Bizimply Wins the Web Summit 2015

Dublin-based tech startup Bizimply is delighted to announce that it is the winner of both of the top startup prizes at this year’s Web Summit! The company was awarded first prize in the 2015 ESB Spark of Genius Award on the Marketing Stage at midday, before being announced the overall winner of the Audi Pitch Competition on the main Centre Stage later in the afternoon on Thursday 5th November – the final day of the Web Summit.

This is the first time that the same company has won both of these accolades, marking Bizimply out as one of the world’s hottest tech startups.

Bizimply is a cloud-based software-as-a-service company, providing workforce management software to businesses with hourly paid employees. Bizimply was founded by Gerard Forde (Cork), Norman Hewson (Wicklow) and Mikey Cannon (Galway). The company’s suite of tools allows customers to manage their employee scheduling and time & attendance, all within one easy-to-use interface, reducing time spent by management on these tasks from hours to minutes, leaving these managers free to focus on growing their business out on the shop floor, rather than being stuck in an office working on admin.

Having come out of beta at the end of 2014, Bizimply is now used at hundreds of locations across 11 countries in restaurants, cafés, bars, hotels and retailers, as well as businesses in the childcare, manufacturing, beauty and healthcare sectors. The company is now set to scale, focusing on sales into the UK and US markets over the next 12-18 months.

Lear more here.

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5 Ways That Start-up Companies Can Grow and Increase Their Sales

Start-ups need money to grow and in the case of most businesses this means that they need to increase their sales. So, how do you go about doing this?

Well, we’ve compiled a list of 5 different ways that start-ups can increase their sales and grow their businesses to new levels – see below.

Sort, rank and follow up with your sales leads

One major mistake that many small businesses and start-up companies make is not having a good way of ranking and tracking their sales leads on a consistent basis.

Large sales organizations tend to use a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system for keeping track of critical information on every prospective customer over time.  These types of systems allow companies to keep notes on prospective customers, evaluate sales leads based on their likelihood to make a purchase, and prompts follow-ups at certain intervals throughout the entire sales process.

However, even if you are operating a small company that doesn’t have a big enough budget for running a large CRM system, sorting and ranking sales leads is still possible.  You can do this sorting and ranking process by simply tracking your sales leads on a spreadsheet and prioritizing them based on most promising or highest potential.  After your sales leads are all sorted and ranked, you will then want to “nurture” them.  This isn’t done by just making one cold call to them, but involves having a series of contacts with them over time in order to build a close relationship with them and provide value to them along the way, even when it doesn’t lead to a sale immediately.

Over time, follow up with prospective buyers- keep notes from each conversation that you have, including what questions they ask you, and why you believe this prospect fits in well with what you are selling.  Repeat the process whenever necessary.

Pre Sales Support Can Reveal Lost Sales Patterns

Everybody seems to believe that their website copy and sales funnel are great.  However, realistically speaking, it all comes down to not really knowing what you aren’t aware of.  There could very well be usage patterns that may confuse prospective buyers of your products that you really couldn’t have ever anticipated.  By having a solid pre-sales support system in place, you can start to recognize patterns into what is causing lost sales.  Some of the best ways of discovering these issues is implementing a basic pre-sales FAQ, a telephone system such as Grasshopper, or a live chat system such as Olark.

Build your credibility

Trust is the basis of all good sales relationships.  However, if you are a new company without a lot of existing clients, how can you build trust and demonstrate that you are here for the long haul?

One aspect to building credibility may include sharing some of the details regarding the industry experience that your executive team has.  Think about whether you have any advisors on your company’s board that are well connected and highly respected within your industry.  Or if there are any venture capital investors with major ties that are willing to provide your company with public support.

These are the kinds of stories that you need to be willing to discuss as part of your company’s overall sales process.  The sales process for a start-up company  not only involves selling the value of your products to prospective customers, but also demonstrating that your product fits within a broader context and is respected and trusted by individuals who your buyers respect and trust.

Sales Technology

There are so many ways that a brand can improve their business and thus their sales through the use of new technology. One great way to do so is to introduce a POS system. These systems create a smoother and faster ordering process, create a great first impression among customers and also reduce mistakes, increasing customer satisfaction. Many such as those offered by Revel Systems use the attractive iPad as a POS device and they can be used to help anything from single location to multi-location businesses to succeed.

Be Genuine

You will be repeatedly asked about your ROI.  However, to truly get ahead of the curve, you should be thinking about what risks are involved with ignoring certain opportunities.  Keep in mind that when social media first began to steal advertising dollars from television and print, that many CFOs kicked and screamed about it.

Sales is a human process.  You need to be in the forefront of your prospective and current customer’s minds.  Your champion attending a prospective buyer’s meeting might only have a one hour meeting with her or his CEO later that day.  Will your company be discussed 5th or 1st?

Your sales process needs to be managed.  Otherwise, all you will end up with is one “good” meeting after another without every actually getting anywhere.  Many founders make this mistake.  Sales is actually what takes place in between meetings.

These five ways can change the way a start-up does business and help increase sales no-end – helping them grow and succeed.

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Breaking Down Business Processes to Maximize Efficiency

If you want to maximize efficiency in your business, you must take two big steps. The first step involves identifying the business processes you use to conduct your business. As an experiment you should monitor everything your business does for one month. How do you collect sales reports? What systems do you use to pay your employees? Where do you store tax records?

Once you have identified the depths of your processes, you must then analyze them to figure out how you can improve them. Try to think of all the time you could save by switching your business processes around to use different types of software. Your business would benefit greatly from new software such as workflow software. You might also consider using business process software.

Consider these tips for improving business processes for maximum efficiency in your business.

Workflow Technology for Better Communication

Have you ever assigned more than one employee to complete the same task? How much time and money did you waste by paying the second employee? Workflow technology can help your business stay organized. Everyone can figure out which projects they should be working on. The interactive nature of workflow software allows for easy and thorough communication between management and employees. Your productivity in the workplace will increase to levels you thought were impossible.

This software also helps you to communicate better with your customers. Once you make the initial sale, your goal is to bring that customer back again. Workflow technology helps you store vital information about a customer. You’ll know their buying habits, their contact information, and even their birthdays. People will love to buy from you if you remember their birthday.

Business Process Management Software

Have you figured out how much time you spend doing paperwork? What could you do with all that extra time? You could save yourself more than an hour each day with the help of business process management software. That pesky paperwork slows you down from contacting your customers and communicating with your employees. It’s time to let the modern software take care of the tedious tasks people used to do on a regular basis.

You’ll be amazed at the speed and ease of the paperwork. Business process management software can help you organize all the legal and financial aspects of your business in one convenient place. You’ll never lose track of those vital tax records again. Better organization will always lead to a more productive working environment for managers and employees. Let the computers do your paperwork so that you can spend your time on more profitable assignments and projects.

Emphasize Teamwork

Your employees might often forget that they work as part of a team. Even if they have individual sales goals, they should always be looking to help a fellow employee make their sales. There can be a lot of competition for commission checks and bonuses, but a helpful team member will be well-respected at work. Teamwork helps people communicate more effectively, and it provides motivation for everyone to do their best. Nobody wants to be the weak link on a team.

The employees could take turns learning and performing all the different operations at your company. An employee could run the business process management software one week and the workflow software the next week. Alternate their roles between customer-facing duties and administrative duties. This knowledge will help them function better as part of the team. Every team member should know each requirement of each process in your company. You’ll be able to find out where the next manager comes from when you cross-train everyone for success.

Consider New Technology

In addition to the new software for workflow and business processes, you could also implement other technology for your company. Work processes become much easier with newer computers at your disposal. You’ll be surprised at how much your current computer slows you down when you run your paperwork through the new computers. Old technology probably costs your company more time and money than you realize.

You can always find deals on the latest computers and smartphones. You’ll stay connected with customers and employees. Connectivity boosts productivity. Your processes at work will run more smoothly when everyone is on the same page. And you won’t have to sacrifice customer service for the sake of making more sales. Sales will increase naturally thanks to a more efficient business. So what are you waiting for? Analyze your processes today to see how you can take your business to new heights.

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When It’s That Obvious I Get Worried!

The scene is set for the European Central Bank (ECB) to either increase quantitative easing or lower the Repo rate at their meeting in December or a more likely scenario is that they will do both. Meanwhile in the UK, the Bank of England (BOE) have been rowing back on their guidance that UK interest rates would rise around the turn of the year, they are now indicating mid-2016. This is still providing support for the pound as interest rate divergence continues to weaken the Euro and absolute interest rate levels (UK Base Rate is 0.5%) encourage flows into Sterling.

Meanwhile the US Federal Reserve (Fed) seem a nailed down certainty to raise US interest rates at their December meeting and most commentators expect this to lead to a stronger US Dollar (in particular against the Euro) into 2016. Traditionally we would expect Stg in such circumstances to also make gains versus the Euro and initially I expect that to be the case.

“do not raise rates”!

However the decision to adjust monetary policy is likely to be a more difficult one for the Bank of England than for the Fed or the ECB. Some UK economic indicators are screaming “do not raise rates”! These include the CPI rate which stubbornly refuses to rise (it’s been around 0% for most of the year-0.1% in November) and UK Pay growth that remains tepid at best despite an unemployment rate of 5.4%. It would not take much of a stretch of the imagination, if at the end of the first quarter 2016, the BOE were to revise their guidance to raising rates by year end, does this sound familiar?

EURGBP (yellow) and CPI month on month (white) historical chart over the past 2 years, Source: Bloomberg

EURGBP (yellow) and CPI month on month (white) historical chart over the past 2 years, Source: Bloomberg

What all this means is that the domestic economic case for raising UK interest rates is questionable at best and the case for a stronger Stg is largely dependent on higher rates.

The global economic elephant in the room is do we get a soft or hard landing in China in 2016? While the recent economic data from China is indicating a soft landing, it is far too early to discount a less benign scenario. To paraphrase Robert Burns “the best laid plans of mice and men often go askew” If China was to undergo a hard landing then one cannot see the BOE raising rates and Stg under those circumstances would likely give up its gains.

The Brexit vote

Leaving aside the economic factors for a moment; if we turn to the political arena we have the UK’s own moment of truth that could well be resolved in 2016 – the Brexit vote. Is the UK likely to leave the European Union? It’s impossible to say but it is likely to lead to increased uncertainty and unease at holding Stg.

So where should we expect Stg to trade against the Euro for the remainder of 2015 and into 2016? I am certainly foolish to even hazard a prediction, however ignoring that truism, I can see Stg benefiting from expected ECB easing in December, testing the .6800 to .7000 band in the run-up to the year end. I expect that may be the low point for the Eur/Gbp and thereafter I see a slow drift higher towards 0.7500 by the end of Q2 2016 at which point the Brexit debate should be to the forefront of the Market’s thoughts.
As always I welcome alternative views or comments.

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Ulster Bank Young Farmer Seminar Sligo November 19th

Embracing change

Ulster Bank hosted a Young Trained Farmer seminar in Sligo on Thursday November 19th. The seminar, titled ‘Embracing Change’ sought to support agricultural producers in this era of continual change and present attendees with research findings, market insights, farmer experiences and tools to manage change irrespective of the enterprise.

The panel

Our panel included Dr Ailish Byrne (Senior Agri Manager UB), Sean O’Donnell (Young Farmer of the Year 2014), Bernard Donoghue, Martin Clarke (IFAC Accountants) and Kevin Moran (Nuffield Scholar 2015) with the discussion being facilitated by Breian Carroll of Carroll Consultancy. Brief accounts were given by the panel members on their enterprises, experience and long term goals. Questions from the floor were welcomed at all times and open and honest feedback from the panel was a feature of the discussion.

Break out

Three separate break out sessions followed and were hosted by Roberta McDonald (Aurivo), Brian Costelle (Facilitator/Farmer) and Pat Bogue (Broadmore Research). There was genuine interaction between the focus session facilitators and participants in each room with young farmers contributing greatly in all discussions. In the end we ran out of time as in depth discussions were taking place. There was a feel good factor in all rooms with huge engagement levels between all participants.

Good feedback

79 attendees participated from Galway, Mayo, Roscommon, Sligo, Leitrim and Donegal with a number of industry experts and introducers also present. Feedback on the day from attendees was excellent and this definitely was a really worthwhile event for Ulster Bank to host and confirm our continued support and commitment to the Agri sector in the Midlands &West region.

Find out more

If you want to find out what Ulster Bank has to offer, click here.


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Choosing Your First Office

Choosing your first office is exciting. Your office is your base of operations. Whether you have been working out of your home or are simply a budding entrepreneur who is ready for a first office, how you choose can make all the difference in the world. The wrong office space can hinder your productive just as the right space can make your productivity soar.

It is not unusual for people to move offices as they grow, but it is not always necessary. When you take time to browse available spaces and understand your options, you may just find that your first office is your last. Follow these tips to choose the perfect office for your business.

Rule of 175

If you have never had a physical office, you may not have heard of the “rule of 175.” What this means is that you should give between 175 and 250 square feet of usable space to each employee. Usable space does not necessarily equate to free space. Usable space can include a desk, chair and other work equipment.

Consider the Commute

This is especially important if you have employees. If the majority of your employees utilize public transportation, make sure your office is close to a bus stop or rail station. If your employees drive, make sure that the office space you choose has appropriate parking in close proximity. Some employees choose to bike to work. If this is the case, look for somewhere you can install a bike rack or make sure there is space for your employees to bring their transportation into the building.


You do not have to have the fanciest office on the block, but you do need to pay attention to its interior. You may only have money to hire professional carpet cleaners to spruce the place up. You may have the budget to tear down walls and reinvent the space. If funds are limited, you do not want a fixer-upper. If you lease instead of buy, you will be limited as to the changes you can make to the interior.

Lease or Rent

Speaking of leasing, it is often better to lease or rent your space than it is to buy. When you buy an office space, you are in charge of building and grounds maintenance. If you are too busy to keep after routine issues, you will be forced to hire someone to do the work for you. Having that kind of money in your startup budget is unlikely. If you can find a landlord that will permit you to rent month-to-month, strongly consider taking them up on the offer. This gives you the option to move should you need to without being tied to a long lease.

Lunch Options

Paying attention to lunch options may seem strange when looking for an office space but, if you have employees, it is important. Happy employees are productive employees, and hungry employees are not happy. Your office does not have to be surrounded by eateries, but there should be at least a few places within walking distance that offer a cheap but hearty meal.

Look to the Future

Before you decide on any space, think about your company’s future. If you can envision it growing, you may need a larger space in the future. If you can afford it, get that space for your company now. Having an office that you can grow into prevents you from having to pack up and move next month or next year.

Buying or leasing an office space is about more than your budget. You want to be happy, and you want to make sure your employees are happy. Follow these tips to ensure that your workforce has a great place to do what you hired them to do.

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Excellent Young Farmer event at Corrin Centre Fermoy

The event was facilitated by Katherine O’Leary of the Irish Farmers Journal. Panelists were Anne-Marie Butler (Ulster Bank), Alan Jagoe (dairy farmer, President of CEJA 2015-2017), Ed Donovan (dairy new entrant), Brendan Horan (Teagasc Moorepark) and Patrick Ryan (pig farmer).

Next generation

Katherine O’Leary spoke about the enthusiasm of youth and how she personally had experienced the process of commencing hand over of the reins to the next generation. Understanding on both sides will be required in this circumstance and sometimes compromise is not the answer. What really came across was the need for certainty around delegation – 2 people can’t decide where the cows go today – every day!

Farms country wide

Anne Marie Butler of Ulster Bank has responsibility for the 26 counties and spends her day on farms country wide. She offered the benefit of her experience with family farms and the need for structured meetings – example given of the family meeting that was held every Friday – and ended in a row – every Friday!! Formal meetings are critical to the success of family farms. She also spoke of the need to have experience milking cows and to represent yourself well to the Bank eg “I don’t like milking cows on a Sunday – robot can do it!!”


Alan Jagoe of Macra gave us some of their expansion at home on the dairy farm. He emphasised the need for time management and also referred to the importance of quality of life. A simple example was how he tries to finish at 11am on a Sunday to spend time with his young family. Also, the importance of cash management in a changing situation was obvious – they have recently changed to concentrate on cows and through gentle persuasion, they no longer have cattle – all bull calves are sold by Patrick’s day to simplify the system at home.

Returning home to the farm

Ed Donovan is the father of 2 small girls and told us how he completed an agricultural science degree, worked in the construction industry for some time with 6 employees, worked as a branch manager in Goldcrop for 5 years, and decided to return home to farm in 2013. They had a tillage farm at home but dairying was the only sustainable option. His main word of advise was to get a contractor in if completing a development as Edward and his dad did a lot of the work themselves- tiring when trying to establish a dairy herd.

Learning from your peers

Brendan Horan of Teagasc spoke of keeping things simple and learning from your peers. The importance of going away to learn from another farm was emphasised – be it locally or abroad doesn’t really matter but it is important to broaden experience.

Setting up the farm well

Patrick Ryan is both a pig farmer and dairy farmer. He spoke of how the farm was well set up at home when he started farming and how that was a great help. He is maxed out at the number of cows he has at moment and the pigs offered him a chance to expand. He spoke of how the best laid plans can fall by the wayside eg when someone gets sick and you have to spend time re-training a new staff member – the importance of maximising the output of every staff member is critical. Pat also reassured us that while you won’t get everything right, there are the days you walk down the yard and see the things that are right!

Break out session

The seminar concluded with a break out into 4 groups to allow for feed back – the most common theme was the need to experience different situations and farming methods if at all possible before returning full time to farm. It is appreciated that this is not always possible – however it does offer benefits if it can be availed of.

Ulster Bank

The seminar was closed by Pat Horgan Area Director who thanked all present and emphasised how Ulster Bank punch above their weight in the young farmer sector with 25% of the market. Well worth attending and a very enjoyable event!

Find out more

If you want to find out what Ulster Bank has to offer, click here.

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The 3 Risks of Not Making Your E-Commerce Site Secure

According to the FBI, preventing computer fraud, network intrusions and identify theft are the key priorities of their Cyber Crime branch. Cyber-crime is on the rise as more consumers rely on the Internet and mobile technology to do things like shopping, banking and investing. As illustrated below, insecure e-commerce sites will result in serious risks and financial losses.

Vulnerability to Hackers

Everyone is aware that websites, networks and email accounts are vulnerable to hacking attacks. However, more and more consumers are primarily accessing the Internet through their smart phones. As a result, hackers are taking advantage of the lack of mobile security technology standards to target smart phones. According to Computer Weekly, Blue Coat Systems’ research shows that mobile attacks are becoming more common and malicious. For example, one of the most infamously popular methods is cyber-blackmail, when mobile ransomware penetrates and takes over a user’s phone. In order to unlock their phone, the user is required to pay money or divulge personal information. In addition to this, spyware is the second most popular malware program. After it surreptitiously installs itself on the user’s phone, spyware programs will monitor online habits, behaviors and preferences. Therefore, online consumers are naturally apprehensive about e-commerce sites that appear suspicious. When they arrive at the check-out page, they may not end up purchasing because they aren’t sure if credit card information will be safe. The best way to overcome this problem is through having well-recognized security certifications that will dispel any consumer concerns over financial and identity theft. For example, a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) will encrypt consumer information the moment it’s entered on the website. In order to raise consumer awareness, be sure to provide visual clues and colored icons that alert online consumers when they are in a secure or insure part of the website.

Data Breaches

According to technology magazine Wired, mobile giant T-Mobile recently suffered one of the biggest data breaches in business history. T-Mobile had contracted with credit rating agency Experian to perform credit checks on potential customers. However, savvy hackers stole the personal information of approximately 15 million people. This included basic information, such as names and birthdays, and encrypted sensitive information, such as social security and drivers’ license numbers. While there was no financial or banking information, there is still plenty of information for cyber-criminal to commit identity fraud. Online identity theft is the biggest risk of unsecure e-commerce sites. Consider the fact that online consumers must submit both personal and financial information in order to make a purchase. Therefore, an unsecure site is a gold mine for unscrupulous hackers to target. After stealing the personal data, they can sell every victim’s personal information for anywhere from 50 to 100 dollars through underground, online black markets. Once dishonest individuals obtain this information, they can do anything from open a mortgage to apply for credit cards.

Business Interruptions 

As mentioned above, hackers that breach websites can steal information for personal gain. However, as a result of this, customers and the public will lose confidence in the company. For example, in just one night, T-Mobile lost the confidence of 15 million current and potential customers. Assuredly, there will be millions of potential customers who will avoid doing business with T-Mobile in the future. Consequently, insecure e-commerce sites may result in a serious PR debacle that will need the expert assistance of a costly reputation management to restore consumer and investor confidence. 

Keep in mind that a massive data breach or loss of consumer confidence over insecure websites will disrupt business, drive customers away and reduce revenue. There may be other unforeseen financial costs, such as legal fees or IPR lawsuits. There may also be other problems, such as strained partner relationships or government regulatory body investigations.

In summary, an insecure e-commerce site is a recipe for PR, operational and financial disaster. Companies can minimize these risks through following standard online security protocols, investing in cutting edge security programs and incorporating online risk management into executive strategic planning.

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Starting A Business Abroad

The bureaucracy associated with starting a business abroad is shocking and is enough to deter even the most confident entrepreneur. European countries such as France, where many Brits now call home, is regarded as a red tape jungle and can be quite difficult to establish a business due to the amount of paperwork involved. However, having said that, Europe is traditionally a country of small businesses and individual traders where the economic philosophy actually encourages and even nurtures their creation.

Things to Consider

It’s often wise to work for someone else in the same line of business in order to gain experience, rather than jump in at the deep end. Always thoroughly investigate an existing or proposed business before investing any money. As any expert can tell you, an overseas business venture is not for amateur entrepreneurs, particularly amateurs who don’t speak the language! You should also take into consideration the culture of your host country and the prospect of increased business travel and time away from family and friends.

Buying an Existing Business

It’s much easier to buy an existing business abroad than start a new one. The paperwork for taking over an existing business is also simpler although still complex. If you plan to buy a business, obtain an independent valuation and employ an accountant to audit the books. Never sign anything you don’t understand completely; even if you think you understand it, you should still obtain unbiased professional advice.

Establishing your Business

Most people are far too optimistic about the prospects of a new business abroad and over-estimate income levels. Be realistic or even pessimistic when estimating your income. While hoping for the best you should plan for the worst and have sufficient funds to last until you’re established. New projects are rarely if ever completed within budget and you need to ensure that you have sufficient working capital and can survive until a business takes off.


The location for a business is even more important than the location for a home. Depending on the type of business, you may need access to major air, road and rail links or be located in a popular tourist area. Local plans regarding communications, industry and major building developments, e.g. housing complexes and new shopping, may also be important.


Hiring employees shouldn’t be taken lightly abroad and must be taken into account before starting a business. In France for example, you enter into an employment contract under French labour law and employees enjoy extensive rights. It’s also very expensive to hire employees, as you must pay 40 to 60% of salaries in social security contributions. You may even want to give preference to those who speak English depending on the type of business you intend to own.

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