Exporting from Ireland? Help is at hand

Does your business have ambitions to export? If so, this programme could be just the ticket.
The Irish Exporters Association’s, in collaboration with InterTradeIreland, is seeking to recruit 20 new SMEs for its Export Knowledge Programme.
The Export Knowledge Programme’s primary aim is to improve an SME’s ability to export.
The programme takes selected participants through a “journey to improve their capability to export into existing and new markets”.

20 companies from varying sectors take part each year.
The main partners are ABP Food Group, DHL, Euler Hermes, and PwC along with Bord Bia and the Department of Trade and Foreign Affairs.
For more information contact sineadbranigan@irishexporters.ie.
READ: Simon McKeever, CEO of the Irish Exporters’ Association on planning post-Brexit.
YOU MAY FIND USEFUL: Intertrade Ireland’s Brexit Factsheet for Business.

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/exporting-from-ireland-2/ on

Genesis – an Irish software firm with global ambitions

‘Our software isn’t just about saving hospitals time and money, it’s about improving the patient experience.’
Irish software firm, Genesis VMI, says it saves the NHS millions of pounds each year and wants to do the same for hospitals in the U.S. and Ireland.
Genesis managing director Noel O’Hanlon says while Ireland is a market the firm would like to enter, his main target is the States.
The software that Genesis provides allows hospitals (and its suppliers) to monitor hospital stock in real time, thus allowing hospitals to carry less stock.
“Our system also works very well if there are product recalls,” says O’Hanlon. “In the event of a recall the process is automated. The hospital knows exactly when and where any of the products were used and is able to act with accuracy.”
The company is currently working with 17 hospitals in the UK and is targeted to add another 25 this year. Plymouth Hospital – which helped develop the system with Genesis – has estimated an annual saving of £1 million from a previous spend of £4.9 million.
The difficult Irish market
Despite securing (and growing) a customer base in the UK, Genesis says it’s proving difficult to enter the Irish market.
“The Irish health service tends to have fragmented decision-making, so it’s a bit more difficult here, but, as I say, we’re confident it will eventually come on board,” says O’Hanlon.
“If it was used here, I think the Irish healthcare system could save up to €50 million per year.”

Success story
Genesis has annual revenues of €1.2 million. Revenue for 2017 is projected to be over €10 million.
“Genesis is a big Irish success story,” says O’Hanlon. “We’ve had excellent support from Enterprise Ireland and our goal is to target the 6,000 plus hospitals in the U.S.”
“Healthcare costs are going up all the time and pressure is coming on

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/genesis-software-ireland/ on

‘Nature’s playground is my boardroom’

A business life full of adventure. We meet Ronan O’Connor from Ardmore Adventures in Waterford. 
Ronan O’Connor set up Ardmore Adventures in June 2009.  His background spans both lifeguarding and water sports activities. He is one of the most experienced lifeguard instructors in Ireland and has been teaching and coaching all aspects of lifesaving since 1996. O’Connor was a beach lifeguard for seven years and has competed for Cork at both national and international level as well as coaching subsequent competitors to become national champions.

A true pioneer for the outdoor life, he wants to make it easy for everybody to access and experience the Irish outdoors.
‘I love teaching and want to introduce people to the outdoors – it’s a free resource, and I’d like to see more people get out and try the activities in their local area.’
Ardmore Adventures is located next to the beach in picturesque Ardmore Bay in Waterford. It offers adventure activities in unspoilt natural locations across Waterford and Cork. Activities include rock climbing, sea kayaking, surfing, snorkelling, stand-up paddle boarding, archery, team building, lifeguard and first aid courses.
It’s a seasonal business, and during the busiest time – summer –there is ten staff working at Ardmore. Outside the summer season, O’Connor does a lot of work training lifeguards, kayak instructors and first aid. He also travels around Europe to teach instructor training. 

Getting the word out
O’Connor’s primary sales tools are his local business peers. A lot of business is referred his way from the hotels, B&Bs and the local tourist office.  Equally, Tripadvisor has been an active source of referrals for the business.
He has a website, blog, YouTube channel, Facebook and Twitter accounts but admits it can be difficult to keep everything updated. Over the years they have been featured on RTÉ’s Nationwide, No Frontiers and The Holiday Show.  
Recently they struck

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/ardmore-adventures-tourism-ireland/ on

Forecast your sales – free template

This free ThinkBusiness Sales Forecast Template will help you to forecast your sales when you are business planning.  

It has three inter-related resources, each of which is on separate tabs within the document. The tabs are as follows:

  1. Unit sales price template. This allows you to vary your pricing and see the impact. The figures you input into this tab will be reflected in the second tab, which is a sales forecast
  2. Forecast of sales. This allows you to forecast your sales on a month by month basis over a period of 12 months. Figures you input into that spreadsheet will be picked up in the next spreadsheet, which is the P&L
  3. P&L template. This will show you a net profit or loss for your business

Not only you can easily create a sales forecast but you can test out different scenarios based on the data you input.

This template is a valuable resource, which should be used in conjunction with our free and beautiful Business Plan Template to give an overall view of your business and its performance.

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/sales-forecast-template/ on

A content marketing guide for beginners

Words sell. There’s no doubt that good writing will win you more customers. Here’s how to start.
Carefully selected words can help persuade a customer that they really need what you have to offer, and motivate them to go out and get it. The other side of that coin, however, is that even one badly chosen word can completely put off a customer and lose them forever. People are just as wary of hard-sell pitches online or in print as they are of foot-in-the-door salesmen. If you are writing about your own business, you will have first-hand knowledge of your products or services. You will also know where they fit in your marketplace and who your audience is.
Don’t just write about your company, and its products and services, from your own perspective.  That’s a mistake many businesses make. Customers who come to your website are looking for information, perhaps to inform a buying decision. You need to tell them what your service or product can do for them, and what problem it can solve.

Understand your customers and anticipate what they want
Expand your vocabulary
Test your content – see what works and what doesn’t

What are the words that work best to get customers to:

Notice your product or service?
Contact you?
Complete their purchase

Here are some of the ways you could start your pitch:

With a question: This addresses the customer directly, and may even be what they are doing there in the first place. Isn’t it time you…? Don’t you wish…? Why pay full price…? Are you paying too much for…?
With a statement: This gets your message out there immediately, while engaging the reader. Let’s talk about why you need… We’ll change your mind about… It’s never too late to…
With a challenge: You immediately call your customer to action and tell them just

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/content-marketing-guide-for-beginners/ on thinkbusiness

Tax back for Irish startups

If you are starting a business, you may be eligible for a tax refund of up to 41% of the amount invested.
Under a new Government scheme called StartUp Refunds for Entrepreneurs (SURE), entrepreneurs can make a claim for a refund against income tax they paid over the past six years.
Who qualifies and how does it work? 
How can you check if you are eligible and claim the tax refund? SURE is targeting those in employment, who are unemployed, who have retired and who have set or who are considering setting up their own businesses. 
The business must be incorporated as a limited liability company and trade from an Irish base. The company must be less than two years old from the date of incorporation to qualify. The minimum SURE investment is €250 and the maximum investment is €700,000, which is €100,000 each for each of the last six years as well as €100,000 for the current year.
To qualify you must:

Have mainly PAYE income in the past four years
Invest cash in the company through new shares
Hold at least 15% of the shares in the company
Not sell those shares for at least three years from the date of issue
Be employed in the new company as a director or as an employee
Ensure that the company carries out “a qualifying trading activity”

Exclusions to that “qualifying trade” rule include professional services (such as accountants, solicitors and business advisors), certain financial services (loans, commodities), film production and dealing in land. 
A company that takes over a previous trade is not eligible. Neither is a company that continued the trade of an individual who is seeking SURE relief and who was previously a sole trader.
There are other rules about the types of company, your role in the company and also requirements for particular tourism, green energy, internationally traded services and R&D ventures. To read

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/tax-back-for-irish-startups/ on thinkbusiness

Crowdfunding in Ireland – a guide

Crowdfunding can be a financial lifeline for a startup but it can also be a futile, time wasting attempt to raise money. Don’t try it until you understand how it works.
Crowdfunding websites match those who have ideas they want to turn into reality with donors.
The crowdfunding website takes a commission from the funds raised, typically 5% but the commission can be 10% or more on some sites. 
The top Irish crowdfunding platforms are: FundIt; SeedUps; iCrowdFund; iDonate.ie; and MoneyCrowd.

Pros and cons
For startups and certain types of small businesses, crowdfunding is seen as a low-risk way of raising funds without having to part with equity. 
Some startups have found that crowdfunding is a stepping stone to other capital. Increasingly, angel investors and venture capitalists back promoters who have been successful in crowdfunding campaigns.
But crowdfunding has its drawbacks. Failure rates are high – the majority of crowdfunding projects fail to reach the fundraising goals. 
Startups also find that crowdfunding is a time-burner. Success is often down to the amount of time spent preparing the campaign and then promoting and managing it.  Entrepreneurs need to put a lot of information about a product or service into the public domain. This carries risks – your competitors will know what you’re doing and you may be forced to defend yourself from online critics.
Below are five questions you should ask yourself before you ‘kick start’ your project.

1. Is your business suited to crowdfunding?
Crowdfunding suits certain types of businesses – usually startups or early stage companies that are looking for relatively small amounts of money. It has a higher success rate within certain sectors like the arts, digital media, music, and certain types of consumer goods businesses. You should find out if the crowdfunding platform you are considering has a track record of success with similar businesses to yours.
2. Do you have right skills for crowdfunding?
Crowdfunding suits particular types

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/crowdfunding-in-ireland-guide/ on thinkbusiness

Your startup needs a website not just a Facebook page

Having a business Facebook page is all very well, but it’s not enough. Your startup needs a website.
You have a splendid idea, your market research is robust, you’ve created your lean business canvas and devised a killer sales strategy, so now it’s time to launch. 
Before you do, though, ask yourself: ‘How do I look online’?
Here are seven good reasons why your startup needs a website.
1: You have full control
Having and owning your domain name, website, email address and communications database means you are in full control. 
Many small businesses think a Facebook page will suffice. However, don’t assume that your target audience is on older social networks. It’s much better if you are easily found on Google. 
2. It’s not expensive and sometimes it’s free
Having a website doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. These days there are very robust out-of-the-box solutions that offer domain names, website hosting, website templates and e-commerce solutions. 
Some banks even offer free websites as part of a startup package. 

3: Your customers are online and searching
You may not need to, or want to sell online, but your customers are making purchase decisions based on their online searches. 
Your website is also your digital business card. At any given time your next client, or investor, could be looking for you online.
4. You can measure how you’re performing
Having a website means you can monitor traffic to, and around, your site. 
You can add Google Analytics tracking to any website, and begin collecting valuable information on your visitors’ habits, as they view and navigate your site. In turn, this then feeds into your sales and marketing strategy. 
5. You’re always open
With a website, you are always open for business. Customers can easily find you, learn more about you, buy directly from you, or just reach out to you if they need

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/free-websites-for-startups-in-ireland/ on thinkbusiness

Is your business up for Bizworld?

Bizworld Ireland is looking for businesses of all sizes to get in touch and explore volunteering opportunities.
Bizworld, a not-for-profit organisation that promotes entrepreneurship skills to primary school children, is looking for volunteers to help it reach over 3,000 primary schools in Ireland.

Fiona McKeon, the founder of Bizworld Ireland, says the organisation wants more businesses to come on board.
“As businesses, let’s get our country starting again, starting at the right age, with 10-13-year-olds in primary schools,” says McKeon.
If you, or people working for you, would like to deliver a fun and informative two-day workshop in business skills, at a school near you, please contact BizWorld Ireland.
READ MORE: Bizworld aims to kick-start the next generation of Irish innovators.
Pictured above are Gavin Duffy; Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor; and Fiona McKeon. 

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/bizworld-ireland-volunteers/ on thinkbusiness

Avoid a business plan disaster

Business planning isn’t easy and there are certain things you should avoid when writing your plan. 
First up, here’s a brilliant, free business plan template you can work on. And below are the business plan mistakes you should avoid.
Not enough research
This is a killer for many small businesses and is easy to avoid. If you put the work in beforehand and are honest and accurate, then your business plan will be more impressive. Nobody wants to read a vague plan.
Poor writing and presentation
If you aren’t a great writer, find someone who is and let them write the plan.
An incomplete plan
If you miss out on any of the key sections, it will affect your chances of generating interest in your business. Likewise, if you include too many technical details, you will lose the reader’s interest.

Unrealistic aspirations
Don’t kid yourself about what your business is capable of. Know your market, pricing and competitors, and base your projections from there. Don’t assume that risk does not apply to your business.
Cutting and pasting from other plans
This is a cardinal sin, and surprisingly frequent among new business owners. Don’t just copy what a high-performing competitor has done. Take the time to identify what makes your business special, and go from there.
No customisation
Your business plan, particularly your executive summary, will need to be modified, depending on your audience. If you don’t make any changes, you will come across as lazy and uninspired, and will dissuade potential investors.
A dead document
Your business plan should develop alongside your business. Your business plan shouldn’t be gathering dust at any stage. Keep it up to date.
READ: How to get that loan application over the line.

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/how-to-write-a-business-plan-2/ on