Starting a business while still in a job

The ‘side hustle’ is becoming increasingly popular. Are you thinking of starting a business while still in your day job?
Working a nine to five comes with benefits, and the security of having a steady income can be a ‘deterrent’ to starting a business.
If you decide to leap into entrepreneurship, however, the first thing you must do is to explore if your idea can be turned into a viable business.
First – is your idea viable?
Instead of a long-winded business plan, it is best to start with a Business Model Canvas. You can download one here for free. This will help you validate many of the assumptions you have about your business idea. For example:

What problem does your product solve?
What is your product?
Who are your target customers?
What is unique about it?
How are you planning to distribute your product to customers?
How much revenue can you make?
What are your significant costs?

Next – review your employment contract
Back when you signed your employment contract, was there a clause that prohibits you from setting up a business related to your current role?
You need to review your contract and speak to your employer.
The easiest way to avoid trouble is to make sure you are working on an idea that is unrelated to that of your employer, and to work on your own time and with your computer and phone.
Now – test your idea
To reduce the risk of ‘startup failure,’ you will need to test your concept rigorously. For example, do you have a prototype? Do you know what your customers think?
Customer interview and surveys are now easy to do with tools like SurveyMonkey and the reach given by the social web (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn).
To put your assumptions to the test, ask potential customers how they would use your service or product to solve their problem. Ask if they

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Seaweed success in Donegal

Declan Gallagher built a thriving, global business from harvesting seaweed in Donegal.

In 2004 CEO Declan Gallagher founded OGT, a seaweed company based in Kilcar, Co. Donegal. It was privately funded with an original investment of €300,000. The ambition was to sustainably harvest and then process some of the area’s natural seaweed, into a liquid seaweed extract, to sell to the golf industry in Ireland. It’s very much a success story as production levels have grown to 3,200 tonnes per annum with the business employing over 30 full-time staff.
Why seaweed?
I grew up close to the ocean and was always involved in some ocean-related business. Going back the years, farmers used seaweed to enhance and improve grass growth and to improve crop growth in potatoes. I can also remember from a very young age, how my grandmother used to go down to the shore and collect dillisk and bring it home, to dry out at the back of her house. After finishing secondary school, I studied business in Letterkenny Institute and went on to work in my father’s company, which made fishing nets for the large fishing boats in Donegal.
I always wanted to do something for myself, in an industry that I was passionate about. Obviously being from Donegal, a lot of people are into sports and personal experience made me aware that seaweed could have potential benefits for the sports industry. There was a lot of local knowledge on seaweed but not a lot of research. There were no competitors as such to compete with and consequently no blueprint to follow.
“Our liquid extracts help build up the immune system of a plant, similar to a person taking a multivitamin for their health.”
What problem do you solve for golf courses?
The seaweed extract contains small amounts of nutrients and growth enhancers, which allows

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New world-class security accelerator in Cork

Are you in Cork or do you want to move to Cork to build a global business?
CorkBIC has announced a new security accelerator for startups working in cybersecurity and related fields.
The startups who are accepted onto the security accelerator will receive €50,000 each in investment, free office space, access to an exclusive network of industry leaders, mentors and investors, as well as hands-on business development expertise.
This accelerator is now open for entries and is looking to invest in early-stage firms in the security industry including, cybersecurity, internet of things (IoT), Blockchain, AI, health and bioinformatics, defence, critical infrastructure, financial services, and logistics.
How many will be accepted?
Up to seven companies will be accepted. Apply here.
What are the selection criteria?

The business model and the market opportunity
Stage of development – early traction?
A commitment to relocate to Cork and build a global business

Applications are now open until July 2018. All Interviews will take in August 2018. The accelerator will begin in October 2018.
Apply here.

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How to be productive and happy at work

Happy employees are more productive. Here’s how to foster a culture of continuous improvement in your business. 
The link between productivity and wellness
It’s not just the business leaders who strive for higher productivity. Most employees want to be productive too. If people can’t get their work done, they feel stressed, and this causes them to worry. In today’s business world where priorities and deadlines are continually shifting, people often don’t feel in control. Despite working hard and long hours employees often feel they are not on top of their workload.
In contrast being productive gives employees a sense of achievement and accomplishment. There is a satisfaction that comes with being able to make a plan and stick to it.
Moreover, that satisfaction allows employees switch off after work which in turn will enable them to relax and refresh.
On the other hand, a lack of productivity can have an adverse effect on the employee’s stress levels and general mental wellness.
“A culture of productivity encourages everyone to perform at their best level.”
Causes of stress at work
In fact, if we look at some of the causes of stress cited by employees we see factors that also cause a lack of productivity:
• Changing demands and priorities
• Inefficient systems and processes
• Lack of clarity around role and expectations
• Poor communication with managers
• Long hours, poor work-life balance
“Foster a culture of continuous improvement.”
A productive culture benefits everyone
So by removing these barriers to productivity businesses can also reduce the stress levels of their employees. Not only will employee wellness and happiness increase, but employee engagement and output also will too. A culture of productivity encourages everyone to perform at their best level.
To foster this culture a business needs to make sure it provides the best tools, the best processes, the best managers and the best training.
Here are some questions to

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Smart Storage goes for international growth

Prompted by the growing ‘shoe crisis’ in their own home, husband and wife team and qualified engineers, Paul and Clodagh Jacob developed Smart Storage, a range of under stairs storage solutions.


What is Smart Storage?
Smart Storage was established in Ireland in 2011 and specialises in discrete home storage solutions. Designed to fit under the main stairwell or attic space, the goal was to maximise storage by installing slide-out drawers. The units fold into the wall without having drawer handles obstructing the hallway or room. Headquartered in Newtownmountkennedy, Co Wicklow, we expanded into the UK market shortly after establishing.
Our storage units are made in our manufacturing facility in Carrick-On-Suir, Co Tipperary, ensuring we control the quality of the units from start to finish. We currently install under stairs and loft storage units in both private homes and residential developments throughout the UK and Ireland.
“70% of people say a lack of storage space is a key factor in their decisions to move home.”
Unique selling point
The unique selling point for Smart Storage is that we allow homeowners to maximise space without increasing the footprint of their properties. Interestingly, new home buyers are more interested in storage space than they are with kitchen fittings. 70% of people say a lack of storage space is a key factor in their decisions to move home.
We also work with leading developers across the UK and Ireland to install our under stairs storage units as standard in new residential developments. This helps to differentiate new developments and provides them with a unique selling point.
“We allow people to maximise space without increasing the footprint of their homes.”
Big break
Smart Storage took off when Paul appeared on the 2012 season of Dragon’s Den’ and received an investment from entrepreneur magnate Norah Casey.
Our storage units have since been showcased on popular television shows

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How to grow your money by investing

If your business’s money is sitting on deposit, it’s unlikely to be working for you. Here’s how to make the most of it.
Most business owners would agree that it takes a combination of time, tremendous effort and significant success to accumulate large cash balances.
Having worked so hard to get the cash, the all-important question is whether it’s working for you?
If your company’s money is sitting on deposit, it’s just not working as hard as it should be.
“Irish companies held €50.6 billion on deposit at the end of April 2018.”
Huge cash piles
According to the Central Bank of Ireland, Irish companies held €50.6 billion on deposit at the end of April 2018 (excluding financial corporations).
Today, interest rates are at record low levels; in fact, some more substantial deposits are on negative interest rates. This situation is unlikely to change for some time.
The end of 2019 is widely believed to be the earliest for interest rates to rise again. While the official rate of inflation is pretty benign, many firms are experiencing elevated cost levels. Smart business owners realise the importance of continuing to grow the real value of their assets, in other words, the level of growth after inflation. This growth involves the company doing some financial planning and to do this; they need to take a holistic view of their business. So how do you about it?
Start with a holistic view
The first step is to take a snapshot of your business’s assets and liabilities; to capture any loan facilities and what levels are drawn and undrawn. You should take a look at typical cash flow patterns and identify what role seasonality plays. What does your debtor book look like – have you substantial receipts coming shortly?
“How much of an emergency fund do you need?”
The next stage is about looking forward. This

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A flavour of Fingal

Here we take an enterprising look at Fingal, one of the most innovative food-producing regions in Europe and home to Ireland’s youngest population.
Fingal is a region north of Dublin City and also bordered by South County Dublin, Meath and Kildare. To the east is the Irish Sea. It is one of Ireland’s most enterprising regions, and the focus is firmly on farming, food and flying.

An abundant place
Most people in Ireland will travel to Fingal at some stage in their lives, but only to access Dublin airport. However, it is a region worth visiting and exploring, especially during the summer months. The county is known locally as the ‘market basket of Ireland’. It is one of the most significant food-producing areas in Ireland and Europe.
The official motto of the county is ‘Flúirse Talaimh is Mara — the abundance of land and sea.’
Speaking at the recent Flavours of Fingal county show, Caitriona Redmond, a well-known writer and founder of Wholesome Ireland says the food produced in Fingal “is not only on our doorsteps, but it’s also in our shops. I would encourage people to look for local produce when they are shopping. Local produce supports jobs, keeps the economy going and is more environmentally friendly that food-mile heavy imports”.
The county
Fingal has a population of over 300,000 people. The population increased by 77% between 1996 and 2011 and is also the youngest in Ireland.
The county is blessed with a rugged, natural 88km coastline that stretches from Sutton to Balbriggan. There are three protected estuaries, salt marsh habitats and thirteen good beaches.
Apart from Dublin airport, the most significant driver of the local economy is farming and food production. Over 600 farmers milk cows, rear sheep, grow vegetables, harvest crops and produce honey and fruit in Fingal every day.
It is estimated the county provides

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The ThinkBusiness Show – Brian Caulfield

How do you start a business? How do you grow your business? These are the questions we explore on the ThinkBusiness Show.


The ThinkBusiness Show is a business show with a difference.
Instead of talking about what a business does, we talk to founders and experts about the ‘hows’ of doing business – how to start and how to grow.
The ThinkBusiness Show is an online academy to learn more about starting and running a business. We also discuss the supports available to businesses, raising money, financial well being and how to keep going when difficulties arise. 
“If you are looking for investment keep your business plan short. We see 2,500 plans every year. If it’s a long-winded document, I’m not reading it. And make sure you show me what you are going to do with the money. Make sure there’s an actual plan in your business plan.”
First up
First up is Brian Caulfield. Brian is one of Ireland’s ‘legendary’ venture capital investors (VCs). In his podcast and video, he gives a masterclass, not just in what investors look for but how entrepreneurs should approach their business if they want to land investment. This is really a ‘Startup Masterclass’, a must-listen for anyone with big ambitions to grow with the right investment.

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Can Blockchain help the dairy industry?

A valuable application of the Blockchain is its ability to tell the ‘farm to fork’ story in great detail. Here’s how it can help the Irish dairy sector on the global stage. 

Claru is a Cork-based company using Blockchain technology to bring transparency to the food supply chain, specifically within the Irish dairy sector.
Consumers appear more discerning, more willing to pay a premium for healthy, environmentally-friendly and ethically produced food. Transparency is predicted to become the largest differentiator for food brands in the near future.
Claru’s CEO John O’Reilly explains how the Blockchain can benefit the Irish dairy sector.
What’s your value proposition? 
We’re providing transparency to the food supply chain using Blockchain technology. Food and dairy producers can share an end-to-end view of the product’s journey from farm to fork; all in great detail. 
At its simplest what is the Blockchain?
The Blockchain is a distributed digital ledger; it is particularly useful in tracking value as a product moves between independent parties in a supply chain. The data it holds is public and immutable.
“Consumers no longer trust product claims or labelling. ”
Are you fixing a problem? Is the problem urgent?
Yes. Today’s consumer is much more discerning. It’s no longer just about cost or brand; there are factors such as dietary considerations, sustainability, ethical production approach and corporate social responsibility (CSR).
Traditionally the producer would address these concerns with new product labelling, but research shows that consumers no longer trust product claims or labelling. People want access to the product’s data – what field it came from, the name of the farmer. 
In parallel, the food production sector is becoming much more regulated and similar to the pharmaceutical sector regarding tracking and traceability. 
“They are guaranteeing future business and avoiding price wars with lower cost brands.”
Why is using the Blockchain better than existing solutions?
The Blockchain can generate a holistic view of

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Ten ambitious teams start Trinity’s LaunchBox 2018

Ten teams of student entrepreneurs teams have started Trinity’s accelerator programme Launchbox, Ireland’s most successful student accelerator programme. They are now seeking investment to grow.
Now in its sixth year, LaunchBox is a place where students can start a business and receive mentorship, funding, and access to alumni and investors.
Since its start in 2013, LaunchBox has helped 50 student ventures. The businesses that continued have created 122 jobs and raised €6.3 million in investment and funding.
“LaunchBox is an opportunity for students to work on their business idea with mentors over the summer. It is a real opportunity for our students to showcase why Trinity is number one in Europe for producing entrepreneurs,” says Fionnuala Healy, CEO Innovation & Entrepreneurship Hub, Trinity College Dublin.
Paul Allen, student founder of BOP (Biological Optical Prevention) and his teammates Ekaterina (Kate) Lait and David Ola (pictured main image) met as members of the Trinity Entrepreneurial Society. They believe their business has enormous potential for identifying, preventing and treating health care-associated infections (HAIs).
“I had family members who passed away due to HAIs, so the idea has been in process for two years. The visual nature of our product is its USP and it makes it more effective,” says Allen. Upon making contact with a surface their product changes colour depending on the pathogens present. This allows medical staff to identify the pathogen, eliminate them and disinfect the area. 
Successful alumni
Successful alumni of LaunchBox include social enterprise Foodcloud, which helps businesses redistribute surplus food to those who need it; Touchtech, a payment processing firm; Artomatix, which develops tools for automating digital media creation; and Equine MediRecord, which digitises the medical records for the multi-billion-euro horse racing industry’s equine stars.
“LaunchBox’s focus on early-stage business development, and on empowering entrepreneurship and collaboration, is hugely important for our communities and through our community programmes

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