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ocusme f

Issue 3 Mar/Apr 2011

Monthly Issue â‚Ź3.50

The Business Magazine Dedicated to SME’s Start-Ups How Does Ireland Compare to Our

Global Partners Animation

From Small Production Houses to Global Blockbusters

Too Big To Fail plus Marketing: Back Ending, A Simple Strategy that Provides Returns Networking: Emotional Networking Intelligence

Agri Business

Harvesting Irelands Agri Potential

David McWilliams

Give Employers a Good reason to

Hire,not Fire

The Top 10: Reasons Why Businesses Fail News: News and Views to Help and Inform you

All Your Business Needs: Marketing / H & S / Company Focus / Finance / National and Local Issues


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Remember - We don't charge for our company focus articles !

In effort to promote and help Small business we do not accept money in exchange for writing about companies. We do this because the magazine is designed to help and promote SMEs who are doing exciting and innovative things. At a time when margins are thin for companies we want to give them the best fighting chance by promotion without charge. This is further proof of how dedicated we are to small business and innovation. We are staying true to our mantra-Work with Small Business, For Small Business So don't forget that if your company is doing something different, innovative and exciting we want to hear from you. Go online and fill in our questionnaire and we'll include you in up and coming issues.

Book Today ! T: 061 719838 M: 085 803 1537 email: focusme@mail.com Unit 6, Ballycasey Business Park, Shannon, Co. Clare


Editorial focusme

f ocusme The Business Magazine Dedicated to SME’s

From the Editor Well we have a new government. So does this mean things are going to change for small business? In our cover story – To Big To Fail- we discuss this topic. Top economist David McWilliams explains to us why businesses should be getting good reasons to hire people, not fire people and explains what needs to be done for this to happen. In our company focus this month we have Ponaire Coffee, one of only four coffee roasting houses in Ireland. Our second company focus is Footbridge Interactive, a company which is at the forefront of the new age of social entrepreneurship, as they help children with dyslexia and learning difficulties through fun and computer games. Focus world takes a look at how easy it is to start businesses in other countries around the world and lets you see how Ireland rates in comparison. Plus we have Animation Ireland tell us how animation and CGI are the growing in Ireland and how small production houses are doing blockbuster work. Bord Bia explain how the Agri sector in Ireland is growing at a good pace and look at the potential of this sector as an answer to our economic problems. Brian McNally talks marketing and back end sales. Brain Moore lets us in on more networking secrets, while Cyril Downes gives us more essential health and safety tips. Plus there is a whole lot more inside this issue. So open up and have a good read and we hope you learn something new that can help you and your business. Kehlan Kirwan Editor, FocuSME Magazine

YOUR company infocus We are always on the look out for companies doing something different, something outside the box. That’s where you come in because we are a proud supporter of SMEs. Every month we are looking for companies to feature in the magazine Free of Charge. Yes that’s right; it won’t cost you a cent! We know how tight financial margins can be for a small business, so we’re not going to charge you for the privilege of being in a magazine designed to help you. So if you’re a company that is thinking outside the box, being innovative or doing something different, you’re the company we want to hear from. So simply go to our website www.focusme.ie and download our question form. Send it back to us and we’ll try and put you In The Spotlight. Space is limited per month so get in there fast. Working With Small Business, For Small Business

Editor: Kehlan Kirwan Artwork and Design: Print2Post, Shannon,Co. Clare with Amy Fortune Printed In Ireland by: KPS Color Print Ltd., Co. Mayo © Focusme Magazine Unit 6 Ballycasey Business Park, Shannon, Co. Clare Tel: (+353) 061- 719838 E-mail: focusme@mail.com

Focusme magazine will not accept responsibility for loss or damage to any person or company as a result of acting or refraining from acting as a result of the information contained in this magazine. Professional advice should always be sought before acting on any matter referred to in this magazine.

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

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focusme

contentspage

6

Cover Story

8

Animation in Ireland

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Company Focus

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Footbridge Interactive - Helping Children with dyslexia and learning difficulties

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Marketing

18

Agri Business

20

Health & Safety

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From Small Production Houses to Global Blockbusters

David McWilliams

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16

Small Business Too Big to Fail

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Give Employers a Good reason to hire, not fire

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Back-Ending – A Simple Strategy That Provides Fast Returns

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20

Reaping the Harvest of Irish Agribusiness

Manual Handling

Company Focus

Ponaire Coffee - Only one of four coffee roasting houses in Ireland

Volume1 Issue 3 Mar/Apr 2011

Also in this Issue

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Focus World: How does Ireland compare to other nations in starting a business

News: News and views to help and inform you

The Top 10: Reasons Why Businesses Fail

5 Apps Small Business should be Paying Attention to

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Cover Story

Small Business does not have the luxury of guarantees or bailouts, What we have done and what we are doing is investing in our future, by investing in ourselves.

Small Business Too Big To Fail

www.focusme.ie We’ve seen first-hand what ‘too big to fail means’. We’re living through it right now. It means if you’re reckless enough and own enough of people’s money, you’ll be saved by whatever means necessary. In September 2008 the Irish government guaranteed our banking institutions to the colossal sum of €440bn. These institutions were deemed too big to fail. With such massive sums of money at stake, they were saved...for the time being. What made the crisis in credit markets different from previous shocks to the global financial system was that the multiple sources of funding normally available for businesses, all essentially dried up at the same time. There is something carcinogenic about the way banking has been doing business for the past 150 years. Always on the lookout for the next bubble and not on the next long term fix. It’s about money here and now, next week is too far away to think about consequences. Small Business does not have the luxury of guarantees or bailouts. What we have done and what we are doing is investing in our future, by investing in ourselves. There is a bigger and wider picture to what small business is doing right now and it is that ever present word; Economy. Small business has become one of the front runners in a race to the economic stability line. The problem lies in the fact that small businesses really are too big to fail. What we contribute to the Irish economy now in terms of jobs, PRSI, taxes, VAT etc. is keeping the Irish economy afloat. We have become more than the backbone, we are the lifeblood of an ailing financial mess. What we need to do is what was done for the banks over the past 25 years, deregulate it. We need to stop finding new ways to confine and restrict small businesses with red tape and legislation. Instead why not release the shackles and say ‘Here, the country needs answers... can you provide them?’ Freeing up time, space and more importantly, money, can only lead to a positive step forward for SMEs. In an e-mail to John Perry, Fine Gaels Small Business representative, we outlined what needs to happen for small business not only to cut red tape but also to give SMEs the help they so desperately crave: -We need to increase the amount of tenders that small business gets from state and semi state bodies. Governmental bodies have an extremely poor record when it comes tendering out to small businesses. You can’t say you support business and then ignore them in the most obvious of ways. An achievable goal would be to get somewhere between 30%-40% of tenders going to small businesses. We must openly promote and provide for small business in a very public way. Instead of simply saying we have this plan or that plan, show people with tangible figures- ‘ Here look, this IS what we are doing for small domestic business’ instead of ‘this is what we COULD do for small business’. -We must find newer/different ways for investment to happen. This means getting existing big companies to reinvest profits back into the Irish economy. Currently

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Cover Story focusme multi-national companies have over €150bn in financial accounts at the IFSC in Dublin. We must encourage these businesses to invest some of that money into Irish companies through R&D or bolstering investment. The advantages of this are two fold1) Irish companies now have assured investment to work and strive for 2) The pressure is released on the government to provide money to small business, allowing it target other places for the money to go to. -Reform of the Enterprise Boards/Enterprise Ireland etc. is essential. For this to happen they must be given definitive goals and targets to be met. Give the Enterprise Boards a structure to adhere to. e.g. 40% of allocated funds for the year must go to manufacturing, 10% to professional services, a percentage to go to other sectors which must be considered the future of Ireland. Allow money from the enterprise boards to roll over to the next year. Money is being wasted on poor projects because they must ‘get rid’ of the money they have been allocated. Make the decision process with board members public- virtually eliminating conflict of interest problems that arise in the process. Last of all the Banks - You must be better involved within the financial institutions. If it means physically putting people into the HQ of banks then so be it. The credit flowing to small business has been nothing short of disgraceful the past two years. Give them targets to lend and enforce it. It’s been quite obvious that ‘asking’ banks to lend will not work. You must enforce your will on banks that we virtually own. It is simply not good enough to ask the Irish public to take the brunt of the damage through job loss and bailouts and allow the banking system to avoid investment in business and job creation. Priorities for the new government will have to be finding the balance of national debt and inward investment. There are over 270,000 registered small businesses in Ireland. If we create an environment where every one of those has the opportunity to hire one employee, we can cut the amount of people on the dole by half. It is not naive to think that the answer to our employment problems can be solved so simply. Occam’s razor; the simplest answer is often the correct one. The new government will have bigger fish to fry over the coming months. We have our equivalent of ‘The New Deal’ to renegotiate. The EU/IMF bailout will take the utmost priority. So we must not think there will be a sudden swing in businesses fortunes. But the government can begin to tackle the three big R’s that still haunt business across the country- Rates, Rents and Red Tape. These are the issues that can be tackled in a meaningful way, right here and now. SME’s are much more than the backbone of our economy. They are the heart, brains and legs of a progressive new beginning. Constantly moving forward, ever forward. Small business in Ireland really has become too big to fail. Volume1 Issue 3 Mar/Apr 2011

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www.focusme.ie

Animation

Animation focusme

'Many Irish produced animation shows have successfully travelled the world and been re-voiced in a variety of different languages.'

Animation

IREland

‘Creative industry’ is already one of the terms on the government’s mind as they look at potential areas of growth for Ireland’s economy. There has always been some mystery for people not familiar with the TV, film or animation sectors as to what exactly the ‘creative industry’ is and what its contribution to our economy has been. In discussing creative industries, one sector in particular always comes to the fore as a perfect example of ‘creative’ and ‘industry’ side by side. And that is Ireland’s indigenous animation sector. Twenty years ago Ireland’s animation industry was predominantly driven by studios like Sullivan Bluths, Murakimi-WolfSwenson and Emerald City, all owned and run by US producers and investors. Today that landscape is very different. It’s now an industry of indigenous world class studios of varying sizes, producing content for international platforms like CBBC, Disney and Nickelodeon. Studios like Oscar nominated Brown Bag Films and Cartoon Saloon are never too far from the headlines when Ireland’s international animation success is discussed but there are many more. Studios like Kavaleer, Jam Media, Caboom, Boulder Animation, Barley Films, Keg Kartoonz, Magma and Monster Animation are producing award winning animation for TV, feature films, shorts and games using traditional animation, Flash animation and CGI (Computer Generated Images).

It’s often noted that Irish animation studios have been punching above their weight internationally, a fact reflected by the number of international awards Irish producers have received. These awards have acknowledged both creative and business achievements, with the CEOs of Brown Bag Films and Jam Media both receiving nominations for Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year in recent times. The majority of the animation work produced in Ireland is for export. It’s co-produced and co-financed with other studios from around the world, a process that has become easier as technology develops but more complicated as project finance becomes more challenging to put together. International co-production treaties with countries like Canada offer some opportunities for Irish producers to engage with their international counterparts, develop ideas, produce animation content, showcase their work to international audiences, create jobs for Irish people and grow their companies. Many studios fund the development of their own projects through the production of work-forhire projects. Animated commercials and corporate videos were the traditional sources of WFH but as technology has advanced Irish studios are finding opportunities to produce content for a broader range of clients who develop web content, games and iPad apps. Over the past number of years, the IBEC report has shown that animation has consistently been the one area of growth in the Irish digital economy both in terms of employment and revenue. The CEOs of Ireland’s animation companies, most of whom were animators, grapple with the challenges any business owner experiences in the course of running a company. Business development, marketing, production, employment, training, IT investment and IP development are regular topics of conversation at The Animation Ireland CEO Forum’s meetings. The CEO Forum was established 4 years ago by the leaders of the Irish animation industry. With support from Enterprise Ireland, the forum meets three times a year to discuss issues affecting the sector; from its presence at international markets at Mipcom, MipTv and Kidscreen, to its engagement with local broadcasting bodies, to building relationships with the animation colleges in order ensure a steady supply of quality raw talent that the industry needs to sustain grow. The forum is also involved in supporting industry events, often working with the colleges to bring international animation speakers to Ireland for presentations and workshops. It promotes the work of the Irish animation sector internationally under the ‘Animation Ireland’ brand name.

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The key challenges faced by the animation industry are many and varied. Limited funding from the state broadcaster can sometimes make it difficult for Irish producers to leverage their position in an international co-production scenario where the other producers have brought substantial amounts of money from their local broadcaster to the table. Funding and support from the Irish Film Board towards animation has always been strong though the focus has generally been towards developing projects with an Irish voice which can sometimes be difficult to sell to international broadcasters. From here some producers turn to private finance or deferring their fees to complete the funding package. Education and training is another challenge for the Irish animation companies. With a notable shortage of studioready talent on the ground, many producers have brought in artists from abroad or outsourced to artists internationally to help get projects completed on time and on budget. In developing IP, studios have moved from being solely workfor-hire companies to rights holders where, depending on the deal, they can get to partake in licensing opportunities derived from the exploitation of their original ideas. This can be a massive revenue generator for the company if a project goes global. And it is a global market. Animation travels well as it can be re-voiced into any language, something that’s more difficult to do in live-action. Many Irish produced animation shows have successfully travelled the world and been revoiced in a variety of different languages. From post-production houses and sound recording studios to lawyers and accountants, numerous other companies have also developed specialist knowledge from working on animation productions. This all feeds into developing and expanding the sector locally and elevating the status of the Irish animation industry in the eyes of international producers.

ANIMATION IN IRELAND By Damian Farrell Caboom Animation Ltd.

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Company Focus focusme

unscramble the world

www.focusme.ie

of a dyslexic child

Company Focus focusme

with computers...and fun! Moving Forward

When Linda approached the LEAP centre at the Limerick Institute of Technology for support and advice on her new idea and they encouraged her to pursue it more. With this encouragement and help she was able to get a feasibility study grant from the Clare County Enterprise which allowed her to do further market research on the venture. As part of the study she went to the UK and talked with the British Dyslexia Association, and it was while talking to the BDA that she began to truly feel that there was a real gap in the market for this kind of software program. Linda also saw something else in the market. That people, especially young people, were moving away from CD's and other such physical software to the online market of cloud computing. Cloud computing is the new wave of computing and describes computation or in this case software that does not require end-user knowledge of where the system is being delivered from. This system would make it easier for people to subscribe to the program and would only need an internet connection.

New waves of social entrepreneurs are beginning to sprout up around the country. No more so than in Limerick where Linda O'Sullivan has started Footbridge Interactive. Born out of a frustration for the lack of positive learning facilities for her dyslexic son, Linda poured her efforts into creating something that could not only help her son but other people with dyslexia and learning difficulties. An interactive computer program with characters and adventures to help children with learning difficulties was what she created.

The Beginning

As we covered in our last issue with Babogbay, nothing can inspire a person more than their sons and daughters. This case is no acceptation. After realising that her son was having difficulties with reading and therefore learning, she brought him to the Dyslexic Support Centre in Limerick where their fantastic support improved his abilities significantly. The problem was that it was very time consuming and that topped with homework in the evenings meant that so much time had to be taken up every day with him just learning. But it’s not a problem confined to the O'Sullivan family. Ten percent of children have some form of dyslexia and more on top of that have learning difficulties. Exam failure, school dropout, social exclusion and unemployment are among the many individual consequences of these statistics. The question was how to create an environment that is fun and gets results for those who are dyslexic instead something that is intensive and time consuming? Linda felt that other products that were on the market for eight to twelve year olds were patronising and didn't take the consideration that kids with dyslexia were just as smart as kids without it. So in the end they merely reinforced the idea the children were different. Linda believed that motivating the children through fun and getting them into a positive frame of mind was getting the battle half won. This was the beginning of a great idea to create computer software

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The Prototype

This was Linda’s biggest challenge. Getting a prototype that would function well and include all the educational content needed was going to be hard. The educational content that was to go into the program took a great deal of consultation from professional bodies and those in the know about dyslexia. The animation for the characters, Jack and Grace, was also needed as well as the programming needed to give the two characters the skills to interact with kids on an educational but fun activities. This all meant that Linda had to wear multiple different hats. The vast array of different tasks needed soon meant that she began to look for a partner in the business. She didn't have to look to far. Jennifer Keane, who had originally been the project manager for the prototype production and by Linda's own admission, became invaluable to the project. So Jennifer joined Footbridge Interactive and became an integral part of ensuring the progression of the

company to its next phase. She brought with her technical expertise which complimented Linda's expertise of knowing what was needed for children to get the full learning experience of what they were doing.

The Future

Although Footbridge Interactive is in the start-up phase it has not deminished their ideas and where they want to take the company over the next few years. Their ambition is to become one of the market leaders for dyslexia and learning difficulties on a global scale. Exporting is also an important factor, bringing the program around the English speaking world, focusing on the UK market first before moving on to the USA, Canada and Australian markets. In the pipeline are more virtual products that are related to what they are doing now but will expand their product base into areas that are similar to what they are doing now. Linda see's a great future in the Apps industry as more and more people turn to them in order to produce educational and learning features for children to use. The iPad market is something that she is particularly interested in, stating that it looks as if educational functions and interactivity will be heavily influenced by the computer tablet phenomenon. Linda O’Sullivan is at the forefront of a new age of social entreprenuers, striving to make other peoples lives better, through a business model that has at its heart a concern that something good and simple can come from what other people may consider disadvantages. This magazine will be watching Footbridge Interactive with intrepidation; a great idea that benefits many people.

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www.focusme.ie

Top Ten

Top Ten… Business Misses and Blunders In life, you may have forgiving friends and relatives, but entrepreneurship is rarely forgiving. Eventually, everything shows up in the soup. If people don’t like the soup, employees stop working for you, and customers stop doing business with you. And that is why businesses fail.

1. The math just doesn’t work There is not enough demand for the product or service at a price that will produce a profit for the company. This, for example, would include a start-up trying to compete against Tesco and its economies of scale.

2. Owners who cannot get out of their own way

Top Ten focusme

6. Operational mediocrity

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We have never met a business owner who described his or her operation as mediocre. But we can’t all be above average. Repeat and referral business is critical for most businesses, as is some degree of marketing (depending on the business).

7. Operational inefficiencies Paying too much for rent, labour, and materials. Now more than ever, the lean companies are at an advantage. Not having the tenacity or stomach to negotiate terms that are reflective of today’s economy may leave a company uncompetitive.

8. Dysfunctional management Lack of focus, vision, planning, standards and everything else that goes into good management. Throw fighting partners or unhappy relatives into the mix, and you have a disaster.

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They may be stubborn, risk adverse, conflict adverse - meaning they need to be liked by everyone (even employees and vendors who can’t do their jobs). They may be perfectionist, greedy, self-righteous, paranoid, indignant, or insecure. You get the idea. Sometimes, you can even tell these owners the problem, and they will recognise that you are right - but continue to make the same mistakes over and over.

3. Out-of-control growth

9. The lack of a succession plan -

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This one might be the saddest of all reasons for failure - a successful business that is ruined by over-expansion. This would include moving into markets that are not as profitable, experiencing growing pains that damage the business, or borrowing too much money in an attempt to keep growth at a particular rate. Sometimes less is more.

4. Poor accounting

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You cannot be in control of a business if you don’t know what is going on. With bad numbers, or no numbers, a company is flying blind, and it happens all of the time. Why? For one thing, it is a common - and disastrous - misconception that an outside accounting firm hired primarily to do the taxes will keep watch over the business. In reality, that is the job of the chief financial officer, one of the many hats an entrepreneur has to wear until a real one is hired.

5. Lack of a “cash cushion”

We’re talking nepotism, power struggles, significant players being replaced by people who are in over their heads -- all reasons many family businesses do not make it to the next generation.

10. A declining market Book stores, music stores, printing businesses and many others are dealing with changes in technology, consumer demand, and competition from huge companies with more buying power and advertising euros.

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If we have learned anything from this recession (I know it’s “over” but my customers don’t seem to have gotten the memo), it’s that business is cyclical and that bad things can and will happen over time - the loss of an important customer or critical employee, the arrival of a new competitor, the filing of a suit. These things can all stress the finances of a company. If that company is already out of cash (and borrowing potential), it may not be able to recover. 12

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Economics focusme

Give Employers a Good reason to hire,not fire by David McWilliams

www.focusme.ie Tonight all over Ireland, people who employ other people will go to bed and the last thought in their heads will be: “Who will I fire tomorrow?” What can we do to change that thought so that the last thought in their heads becomes: “Who will I hire tomorrow?” Can the change of government change this conversation? How might this shift come about whereby the people who employ others — the only people who can drag this economy upwards — look more favourably on the idea of hiring an extra worker? What we do know about economics is that people react to incentives. If you make it cheaper or profitable for people to do something, they will do it. By extension, as taxes are rising, if you make it tax efficient for people to do something, they will do it too. If you doubt this, think about why we have ghost estates. We have them because our State made it tax efficient for a developer to build in the middle of nowhere on all classes of tax avoidance schemes. The reason we have so many car parks is because they were designed to allow people with large tax bills to avoid paying tax. Why are the US multinationals here? Because we make it cheaper for them to be here rather than elsewhere because we charge them less tax. Think about housing in general: by giving mortgage interest tax relief, the State jaundiced people’s decisions about whether to rent or buy via a ‘tax sweetener’. This, of course, benefited the banks and the builders enormously. As well as being a form of corporate welfare for the financial and construction sectors, the State might also have had as an ideology a notion to create a homeowning democracy where having a house meant you had a stake in society. Whatever the reason for it, making it tax efficient to own houses led more people to buy houses than would otherwise be the case.

Economics Recruitmernt focusme Obviously, this is the worst sort of madness. But luckily there is an opportunity with a new government to change all this. A new government could decide to spend this money differently. Interestingly, for the main political parties who maintain that we stick to the EU/IMF plan, this borrowing has been given the green light by our ‘partners’. We have issued a large promissory note in order to cover these losses. We could simply tear this up and begin the process of bank debt default. We have no moral obligation to pay for the gambling debts of these institutions and therefore we do not have to. And this week key global financial players, such as George Soros, said we would be mad to pay this bill. Interestingly, instead of wasting €3.9bn a year on these institutions, which is what it would cost us per year to pay the debts of these bust banks, we could put that money to work helping employers. Close Anglo, Irish Nationwide and EBS. Take away their banking licences. Then they will no longer be the Central Bank’s problem; they will a problem for some liquidator somewhere. Use the €3.9bn to give tax credits to employers to employ people. This sum would be worth €2,166 per employee in the country. If the money was ring-fenced for smaller companies (that cannot engage in the accounting high jinks that the larger corporates can do to avoid tax) the figure per employee could be increased dramatically. By doing this, we could increase the incentive to employ hugely. For every extra person an employer takes on, they get a tax credit. Surely this is better than giving the same employer a tax credit to build a car park? In so doing, we change the game. The employer begins to ask the ‘who will I hire tomorrow’ question. This becomes a virtuous circle and the Government is simply transferring the incentive to invest away from buildings, car parks and houses and on to an incentive to invest in people. We can therefore use the desperate situation of bailing out the banks to the advantage of the citizens and when potential employers go to bed, there will be a different, more optimistic thought on their mind.

So we know in economics that people act in response to incentives. We also know people do the opposite. If you tax something to make it more expensive, those who were going to buy that thing, buy something else — or don’t buy at all.

If our objective is to reduce the level of unemployment, then make it easy to hire. How do you make it easy? You give a tax credit to the guy who wants to hire or who might be thinking of it. This is what we did with houses — we gave a tax credit to build, so why not do it with our own people?

Let’s think about hiring a person. Who makes that decision? The person himself/herself who wants to be hired doesn’t. Obviously they might make the best of themselves by improving their qualifications, but the problem about being on the dole is that you can’t force people to value you. But maybe we can do something else. Traditionally, many economists stress you can’t interfere in the markets. I don’t happen to believe that is the case, particularly when the market isn’t working. If our objective is to reduce the level of unemployment, then make it easy to hire. How do you make it easy? You give a tax credit to the guy who wants to hire or who might be thinking of it. This is what we did with houses — we gave a tax credit to build, so why not do it with our own people? Why not give the prospective employer a personal or corporate tax credit to employ people? But where would we get the money to do this? Well here’s a suggestion. It may have escaped your attention in the blizzard of economic and financial news over the past two years, but Ireland lent the three most delinquent and bust banks an astonishing figure of €31bn in 2010.

David McWilliams

If you add the interest costs over the proposed 15year work out of the banking plan, the total cost to the Exchequer is estimated to be €58.55bn.

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Marketing

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Marketing focusme

Back-Ending – A Simple Strategy That Provides Fast Returns By Brian McNally If you have a nice back-end, you’re going to make a lot of money in sales. No, I’m not talking about that back-end! I’m talking about a selling strategy that you simply must adopt right now - the very survival of your business may depend on it.

Back-ending works best when you try to make that second or third sale right away, and not two weeks later when the customer has already cooled off, or even maybe forgotten about you.

What is back-ending? Simply this: It means having a second, third, maybe even a fourth product ready to sell right after you make the first sale. This is the way real money is made in sales, and sometimes, it is the only way a true profit is made.

If you sell shoes, also be ready to sell shoe polish, and maybe a pair of socks. If you sell a shirt, sell a tie, or several ties. If you sell bicycles, sell as many accessories as you can - water bottles, pumps, biking gear, such as shoes, gloves, caps and more. If you sell computers, sell software and an extended warranty.

Amazingly, many businesses don’t do this. Finding first-time customers is expensive. You have to advertise, send direct mail pieces, pay sales people salaries or commissions, bare the cost of telemarketing and more. Then tack on your other overhead costs, such as labour, raw materials, or what you pay wholesale for your retail sale items. Then calculate the time, agony and effort in getting that customer to put trust in your service or product - only to sell to them just once. What a waste! Add it all up and each customer you attract and sell can cost as much or more than the profit you make from each sale. The solution is to make additional sales to each customers you have already bought and paid for with your marketing efforts. Each time you sell more to that customer; it frees you from the need to pay more to find a new customer - although you still need to keep doing that on an ongoing basis.

It’s really a simple concept to make back-end sales, but it’s amazing how many businesses never do it. Even if you’re satisfied with the profits you’re making on your first sale right now, and you don’t think you need a second-tier product, think about how much potential income you’re letting pass by, possibly to go into your competitors pockets. Back ending is the method to continually garnering continuing profits from the customers that you have spent so much money acquiring and worked so hard to get. So take care of your back-end, and it will take care of you.

But the point is, once you have a customer, get the most out of him or her because you have expended a lot of resources to find that person in the first place. Successful back-ending means careful planning. It means having additional products ready to go and available at the time of the first sale.

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Agri Business

Harvesting Ireland’s In today’s challenging trading times Ireland’s agri-food and drink industry offers a positive outlook. As Ireland’s largest indigenous industry employing approximately 150,000 people and with an annual output of over €24 billion, the agri-food industry is one of immense economic importance. The agri-food industry is underpinned by the country’s sustainable food credentials which are supported by our strong emphasis on food quality and traceability. The industry accounted for €7.9 billion of Irish export sales in 2010 (up 11 per cent) and Bord Bia, Ireland’s marketing agency for food, drink and horticulture, works in partnership with industry with the aim of growing these exports around the globe. The combined value of meat and livestock exports grew by an estimated 9 per cent to almost €2.44 billion in 2010. The value of beef exports increased by 8 per cent, reaching €1.51 billion which was in part attributed to increased export volumes and stable prices. Beef, in particular, commands a premium placing with major retail groups across the EU (listed with 19 out of the top 20 European retailers) and is highly regarded for its consistency of quality and taste. The country’s meat processors reach out to 61 markets world-wide and offer consistency of supply throughout the year. While a key plus is that Ireland has the experience of serving meat markets across the globe for close to 5 decades, no other exporter enjoys the same superb unprecedented market and customer base that Ireland has earned. The food and drink industry in Ireland operates to world-class standards in the areas of food safety and animal welfare. Bord Bia operate a number of Quality Assurance Schemes in the food sector (covering meat, fruit, vegetables and eggs). Food produced under these schemes carries a Quality Assured Mark and the scheme is currently being revised to incorporate sustainability measures. Currently, there are some 36,000 producers and 122 processors who are certified members across all the Bord Bia Quality Assurance Schemes.

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They are inspected regularly before they can be certified and allowed use of the Quality Mark and this independent audit process continues for the life of the certificate. The emergence of sustainability as a key strategic issue globally, offers Ireland the opportunity to convey the natural advantages it possesses in terms of grass-based production and its role in terms of biodiversity and that most output comes from small family farms. The role these family farms play in the future of the industry is vital. There are 1.5 million more cattle than there are people in Ireland – a testimony to the swathes of green pastureland that has earned our Emerald Isle status, and which ensures that the country is one of the most well renowned milk producers in Europe and the global arena. The grass growth is among the best in Europe due to Ireland’s temperate climate which is conducive to dairying and other forms of agriculture. But it is the management of this resource, the preservation and nurturing by a familyrun network of farms, approximately 128,000, that ensures continuity of quality from generation to generation. Looking to the future the aim is to grow industry exports to a value of €12 billion by 2020*. Sustainable investment in the industry over the past decade has allowed companies to build wide-ranging expertise especially in the dairy and beef sectors, Ireland’s traditional leading export sectors. With strategies of innovation and differentiation, Irish companies are in an excellent position to not only strengthen their position in export markets but also diversify into further markets overseas. Farmers themselves are adding value with on-farm diversification such as dairy farmers making their own cheeses, yogurts and desserts for export, potato growers entering the convenience foods space and also apple growers expanding their product range.

Agri Business focusme

Agri Business Potential The drinks sector is another stronghold for Ireland and through investment in marketing has increased the international market penetration to over 100 countries and created key brands with worldwide recognition. The emergence and strength of our artisan food sector and consumer demand for locally produced food has brought on line a new team of entrepreneurs into this sector who have become highly successful ambassadors of Irish food and drink internationally. Bord Bia have commissioned research which is underway to identify the critical factors for successful innovation in Ireland to facilitate greater understanding of the attitudes to innovation and new product development among Irish food manufacturers. Bord Bia has also launched the Food Entrepreneurs Network, which formally established a networking environment for food entrepreneurs. The inaugural event facilitated a group of recently formed enterprise owner managers and the CEOs of larger firms to gain insights into the kind of support they would like to see for food entrepreneurship to thrive. These are challenging times for food and drink producers globally and Ireland is, as always, ready to face any challenge. Irish companies in the Irish food and drink arena are resourceful, dynamic and innovative and capable of adapting to changing consumer needs due to their forward-looking nature. Ireland’s agri-food and drink industry is modern and forms the backbone of an industry that has rightly earned it the Food Island image, a reputation attained through dedication to quality, sustainability and traceability.

About Bord Bia: Bord Bia is the Irish food, drink and horticulture industry’s trade development, information and promotion agency. Its mission is to grow the success of Irish food and horticulture. Bord Bia works with industry to deliver effective and innovative market development, promotion and information services to assist companies grow and win new business.

*Food Harvest 2020 – A vision for Irish agri-food and fisheries as prepared by Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

Volume1 Issue 3 Mar/Apr 2011

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www.focusme.ie

Health & Safety

Health & Safety Manual Handling by Cyril Downes

There is a misconception in this country as to what exactly manual handling actually is. The most common belief is that it involves people in warehouses lifting and moving boxes. It is this and much more. It may involve retail staff, construction workers, admin staff etc. A definition of manual handling is “any activity requiring the use of force exerted by a person to lift, lower, push, pull, carry or otherwise move, hold or restrain a person, animal or thing” A bit more complex than carrying boxes I think you’ll agree. If manual handling is a major activity in your workplace, then the associated hazards will need to be assessed as part of the risk assessment process. The benefits accruing from the risk assessment include, apart from the identification of hazards, more efficient procedures and the elimination of unnecessary handling activities.

What makes manual handling hazardous? There are several factors that make manual handling hazardous, and increase the risk of injury. These are called risk factors. The risk factors, particularly for back injury, are related to 4 aspects of manual handling: the load, the task, the environment and the individual.

The load

The risk of back injury increases during lifting, carrying, pushing and pulling of loads, if the load is: • Too heavy There is no exact weight limit for manual handling. A weight of 20 to 25 kg is heavy to lift for most people, especially if the load is handled several times in an hour. Note that pushing or pulling often imposes less loading on the body than lifting or carrying. • Too large One basic rule for lifting and carrying is to keep the load as close to the body as possible. In order to get a broad load close to the body, the worker has to open the arms to reach and hold the load. The arm muscles cannot produce force when reaching as effectively as with the arms held in close. Thus, the muscles will get tired more rapidly when handling a large bulky load. • Difficult to grasp Loads that are difficult to grasp can result in the object slipping, causing sudden movement of the load. Gloves usually make grasping more difficult than with bare hands. Providing the objects with handles or using aids for gripping (e.g. when carrying plate material) reduces the load on

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the worker. Loads with sharp edges or of dangerous materials (solids or liquids) can injure workers, especially in the event of a collision. • Unbalanced, unstable or if the contents can move With unbalanced objects, it is difficult to hold the centre of gravity of the load close to the middle of the body. This leads to uneven loading of muscles, and fatigue. Unstable or moving content, such as a liquid, causes uneven loading of the muscles and sudden movements of the load can make workers lose their balance and fall. • Difficult to reach Loads that can only be reached with outstretched arms, or by bending or twisting the trunk, require more muscular force. The spine may easily be hurt if the trunk is bent or twisted while lifting.

The task

The risk of back injury increases if the task: • Is too strenuous Tasks may be very demanding if they have to be carried out too frequently or for too long with insufficient rest or recovery time (e.g. continuous lifting or carrying for long distances, or activities where the working speed is imposed by a process which cannot be altered by the worker). • Involves awkward postures or movements Working with a bent and/or twisted trunk, raised arms, bent wrists, a bent neck and turned head increases the risk of back injury and should be avoided, as should twisting, turning and bending movements of the trunk, overreaching, sudden movements and repetitive handling.

Posture

Manual handling involves muscular work. There are two main types of muscular work: • static work: when maintaining a posture (holding the body or part of the body in a fixed position), certain skeletal muscles remain contracted • dynamic work: when moving body parts, active skeletal muscles contract and relax rhythmically. The difference between these two types is shown in the following example: when you carry boxes, your arm muscles perform static work in holding the boxes, while your leg muscles carry out dynamic work in walking. Static as well as dynamic work can cause fatigue and lead to injuries. Manual handling should therefore be carried out as much as possible in a neutral posture. Posture is the position of your body (including your

arms and legs) while you are working. Working in a bad (constrained, awkward or Manual Handling takes place in every work place and as seen covers a wide variety of physical activities, mostly these activities carry no risk to the employees involved. However where the employees are required to handle heavy loads, or engage in repetitive handling or work while in a pure posture then the risk of back injury or other musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) increases. The danger zones for MSDs are lifting and lowering, reaching and stretching and twisting. As shown above when assessing manual handling activities you must take cognisance of the load type and characteristics, the weight of the load, how strenuous the activity is, how repetitive the activity is, the individual involved. The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Applications) Regulations 2007 cover this in more detail.

What is a Safe Weight?

How much a person can safely lift depends on a number of conditions. Among the considerations should be the frequency of the lift, the weight of the object, the persons fitness etc. Where possible, all weights should be carried while held tightly into the body using it as support. The various boxes show the weights that can be safely carried at different body positions. Carrying a load with the arms extended multiplies by a factor of 5 the stress placed on the back. The diagram below takes into account the typical male versus the typical female lifting in ideal conditions. The optimum weight for a male to carry is 25kg while carried held into the body at waist height. This decreases to 10kg when lifting from the floor or to head height, and 20kg when held at knee height and chest height.

Common Manual Handling Injuries

If an employee suffers an injury at work which requires their absence for 4 days or more then you as their employer must inform the HSA. Of all reported accidents to the HSA manual handling accounts for 33%. Some of the most common of these reported accidents are • • • • •

Muscle Strain Ligament Sprain Disc Prolapse (Slipped Disc) Sciatica Hernia

poor) posture when your joints must be held beyond their comfortable, neutral position, and close to the extreme end of their maximum range of movement. In a constrained posture muscles can produce less force than in a more extended, comfortable one. This means that muscles will get tired faster in awkward postures, even when the work activity does not require high muscle forces. Also, the mechanical load on the spine and joints is higher in these postures than in comfortable ones.

Health & Safety focusme are slippery, uneven or unstable (such as working platforms or fishing boats) may increase the risk of accidents and back injury. • Climate The physical climate (temperature, humidity and ventilation) may affect the risk of back injury. Heat makes you feel tired, and sweat makes it hard to hold tools, requiring more force. Cold can make your hands numb, making it hard to grip. • Lighting Insufficient lighting may increase the risk of accidents when handling loads. It may also make you work in awkward positions to see clearly what you are doing.

The individual

There are also some individual factors that can influence the risk of back injury: • Experience, training and familiarity with the job (for example, new episodes of low back pain are common in the first year of employment) • Age (the risk of low back disorders increases with the number of years at work: the first episode of low back pain occurs in most people by the age of 30) • Physical dimensions and capacity (length, weight, strength, etc.) • Personal lifestyle (smoking may, for example, increase the risk of low back disorders) • History of back disorders (this is a predictor of future back injuries) • Willingness to use personal protective equipment (for example, clothing and footwear).

Do I need to Risk Assess every activity?

Where possible the risks from Manual Handling should be eliminated or reduced through • the use of lifting aids • reducing the load • sharing the load; and • providing training in ergonomic lifting techniques Injuries can be as a result of a single incident, from the cumulative effect of manual handling or from repetitive actions. Potentially injurious tasks may involve bending and twisting, repetitive motions, carrying or lifting heavy loads, and maintaining fixed positions for a long time.

Who will do my Risk Assessment?

A competent person should carry the manual handling risk assessment. This person will have adequate knowledge, training and experience to carry out the task properly and objectively. You must be satisfied that the person conducting the manual handling risk assessment is capable of doing so properly and effectively.

The environment

The following characteristics of the work environment may increase the risk of back injury: • Space available A lack of space to carry out manual handling may lead to inappropriate body postures and dangerous imbalance in the loads. • Floor Handling loads on different working levels or on floors that Volume1 Issue 3 Mar/Apr 2011

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Company Focus focusme

Waking up

to Smell the Coffee

www.focusme.ie

Imagine going to work every morning and as you walk through the door the intense aroma of roasting coffee beans are there to greet you. The woven sacks of coffee seem more at home on a grand sail boat bound for the West Indies then on raised pallets on a shop floor in Annacotty, Limerick. This is what it is like for Jennifer Ryan, owner of Ponaire Coffee, one of only four roasting houses in Ireland that blend and roast their own brand of coffee.

Starting Out After many years working in Market Strategy Development and Data Management at various American Corporations which included AT&T, Jennifer moved to Ireland in 2006 to start a Coffee Roastery with her husband Tommy. After they moved back they wanted to start a business that was diverse and unique. So they began to run several business plans and market analysis unrelated to the coffee industry. It was while doing these business plans that they realised that there was a gap in the market for a genuine coffee roasting product.

Company Focus focusme

Combating the Economy and Tenders The economy has changed so much since the Ryans first started their business that Jennifer finds it hard to divide whats they have done versus whats happened around them. They spent huge amount of time, effort and money going after government tenders, and after two and a half years of tremendous frustration they finally gave up the process. ‘The government is not interested in giving their business to SMEs’ Jennifer says ‘They have no intention of giving their business to Irish companies. We have applied for a lot of tenders and were told they we had a superb offering. Then we’ve seen what has been awarded and its clear they are not interested in awarding tenders to Irish companies. They have never once asked to try our coffee so if your going after a coffee tender and the person who is evaluating the process doesn’t even try the coffee, what is the real criteria? It does not seem to be based on the product.’

Looking Forward In this time of new government Jennifer says she is looking for change, not just for her but for all small businesses. She believes small businesses need to stop feeling as if they are being punished for becoming successful. ‘ Every time SMEs turn around we are told that we are self employed and have to pay more tax or taking on more staff will cost alot more. It so difficult to do business in Ireland as a small business. We’re not looking for preferential treatment, but we’d like a bit of fair treatment.’

Most of the initial investment was their own money. So the fact the investment came from themselves first helped to convince the Enterprise Board and later the banks to invest in their idea and help the company progress. Because this kind of business would never have come across the desk of any enterprise board before, Jennifer realised that her background in market strategy was going to be tested to the full. Lots of facts figures and statistics were needed to show where the market was and its potential for the future. Jennifer says the key to approaching the enterprise boards was research, lots and lots of research. Doing the research themselves to such a high degree, emphasised to both of them that they were on to something that could be successful and could work well as a business. This is what they believe was the key to getting funding and opening the door to a new future in Ireland.

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As for the outlook in their business it certainly seems bright. Jennifer agrees that it will be another tough year, but their order books are growing every week and the outlook is looking good. Last year Ponaire coffee won three gold stars for their Indian Blend in the 2010 Great Taste Awards in the UK and Ireland and won a gold star for their Java Blawan Connoisseur Blend. They have also won four Bridgestone awards in 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010. So if those are anything to go by then the future is certainly bright for Ponaire Coffee. Ponaire Coffee is a great example of a diverse business that found a gap in the market and is beginning to take advantage of a great market in Ireland and most recently in the UK. What struck me about Jennifer was her great passion for what she is doing. Mixing and matching beans to their taste and from what I can see, turning coffee making into a fine product. Artists have their canvas, Wine makers their grapes but Ponaire has fine coffee beans imported from around the world. It is a business that will succeed because its quality speaks for itself. This journalist should know, its in my mug every morning. Volume1 Issue 3 Mar/Apr 2011

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Networking

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Networking focusme

Emotional Intelligence and Networking By Dr. Ivan Misner and Brian Moore

Emotional Intelligence, also known as Emotional Quotient or EQ, is all the buzz right now. EQ is the ability we have to use, communicate, recognise, remember, learn from, and manage our relationships with other people. It is, in effect, the skills that we have developed at building our social capital with those people with whom we wish to network. Some people just seem to have a knack for interacting or networking with other people. They have a high EQ. On the other hand, for some people, networking is a very uncomfortable process. The higher one’s EQ, the more natural it seems for an individual to network. I believe that EQ can be developed, whereas IQ is generally static and not easily improved. This means that you can actually improve your EQ by understanding and applying some important concepts to your networking practices. So, just what are some of the areas where EQ has an impact on networking skills?

1 Developing a networking style or system that sets you

apart from the ordinary business person: Networking is so much more than just being involved in the usual meet-n-greet routine. Developing a style of networking that is deliberate, habitual and finely developed can be considered developing your EQ in networking. This can be done by reading books and other articles about word-of-mouth marketing and learning techniques that have been successful for others. Applying these tips and techniques takes conscious practice and application before they become habits. The highly skilled networker can be like poetry in motion. You aren’t quite sure what just happened, but suddenly you are being pointed in the right direction for a meeting with someone else who can open doors for you and you aren’t even consciously aware that you expressed a need for this introduction! You’ve just been caught up in the flow of a high EQ networker. Dr. Ivan Misner is a New York Times bestselling author. He is also the Founder & CEO of BNI (www.bni.com), the world’s largest referral organization with over 5,588 chapters in 42 countries around the world. His latest book, Networking Like a Pro, can be viewed at www. ivanmisner.com Dr. Misner is also the Founder of the Referral Institute, a referral training company (www.referralinstitute.com). He resides in Southern California with his wife and three children. Dr. Misner can be reached at misner@bni.com Brian Moore is a keynote speaker, networking facilitator & certified trainer for the Referral Institute in Munster & Connacht ( www. referralinstitute.ie ) Brian truly "walks the talk" in all regards in business and has helped hundreds of business owners and their employees increase their referral revenue. With a strong results focus and a passion and talent for helping others, the highly successful Referrals for Life® program he delivers guarantees to double your income by referral. Brian can be reached at brian.moore@referralinstitute.ie or via mobile on 087 8100333.

Apology: In our last issue we referred to Dr. Ivan Misner as Michael Isner. We aplogise for the inconvenience caused to Dr. Misner.

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2 Networking appropriately (honouring the event):

Becoming a networker who is sensitive to the event is important aspect of developing one’s networking EQ. So many business people who are trying to build their social capital do so with an almost vulture-like intensity. Believe it or not, there are times when it’s not appropriate to hand out your business card or ask someone the ubiquitous “what do you do?” Being sensitive to the moment and honouring the surroundings is a nuance in networking that sets those with a high EQ apart from those with a low EQ. There are ways to alter your networking styles in various situations. Understanding how to read the event and network appropriately and effectively is another sign of a high EQ networker.

3 Follow through: This is an area where the high-EQ

networker really stands out from the crowd. If we are all honest with ourselves, follow through is not our favourite thing, but it’s something that needs a lot of finesse and demands diligence. What an enterprising networker will do is follow through in ways that surprise and intrigue the other business people he or she comes in contact with. Things like clipping a news article about a topic that is of significance to the contact and sending it to him or her with a personal note and another business card. The main thing is that a skilful networker will never, ever miss an opportunity to follow through after an introduction to a new business contact.

Keeping your name, your business’ name and your expertise in front of that person is very important and can be done in fresh and interesting ways. And it’s important to follow up more than once. Create a reason for re-connecting with that contact to begin developing a relationship with him or her.

4 Maintaining customer loyalty: Many entrepreneurs focus so much on bringing in new business that they miss the boat on maintaining customer loyalty. Keeping current customers coming back and referring others to you is very, very important for business success and growth! The entrepreneur who understands this and really goes above and beyond to make current customers feel valued, appreciated and very special will find that their customers will come back again and again and bring others with them to do business with you. There are the normal things to do to foster customer loyalty, such as sending a calendar to a client at the end of the year for the next year; then there are the outstanding things to do to foster customer loyalty, such as taking a client to lunch each week! Getting to know the clients personally and really making the effort to become friends with each person with whom you do business, is an indicator of an entrepreneur with high business EQ. Emotional Intelligence has a lot to do with setting certain business owners apart from the rest of the pack by becoming stellar networkers. It’s more than just “doing the obvious.” So much more. By being creative, fresh and surprising, high-EQ networkers can amass a great wealth of social capital and build a really strong and visible word-of-mouth based business. I have heard it said that your employees are hired because of their IQ, but promoted based on their EQ. To that I would add that a business owner might become known in the marketplace as a result of IQ, but will be referred and promoted by others because of EQ and their ability to use that to develop social capital.

Referral Success 101

Do you want to get in front of more Decision Makers? Is your networking really working for you? Are you getting all the referrals you want? Do you get referrals consistently and predictably? If you answered ‘no’, call us today and we’ll show you how!

To Claim €100 Voucher

Brian Moore

off our next seminar or consultation mention “Be My Guest”

Call Brian Moore on 087 8100333 or

email brian@referralinstitutemunster.com

For a free referral pipeline calculator go to www.referralinstitute.ie under tools www.referralinstitutemunster.com under tools Volume1 Issue 3 Mar/Apr 2011

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Focusworld

Focusworld focusme

How soon can you start your business? How does Ireland compare to other countries when starting a business? We take a look at the Pro’s and Con’s of our global partners. 26

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Volume1 Issue 3 Mar/Apr 2011

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5 Apps

Android Apps ...

That said, these apps aren't only available for Android. They are available for other mobile operating systems as well, such as iPhone. That's all the more reason to pay attention to them.

1. Layar

Layar is an augmented reality app, and a popular one at that. It offers different layers of augmented reality for different needs. There are layers for things like restaurants and bars. A user holds their phone up in any given direction and can see nearby businesses in that direction.

2. Aloqa

Aloqa is a local app that notifies users of nearby places and events by category. If I want to see some nearby petrol stations or gift shops for example, I can do so with this app. There are numerous channels users can customise to meet their needs, and plenty of them cater to varying types of businesses.

3. Square

Apps focusme

...

That Small Businesses Should Be Paying Attention To 4. Foursquare

Foursquare is a location-based social game, and businesses have already been finding ways to entice customers with it for some time. Foursquare is the one that gets the most publicity, but there are a variety of similar location apps that should be looked into Gowalla and Loopt, to name but a few (look out for Google to do more with location apps as well).

5. Bar Code Scanner

Bar code scanner is just one such app in this category, but the point is to recognise that an increasing number of people are carrying around bar code scanners in their pockets via their smartphones. You can take advantage of this by using bar codes, QR Codes etc. in your signage, and in your marketing.

Of course, in addition to these apps there are the more obvious things like Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin, which mobile technology plays an increasingly important role in.

Square is an app that lets anybody accept credit cards, and best of all they even send users free card readers.

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NEWS

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News

News focusme

And Updates

Bank Legislation

New legislation will force banks to create a special fund to cover the future costs of failed banks. Banks which refuse to contribute to the special fund will face fines of up to a €250,000 - and could lose their banking licence. The Central Bank will also be given sweeping powers to take over, run and break up banks, under the new legislation. Business journalist John Ihle said this bill would protect taxpayers from the cost of a bank failure. “This will allow the Central Bank governor to enact an orderly wind-up of any bank that gets into the sort of trouble that Anglo got into in 2008,” he said.

The Power of Music The Temple Bar Traders Association said that its Traditional Irish Music Festival boosted takings in January by €5.89m. Numbers attending TradFest increased by 50pc this year, including a 20pc increase in attendance from abroad, with visitors travelling longer distances, some from Australia and Japan. Over two thirds of businesses in the area reported an increase in trade with a cumulative economic impact on the area - traditionally a quiet time in January, the business association said. At a time when other festivals are seeing a drop in attendance, Martin Harte, managing director of the TempleBar Traders Association is buoyant about his organisation’s plans for TradFest and other entertainment and cultural events that will increasingly open the streets of Temple Bar to a broader demographic.

Manufacturing Grows A report on the manufacturing shows that activity in the sector grew strongly last month. The NCB Purchasing Managers’ Index recorded 56.7, up from 55.8 in January and the fifth rise in a row. It was also the best figure since 2000. Any figure above 50 means activity grew. Manufacturing output increased at the third-fastest rate in the history of the survey, while levels of new business rose at the fastest pace in more than 11 years, recording 59.2. New export orders rose to 61.6, with EU and Asia the main sources of growth. Employment growth hit 53.4, the highest level for four and a half years, but cost inflation accelerated to 71.9, the highest since July 2008. Companies passed on these costs to customers, with the prices charged index rising to a four-year high of 56.9.

Economist Magazine hails new ‘...slimmer and fitter Irish economy’ Ireland has a bright economic future after suffering a “horrendous correction”, according to The Economist.The internationally renowned magazine says the country is “extremely well-placed” to recover, adding that the current pessimism amongst the population is “excessive”. The Economist says Ireland’s export business is ‘booming’, setting the country up for a strong recovery.“Ireland is not about to return to the dark days of the 1980s,” the magazine said. “Numerically, the recession has sent living standards back only to 2002 levels. The flexible economy will remain attractive to multinationals seeking a toehold in Europe, especially if it keeps its low corporate tax rate,” it added.

USAUS Senate announces patent reform The Senate this week is expected to debate a long-awaited patent reform bill that small-business groups and independent inventors say favours larger corporations in the race to secure new ideas and technology. Among other reforms, the bill replaces the current first-to-invent system with a first-to-file system. The change would give priority in patent decisions to inventors who were first to submit an application at the patent office, rather than those who claim to have been first to come up with the idea. It also allows the patent office to set its own fees and streamlines procedures for challenging a patent and awarding damages by keeping many disputes out of court. The patent office is facing a growing backlog of more than 700,000 applications, which has created a three-year wait for each new patent decision. The reforms are largely aimed at cutting down this backlog. Yet small-business groups say the changes give large corporations an unfair advantage.

Upward only rent reviews Labour has pledged to scrap upward-only commercial rent reviews to help struggling businesses stay afloat if the party is handed power. The party said the controversial clauses had trapped firms in boom-time leases and they must be outlawed. Ciaran Lynch, housing and local government spokesman, said the combination of the collapse of the property market and the rent review system had shut-down businesses with the loss of 37,000 retail jobs. “To overcome this, Labour will as a priority enact legislation to abolish upward-only rent reviews for all commercial leases,” Mr Lynch said. “As an interim measure we will appoint a Commercial Rents Ombudsman to adjudicate on rents that have the potential to cause a business to fail.” Former justice minister Dermot Ahern banned upward-only reviews in December 2009 for new leases only, and set up a group to examine how disputes in existing leases can be aired.

Retail gets small boost from new sales figures Estimates from the Central Statistics Office show that the volume of retail sales increased by 4.6% in January 2011 compared with January 2010. However, there was a monthly decrease of 3.8% compared with December 2010. Estimates from the CSO suggest an annual rise but a monthly decrease in the volume of retail sales in January. If Motor trades are excluded from those figures the volume of retail sales decreased in January 2011 compared with the same month last year but there was a monthly increase of 2.7%. Five categories showed year-on-year increases in the volume of retail sales. These include Motor trades (23.9%), Non-specialised stores (0.6%) and Clothing, Footwear and Textiles (4%). Meanwhile, eight categories showed year-on-year decreases in the volume of retail sales this month: Department Stores (-9.3%), Furniture and Lighting (-9.6%) and Books, Newspapers and Stationery (-4.6%).

The report also claims Ireland’s pay corrections have led to a slimmer, fitter economy.

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