difficulties Data Protection Authority has been given several new functions, as they have in interpreting the legislation.” well as significant enforcement powers and fining capabilities. The Dixon advises one of the first things organisations need to do is budget for the office has tripled in the last three years, as has its staff – look at Article 30 under the GDPR, which requires a business to audit when Dixon came on board towards the end of 2014 there were about and document their personal data processing operations and to look 26 staff; there’s now about 70. Recruitment is ongoing and Dixon at the legal basis under which they collect that data. If an organisation expects it to be closer to 90 or 100 by the end of the year. relies on the consent of individuals then it needs to be compliant with “In order to implement a system where we deploy those types of the new standards of consent set out in the GDPR. Organisations will fines we need to have very rigorous structures to demonstrate fair need to look at their transparency, as well as their data retention and procedure, to conduct investigation and adjudicate. We’re working to whether they have a published retention schedule, retaining it only as restructure our office as well as expanding it – we ran a procurement long as is necessary. process last year and selected PwC to assist us in looking at our “A lot of organisations don’t actually know what processes they current processes and map out our future processes and help facilitate have because they don’t look at it that way,” says Dixon on the issues us in preparing what type of organisation structure we’re going to facing businesses. “And a lot of companies are telling us that they’re be and what size of teams we’ll need. We’ll have to develop a new coming across all sorts of data sets stored on old media that they case management system, a new website and they’ll have to have didn’t know they had. They need to look at where the data they the capability to link with the new European Data Protection Board collect is stored. Then they need to look at the new accountability IT system – so there’s huge complexity for us as an organisation to requirements.” prepare, too.” Under the GDPR, many organisations will need to appoint On the ground, Dixon says she’s hearing concerns from Irish a data protection officer, including all public sector bodies, any businesses about the fining capabilities of her office (fines for noncompliance are up to €20m – a figure that has caused some alarm). “We emphasise to organisations that their focus should be their accountability. I direct them to Article 83 of the GDPR which sets out the criteria of whether a fine should be imposed, but it also sets out the mitigating factors too. In investigating a case, we’re obliged to take into account whether there was an intentional or negligent characteristic to the infringement, what level of responsibility an organisation took, what actions they took to mitigate any damage to data subjects and whether it was the first infringement or a repeat and how well the organisation cooperates. So our message is, organisations that are accountable will fare a lot better if there is any case of infringement.” Her final point: “Now is the time to sit down and map out what changes are relevant for your organisation. Nobody can do it for an organisation bar the organisation itself.”
“INDIVIDUALS ARE INCREASINGLY ONLINE, ENGAGING WITH SOCALLED FREEMIUMS, SUPPLYING LARGE QUANTITIES OF THEIR PERSONAL DATA AND THEY’RE GROWING INCREASINGLY CONCERNED WITH WHAT THEY’RE ACTUALLY SUPPLYING.” 38 SFA | BETTER BUSINESS
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Pat McDonagh, Owner Supermac’s, Trócaire Supporter.
“ my business has helped children children go go to to
school and and provided provided
vulnerable villages in in
Find out what your business can do by partnering with Trócaire: Please contact us on 00 353 1 629 3333 or visit trocaire.org Trócaire Head Office, Maynooth, Co. Kildare, Ireland Irish Charity No. CHY 5883
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13/09/2017 09:43 05/09/2016 09:51
Small Business Profile Kelly’s Artisan Butchers
IS IN THE
ALMOST 90 YEARS IN BUSINESS, KELLY’S OF NEWPORT ARTISAN BUTCHERS CONTINUES TO COMBINE TRADITIONAL VALUES WITH QUALITY PRODUCE TO MAKE AN AWARDWINNING FOOD COMPANY. 40 SFA | BETTER BUSINESS
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Kelly’s Artisan Butchers Small Business Profile
elly’s Artisan Butchers is a family-run business founded in 1930 by Dominic Kelly, whose hallowed name still hangs proudly over the door. In the intervening years, the business was passed to his sons, Seán and Seamus, with the third generation, Kenneth and Cormac, having become actively involved in recent times. While Kelly’s began as a simple but dedicated local butcher shop, the Kelly family has continued to develop and diversify the business, adding its own abattoir and entering overseas markets such as the UK with its award-winning products. At Kelly’s, there’s a long tradition of excellence, which Seán Kelly, the current owner of the business, says stems from the core philosophy that was instilled in the business from its early beginnings. “We have a simple philosophy – we make up to a standard, not down to a price.” Kelly notes that he only sources the highest standard of ingredients for his shop, and is dedicated to using exclusively Irish produce. “It has to be Irish pork, which is dearer than imported pork, but it’s Irish pork and we’re keeping jobs in Ireland,” he says. “That’s what we try to do. That’s what we’ve always done and we’ll continue that way. We like to support as much local as we can and as much Irish as we can.” While the shop started out as a standalone business, it has now branched out into different sectors, each encompassing the same values. Along with the original butcher shop, there’s Kelly’s Kitchen, a restaurant based in Newport on the Wild Atlantic Way and run by Kelly’s daughter, Séana. “We use as much product from our shop as we can, like sausages and pudding,” says Kelly. Alongside the shop and restaurant, Kelly’s business manufactures awardwinning artisan produce. These speciality sausages and puddings, which Kelly says have been inspired by the flavours of the Wild Atlantic Way, have attracted the attention of foodies and industry professionals at home and abroad. The high standard of this unique artisan produce has not gone unrecognised. Made from secret recipes which have been securely locked within the close-knit family for generations, Kelly’s has been the recipient of awards from Good Food
SFA Fact Did You Know? Ireland, Blás na hÉireann, the Great Taste Awards, and was highly commended in the Food and Drink category at the SFA National Small Business Awards 2017. With distribution of its pudding products taking centre stage, Kelly has introduced innovative new flavours to its line-up, including white pudding with seaweed and lamb and red currant sausages. “It’s unbelievable when you get an award like that,” says Kelly of one of his company’s recent accolades. “It’s like kick-starting your business.” Despite this unquestionable success, Kelly notes that there is one prized trophy that he has sadly been unable to get his hands on until now – the elusive Sam Maguire. It’s something Mayo got the chance to compete for at Croke Park in this year’s All-Ireland football final, and at time of speaking, it was Kelly’s hope that the boys from his county wouldn’t come out second best again.
Seán Kelly was named Mayo Person of the Year by the Mayo Association Dublin earlier this year in recognition of how he has used his business as a platform “to promote and introduce his native county to countless people”.
“NO MATTER WHAT BUSINESS YOU’RE IN, THERE’S TOO MUCH RED TAPE IN THIS COUNTRY, THERE’S TOO MUCH PAPERWORK.” When it comes to the landscape for small businesses in Ireland right now, Kelly highlights the need for the Government to provide additional support to small firms and to reduce the scrutiny on business owners. “No matter what business you’re in, there’s too much red tape in this country, there’s too much paperwork,” says Kelly. In particular, he would like to see changes in place that would allow a government body, such as the Food Safety Authority, to better advise small firms on matters that could potentially improve their business, rather than shut them down without warning. “The first thing they do is they try to close you down,” he bemoans. “What they should be doing is helping people, helping small businesses.” As an SFA member, Kelly finds peace of mind knowing that, should a problem arise, he has a resource available to him that can provide him with guidance. “I’m 69 years old. When I was growing up I had a knife in my hand more often than I had
a pen,” he says. “My education wouldn’t be great but I learned a lot along the way. It’s great as a person like myself that there are people out there that want to help you.” While this informal education served Kelly well and afforded him the skills to build his business successfully, he admits that it was by no means an easy process. “It took me a long time to learn how to do these things. Had I been a member of the SFA a long time ago, it wouldn’t have taken me so long to get here.” Kelly believes that the driving force behind the success of Ireland’s small food businesses is the support of member organisations such as the SFA and the continued promotion of locally sourced produce by Irish chefs across the country. With this collaborative approach, Kelly believes that Ireland will continue to have a strong reputation as an international food destination and allow small businesses such as his to reap the rewards. “For our country to survive, we have to support one another,” he concludes.
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OF SETTING SALARIES
BETTER BUSINESS ASKS A NUMBER OF EMPLOYERS AND RECRUITERS TO OFFER SOME ADVICE FOR SMALL BUSINESSES ON THE QUESTION OF SETTING AND REVISING EMPLOYEE SALARIES.
etting employee salaries within a small firm can be an awkward balancing act. On the one hand, employers want to attract the best talent available to their company, yet they do not want to put the business out of pocket by overpaying. Of course, it can be difficult to establish what actually constitutes paying over the odds, particularly if a business is only starting out. What then can be done? Dan McKeown, Principal at Venture Financial Recruitment, offers employers some simple advice based upon his years providing recruitment services for a wide range of sectors. He advises business owners to be aware of the market rate. “Canvass agencies to get a consensus on salary and benefits packages paid in your sector,” he says. This is a good place to start, as it will ensure that employers are not offering salaries far above or below its competitors. However, knowledge of one’s competitors is not enough in and of itself. McKeown believes it essential for employers to recognise the employees that are deserving of a raise before they become disillusioned or begin to feel underappreciated. “[Some employers] try to change salary levels when it is too late, like when someone has left or handed in their notice. It really is an indictment of the firm if they only consider employee welfare after they decide to leave,” he asserts. “Firms that don`t have regular and recorded appraisals leave themselves open to losing touch on salary expectations of the employee.” One way employers can keep track of an employee’s performance – and therefore the salary they are entitled to – is by implementing performance management
systems within the business. One SFA member, who wishes to remain anonymous, suggests that these systems are necessary in managing the performances of individuals, departments and the organisation itself, allowing employers to get a sense of how much individual workers are worth to the company. Performance management systems work by aligning employee accomplishments with the organisation’s objectives. Employers track individual performances and reward workers appropriately for high quality work, ensuring the firm has a higher chance of retaining key members of staff that are vital to its success. Moreover, the management system will provide the employer with an overview of the company’s workings, ensuring that it is not overpaying individuals who are not performing to an acceptable standard. “Our attitude to pay review is that payment should be guided by individual performance and the ability of the company to pay,” the SFA member says. “We do move to reward someone who performs above and beyond, because it builds loyalty and helps us to retain them.” As Irish businesses know all too well following the recent financial crisis, circumstances surrounding companies can change dramatically within a short space of time. It might one day, for example, become necessary for a firm to cut its employees’ wages, and the company must be prepared to handle such a delicate situation adequately. The advice all round is to be clear and honest with employees from the off. “Be upfront and spell out the reasons
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Pa y d a
why [the cuts are being made],” says McKeown from Venture Financial Recruitment. “Don’t be too vague – simply blaming the economy is not acceptable when reducing someone’s wages.” This was an approach put into practice by the SFA member. “At the beginning of the economic downturn we imposed a 5 per cent pay cut across the board,” it says. “That was the one and only time we did this. We called everyone to a general meeting and explained in detail why we were concerned about reducing costs and we introduced a ‘cost down’ programme.” While handling employee salary rates is undoubtedly important, there are other means of retaining employees that need not necessarily equate to an increase in pay. Insurance benefits, company cars and effective retirement plans are all alternative means of rewarding employees. As well as this, the environment of the workplace can have a huge impact, as Zanine Wyeth, Sales and Recruitment Manager at recruitment firm Three Q Perms and Temps suggests.
Dan McKeown of Venture Financial Recruitment has three top tips for small firms when setting and negotiating wages in their company:
■ Know the market rates for salary and benefits ■ Be consistent with employees at the same level ■ Focus on your strengths – what can you provide to keep and incentivise staff? (e.g. holidays, flexibility, remote working, extra training)
“A competitive salary is sometimes difficult in a small firm. In order to be competitive, small firms could offer benefits which, in some instances, can be more beneficial than a higher salary,” she says. “When we asked a couple of our employees why they chose us over our competitors, one employee mentioned that it was the training plan that was the deciding factor, as it set out an entire month and a half of training, supervision and mentorship rather than simply having her learn on an ad hoc basis, on the job. Another employee said that it was the investment in her professional development that encouraged her to choose our company over others.” The anonymous SFA member agrees with this advice, suggesting to employers: “Pay what you can afford. If you scrimp you are unlikely to get the best staff. No resource is more important to a company than the people who work for it. However, creating a supportive environment for staff is probably more important than salaries. They need to be actively welcomed and trained and coached to perform well at their jobs. If they feel they are performing well and it’s being recognised and they see a career with your company, they are less likely to leave for a small pay rise elsewhere.” SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 43
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Interview Trading Places
Dr John O’Shea, Co-founder, Suu Balm
CONOR FORREST CAUGHT UP WITH DR JOHN O’SHEA, ONE OF THOUSANDS OF IRISH EXPATS FORGING A SUCCESSFUL PATH IN THE BUSINESSFRIENDLY SOUTHEAST ASIAN COUNTRY OF SINGAPORE.
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Trading Places Interview The sovereign city-state of Singapore is something of a melting pot of cultures in Southeast Asia – from Chinese, Malay and Indian Singaporeans to thousands of ex-pats from around the globe. Despite its small size and lack of natural resources, since its independence in 1965 Singapore has undergone rapid industrialisation, building a lucrative economy and a reputation as a hub for commerce and finance, alongside a healthy start-up culture. Take Suu Balm, a start-up company producing an effective soothing cream for itchy skin, whose proliferation across Southeast Asia and into Europe has been driven at least in part by Irishman Dr John O’Shea. O’Shea’s experience over the past two decades is quite eclectic, crossing the fields of business, commerce and medicine. The second member of his family to choose medicine, O’Shea graduated from UCD in 2001 determined to make a career for himself in surgery, though doubts quickly arose, exacerbated by a year away teaching English in Italy. Deciding that he wanted to take a different path, in part due to the nature of the job and the politics that tends to come with larger hospital environments, O’Shea joined the emerging VHI Swiftcare clinics as a doctor in late 2006, supplementing his income through cosmetic dermatology, providing botox and filler services for a number of clinics. “This, I guess, was probably my first experience of setting up a business, even though at the time I was really just looking for interesting things to do,” he recalls. With his feet itching once more, and an interest in the business side of medicine sparked following conversations with friends from UCD, O’Shea enrolled in a one-year MBA programme at INSEAD, one of the the world’s most highly rated MBA programmes. That experience was life-changing in many ways; he followed his former partner to Boston and took a job as a consultant, before moving to Singapore in 2012 to develop an ultimately short-lived start-up, an online tool aimed at linking pharmaceutical companies with contract manufacturers. That failure prompted a return to the world of consulting where he met his current business partner Jason Humphries, and Good Pharma Consulting was established the following year. Fast forward to 2017 and one of
“I’VE GOT A GREAT SENSE OF ACHIEVEMENT OUT OF WHAT WE’VE MANAGED SO FAR WITH SUU BALM, AND FINGERS CROSSED, WITH SOME HARD WORK AND GOOD LUCK... WE CAN GROW THIS BIGGER AND BIGGER.” Good Pharma’s big successes is Suu Balm, a menthol-derived cream developed by chemist and researcher Dr Tey Hong Liang. The story is something of a series of fortunate events. As the two partners began to scale their fledgling consulting business, they eschewed the more prohibitive market for prescription drugs in favour of more affordable consumer healthcare products. Through a stroke of good fortune, Humphries was introduced to Dr Liang at Singapore’s National Skin Centre, who had developed and tested his cream at the Itch Clinic over a two-year period, and was looking for a commercially minded partner to bring Suu Balm to a wider audience. “Jason and I loved this idea and thought that this was a doctor who had really seen an unmet need, and he went about creating something for it,” O’Shea explains. “So we thought ‘fantastic, let’s go for it’. And that was the beginning of Suu Balm.” Suu Balm launched as a commercial product in April 2015, and has since expanded to the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, with inroads being made into China at the moment. But their horizons are much broader than the Asian continent. O’Shea brought Suu Balm home to Ireland in April 2016, while the company just launched in the UK, partnering with Lloyd’s Pharmacy to extend its reach. Success has followed expansion. First year sales topped S$250,000, jumping to S$1,250,000 in 2016. Undoubtedly the figures for 2017 will be equally impressive. So what do the upcoming years hold for O’Shea and Suu Balm? It’s difficult to say, he predicts, with circumstances often changing at the drop of a hat. “For now really the focus is on growing this Suu Balm business,” he tells me. “I’ve got a great sense of achievement out of what we’ve managed so far with Suu Balm, and fingers crossed, with some hard work and good luck... we can grow this bigger and bigger.”
JOHN O’SHEA ON... Irish People Abroad
There’s plenty of Irish people here... You end up meeting people who you vaguely know. There’s a guy, Cormac Ó Muircheartaigh, who is the son of Micheal Ó Muircheartaigh, the famous commentator. His sister was in my class in med school, and [she] now works with my sister in Beaumont... it’s a classic Irish story that you meet somebody from around the corner at home even though you’re however many thousand kilometres away!
Life in Singapore
It’s hot, but I like the fact that you see the sun every day for a fair bit of the time... It’s also exceptionally efficient and well organised, with super public transport. Now it’s quite an expensive city to live in; things like housing, whether you buy or rent, is quite expensive. Cars are incredibly expensive, even by Irish standards it’s probably two or three times the price for a car in Ireland.
The thing that you struggle to get used to a bit is the lack of banter and craic with random people! You can go into a café or whatever and try to start up a little bit of banter, but you just get nothing back. After a while you give up trying.
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Book Extract Politics
A TELLING TÊTE-ÀIN HIS NEW BOOK ADULTS IN THE ROOM, YANIS VAROUFAKIS DETAILS HIS CONTROVERSIAL BATTLES WITH EUROPE’S POLITICAL ELITE AND EXPOSES WHAT GOES ON IN THE CORRIDORS OF POWER. IN THE FOLLOWING EXTRACT, HE RECOUNTS HIS FIRST MEETING WITH CHRISTINE LAGARDE AND THE TRADE-OFFS NEEDED TO ACHIEVE HIS POLITICAL GOALS.
Conor McCabe Photography
Yanis Varoufakis pictured with novelist Elif Shafak at the 2016 Zurich Dalkey Book Festival
Less than a month after my election, on 11 February 2015, in one of those spirit-numbing, windowless, neon-lit meeting rooms that litter the EU’s Brussels buildings, I found myself sitting opposite Christine Lagarde, the IMF’s managing director, France’s ex-finance minister and a former Washington-based highflying lawyer. She had waltzed into the building earlier that day in a glamorous leather jacket, making me look drab and conventionally attired. This being our first encounter, we chatted amicably in the corridor before moving into the meeting room for the serious discussion. Behind closed doors, with a couple of aides on each side, the conversation turned serious but remained just as friendly. She afforded me the opportunity to present my basic analysis of the causes and nature of the Greek situation as well as my proposals for dealing with it, and nodded in agreement for much of the time. We seemed to share a common language and were both keen to establish a good rapport. At the meeting’s end, walking towards the door, we got a chance for a short, relaxed but telling tête-à-tête. Taking her cue from the points I had made, Christine seconded my appeals for debt relief and lower tax rates as prerequisites for a Greek recovery. Then she addressed me with calm and gentle honesty: You are of course right, Yanis. These targets that they insist on can’t work. But, you must understand that we have put too much into this programme. We cannot go back on it. Your credibility depends on accepting and working within the programme. So, there I had it. The head of the IMF was telling the finance minister of a bankrupt government that the policies imposed upon his country couldn’t work. Not that it would be hard to make them work. Not that the probability of them working was low. No, she was acknowledging that, come hell or high water, they couldn’t work. With every meeting, especially with the troika’s smarter and less insecure officials, the impression grew on me that this
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Politics Book Extract
was not a simple tale of us versus them, good versus bad. Rather, an authentic drama was afoot reminiscent of a play by Aeschylus or Shakespeare in which powerful schemers end up caught in a trap of their own making. In the real-life drama I was witnessing, Summers’s* sacred rule of insiders kicked in the moment they recognised their powerlessness. The hatches were battered down, official denial prevailed, and the consequences of the tragic impasse they’d created were left to unfold on autopilot, imprisoning them yet further in a situation they detested for weakening their hold over events. Because they – the heads of the IMF, of the EU, of the German and French governments – had invested inordinate political capital in a programme that deepened Greece’s bankruptcy, spread untold misery and led our young to emigrate in droves, there was no alternative: the people of Greece would simply have to continue to suffer. As for me, the political upstart, my credibility depended on accepting
these policies, which insiders knew would fail, and helping to sell them to the outsiders who had elected me on the precise basis that I would break with those same failed policies. It’s hard to explain, but not once did I feel animosity towards Christine Lagarde. I found her intelligent, cordial, respectful. My view of humanity would not be thrown into turmoil were it to be shown that she actually had a strong preference for a humane Greek deal. But that is not relevant. As a leading insider, her top priority was the preservation of the insiders’ political capital and the minimisation of any challenge to her collective authority. Yet credibility, like spending, comes with trade-offs. Every purchase means an alternative opportunity lost. Boosting my standing with Christine and the other figures of power meant sacrificing my credibility with Lambros, the homeless interpreter who had sworn me to the cause of those people who, unlike him, had not yet been drowned in the torrent
of bankruptcy ravaging our land. This trade-off never came close to becoming a personal dilemma. And the powers that be realised this early on, making my removal from the scene essential.
*Earlier in the book, Varoufakis references a meeting in Washington he had with Larry Summers, the former US treasury secretary, during which Summers warns him: “Outsiders prioritise their freedom to speak their version of the truth. The price is that they are ignored by the insiders, who make the important decisions.”
This is an extract taken from Adults in the Room: My Battle With Europe’s Deep Establishment by Yanis Varoufakis, reprinted with permission from Penguin Random House
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Lightbulb Moment Development
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REACH ENERGIA’S 200,000 CUSTOMERS VIA businessextra@ energia.ie DAVID BRIODY | DIRECTOR, BRIODY BEDDING One of the keys to the success of Briody Bedding in Co Meath is the fact that we have control over our product through every stage of production and delivery. The company is very much bucking the trend that has seen so much manufacturing disappear from Ireland – we make everything on-site and distribute to all major furniture retail outlets across both the Republic and Northern Ireland. The company’s strength lies in the fact that it has control over our product from start to finish. We make the spring unit and everything else that goes into our beds, so we have control from raw material right up to delivery, and we own and operate our own transport fleet. Our beds are 100 per cent Irish made, and we can turn orders around in a matter of hours. I suppose over the years we have had a series of lightbulb moments that have helped with our success, the two most significant ones being the decision to bring as much of the manufacturing as we could in-house, and the move to implement a sophisticated order and delivery system that is second to none. Always with an eye to the future, we are constantly developing new products for our customers. www.briodybeds.ie
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Development Lightbulb Moment
TONY MORGAN | PROPRIETOR, LIPTON’S CLONES Our lightbulb moment dates back to December 2011 when my son Ciarán suggested that we start accepting the old Irish Punt as payment for goods in our shop, Lipton’s Clones. His suggestion came about having seen a village in Northern Spain, Mugardos, re-introduce the Peseta. Fast forward to March 2012 when we introduced the ‘Embrace The Punt’ scheme at Lipton’s. It meant that when you spent your punts in our shop you received your change in Lipton’s vouchers. The initiative garnered national coverage, both on radio and in print. In light of its intitial success, in June 2012 we enrolled another 41 businesses as part of the scheme and got Clones town vouchers printed. It resulted in us receiving coverage in every national newspaper and almost every local and national radio station. I was on radio shows in Canada, the UK and Spain to mention but a few. A Swedish TV reporter ‘shadowed’ me for a day when I travelled from the Central Bank to Clones. TV stations from Russia, Switzerland, France, Germany also ran features on us. If you Google ‘Embrace the Punt’ you’ll get a glimpse of the extent of the coverage. Between 2012 and 2017, over IR£45,000 has been spent in Clones but you just couldn’t buy the advertising that the town received. Many of the customers who initially spent their punts in Clones are returning ones who are now spending their euros. www.facebook.com/LiptonsClones
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Lightbulb Moment Development
Noel Connolly pictured with his wife Eve, who is also a director of AFT Blinds
NOEL CONNOLLY | MANAGER, AFT BLINDS A number of years ago, I found myself under a lot of stress with my business. We had three employees and our main business was wholesaling products to the window coverings market in Dublin. Most of our competitors were much bigger than us and we struggled to compete. My business decisions revolved around what our competitors were doing and every strategy I came up with seemed to be a lost cause. I got very down, to the point that it was affecting my personal life. One morning I was driving to work and my lightbulb moment happened. I was listening to a discussion on the radio where a renowned American football coach was speaking about the secrets to his success. His words struck a chord with me. He explained how the normal course of action for a coach was to invest a lot of time looking at the opposition – their strengths and weaknesses. However, he decided to take a different approach. “I believed that if I put 100 per cent of my time and efforts into my team and focused on each player, it didn’t really matter what the opposition did,” he said. Hearing this truly changed my business and my life. It was a catalyst for my decision to move into manufacturing. We have since grown the business from having a turnover of €500,000 to €2,000,000 projected for 2017. We now employ 14 staff, are growing steadily, and recently developed our own brand of products. I still feel that this is just the beginning! www.aftblinds.ie
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SFA Policy Budget 2018
SFA Fact Did You Know? 98 per cent of all businesses in Ireland are small firms (less than 50 employees) and one in every two people working in the private sector is employed by a small business.
A BUDGET FOR
SMALL BUSINESS THE SFA PRE-BUDGET SUBMISSION MAKES THE CASE THAT BUDGET 2018 MUST GIVE BUSINESSES THE BEST POSSIBLE OPPORTUNITY TO GENERATE FUTURE ECONOMIC GROWTH BY REMOVING EXISTING CONSTRAINTS AND TAKING A ‘DO NO HARM’ APPROACH WITH ANY NEW INITIATIVES, WRITES LINDA BARRY, SFA ASSISTANT DIRECTOR. 52 SFA | BETTER BUSINESS
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Launching the SFA’s pre-Budget 2018 submission on August 28th, Sue O’Neill, SFA Chair, said: “Continued economic growth cannot be taken for granted. If our country is to prosper over the coming years, it is vital to create an environment supportive of small business. Small businesses have been major contributors to growth, job creation and regional economic recovery and will continue to be, if the right choices are made in Budget 2018.” Despite an upswing in recent months, small business confidence is still below the levels recorded before the UK’s vote to leave the EU. The SFA pre-Budget submission makes the case that Budget 2018 must give businesses the best possible opportunity to generate future economic growth by removing existing constraints and taking a “do no harm” approach with any new initiatives. In light of the severe restrictions on the fiscal space for Budget 2018, the SFA submission focused on a small number of carefully selected priorities. The SFA believes that these actions will create the biggest impact with the available resources.
SMALL FIRMS ASSOCIATION PRIORITIES FOR BUDGET 2018: 1. Increase the self-
employed Earned Income Tax Credit to €1,650 to equal the PAYE tax credit 2. Introduce a workable share-based remuneration scheme for employees of small firms 3. Increase the lifetime limit for CGT Entrepreneur Relief to €15 million 4. Increase capital expenditure to 4 per cent of GDP per annum
#1 Self-employed Earned Income Tax Credit A change to taxation is the single biggest step the Government can take to encourage more people to go into business for themselves. More businesses mean more jobs, greater levels of innovation, increased tax revenues and more vibrant local economies. Yet Government policy continues to discriminate against the self-employed. The continuing gap between the self-employed Earned Income Tax Credit (€950) and the PAYE tax credit (€1,650) means that entrepreneurs and ownermanagers pay more tax than employees on the same gross income. The Government made a commitment in the Programme for a Partnership Government to level the playing field by Budget 2018. It must now deliver on this commitment by increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit to €1,650 for the self-employed and proprietary directors. €€€ The cost of this measure is estimated to be €80m.
#2 Share-based Remuneration Scheme Just 6 per cent of employees in Ireland are shareholders in the company where they work, compared to the EU average of 22 per cent. In the US, paying employees partly through a stake in the business has allowed many start-up businesses to grow rapidly with relatively low costs, while employees can reap huge rewards. Current employee share option schemes are largely unworkable for small firms, therefore their potential benefits, such as improved management capacity, staff retention and productivity in small and new firms, are not being realised. A tailored scheme is needed for new and small firms in Ireland. It should be simple and easy to understand. It should waive the income tax, USC and PRSI due (whether at granting and/
or exercising). Instead, employees should only be taxed on the capital gain from the sale of the shares. Furthermore, owner-managers should have the ability to target the scheme at key individuals in the business rather than being obliged to open it to all employees. €€€ This would have minimal cost in the shortterm and no substantial cost (estimate €1m-€5m) in future years.
#3 CGT Entrepreneur Relief
Budget 2018 must be truly Brexit-proofed. One important way to do this is by addressing areas where the business environment in Ireland is significantly less favourable than the UK. One of these relates to the limit on the Capital Gains Tax Entrepreneur Relief. In Ireland, the 10 per cent entrepreneurial rate has a lifetime limit of €1m, which has minimised its impact. The UK, which is one of our biggest competitors for mobile investment, has a lifetime limit of Stg£10m for an entrepreneur’s CGT. The Government previously committed to reviewing the CGT Entrepreneur Relief limit this year. The SFA believes that Budget 2018 should see Ireland improve its offering significantly when compared with the UK by increasing the lifetime limit to €15m. €€€ The cost is estimated to be €40m, with the potential for dynamic impacts to return more revenue to the Exchequer in future years.
#4 Capital Expenditure Ireland has experienced a decade of underinvestment in infrastructure, with the effects now evident in transport, education, broadband, water, health and other public infrastructure. Along with this, a two-speed economy has developed with Dublin accounting for as many jobs as the next 45 cities and towns combined. Capital expenditure must reach 4 per cent of GDP as soon as possible. The Government should not undercut its ambition in this regard by creating self-imposed debt to GDP targets. Furthermore, it should seek flexibility in the EU fiscal rules for spending on essential capital investment. Priority areas for investment:
■ Improving broadband infrastructure, particularly in rural areas ■ Developing public transport links ■ Building a real motorway network connecting regional cities ■ Addressing housing supply shortages ■ Enhancing education and in-work training
€€€ Capital spending at 4 per cent of GDP equates to an additional €2 billion in 2018, rising to €5bn in 2021. Visit www.sfa.ie/policy to read the full SFA Pre-Budget 2018 submission.
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uniform identification of unacceptable absenteeism. A good records system should provide detailed information on type, patterns and times of absence in order for this to be monitored effectively.
3. Trained Managers Responsibility for good attendance lies in the first instance with line managers. Managers should be trained to know when to seek medical advice and at what point to invoke the organisation’s disciplinary procedures. At all times, the organisation has to be conscious of its responsibilities to its employees, especially those with a disability, who have added protection under employment equality legislation.
4. Return-to-work Interviews
demand on other employees carrying out the duties of an absent colleague).
Return-to-work interviews are a powerful control mechanism when dealing with employee absence. The interviews demonstrate the organisation’s strong commitment to controlling absenteeism in the workplace. Putting a procedure in place to investigate and discuss absence with employees can serve as a deterrent to employees debating whether to take illegitimate sick leave. The interviewer (ideally the line manager) should use the interview to explore any issues that the employee may have which are causing absences.
Below are five tips on how to effectively manage absenteeism in your business:
5. Referral to Medical Practitioner
CIARA MCGUONE, SFA EXECUTIVE, OUTLINES THE STEPS EMPLOYERS SHOULD TAKE IN MANAGING ABSENTEEISM IN THE WORKPLACE. Attendance at work is a primary requirement for the operation of any successful business. An employee who is absent from work, either sporadically or for longer periods, should be actively managed by the employer. Employee absence can have many negative effects on a business. The most obvious impact for a business is cost, from funding a sick pay scheme, if the employer has one in place, to the need to employ a surplus of staff in order to maintain normal production. In addition, since August 1st 2015 employees on certified sick leave accrue statutory annual leave. This gives them the right to take the sick leave as paid time off on their return to the workplace, which may cause further disruption. Aside from cost, there can also be other indirect effects on your business. For example, absenteeism in the workplace can lead to poor staff morale and/or poor performance (due to the increase in
1. Absence Management Policy An absence management policy should set out an employer’s expectations and approach to employee absence (short or long term). The policy should also include the employee’s obligations in complying with the policy. For instance, in terms of notification of absence and when sick certificates must be submitted. However, employers need to be mindful that they treat employees in accordance with company policy and ensure that they take a reasonable approach based on the circumstances surrounding the absence.
2. Records Keeping record of attendance is essential to ensure an impartial and
Every organisation should retain the right to refer employees to a medical practitioner in their contract of employment, and then reinforce this in policies and agreements. There are many issues which must be considered by an employer in terms of managing employees who have high levels of absenteeism. However, a clear policy, which has been communicated to employees and is implemented in a fair and reasonable manner, will assist to keep employers within the confines of the law. For further information or advice, SFA members can contact Ciara McGuone, SFA Executive, on 016051668 or email@example.com.
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RETIREMENT There is no fixed national retirement age for employees in Ireland. Many employers use the employment contract to set out the company retirement age. To date, the most common retirement age mandated in contracts of employment has been 65. However, this is causing concern among employees as the state pension age has increased to 66 and will reach 68 by 2028. In order not to leave their employees in limbo, many employers offer staff a further fixed term contract for one year after they reach the company retirement age. This practice has been commonly used by employers to ensure that the employee will be eligible for the state pension on retirement. However, it is worth noting that the Equality (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2015 introduced some changes to the legislation in this regard and Section 6 of the Employment Equality Acts has now been amended to read as follows: “Offering a fixed term contract to a person over the compulsory retirement age for that employment or to a particular class or description of employees in that employment shall not be taken as constituting discrimination on the age ground if — (i) it is objectively and reasonably justified by a legitimate aim, and (ii) the means of achieving that aim are appropriate and necessary.” In order to objectively justify offering a fixed term contract, the employer should look at the reasons why they require the employee to remain on for a further year such as working on a specific project or training employees. However, employers should be mindful that granting a
CIARA MCGUONE, SFA EXECUTIVE, HAS ADVICE FOR EMPLOYERS ON WHAT THEY NEED TO CONSIDER WHEN ADDRESSING THE RETIREMENT OF EMPLOYEES.
subsequent fixed term contract creates a precedent for other employees who may request a similar extension and makes it more difficult for employers to endorse their normal retirement age.
Tips for Employers ■ Employers should ensure they have a retirement age written into their contracts of employment which employees have signed and accepted ■ Employers must be able to objectively justify by a legitimate aim their chosen retirement age (e.g. health and safety/ inter generational fairness/succession planning) ■ Employers should note who is approaching the retirement age and plan to meet with them a year in advance of them reaching retirement
age to discuss their plans. This will assist the employer in anticipating any difficulties. ■ An employer should also consider providing assistance to employees who are approaching retirement, such as offering them information on the state pension and other entitlements and/or sending them on a retirement course ■ The employer could also consider allowing employees approaching retirement age (subject to business needs) to gradually reduce their working hours for a period of time before their retirement to allow them to make a phased exit from the workplace and to give them the opportunity to develop their interests outside work For further information or advice, SFA members can contact Ciara McGuone, SFA Executive, on 016051668 or firstname.lastname@example.org. SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 55
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LOUISE KENRICK, SFA EXECUTIVE, PROVIDES FOUR MARKETING TIPS TO HELP YOU COMPETE WITH THE BIGGER PLAYERS IN YOUR INDUSTRY.
responding directly to individual customer emails, online reviews and social media comments. If you can offer a more hands-on, personalised service which customers are demanding, they are often prepared to pay more. Small business owners have a personal commitment to the business which can really shine through in service delivery. Remember to also focus on your personal brand, the old adage that people buy from people still applies. Ensure you set realistic services expectations that you can deliver on.
3. Become a Storyteller Everyone loves a story – connect with your local audience on an emotional level through content marketing. The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as: “A marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.” The important part of this quote is ‘valuable’ – your marketing efforts should add value for the reader who will seek out this type of content and come back for more. The content should be useful, you can position your expertise through it, don’t always be selling and ensure it is relevant to your audience.
4. Craft a Professional Online Presence The way you market your business doesn’t have to be determined by the size of your company. Small business can often have an advantage over bigger companies through faster and more nimble marketing. By responding and adapting quicker to opportunities, you can get big results from a small budget and a small team.
Irish place names. Small firms based in local communities have an advantage here, as focusing on their local nature in marketing is more genuine, authentic and trustworthy. People also express their individuality through supporting local brands over large corporates.
1. Focus on Local
Customer service and relationship building is key for every business and this is another area where small can trump big. Small companies frequently have the opportunity to interact directly with their customers. This could be on your premises, at meetings or through
‘Glocalisation’ is where big companies think global but act local. They have a centrally developed marketing campaign which is then adapted for the local market. For example Coca-Cola launched bottles with Irish names and most recently
2. Deliver on Service
To compete with large business, smaller companies need to appear credible online. A professional website, social media presence and business email address are all a key part of this. Research conducted by IE Domain Registry on the value of a website reported that Irish small companies with a website take home an additional €24,000 in revenue every year by selling their products and services online. This highlights the direct impact a strong online presence can have on your bottom line. If you would like to discuss marketing opportunities for your business contact Louise Kenrick, SFA Executive on 01 605 1664 or email@example.com.
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BUSINESS PSYCHOLOGIST JANE PERRY ON HOW BEING STRENGTHSAWARE CAN LEAD TO MORE LONG-TERM BUSINESS SUCCESS. Starting or expanding a business begins with a vision; the goal of taking a useful, innovative and/or attractive proposition to the market and being rewarded for doing so. When deconstructed, this vision – bound up in purpose, dreams and sheer hard work – often uncovers two main functions: what the business does and what purpose it serves. A clearly understood and communicated business model is critical, but there is also another important element to the secret of long-term success. Vision and clarity motivates us to set and work towards goals, however, it is the character of our business that really differentiates us from the rest. When coaching owners and leaders of established businesses, attention invariably turns to culture, behaviour and customer perception. ‘How’ we go about our business sets us apart from the competition and this is where character strengths and values come in. So what is character strength and why is it important to identify yours and those of your company? Character strengths are our core values in action. They are natural ways of working, thinking and behaving that can be observed by others and which give us energy. Knowledge, expertise, education and skills tell me what you can do, but character strengths and values tell me how you will do it; how much effort you will invest; how you will make me feel; how you will behave and respond when challenged; and the pitfalls you will fail to overcome when the going gets tough. The collective strengths of the business owner and employees become the identity or ‘brand’ of the organisation and are key to its reputation. Character strengths are often referred to as ‘soft skills’ and include
traits such as honesty, social intelligence, resilience, discipline, fairness and kindness to mention a few. When you see energy, involvement, passion and absorption at work, people are using their strengths. Likewise, when you witness avoidance, procrastination, boredom and distraction, you are seeing learned behaviours in action. Unfortunately, our character strengths also have a dark side. In ‘strengths-based’ coaching, we recognise that our best qualities can also be the source of our greatest vulnerability. Our strengths are such a significant part of our make-up that they tend to go into overdrive in times of pressure and challenge. When this happens it can manifest itself as a liability and a weakness. Judgement, for example, is a powerful strength but in overdrive it can result in autocratic behaviour. Planning and organising – again, valuable characteristics in business – if overdone, may turn into inflexibility and excessive rules-based behaviour. The powerful strength of bravery allows the entrepreneur to take risks but being over courageous might very well put everything he or she has worked for in jeopardy. In business, being strengths-aware is about taking control of what you want to be known for. Connecting the strengths of your people to your vision ensures everyone is putting their best characteristics forward and giving your vision the best chance of a long and fruitful life. Jane Perry is a business psychologist, strengths coach, facilitator and mindfulness therapist. For more details email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.czonecoaching.com. SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 57
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Events SFA Awards
The SFA National Small Business Awards 2018 were officially launched on September 4th by Awards Patron, An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD. The aim of the awards is to celebrate the achievements of small business in Ireland and to recognise the vital contribution of the small business community to the Irish economy. Small firms (employing less than 50 people) have from September 4th until October 20th to enter free of charge on www.sfa.ie/ awards. Speaking at the launch, An Taoiseach said: “Every day 700,000 people across Ireland go to work in small firms and make an important contribution to their local communities and our economy. The SFA Awards are a great way to showcase the many successes of Irish small businesses, which help support the livelihood of families in every county nationwide. The Government is committed to supporting small firms as a vital part of our local and national economy and we will continue to build a business friendly environment in which they can thrive.”
WHY ENTER? As these awards celebrate excellence, achievement and innovation in small business, this is your opportunity to promote and showcase your business and enhance your credibility both internationally and nationally through the extensive PR and media profile the awards attract. These awards also provide companies with a vehicle to recognise the valuable commitment that employees make to the organisation by highlighting their contribution and achievement.
Celebrating Small Business THE SEARCH IS ON FOR THE BEST SMALL BUSINESS IN IRELAND.
2018 PRIZE PACKAGE
HOW TO ENTER
ALL FINALISTS received the following prize package to the value of €50,000:
Entries to the awards will be accepted until 5.30pm on Friday October 20th 2017 and entry forms are available online at www.sfa.ie/awards.
A comprehensive strategic masterclass weekend sponsored by Skillnets including communications, media and presentation skills training along with discounted participation on a management development programme during the year A profile in a specially commissioned Irish Independent Awards Supplement Participation in a Business Connect event Five complimentary tickets to the PRIZE Awards Gala PACKAGE Ceremony FOR ALL
Award trophy and certificate One year membership of the Small Firms Association OVERALL WINNER Winner’s trophy A bursary of €5,000 to present to a charity of choice (funded by 2013 Overall winner, Megazyme International) Responsible business practices check-up and action plan from Business in the Community Ireland.
THE CATEGORIES ARE: Manufacturing sponsored by Energia Food and Drink sponsored by Bord Bia Services sponsored by Three Outstanding Small Business, up to five employees sponsored by AIB Innovator of the Year sponsored by Enterprise Ireland Sustainable Energy sponsored by Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland Exporter of the Year sponsored by DHL Express In addition, the five best ‘Emerging New Businesses’ (companies that are less than two years in existence) that have the potential to grow and have the ability to be an SFA National Small Business Award winner in the future will be selected; this category is supported by IE Domain Registry.
Skillnets is the Management Development Partner for the awards programme.
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SFA Awards Events
ABOVE: Pictured at the official launch of the SFA National Small Business Awards 2018 were sponsors (from l-r), Bernard McCarthy, MD, DHL Express; Padraig Sheerin, Head of SME Sales, Three; Nicola Nic Phaidin, Manager Core Unit, Enterprise Ireland; Catherine Moroney, Head of Business Banking, AIB; Sven Spollen-Behrens, Director, SFA; An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, TD and Patron of the SFA Awards; Sue O’Neill, Chairperson, SFA; Paul Healy, CEO, Skillnets; Jim Gannon, CEO, SEAI; Ailish Forde, Food and Beverage Director, Bord Bia; Gary Ryan, MD, Energia and David Curtin, CEO, IEDR LEFT: Sven Spollen-Behrens, Director, SFA; An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, TD and Patron of the SFA Awards and Sue O’Neill, Chairperson, SFA
DON’T MISS LUNCH!
PLAY BACK OUR WEBINAR FOR FURTHER INFORMATION AND TIPS ON APPLYING FOR THE AWARDS WWW.SFA.IE/0/AWARDSWEBINAR
The SFA Annual Lunch is the highlight of the small business calendar and is an opportunity to celebrate the contribution that small businesses make to the Irish economy and society. This year’s lunch will take place in the Mansion House in Dublin on Friday November 10th with the support of Bank of Ireland. Join over 500 guests, including small business owner-managers, politicians, senior government officials and media for the biggest business lunch of the year for small business. This is also the perfect opportunity to bring together your invited guests, special customers, clients and valued employees to kick off the festive season. For more information and to book your table or individual place, visit www.sfa.ie/events.
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COMMITTED TO FEMALE ENTREPRENEURSHIP SARITA JOHNSTON, MANAGER OF THE FEMALE ENTREPRENEURSHIP UNIT AT ENTERPRISE IRELAND, FILLS BETTER BUSINESS IN ON HOW THE AGENCY IS HELPING MORE FEMALES TO START, INNOVATE AND SCALE THEIR BUSINESSES. Enterprise Ireland works with Irish-owned companies to help them start, innovate and grow through international sales, and our clients span all sectors and stages of development from start-ups to global companies. Enterprise Ireland has invested over €20 million over the last five years to accelerate the growth of female-led start-up companies. Back in 2011, when Enterprise Ireland’s high potential start-up businesses led by women represented only 7 per cent of all supported start-ups, we set about implementing a strategy to increase this figure through tailored supports and initiatives aimed at helping more females to start, innovate and scale their own businesses. Of the 101 high potential startups supported by Enterprise Ireland last year, almost 20 per cent of them are female-led and of the overall 229 start-ups supported in 2016, 63 or almost 28 per cent were
female-led, the highest number of female-led approvals to date. Although a lot has been done, there is still more to do. Enterprise Ireland is committed to the female entrepreneurship agenda, not because it’s nice to have but because it’s a must have! The results speak for themselves – companies with the most gender-diverse management teams achieve 48 per cent higher returns than the industry average, according to research by McKinsey & Company. There are similar findings from research carried out by University of Michigan, which found that companies with more gender diversity achieved 30 per cent better results from IPOs.
Getting Females Started
The first and probably hardest step in increasing female entrepreneurship is to get females with a business idea to make the first initial step in setting up an enterprise. In tackling this, Enterprise Ireland has so far invested over €8.7m since 2012 in female entrepreneurs, as part of its Competitive Start Fund (CSF) programme, equating to a preseed investment of €50,000 for 10 per cent equity. The CSF aims to accelerate the growth of Sarita Johnston, Manager, female-led startEnterprise Ireland’s Female ups that have Entrepreneurship Unit the potential to
employ more than 10 people and achieve €1m in export sales within three years. The fund is designed to enable those companies to reach key commercial and technical milestones which will ensure delivery of their product or service to an international audience. In addition, Enterprise Ireland partners with providers of leading investor-ready training programmes such as Going for Growth, DCU Ryan Academy Female High Fliers Accelerator and CIT Exxcel programme. Enterprise Ireland also runs the only female accelerator programme in conjunction with CSF investment for female entrepreneurs. This is The Innovate Programme, run in conjunction with Dublin Business Innovation Centre, providing an intensive 12-week training, development, peer-to-peer and shared working space learning accelerator. Our research shows that lack of role models, low self-confidence, lack of technical expertise, lower levels of risktaking and limited access to appropriate networking opportunities continue to be the main challenges facing female entrepreneurs in 2017. Enterprise Ireland continues to address these key challenges impacting on the growth of female-led business opportunities, through the Female Entrepreneurship Unit, supporting ambitious women grow scalable businesses through sponsorship opportunities and development programmes. Increased collaboration is key in tackling these issues and Enterprise Ireland will continue to help and support female entrepreneurs to start, grow and expand. For further information, visit www.enterprise-ireland.com/en/ start-a-business-in-ireland
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BRIDGING THE GAP IN FILM THE IRISH FILM BOARD IS ON A MISSION TO INCREASE FEMALE PARTICIPATION IN IRELAND’S FILM, TELEVISION AND ANIMATION INDUSTRY. The Hurt Locker. Wonder Woman. The Danish Girl. Zero Dark Thirty. Huge hits for Hollywood and its stars, and linked by a common thread – each helmed or penned by one of the 21st century’s most talented female directors and writers. It’s something that the Irish Film Board (IFB) is trying to replicate here, though that’s not to say that Irish women in film are underperforming. Variety magazine described The Farthest, directed by Emer Reynolds, as an “awe-inspiring documentary”, charming audiences across the globe. Or take The Secret of Kells, an Irish animated fantasy film directed by Tomm Moore and Nora Twomey that was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature – Twomey made her solo directorial debut with The Breadwinner this year. The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), which kicks off the awards
Female Role Models in Irish Film Emer Reynolds: Her documentary The Farthest has charmed international and Irish audiences in 2017. Aisling Walsh: A wonderful Irish storyteller whose latest film Maudie sold to territories across the globe at this year’s TIFF. Neasa Ní Chianáin: Her documentary School Life has had significant international festival life since it appeared at Sundance.
A still from Maudie, directed by Aisling Walsh
season, will feature eight Irish films of which five are directed by women. But perhaps more can be done to increase female representation on the national and international stage, including the provision of the funding necessary to bring their creations to the big screen. The latter is encapsulated within the IFB’s Six-Point Gender Plan, originally launched in December 2015 and which has enabled considerable progress in encouraging female directors, writers and producers to join and grow within the film, television and animation industry. For example, 70 per cent of the IFB-funded short films at the 2017 Galway Film Fleadh had female directors attached. Take-up of the Plan’s various outlets, however, has been relatively low, with IFB’s aim of 50/50 gender parity of funding within three years still some distance away. As a result, the IFB is rolling out several ground-breaking initiatives focused on increased production and development funding for female-led projects. Among its efforts is a low
budget film production and training scheme for female talent, increased support of up to €100,000 for fiction projects led by an Irish female writer or director, and a new Gender Equality and Diversity Subcommittee to establish and oversee policies and guidelines. A targeted strategy will also be introduced with the aim of promoting female talent in the sector – increasing their visibility, celebrating achievements, supporting their work and promoting gender equality across the board. “We really believe this new funding initiative aimed at encouraging more women into the sector will see positive results, and will empower and elevate Irish female talent working within the industry,” explains the Irish Film Board’s Louise Ryan. “But we need to keep monitoring the annual stats to ensure we are seeing progress. And we need to keep tweaking our policies and funding initiatives until a real difference is being made. Gender parity for IFB funding remains our medium and long-term goal.” SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 61
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RETIREMENT PLANNING IN 10 STEPS HAVING A €1 MILLION RETIREMENT FUND IS A DREAM FOR MANY, BUT MAKING THAT DREAM COME TRUE REQUIRES SERIOUS EFFORT AND HARD WORK. MARK REILLY, PENSIONS SALES MANAGER AT AVIVA LIFE & PENSIONS IRELAND, OUTLINES TEN STEPS THAT WILL GO A LONG WAY TOWARDS HELPING YOU ACHIEVE YOUR RETIREMENT OBJECTIVES. 1. Have a Plan
Nobody plans to fail, but plenty of people fail to plan. Successful teams don’t win finals by just turning up for matches – they put in months and months of planning and preparation. The same should be applied when considering your retirement.
2. Don’t Delay, Start Today
If you don’t save, you’ll never reach your goal. If your employer gives you the opportunity to become a member of a pension scheme, enrolling in the plan is a great way to put your savings on autopilot.
3. Get Real...Returns
Studies have shown that the majority of returns generated by an investment are dictated by the asset allocation decision. Investing in equities entails more risk, but is also statistically more likely to lead to greater returns. Asset allocation strategies can help you learn how to make picking the right mix of assets the core of your investment strategy.
4. Prepare for Rainy Days
Part of long-term planning involves accepting the idea that setbacks will occur. While you can’t avoid all the bumps in the road, you can prepare in advance to mitigate the damage they can cause.
5. Save More, Save Often
Your income should rise as time passes. Every time more cash comes into your pocket, you should increase the amount that you save.
6. Watch Your Spending
To maximise your savings you need to minimise your spending. Buying a home you can afford and living a lifestyle within your means is necessary if you want to boost your retirement savings.
7. Monitor Your Fund
Mark Reilly, Aviva Life There’s no need to & Pensions obsess over every Ireland movement in the stock markets. Instead, check your retirement fund regularly and make a point of putting time in your diary to meet with your financial broker.
8. Maximise Your Contributions
As you get older the amount that you can contribute to a pension plan increases. So much so that once you hit 60 you can contribute 40 per cent of your earnings to a pension plan. Take advantage of this opportunity and make sure you maximise the amount you put into your pension.
9. Review, Review, Review The closer you get to retirement the more important it becomes to see if your retirement plan is on track.
When you are so close to retiring, it doesn't make sense to neglect what will probably be your most important asset after your home.
10. Have Patience
'Get-rich quick' schemes are usually just that – schemes! The power of compounding takes time, so invest early, invest often and accept that the road to riches is often long and slow. As William Shakespeare once said: “Wisely and slow; they stumble that run fast.” While these 10 steps can serve as a useful guide to help you plan for your retirement, it is important that you always seek independent financial advice when looking at your retirement planning needs.
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EXCELLENCE THROUGH PEOPLE IN ORDER TO ENSURE THE BEST FROM THEIR EMPLOYEES, MANY IRISH ORGANISATIONS ARE TURNING TO SUCCESSFUL EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT FRAMEWORKS SUCH AS THE NATIONAL STANDARD AUTHORITY OF IRELAND’S EXCELLENCE THROUGH PEOPLE (ETP) PROGRAMME. As the economy continues to grow, and new business opportunities arise, more and more organisations are looking at their people as a key source of competitive advantage. Human resource managers know that having an engaged, motivated workforce increases the opportunity of having a productive workforce, which in turn increases the likelihood of an organisation delivering on its strategy. Despite that, almost two-thirds of employees feel that they don’t get enough praise for the work that they do, while one-quarter of employees leave work feeling drained, exhausted, and sluggish, according to a major worldwide survey on employee engagement conducted by Officevibe late last year. Successfully developing and managing talent requires organisations to create new internal policies and procedures, often at huge expense. That’s why more Irish organisations are turning to existing, successful employee engagement
frameworks, such as the National Standard Authority of Ireland’s Excellence Through People (ETP) programme. Excellence Through People is a certification scheme designed to help improve organisations from the inside out by better engaging with their employees. According to the Head of ETP, Michelle Browne, the beauty of the programme is that many businesses are probably doing it all already without bringing it together. “As a former HR director, I know exactly the trials and tribulations of implementing a HR strategy and how policies and procedures can sometimes develop in an almost ad hoc fashion over the years and do not necessarily complement each other,” says Browne. “Excellence Through People gives businesses a structured framework and a quality management approach to ensuring that each element complements the other.” Dulux Paints Ireland has been certified to ETP since 1997. Dulux is the country’s
largest paint manufacturer, employing 135 people at its two sites in Cork and Dublin. According to the company’s Learning and Development Manager, Eileen Forde, ETP enables Dulux to benchmark the human resources/training functions so it can be confident it is following best practice and focusing on the right areas. “We view the ETP standard as a great business tool which encourages us to review, revise and communicate our processes continuously and, together with the feedback from assessments, helps us identify gaps, areas for improvement and opportunities to build on our existing strengths, which drives continuous improvement across our people processes year-on-year,” says Forde. Tina Enright, Human Resources Administrator at CH Chemists in Tralee, agrees. The family-run business has been certified to ETP for 13 years. She believes that ETP has been a vital improvement tool for CH Chemists in developing its staff, from the induction stage right through to training and employee wellbeing. “ETP constantly challenges us to improve on aspects like business planning, training and staff morale,” says Enright. “Without the ETP standard in place, and in the busy and fast-paced environment of retail, aspects can be forgotten about, but ETP helps us keep the highest possible standard for our staff and business at all times. “It’s a real team effort here and listening to staff and taking on their opinions is what makes us stand out from the competition, we do this through the ETP process and it works effectively.” For more information about Excellence Through People, please visit the NSAI website on www.nsai.ie/ ExcellenceThroughPeople or phone the NSAI Business Excellence team on (01) 807 3800. SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 65
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MEANS BUSINESS CONOR FORREST TAKES A TRIP BEHIND THE WHEEL OF VOLKSWAGEN’S REFRESHED CADDY PANEL VAN.
or small business owners on the hunt for a new vehicle, the case for investing in a small panel van is quite strong – cheap prices, great fuel economy and plenty of space for starters. There’s also quite a few options available from the cheap as chips Citroen Berlingo to the Ford Transit Connect or Volkswagen’s popular Caddy at the top of the pile. Though I wasn’t expecting much, I was surprised about how pleasant the latest Caddy is to drive – one of its biggest selling points is handling akin to a passenger car. A pleasant motorway cruiser that can tackle Ireland’s varying highways and byways without issue both loaded and unloaded, it also performs admirably in traffic and tight spaces thanks to nicely weighted steering and solid power delivery. The 150hp 2.0TDI engine (75hp and 102hp variants are also available) in my test model funnels power smoothly throughout the five gears – there’s plenty of overtaking oomph, particularly when the cargo bay is empty. If you’re
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passenger side, inside which you can fit a standard Euro pallet. The short wheelbase version can carry a payload of 762kg and tow up to 1,500kg, with a load length measuring almost 1.8m, while the longer wheelbase Caddy Maxi offers 832kg – the Transit Connect still has the edge here at 1,000kg, and there’s no high roof option in the VW.
Volkswagen Caddy 2.0TDI Highline Power: 150hp Transmission: Five-speed manual Price: €24,815 (€31,467 as tested, including VAT) Annual tax: €333 Payload: 726kg Towing capacity: 1,500kg
likely to face a lot of traffic every day, the DSG automatic gearbox is well worth the upgrade. Fuel economy is impressive, averaging 5.2L/100km (54mpg), while the suspension irons out the majority of bumps, particularly if you place some cargo over the rear wheels. So far, so good.
Practicality The Caddy’s cabin isn’t anything special, though still among the best in class – build quality is quite good, as is the dashboard layout. The seats are quite comfortable and head space is abundant, though your legs miss out on extra
room, particularly on the passenger side. Overall it’s like driving a cheaper Golf with the back seats missing. The materials are very plasticky though undoubtedly hard-wearing, which is what the average customer will be looking for. It’s not overly insulated – the roar of the 2.0TDI can be easily heard at lower speeds in particular and whenever I reached 80km/h a distinct whistling noise emanated from somewhere around the windscreen. But alongside the driving experience, practicality is where the Caddy scores highest. Though the glovebox is small, there’s a number of handy nooks and crannies scattered around the cabin. A roof shelf extends across the full width of the vehicle, invisible from the outside, handy for storing smaller odds and ends. Storage trays under the seats are an optional extra. And then there’s the sturdy rear load space, accessible through the boot door and via an impressively wide sliding door on the
The Caddy weighs in on the expensive side, though does tend to hold its value well. A starting price of €17,490 (including VAT) will get you the base model 75hp short wheelbase panel van (a little underpowered) rising to €29,810 for the top of the line 150hp version. Should you require a little more luggage room, the Maxi Caddy starts off at €19,815 with the 102hp engine, topping off with the 150hp version for €27,810. All engines are diesel powered, paired with a variety of five, six and sevenspeed manual or automatic gearboxes. So what do you get for your hard-earned money? The list of standard equipment on the base model is decent, including cruise control, hill hold control, regenerative braking and brake assist; adding a leather steering wheel, body coloured bumpers and a driver alert system under the Trendline trim level. Things get a little bit more luxurious (for a van) in Highline, including a multi-function steering wheel, alloy wheels and air conditioning. Carpet, front and rear parking sensors, roof rails and an alloy spare wheel are added if you opt for the Alltrack spec, a more rugged version of the Caddy that turns it into something of a van/SUV crossover. There are plenty of options in the small van market and depending on what you want – more load space, better fuel economy or a cheaper price – there are other options besides the Caddy. But, if you want the best all-rounder, combining comfort, practicality, driving dynamics and load space into a rather good-looking package, it’s a very strong contender. SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 67
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A beat GENERATOR AN INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR KEVIN CURRAN
THE WRITER SPOKE TO DEAN VAN NGUYEN ABOUT HIS TWO NOVELS AND CAPTURING A NEW-AGE IRELAND.
uthor Kevin Curran did what many of his great Irish literary forefathers have done: drew inspiration from what he saw, felt and experienced. As a schoolteacher living in Balbriggan, the 36-year-old witnessed an area that over his adult life had evolved from being, like the rest of the island, predominantly white, to becoming increasingly multicultural. Curran’s classrooms became a more pluralist arena, full of kids from a variety of backgrounds, faiths and cultures. But these students weren’t really represented in the Irish literary canon that he was being asked to teach. Curran tried to address the misproportion when he wrote his first book Beatsploitation, which follows the story of a black teenager.
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male living in my hometown Balbriggan. And I wanted an African character to counterpoint him.” Curran’s first attempt to write a book came a few years earlier, producing a work he himself dismisses as “useless”. But he submitted the piece to a fiction workshop run by magazine The Stinging Fly and led by writer and novelist Sean O’Reilly. Around the same time he started a new book, which would become Beatsploitation, and used the workshop to help put it all together. “I didn’t know the dynamics that the book would take until I workshopped it,” admits Curran. “Sean O’Reilly was saying, ‘everything is too nice here, you’re not really doing anything’. I said, ‘right, what angle can I take?’ So I took the exploitation angle and it just went from there. I workshopped it for six months and the first draft was done within a year.” Published in 2013, Beatsploitation follows the relationship between young African asylum seeker Kembo and 27-year-old English teacher and wannabe indie rock star Robert, who manipulates the teen into providing beats for his music. Through the book, Curran hoped to challenge his white Irish readers by laying out the privilege they unwittingly enjoy by highlighting the
He continues: “You can’t help when you sit at your desk and you’re writing fiction, it was just seeping onto the page, the anger and the sense of the betrayal and hopelessness in Ireland at the time. Everyday you’d hear something new.” Citizens follows Neil, an apathetic Irish twenty-something whose plans to emigrate are postponed after the death of his grandfather. The loss leads Neil to the memoirs of his great-grandfather Harry, who participated in the Easter Rising. For Curran, whose own great-grandfather fought in 1916, it was an attempt to spiritually link two eras of Irish history. “Maybe they were a different breed of people back then and they were less cynical and more idealistic,” he says. “You can’t help be cynical nowadays. Especially in Ireland and especially during the crash when everything was happening. I merged that character to see if he could in any way bounce off the idealism of 1916. “That’s the one thing I took away from it. I do think that most of the people that fought in 1916 did so out of a goodness and a good place. Taking my great-grandfather as an example, I wanted to zoom in on one person. He [fought] out of the goodness of his heart, which sounds, even saying it
“YOU CAN’T HELP WHEN YOU SIT AT YOUR DESK AND YOU’RE WRITING FICTION, IT WAS JUST SEEPING ONTO THE PAGE, THE ANGER AND THE SENSE OF THE BETRAYAL AND HOPELESSNESS IN IRELAND AT THE TIME.” “Teaching so many kids who aren’t white Irish, it was painfully obvious to me that there was no characters for them to see or read or look at in an Irish context that they could look up to,” Curran tells me. “Being a teacher informed how I wrote or the fact that I wanted to write a black character who was central to the book.” Further influence came when one of his students was threatened with deportation, forced into hiding along with his mother and sister. As he sought both help and information, Curran was shocked by the local apathy to the family’s troubles. “From all angles, everyone was afraid of the issue. That informed where the book was going to go and what I wanted to say about attitudes to race in Ireland in 2013,” he says. “I knew I wanted to do a piece about a late-20s, white, casually racist
distinct challenges people of colour in this country face. “People of colour, non-nationals have to live with [racism] day in and day out,” he bemoans. “One of the most eye-opening things that I’ll never forget, my wife is mixed-race. Early in the relationship I said to her, ‘do you feel white or black?’ She looked at me like I was mad and said, ‘I’m always made aware of the fact that I’m not white.’ That was an eye-opener for me.” Beatsploitation was written and waiting for a publisher when Curran was inspired by another issue that was impossible to ignore: the economic crash. We all know it was a seismic event for people of Curran’s age and younger – a huge component of their 20s brutally stripped away. “I’d had so many friends who had to emigrate,” he sighs. “They’re all over the world.”
now, ridiculous. So then I question myself if something similar were to happen, would I jump behind the barricades and would I do the same? It was a long way around asking basically myself, if I was in a similar position would I do the same?” Curran is currently working on a third novel. “A book on a lot of different perspectives,” he says – a work that will again attempt to capture Ireland as a pluralist, multicultural society, but in an even broader way than Beatsploitation with more perspectives. Curran was buoyed by the response from students in his class to one of his short stories Saving Tanya, which explores racial themes. Maybe there’s an inspired Irish person of colour and future author among them, ready to lay out their own distinct ripple of this country’s new-age history in clear typeface. SFA | BETTER BUSINESS 69
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GIVING SMALL FIRMS CREDIT DESPITE RECENT SURVEYS SHOWING STEADY GROWTH AMONG MANY SMALL FIRMS IN IRELAND, CHALLENGES REMAIN TO ENSURE BUSINESSES ARE ACCESSING THE PROPER FUNDING TO EXPAND. THE CREDIT REVIEW OFFICE IS THERE TO HELP. Research shows that over 88 per cent of Irish SMEs invested in their businesses last year, well ahead of the EU average of 60 per cent. According to the Central Bank, figures for new lending by Irish banks are up 10 per cent in the last year, and most businesses will get the credit they seek to grow and develop. However, there are challenges to overcome in ensuring businesses get proper funding for growth. Some tips for potential borrowers are set out below, based on the feedback the Credit Review Office receives from callers to its helpline and the appeals it reviews:
• Check you have provided all the information requested. The bank typically has 15 days to respond to an application, but the clock is switched off if the bank is awaiting additional information from you.
• Ensure you have made a formal application that has been considered by the bank’s
• Reduce perceived risk by providing clear, concise and relevant information
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credit department. Applications can be made in person at a branch, over the phone or online. Always check that you have made a formal application, not just an enquiry – that means the credit department will review your request and that you can appeal if they refuse.
about the business, with realistic projections showing an ability to repay. • Ensure the bank is not the only risk taker and that you are putting your own stake into the business as well. • While lending is all about future cashflows – as this is how you will repay the debt – risk can be reduced where there is strong collateral or security. If you feel you have addressed all the bank’s concerns and you are refused, you can appeal the decision. For more information, contact the Credit Review Office at 1850-211789, or visit the website www.creditreview.ie.
“WHEN IT FEELS SCARY TO JUMP, THAT IS EXACTLY WHEN YOU JUMP.” PUSHING YOURSELF OUTSIDE YOUR COMFORT ZONE IS GOOD FOR YOUR PERSONAL GROWTH AND GOOD FOR BUSINESS. > Embrace Challenges Not many successful business owners, entrepreneurs or innovators will tell you that they kept up with market demands or stayed ahead of their competitors by staying comfortable. While it often might make sense to explore our areas of expertise to overcome obstacles, when you are building a business or getting one off the ground, you need to stretch your comfort zone and explore challenges that lie outside it. This is something advocated by life coach Jim Kirwan who says his particular sticking point in business was selling. “There are always going to be challenges to overcome,” he explains. “Mine were cold calling – I still don’t like it – and selling in particular. But you have to embrace the challenge, the uncomfortable moments and really work on them.”
> Set Your Goals So how can we train ourselves to break free from our comfort zones – both in life and in business? Kirwan highlights the importance of having an end goal. “You have to develop a plan and have a clear vision of the result or outcome you want to achieve,” he advises. “When you do this, it makes your decisions much easier to make. Two examples spring to mind. First, I left Bank of Ireland to set up my own HR consultancy business in 1990. Second I left Ireland to go to the USA to set up a new specialty retail business.”
> Reap The Rewards Once you break free from the shackles and sail into unchartered territory, what is to be gained? “You can fundamentally change your life!” declares Kirwan. “I did; I left the bank and who did that 27 years ago in Ireland? I went to the USA to set up a new business in 2003. My friends thought I was mad. I’ve gone from having a real fear of public speaking to where I’m now paid to speak. Putting yourself out there doesn’t guarantee business success. Whatever the outcome, there will be personal growth and, while you may have some regrets, you can always say that you gave it your best shot. No one can take that away from you.”
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THE RAPIDLY EVOLVING CITY OF JOHANNESBURG IS ON THE UPSWING AFTER ALMOST 20 YEARS IN THE DOLDRUMS. ELLEN FLYNN HAS THE LOWDOWN ON WHAT THE BUSINESS TRAVELLER SHOULD KNOW AHEAD OF A VISIT TO THE VIBRANT HEART OF SOUTH AFRICA.
Johannesburg, though one of the largest landlocked metropolises in the world, is relatively young for a city of its size and population. The promise of gold lured many to the once sleepy town in South Africa in the late 19th century, where it quickly developed into a sprawling urban landscape. However, keeping apace with its rapid growth, along with the impact that apartheid was having on its inhabitants, meant that the city and country spiralled into an economic downturn that informed the latter part of the twentieth century. In the 30 years since apartheid was abolished, Johannesburg has seen a resurgence through a more integrated society and economic investment including the Rugby World Cup in 1995 and FIFA World Cup in 2010. Both tournaments helped in their own way to boost the country and bring particular growth and development to its largest city. Coupled with this, the middle class population grew from 1.7 million in 2004 to 4.2m in 2013, greatly attributing to an economic upturn. Getting to Johannesburg from Ireland can be done easily enough with two direct flights leaving from London per day, though they can come in at a hefty price. You’ll be cheaper heading from Dublin and laying over for a time in Addis Ababa before grabbing a connection south. Once there,
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g for Travellin Business
GETTING THE BEST DEAL Campus
it’s up to you how you get around. Its rapid transit railway system, the Gautrain, will be able to take you certain places within the city in minutes while cars and taxis are another popular option. Bike tours are also becoming very popular in Jo’burg, with companies operating in nearby town Soweto and the artistic district of Maboneng where you’ll find some of the best coffee in town. As a city with a population of four million people, it’s no surprise that places to stay are in plenty, but finding the right fit for your trip can be tricky. The Peech Boutique Hotel is a real treat for visitors providing what really is ‘an urban oasis’ for the business traveller. Offering a stylish reprieve from the cookie-cutter quality of the numerous chain hotels, each of the Peech’s 16 bedrooms are uniquely decorated. Rich planting, airy rooms, great dining and bar options as well as easy transport connections to the financial district make it a prime spot. If you are required to host an event during your stay in Johannesburg, look no further than the forum company. The campus located in the financial district of Sandton is equipped with enough space to accommodate up to 464 guests seating and a choice of up to six function spaces, six conference rooms and three separate boardrooms. The fresh interior decoration
centred largely around natural light, five-star service and great location make the forum one of the top venues in Johannesburg. For fine dining in relaxed, comfortable style, head down to Pigalles overlooking the lively Melrose Arch precinct. Booking ahead and getting a cab is advised to avoid the hassle of trying to find parking in one of the busiest areas of Jo’burg, but the knowledgeable staff and detailed menu including two highly recommended dishes of wild oysters and grilled halloumi will please both meat eaters and veggies alike. If game meat is your thing then the Local Grill is a great spot for some tasty South African fare without the fuss. The meat in South Africa is second to none, with the Local Grill offering excellent choice between corn fed or grass fed beef. From the Local Grill it’s a nip across the road to the Foundry where some of the best local brews are on offer. If you’re still feeling peckish after your meal, you can avail of some delicious tasting boards while you people watch from the outdoor seating area. To get some famous, panoramic views of the Johannesburg skyline, get an Uber over to the buzzing Maboneng district and bag a table at the Living Room. It’s one of the top spots in Johannesburg to while away the evening hours.
FLIGHTS It’s a long flight from Dublin to Jo’burg, and you’re not getting there direct either. Depending on the individual you can choose to layover either midway through your flight at Addis Ababa with Ethiopian Airlines, or at the very beginning in London with BA.
HOTELS Be sure to call your hotel directly to arrange your booking as you’re more likely to get a good deal talking to someone who works in the hotel, rather than someone who works for a booking site.
TRANSPORT With a relaxed public transport system, your best bet for getting around sprawling Jo’burg is with Uber or other cab companies.
MEALS Street Food is at its finest in Jo’burg with a mish mash of cultures and thousands of people manning stalls with some of the best street food on the planet. Head down to the market and sample signature dishes from each stall to get the full experience and a mesh of cultures.
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HOURS IN JO’BURG ONE DAY OFF? HERE’S HOW TO SPEND IT 9AM | GOODMAN GALLERY
The Good Luck Bar
Johannesburg is home to one of the world’s most vibrant art scenes. For a reflective way to start your day, head down to the Goodman Gallery and get an insight into South Africa’s troubled past in a fortresslike structure.
THE PEECH This boutique hotel gives guests a true personal experience without shirking on fivestar quality. W: www.thepeech.co.za E: firstname.lastname@example.org T: +27 11 537 9797
11AM | SOWETO
A trip to Jo’Burg isn’t complete without a detour out to Soweto where Nelson Mandela’s former home is now an immersive experience of his life during the turbulent apartheid period. 2PM | COCA-COLA PARK
Sports have had a transformative effect on South Africa, but don’t take our word for it. Head down to Coca-Cola Park (formerly Ellis Park) if there’s a soccer or rugby match on while you’re there. Make sure to get yourself a token vuvuzela to blend with the crowd. 5PM | SAFARI
Evening and early morning gives you the best chance to spot some of the native wildlife of South Africa, so take this time
of your day to get out of the city limits to see the wonders of South African safari on offer. Guided trips can last from three hours, full days or overnight packages with select suppliers. 10PM | DANCING
Dance and drink the night away in what’s widely known as Joburg’s best live music venue. Centrally located, the Good Luck Bar promotes local bands as well as keeping its tradition as one of the last pioneer bars in Johannesburg. Dance up near the stage or relax and chat at one of the tables, but enjoy a few glasses of South African red while you do.
54 ON BATH In the leafy suburb of Rosebank, 54 on Bath offers its guests intuitive service blended with luxury and style. W: www.tsogosun.com/54-on-bath E: email@example.com T: +27 11 344 8500
THE FAIRLAWNS HOTEL The Fairlawns is another boutique option for the traveller with taste. Complete with a spa and a piano lounge with live performances before dinner, it’s the ultimate package for the business traveller. W: www.fairlawns.co.za E: firstname.lastname@example.org T: +27 11 808 7300
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Profile A Day in the Life
A Day of
NO TWO DAYS ARE THE SAME, SAYS KAREN KEOGH, HEAD OF OPERATIONS AT EPIC, THE IRISH EMIGRATION MUSEUM. SHE SHEDS SOME LIGHT ON A GIVEN SHIFT AT DUBLIN’S NEWEST VISITOR ATTRACTION.
ABOVE: Karen Keogh BELOW: Karen with Minister Paschal Donohoe
Karen pictured with Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop
Commuting to Dublin’s IFSC from Newbridge means that I have plenty of time to catch up on social media, check the news and keep upto-date with our many TripAdvisor reviews. 8.15AM I normally arrive at the CHQ Building before 8.30am and grab a coffee before heading down to my office in the vaults. I check in with our facilities manager and the visitor experience team leader to have a quick catch-up on prospective bookings and events, and any staffing requirements or technical issues that need attention. Before opening, I do a morning walk through to ensure that all the interactive displays and AVs are functioning properly while checking other elements that contribute to our visitors’ experience. 10AM We open to the public so unless I am in a meeting I check in with the team on duty. Our retail store and genealogy centre also open so I touch base with the team there to ensure that all is in order. 11AM At Epic, we are delighted to have hosted some high profile visitors since we opened last year, including heads of government, serving and former presidents, ambassadors and government ministers from Canada, Taiwan, Croatia and Australia among other countries. Some visits require a little more planning than others, so on days like this, a significant portion of my time is spent on calls and emails to particular embassies or the Department of Foreign Affairs, liaising with my Epic colleagues and the CHQ building management team to arrange a seamless arrival, experience and departure of guests. 2PM I meet with our MD and the department heads to review our performance and plan for future additions to content and promotional activities. As a developing business, this an important part of our strategy. We regularly partner with festivals and local events, offering specialist talks during Heritage Week and bespoke tours on Culture Night. We also link our promotions in with major events. 3PM We recently launched our events business here in Epic, so the sales team and I meet with potential clients to carry out a site inspection for their upcoming event. Every event is different because we can link the tour to a particular country, county or profession. 4.30PM Many of our customers are based locally in the IFSC and for that reason it is important to regularly review our retail offering. I spend time sourcing stock for the autumn-winter season and where possible, I source from Irish designers and suppliers. 5PM Like any business, at Epic we strive to have the right team in place for all eventualities. We have just completed another recruitment drive and in the coming weeks we will induct the new starters into both the museum and the retail store, so some preparation work around this is required. 6PM The day flies by here in Epic, a scheduled meeting can run on for longer than anticipated, or a last minute request for a VIP visit can change my diary in a heartbeat. But I wouldn’t have it any other way!
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