Five Young Scientists who took on the world

 
Ireland’s ‘Young Scientist’ competition has had many brilliant winners since its start in 1965. Here we look at five previous winners who have set the world on fire.
 
Patrick Collison
Limerick native Patrick Collison won the competition in 2005 at the tender age of 16. With success under his belt and ambition in his heart, he moved to the US and, at the age of 19, sold his first software company, Auctomatic (which he founded with his younger brother John) for €3 million. Not bad for someone who [legally] couldn’t buy a beer in the States at the time. Not content with being two of the youngest self-made Irish millionaires ever, the Collison brothers (main image) then founded Stripe, an online payment company valued at over $9 billion. The brothers are on course not only to change the way people pay for things online but to help more SMEs sell online and usher in the era of global mobile eCommerce.
READ MORE: The winners of the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition 2016.

John Monaghan
The first ever Young Scientist winner hasn’t done too badly for himself either. After winning the inaugural trophy way back in 1965, by building a working model of the human stomach, Kildare native John Monaghan ended up moving to California when the biotech industry was still in its infancy. Here, he founded Avigen Inc. As CEO of his firm, he raised nearly a quarter of a billion dollars in financing, and the NASDAQ-listed company is now a global leader in the US pharmaceutical industry.

Adnan Osmani
Mullingar-born and reared, Adnan Osmani claimed the 2003 title with his project, the XWebs browser, which he subsequently patented. Addy, as he is known to his 120,000 Twitter followers and friends, is a YouTube star with his show Totally Tooling Tips. As well as being a key

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/young-scientist-winners/ on thinkbusiness

Performance management systems explained

Performance management is a system of involving your employees to help you achieve your business’s goals.

It’s as important for an SME to have performance management systems in place, as it is for a larger business. Why? Because the more you involve your employees in delivering your business targets, the more you will meet customer expectations, improve productivity and deliver the bottom line numbers.

This 10-point checklist will help you create a performance management system for your business. 

1: Start at the top

The CEO (owner) needs to champion a performance management system, and all senior managers should be involved in the process.

2: Communicate the benefits

The CEO needs to get the message out about why performance management is being introduced and why it’s of benefit to both the business and the employees.

3: Get employee feedback

Don’t just launch a new system without involving employees in the process. Tell employees how it will work for them. Seek constructive feedback and act on it.

4: Identify clear business objectives

Ensure that the business’s objectives are well-defined. Use financial and non-financial measures, such as customer retention, new business wins or speed of customer response. Next, translate them into individual goals.

5: Set tangible individual goals

Employees should be able to understand what they need to deliver, how their performance will be measured and the skills, behaviours and knowledge that are expected of them. Employees should be provided with written business objectives, a clear job description and the criteria that their performance will be measured.

6: Ensure goals meet the SMART test

The business needs to ensure that goals are specific, measureable, attainable, realistic and timely (or SMART).  Here’s an example. A manufacturing plant sets a goal of reducing overtime hours of ten hours per week to five hours per week no later than the end of the financial year.

7: Formalise employee feedback

Managers should continuously review an employee’s progress against targets. Review meetings should be formal and should be held quarterly, if there are quarterly targets. Employees should be asked to contribute and asked about how they perceive their strengths and weaknesses.

8: Give constructive feedback

Feedback should be about encouraging employee self-awareness. Managers should provide timely feedback and use specific examples to support the points. Focus on the behaviour, not the individual.

9: Understand underperformance

There are many reasons why employees miss targets. Sometimes it’s due to a lack of skills, miscommunication or inadequate supports. Employees may have personal problems or lack motivation. Managers should encourage employees to share reasons why targets are missed. Together, they should agree what support or changes are needed.

10: Seek professional help

Performance management is a specialist skill. If you feel you have insufficient expertise in-house, get help. The investment of retaining an experienced adviser to help design the system will likely pay off in the long run.

INTERESTING: You can’t do it all alone. This is why mentors make sense.

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/performance-management-guide/ on
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Developing a business strategy

Planning to grow? Below are nine points that will help you build a successful business strategy. 
1: When business planning, be alert to changes in your market or in customer behaviours. Many businesses fail because they bury their heads in the sand and don’t read the signs until it is too late.
2: Remember that marketing is an essential part of strategy formulation. It’s about creating value in response to customer demand.
3: Ensure you rely on good data and analysis to inform the strategic direction you take. A reliance on merely historic (usually financial) and other internal data will not provide the necessary insight to plan ahead. You need richer sources of data and market insight.
4: You don’t have to commit to a big research budget to get that all-important external insight. Simple processes, like customer surveys with the incentive of a prize, can be hugely valuable.
5: Involve your staff in the process of gathering information and opinions to inform future strategy. Remember that many winning strategies start with insights from staff members.
6: Communicate your strategy to your staff in a manner that they will understand. Keep it simple and tangible. Ensure you update them on implementation milestones.
7: Consider how you will communicate your strategy externally, particularly to allay any unfounded fears. For instance, if a business plans to expand into a new market and you or a senior manager will be in charge of that expansion, you need to ensure your existing customers understand what you’re trying to do and get assurances that servicing won’t be affected.
8: Your mission statement needs to be widely understood. Don’t fall into the trap of just sticking it on the wall and ticking the box that a new strategy is now in place.
9: Remember that strategies evolve and need a degree of flexibility. They should

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/writing-a-business-strategy/ on
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‘Every breath counts’ – PMD Solutions

Myles Murray, PMD Solutions, on starting and growing a business in Ireland.

What’s your business pitch? 

Today it is well known that the difference between 25 and 29 breaths per minute can be the difference between life or death within as short a time as 24 hours. PMD Solutions has developed the world’s first continuous and accurate respiratory rate monitoring, to improve patient outcomes by making every breath count. We enable medical teams to deploy timely interventions for patients around the world.  

How long have you been in business?

I was first introduced to the clinical need in 2010. PMD was incorporated in 2011 and now employs 17 amazing people. 

What’s your ambition?

To make a meaningful impact in the world. I know this sounds very grand. However, I look at what we’ve accomplished in PMD, and what we have yet to accomplish, it makes me realise that everyone can make an impact. 

What’s the most important thing you have learned so far in business?

There’s the plan, and then there’s reality. What tells successful companies apart is their ability to pivot, adapt, and adjust to the changing landscape. It is so important to lift up your head to look and listen to be aware of what is being said. That whole idea of work on as appose to in your business.

What was your biggest ‘mistake’ been, in business so far?

Cash is king and it’s not real until it is in the bank. 

Who inspires you in the business world?

Nothing gives me a bigger kick than watching the EY Entrepreneur of the Year awards. 

What would you do to change the business climate in this country?

I believe Ireland has a fantastic infrastructure for supporting all types of business. In particular, for the MedTech sector, the Irish MedTech Association, IDA, and Enterprise Ireland. Great people are doing amazing work already. Ireland is a great place to start a business.  

Did you receive any supports to start your business and what do you need most at this stage of your business? 

PMD has been fortunate with support from LEO South Cork and Enterprise Ireland. We also have visionary investors and partners. Right now PMD is focused on growing its market share. Enterprise Ireland’s foreign offices are an enormous asset in helping to make this happen.

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/business-ideas-pmd-solutions/ on
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Ten brilliant Irish business ideas

 
The Irish are an entrepreneurial bunch. Below are ten business ideas that originated in Ireland and changed the world.
It’s difficult coming up with an original business idea. Today, it seems most startups are trying to provide a different version of something else using an app or a piece of software. Back in the day, when people were made of sterner stuff, and computers were non-existent, people had ideas and made things that shaped the world forever. 
Below are ten ideas, conceived in Ireland, that went on to leave an indelible mark on human history. 

The rasher
Perhaps the tastiest invention of all time? It was invented by Henry Denny, a Waterford butcher, in 1820. 
The hypodermic syringe
In 1844, Francis Rynd, a Dublin doctor, performed the world’s first subcutaneous injection with his homemade hypodermic syringe. 

The modern stamp
The perforated stamp was invented by an Irish printer, Henry Archer in the 1840s. 
Artificial fertiliser
Artificial fertiliser was invented in 1817 by James Murray, an Irish doctor with a keen interest in chemistry. Dr Murray also invented Milk of Magnesia. 
The modern stethoscope
The binaural stethoscope was invented in 1850 by the Irish doctor Arthur Leared. 
The steam turbine
The steam turbine was invented by Charles Parsons who lived at Birr Castle in the 1880s. The steam turbine is what drives power stations and the modern distribution of electricity. Where would the electrical appliance industry have been without the steam turbine, or the computer industry or the digital age? 

The submarine
John Philip Holland changed the face of warfare by inventing the first commercial submarine in the late 1880s. 
The defibrillator
Professor Frank Pantridge was a physician and cardiologist from Northern Ireland who changed medicine and paramedics forever by inventing the portable defibrillator. In 1965 he installed his first version in a Belfast ambulance.
Radiotherapy 
John Joly was an Irish physicist, who developed radiotherapy for the treatment of cancer. 

Colour photography
John Joly

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/brilliant-irish-business-ideas/ on
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VAT and tax tips for 2017

Follow these tips and you’ll be in a better position to hit the ground running when it comes to your tax affairs.

1: At the start of the year, review your taxes due. Your business could be eligible to file returns and make payments less regularly or using direct debit.

2: File your returns on time to avoid interest. Remember, Revenue’s interest rate is calculated on a daily basis, so missing the deadline can be costly.

3: Learn more about the VAT “cash-receipts” basis. This helps you avoid the cashflow difficulty of accounting for VAT on a supply when the invoice has not been paid by a customer. More information on the cash receipts basis and how to opt in is available from the Revenue website.

4: Consider whether you can make a claim for bad debt relief. Where bad debts arise and VAT has been accounted for on the supply, there may be scope for a VAT bad-debt relief claim.

5: Where at least 75% of your turnover is sales to customers outside of Ireland, it may be possible to register with Revenue to receive all supplies without VAT. Applications for authorisation should be made on Form VAT 56A, which is available from the Revenue District responsible for your tax affairs or may be downloaded from the Revenue website under “VAT Forms”.

6: Ensure that enough of your preliminary tax is paid in order to avoid possible interest charges.

7: Consider if any tax reliefs may be claimed and employ a qualified tax adviser to help you prepare the submissions and formal claim applications.

8: Use ROS to file and pay your taxes. This online system is obligatory for many businesses.

Tax arrears and the powers of Revenue

The Revenue pursues tax debts in a timely manner. If a tax liability runs into arrears and Revenue has not recovered the tax by following the normal process, it has the following powers:

    • It can refer the debt collection to the Revenue Sheriff, who can seize assets of the business and sell them to pay tax debts.
    • It can issue a “power of attachment order” to a debtor who owes the taxpayer money, requiring the money to be paid directly to Revenue.
    • A court judgment against the taxpayer can be sought, which can result in the forced sale of assets, an instalment order or a bankruptcy petition.

“Remember, if in doubt, consult a qualified tax adviser as early as possible to ensure you are fully tax compliant.”

READ MORE: Tax back when you retire.

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/how-to-save-on-vat/ on
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The top 16 articles on ThinkBusiness in 2016

What a year. How was 2016 for you? What interested you in the past year?

Below are the top 16 articles, features, guides and tools that drove the most engagement from readers (unique sessions and shares) on ThinkBusiness in 2016. It shows what people interested in business are interested in reading.

sosume

1: New ways of marketing

Ireland’s top bloggers and vloggers.

2: Business planning – starting and growing

The ThinkBusiness business plan template.

3: Human resources

How to pay people.

4: Ideation

Five small business ideas that beat goliaths.

5: Human resources

Job interview questions you may find useful.

Boyne Boats Game of Thrones boat tour

6: Innovative sectors

Off the beaten track – Ireland’s hidden tourism gems.

7: Management guides

Phrases you shouldn’t use at business meetings.

8: Marketing and sales

How to network successfully at events.

9: Ideation

Great business ideas and why they worked.

10: Innovation

Garry Broe – saving the HSE a fortune with one simple idea.

steve jobs with first iphone

11: Strategy

10 of the worst business predictions. Even the greats get it wrong.

12: Marketing

A free marketing plan template and guide.

13: Innovation

10 world-changing Irish inventions.

14: Starting

A guide to starting a business in Ireland.

profit-loss

15: Sectors

The resurrection and re-invention of the barber shop.

16: Tax advice

How to pay yourself if you are a sole trader.

What did we learn in 2016?

What can we learn from this list of articles, guides, interviews, and utilities? First, there is an appetite amongst our readers for innovative business ideas and insights into sectors that are doing well. Second, there is a real desire for useful advice and practical guides on how to start and grow a business. And third, we saw a keen interest in articles on how business owners deal with the practicalities of running a business, for example, tax advice, and HR guidance.

CONTACT US: If you have a query, or a suggestion for an article, case study, guide or useful tool, please contact us and we will research and get back to you.

Main image courtesy of Cian Twomey.

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/best-business-stories-ideas-2016/ on
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Think business, think customer

Stephen Gallagher, head of business energy, SSE Airtricity on how to make your customers your key focus. 

What advice would you give to a business that is scaling, that is growing at a pace that may (at times) seem difficult to handle? What focus should they give to customers and staff?

The advice I would give to any growing business is that no matter your size or market your customers need to be your focus. This applies to startups and established businesses growing at pace.

All businesses need to consider the interaction from the customers’ perspective. 

Small mistakes, inaccuracies – even typos – can damage your credibility. It’s vital that businesses focus on getting it right, the first time. 

The first points of contact with your business, those who manage customer service for your company, must receive high levels of training and feel empowered to engage the consumer. 

Coaching and mentoring employees create a more positive work environment and boost employee engagement. 

Your customers’ needs will not always stay the same – be ready to adapt. Use data to inform your approach. 

“Embrace digital as a means of reaching a broader consumer base and to remain responsive to your customers”

Data is the lifeblood of organisations and is only effective if it’s gathered and analysed on a regular basis.

An omnichannel approach – in person, on the phone, through the website, on social media – allows for customers to have better access. We have found services such as webchat, to be a great way to be close to the customer. 

There is a huge opportunity for business in Ireland to embrace digital as a means of reaching a broader consumer base and remaining responsive to your customers.

For businesses of all sizes, to foster relationships and develop brand loyalty, the need to listen to and engage with customers and understand their needs is crucial. Make your customers your key focus.

READ MORE: User experience (UX) and customer experience (CX) may seem like buzzwords, but they are vital for any successful business. Find out why.

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/stephen-gallagher-sse-airtricity/ on
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Thinking Business – Ronan Murphy, Smarttech

‘We invested heavily in cybersecurity before it became a major issue facing business.’
What’s your pitch? 
Smarttech is one of the leading Cybersecurity managed service providers in Europe and the only company in Europe to implement cognitive computing (Artificial Intelligence) to run our European Cyber Security Operation Centre, which is powered by IBM Watson. 
How long have you been in business? 
We have been in business since 2004, but we reinvented the company in 2010 to focus purely on cyber security. This has been our core focus for the last six years, and in addition to service delivery, we have had a strategic focus on innovation of development of new security products and services. 
What did you want to be ‘when you grew up’? 
A fireman. 
What’s your ambition now? 
My ambition is to become a global leader in the delivery of managed cyber security solutions. We are experiencing tremendous growth as a company and delivering immense value to our customers who range from some mid-size business to some of the largest businesses in the world. We deliver all of this from Cork.
“I would make coding a mandatory part of all school curriculum. This would help drive innovation and fill the skills pipeline for the future. ”
What’s the most important thing you have learned so far in business? 
I guess its patience. We invested heavily in cybersecurity before it became a major issue facing business. From a sales perspective, it often felt like we were knocking on closed doors but eventually the patience paid off. 
What has been your biggest ‘mistake’ in business so far? 
Biggest mistake has been diversifying from our core competencies. 
Who inspires you in the business world? 
I find Richard Branson inspiring. 
What historical figure would you choose to have dinner with? 
Albert Einstein  
If you were ‘ruler for a day’ what would you do to change the business or social climate

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/smarttech-cyber-security-it-security/ on
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‘We want one billion euros in savings for our customers’

UrbanVolt supplies lighting as a service. Founder Kevin Maughan is on a global mission.

What’s your elevator pitch?
UrbanVolt is an award-winning Irish company that provides ‘Light as a Service’ to industrial and commercial clients. We invest all the money to install and maintain new LED lighting fixtures, generating an immediate 75% savings on energy costs for our customers. We then share those cash savings with our clients for five years.
How long have you been in business?
We started in September 2015 and went to market in Jan 2016. Since our market launch, we have helped our Irish clients save over 20 million euros, without anyone ever asking a customer for a penny upfront.
What did you want to be ‘when you grew up’?
I don’t want to grow up, ask me in 20 years.
What’s your ambition now?
Our innovative business model can save billions of euros for businesses around the world, and we are determined to deliver on that potential. By 2020, we aim to provide one billion euros in savings for our customers and help to make the world’s transition to sustainability easier.
“We never received support from any of the government-sponsored programmes, as they showed no interest and a total lack of understanding of our business model.”
What’s the most important thing you have learned so far in business?
Surround yourself with great people and then give them the confidence and the belief that they can achieve anything. Most businesses look for people who have reached their potential and are ‘proven players’ in their respective careers. We believe in the opposite – find people before they reach their potential and help them to get there.
What was your biggest ‘mistake’ been, in business so far?
This is a tough question as I’ve made many errors in business over the years. However, upon reflection, I can say that there has

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/urban-volt-kevin-maughan/ on
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