Starting a business

You expressed an interest in the ‘Starting’ stage of the journey, so you may find the following links beneficial to you.
Starting out can be overwhelming, it always helps to focus the mind on what exactly you need to succeed.
The next obstacle to overcome is funding. This article provides a breakdown of available funding opportunities.
However, no business is going to get the funding it needs without a well written business plan. This guide will help you create a perfect business plan.
Now that you know what’s required, why don’t you give it a try for yourself and download the ThinkBusiness business plan template. 
We hope this content was useful for you– be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more.

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Inheriting a farm in Ireland – a quick guide

What should you consider when inheriting a farm? Lorna Sixsmith, author of ‘Would you marry a farmer?’, gives some sound advice.

lorna sixsmith

Congratulations, you’re inheriting the family farm. The farm isn’t just a financial asset. It will provide you with a business, a home, a wonderful lifestyle and a sense of history as you become the next generation to farm the land you love. The process isn’t always smooth but will be easier if you consider these issues first.

 Your age

While it’s never too late to run your own business, do recognise what is achievable within a given time scale. While farmers are viewed as being asset-rich, very few sell the land. They see themselves as being a custodian of the family farm with the responsibility of improving it before handing it on to the next generation – this takes time. If you can, allow at least three decades to plan, build, improve, pay off loans, and still have a chance to enjoy the fruits of your labours before handing it on. 

inheriting a farm in Ireland


Farmers have to work hard for their income so choose a type of farming that suits your land and your lifestyle. You don’t have to do it the way it has always been done. One of the highlights of being self-employed is setting challenges, celebrating each one as it is achieved before moving on to the next. It’s often the journey that is as enjoyable as reaching the goal.  

DOWNLOAD: A free farm cash flow planner. 

Income and expenditure

The cost of transferring the farm will be significant. Be realistic about your future revenues and expenses. Having a forthright chat with a good accountant will help you make decisions about your future. Is there enough income for you to farm full-time? If you are working in a full-time job off-farm, how will you include farming into your day when you have young children? If your spouse is working full-time too, how will you share the housework and the childcare?

“If you are working in a full-time job off-farm, how will you include farming into your day when you have young children?”

Your parents’ retirement

It’s important to discuss your parents’ retirement plans with them. Will they continue to work on the farm? Their knowledge and assistance will be useful, but safety issues become more important as they get older. Will their pension provide for them or will you be assisting them financially? Paying for expenses such as their health insurance, household bills or fuel might be all right for a while. However, do recognise these bills will eat a bigger hole in your income when you have farm improvement loans, children, and a mortgage. Your spouse might just start to wonder if they are going to live forever. 

Living accommodation

If you’re not in a relationship, it probably makes sense to share the farmhouse with your parents. If you are, remember choices about living accommodation can affect your relationships.

If you move into the farmhouse and build your parents a bungalow, your mother may love her new kitchen, but she might continue to make comments on any changes to the farmhouse. It’s unlikely these will be appreciated by you or your partner.

“Farming practices often have to change to be profitable so seek the advice of agricultural advisors, your accountant and your bank manager when planning your future.”

If they stay in the farmhouse and your home is half a mile away, it can make it more difficult for your partner and children to get involved in the farm. The distance could reduce the time you spend with your kids.

If the farmhouse is large, does it seem to make more sense to extend and divide it? This would save money and provide the older couple with more security but means privacy could be in short supply. Life can be very rosy until you all get tetchy from living in each other’s pockets.

inheriting a farm in ireland

Farming with family without killing each other

When the Early Retirement Scheme was introduced in 2007, it was intended to encourage the transfer of farms from parents to adult children.  Perhaps it also recognised the attitude “you can do what you want as long as you don’t change anything” curtailed progress as one condition insisted the older farmer couldn’t work on the farm.  Your dad might still offer an opinion on everything from asking “what do you need that for?” to saying “that one paid a lot of bills” when you mention that you’re thinking of culling one of his favourite cows. Seek his knowledge and expertise but remember, you’re the one paying the bills so don’t be afraid to make firm decisions. Farming practices often have to change to be profitable so seek the advice of agricultural advisors, your accountant and your bank manager when planning your future.

It can be a beautiful life

Plan and enjoy. Even on the bad days (and there will be some), appreciate your environment. There aren’t many careers that provide your very own meandering lanes, grassy hills, shady glades, flowing streams, beautiful views, and hedges full of autumnal forage. 

Lorna Sixsmith is an author and is also married to a farmer. Her books include: ‘How to be the perfect farm wife’; ‘Would you marry a farmer?’; and ‘An ideal farm husband’. Follow Lorna on Twitter @IrishFarmerette. 

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WoofAdvisor – pet travel for pet lovers is a new platform with a simple proposal – it makes traveling with, or without, a pet as comfortable as possible.
Traveling with your pet is not easy at times. Finding accommodation for your pet, when they can’t travel with you, is also difficult. is a new platform with a simple proposal – it makes traveling with, or without, a pet as comfortable as possible.
Pets are big business. In Ireland, for example, 49% of households have a dog (or dogs). In the UK this figure is 24%, and in the USA it is 44%.
The Americans already have an established pet travel market. 65% of all hotels in the USA today allow dogs.
This, however, is not the case in Ireland and the UK.

Pet-friendly businesses
Gerry Molloy, the founder of WoofAdvisor, says the platform was built to help pet owners but also to build a social community of pet owners and pet-friendly businesses.
“It’s a business platform with a community backbone. We bring like-minded pet lovers together, and we connect them with hotels and other pet-friendly businesses in the travel sector,” says Molloy.
WoofAdvisor puts pet-friendly accommodation providers, and other players in the pet industry – pet sitters, pet service providers, pet insurers, pet food manufacturers and pet brands – together, to connect and engage directly with pet owners.
“We will also help those who cannot bring their pets on holiday by connecting our customers with pet sitters. We have a partnership arrangement with,” says Molloy.

Millennials are the fastest growing target market
And in case people think the pet-travel industry is the preserve of the elderly or the ‘empty nester’ generation, the reverse is true.
“Millennials make up 20% of the world’s population and will represent 50% of total global travel spend by 2020,” says Molloy. “By 2017, Millennials will outspend baby boomers on hotels. What’s most

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House Edit – a business designed for life

Interior architects Claire Price and Elaine Regan (above) launched, a digital interiors platform, in September 2016. Here, Claire Price tells their story so far.
How would I describe what we do? is an online interiors, lifestyle & sourcing guide, that offers affordable, shoppable content. No more searching for hours on end to find the perfect side table, lamp or rug. House Edit has all your favourite high street brands on just one site. Imagine a boutique Amazon for interiors with expert advice and inspiration.
Staying afloat during the transition from the design studio to online interiors and lifestyle destination has been our greatest achievement to date. 
Like all new businesses, we’ve had weak moments. Pre-launch we were working 18 hour days, and we had to dig deep. Cash flow was always a challenge as we began to take on less studio work. But somehow we navigated our way through. 
“I used to laugh at his TV commercials years ago; now I listen to the guy on a daily basis.”

Taking time out to step back from the business helps when you get a setback. Getting out and reluctantly exercising also really helps to focus. Personally, my secret weapon has to be Tony Robbins, a life and business strategist. I used to laugh at his TV commercials years ago; now I listen to the guy on a daily basis. 
How do I feel about risk? It’s an inevitable part of business but calculate it and protect your downside. Providing you don’t leave yourself destitute, losing your initial investment in a business isn’t the end of the world. Owing the bank a ‘ginormous’ loan, however, may be. So try to be strategic.
“It’s very easy to get caught up with the small stuff and lose sight of the primary objective: delivering an excellent service and growing your

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Invest4Success – Cavan, Leitrim, Longford and Roscommon

Major jobs and investment exhibition for Croke Park on November 3, 2016.
The Upper Shannon-Erne Project partners of Cavan, Leitrim, Longford and Roscommon Local Authorities, Bord Na Mona and the ESB are hosting a jobs and investment exhibition at Croke Park Conference Centre on November 3, 2016. 
The opportunities the Upper Shannon-Erne region has to offer businesses that want to set up – and the partnership approach that is active there – will be key topics at the event, which will host many interesting businesses and speakers. 
The Center Parcs project
For example, Raj Singh-Dehal, HR and commercial services director of Center Parcs, will outline his company’s vision for developing a forest resort – the biggest tourism investment [ever to be made] in the region.
Ciaran Corcoran, site director of Abbott Diagnostics, will share his experience of growing a medical device company in Longford. 
And Sharon Lavin, Waterways Ireland, will discuss how the Blueway project has transformed the inland waterways for recreational use.
Download the full invest4success-programme for details of all the keynote speakers and exhibitors. 
Pictured is Lough Key, Boyle, Co. Roscommon.

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API economy has ‘real opportunities’

The API sector is currently one of “the most exciting and dynamic” sectors in the Irish software industry.
At a recent Irish Software Association event, sponsored by Bank of Ireland, the speakers and the attendees discussed the API sector and its potential [positive] impact on the tech economy. 
What’s an API?
There are over 12,000 APIs offered by firms today. An API is best thought of as “a contract provided by one piece of computer software to another”.
The Harvard Business Review reports that generates 50% of its revenue through APIs, generates 90%, and eBay generates 60%.
“APIs are the means by which to execute a strategy, not a substitute for it,” says Adrian Mullet, head of technology at Bank of Ireland and organiser of the event.
“The Irish software companies that are using APIs to expand the reach of their products are seeing big wins for the partners within their API ecosystem.”
Great growth opportunities
Paul Sweetman, director of Irish Software Association, said the success of Irish software and technology companies is “built on an ecosystem of collaboration”.
“The API economy and the acceleration of API use represent a tremendous growth opportunity for Irish technology companies,” adds Mullett. “Companies across a diverse range of sectors such as finance, media, hospitality and travel are using APIs as a critical component of their business model.”

Speakers at the technology sector insights event, which took place at IBEC’s offices in Dublin, included (left to right) Alan Foy, group CEO, Blueface; Adrian Mullett, head of technology sector, Bank of Ireland; Paolo Malinverno, research vice president at Gartner; Dr Helen McBreen, investment director, Atlantic Bridge; and Maurice Buckley, CEO, TheHireLab.

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UPRISE has enjoyable Irish debut at the RDS

The startup ‘festival’ UPRISE made its first appearance in Dublin and with some success.
The winner of the first UPRISE to take part in Ireland was ‘adult sweet maker’ Smith & Sinclair, thanks to the pitch battle skills and vibrant personality of founder Melanie Goldsmith.
Unlike other pitch competitions – that nearly all seem to employ the predictable and dull ‘Dragon’s Den’ format – UPRISE relies on the (rather ruthless) audience to vote for the winners and losers. 
Six international teams: KinoSol, Fibregel Apparel, Timeular, Smith & Sinclair, My GiveBox; and six teams from Ireland: AddGoals, Parkpnp, Dashcabs, Wellnice Pops, StayPal, Cyc-lok and CyberSmarties, took part in the various two-minute pitch battles that [eventually] left one battle hardened startup standing victorious. 

Melanie Goldsmith (pictured centre stage) emerged as the deserved winner. Not because her company idea or product were the best in the room, but because she was the best at pitching her idea and her positive, can-do, never fail attitude won over the jubilant Dublin audience. 
As for the UPRISE event, there were also some very interesting startups exhibiting and ‘break out’ educational workshops thanks to the likes of a key sponsor, Google.
Dublin City Council and Bank of Ireland were the other two key supporters of the event. UPRISE will return to Dublin in November 2017. Founder, Limerick native Paul O’Connell, should take a bow. UPRISE is a welcome addition to the startup event and competition space in Ireland. Its enjoyable ‘personality’ shines through. 

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Herd and heritage – a castle with a pedigree

Wilton Castle played host to one of the last duels fought in Ireland. Today it has been transformed back to its former glory and into a thriving business by farmer Sean Windsor.
Following a decade of conservation and restoration, dairy farmer Sean Windsor has opened up Wilton Castle as a hospitality venue, ideal for holidays, weddings and special occasions. Situated on his land at Bree, near Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford, the south wing of the Castle has been lovingly restored and is now attracting an increasing number of overseas visitors.                  
What inspired you to restore Wilton Castle? 
I grew up living and farming within a stone’s throw of the Castle, and I suppose at the back of my mind, I always had a desire to try and return the Castle to its former glory. I grew up with stories such as the architectural link between Wilton Castle, Johnstown Castle and Powerscourt and also that one of the last duels in Ireland was fought here in 1807, with tragic outcomes for both combatants.
However, from 1923 until 2004 it was in complete ruin, and it was going to require an enormous effort to restore it. To succeed, I knew I would have to do a lot of the work myself while still managing the farm and milking the cows in our herd on a daily basis.
What’s your family connection with the Castle?
The history of the Castle can be traced back to the mid-13th century when a family by the name of De Dene was recorded living here in 1247. The Alcock family were the longest in residence from 1695 until the Castle was burned down in 1923. My grandfather happened to be the estate steward or manager at this time. During the blaze and just before the roof collapsing, he helped rescue some of the furniture

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Small business loans now come with mentors

Small businesses need more than financial support. With this in mind, Microfinance Ireland (MFI) has launched a new mentoring service.  
The mentoring service will accompany the small loans MFI lends to businesses, whether they are starting or growing. The businesses must have 10 or fewer employees, however.
“While businesses constantly tell me that getting funding support for their business is very important, I believe our mentoring assistance is more critical to many new businesses,” says Garrett Stokes, CEO of Microfinance Ireland.
“Many business people are experts in their own sector, but they are weak in other areas such as finance, marketing and planning. Mentoring is another valuable aid to helping small businesses succeed.”
Go to your LEO for advice
The Microfinance Ireland mentoring service is delivered through the Local Enterprise Offices. 
Microfinance Ireland, set up four years ago as a government funded, not-for-profit lender to help get more people starting businesses, has so far helped to create over 2,300 jobs.
Microfinance Ireland works in partnership with the network of Local Enterprise Offices and the Local Development Companies, to offer business loans to small businesses. Further information about the mentoring service is available on                                                                                  

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UPRISE is coming to Dublin

Startup festival UPRISE is coming to Dublin. The event involves Irish firms in ‘pitch battle’ with international startups. Who will win?
Dublin will play host to Europe’s biggest tech festival when UPRISE comes to the RDS.
Taking place from 9 am – 6.30 pm on Thursday, October 20, the festival will cater for over 2,000 attendees and boasts a variety of attractions. 
People first
What distinguishes UPRISE from similar tech gatherings is how it puts people at the centre of the event. Networking and conversation between startups come first while the technology comes second, with buskers, DJs, games and other entertainment, as well as practical workshops and interactive panels. 
150 startups will attend the event, while panellists will include people from Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Salesforce and more. 

Pitch Battle
A centrepiece of the day will be the Pitch Battle, which will pit six Irish startups against six international startups, with the live audience choosing the winner. 
The Dublin City Local Enterprise Office has put up a prize of €5,000 for the company that most impresses people on the day.  
“We are supporting the UPRISE Festival 2016. The move will no doubt showcase the success of Dublin as a hotbed of activity and support for emerging businesses. The doors of the Local Enterprise Office (LEO) Dublin City are always open to those thinking of starting their own business or to those already in business but in need of extra support,” says Dublin City Council’s Greg Swift. 
READ MORE: Did you know there are over 80 different Government supports for Irish startups and small businesses, including grant money?  

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