Small Business Can Partner with Smart Business Show

We are delighted to announce that Small Business Can are partnering with the Smart Business Show to provide readers with exclusive discounts to attend the show and to exhibit. There will also be a Small Business Can dedicated event for readers within the show which we will update you on in due course.

The Smart Business Show is a two day Business to Business exhibition taking place on 22 & 23 April in the RDS, Dublin that will provide you with the opportunity to explore the latest innovative technologies and to engage, connect and do business with exhibitors and thousands of attendees. Visitors will also be able to hear from a rich mix of industry leading speakers and participate in dedicated workshops on a variety of themes.
The two-day event follows the very successful Smart Business Show in the Odyssey Arena, Belfast, in 2014, which attracted more than 3,000 attendees, the majority at MD / CEO / director level.

This partnership will provide Small Business Can readers with exclusive discounts to attend the show and also to exhibit.

Small Business Can Reader Discounts

As a Small Business Can reader you can avail of the following special rates to attend the show:

Special Partner Ticket – €15.00 (normally €30.00)

This option allows you entrance to the show, a place at the SBC workshop on SMEs and public tendering which is open to all attendees.

Show-Only Partner Ticket – €10.00

This option allows you to attend the show, but not the SBC workshop.

Click here to book your place

Discounts for Exhibitors

SBC readers can also avail of a 10% discount on exhibition rates, for those interested in exhibiting at the show.

For further information, please click here

The post Small Business Can Partner with Smart Business Show appeared first on Small Business Can.

Is Your Small Business Prepared for The International Market?

Expanding your business operations outside the country can improve profits and brand exposure immensely. But taking on a macro-scale leap also holds new challenges that may present road bumps to your projected business path. Small businesses, given their limited working capital, must factor in all possibilities prior going global.

Is Your Working Capital Enough?

To expand, a business must have money for both existing operations and expansion. It should be a no-brainer but many small businesses seem to neglect the right capital amount prior to offering their products or services on the international market. Having sufficient capital allows a business to make mistakes early on without any permanent damages to the business. An under-capitalized business will operate under pressure and thus will most likely fail.

Do You Have The Equipment?

Equipment and machinery are necessary components for expansionary endeavors. Construction firms must have equipped sites at their prospected foreign location in advance. Meanwhile, retail stores must also have the proper facilities and labor forces already set in place in the country they wish to expand in.

Aside from business equipment, moving supplies are also crucial. Look for cost-effective custom crates to make sure your business’ products can be shipped internationally without incurring damages and defects. According to a Toronto custom packaging expert from Pack-All International, custom crates are preferable to mass-produced ones, as the former can be made to suit the unique shipping needs of your product.

Cost vs. Potential Gains

Will it be worth it to expand to that particular market? Do research to find optimal locations and target markets to expand to. If the costs outweigh the potential gains, it may be better to use the capital to further empower local brand influence instead.

Study The Market

Be familiar first with the marketplace you want to go into. Who are the big players? What are the average costs for properties and materials in the area? The more you are familiar with the demographics of the country you wish to do business in, the easier it will be to identify your market and promote your brand.

Cloud Computing Technology

Cloud computing services help you scale with cheaper cost and lower risk. It also makes managing the small business simpler through increase in accessibility and productivity, all while lowering the costs.

Prepare Your Workforce

Your brand must cultivate a culture with consistent values and this goal starts with your workforce. Make sure they understand and embrace the business’ goals and overall missions, irrespective of which branch they are working in. Regular video conferences are a great and inexpensive way to maintain communication with a distant or international workforce.

The post Is Your Small Business Prepared for The International Market? appeared first on Small Business Can.

8 lessons from supernichist

Hidden Champions of the Twenty-First Century: The Success Strategies of Unknown World Market Leaders by Herman Simon

What do Baader, 3B scientific, McIlhenny, International SOS, Hoganas, Tetra, Bobcat, Gallagher, Seas Getter, Hamamatsu,Arnold and Richter, Petzl, Lantal, Tandberg, WET, De La Rye, Belfor, Ulvac, Orica, CEAG, Gartner, Zimmer, Technogym, Gerriet,Embrear, OC Tanner, Klias, Electro-Nite, Sappi, Essel Propack, Plansee, Dickson, Molex, Jungbunzlauer, Nivarox, SGS, Brainlab, Delo, Enercon, Omicon, Beluga, Nissha, Amorim, Jamba, Netjets and EOS have in common?

They are all companies you probably have never heard off, who have global market shares of over 50% and have been around for a long time. Hermann Simon calls them hidden champions.

The book is the German version of “In search of excellence”. With a number of lessons we all should pay attention to. Particularly owner managers of medium sized businesses.

What can we learn?


They are all extremely niche focusses and have embedded themselves in the value chain of their clients and are the undisputed market leaders in their niche. They usually focus on narrow, small markets. And become the best in that market. Making them he market leader. The claim to market leadership is not confined to market share alone, but includes performance attributes such as technology, innovation, quality, and reputation. Their tactic is to dominate our market niches by transforming general markets in which they are a nobody into market niches where they are somebody! They are supernichists.

What do they do

They are mostly family businesses. They are based in rural communities. They have a long term perspective. They have CEOs that have been there for over 25 years. The CEO is most likely to be the owner. They are very customer focussed. They are global. They look after their staff extremely well. They invest in training.They invest in innovation. They are ambitious, have vision and set themselves long term, some times generational stretch goals. They stick to what they do best. And most of all they all deliver superior quality.

Extreme segmentation

They refuse to employ customary or traditional market definitions. Instead they define their markets in autonomous and innovative ways and it becomes part of their strategy definition. Not “washing machines”, but “washing machines for quality linen, for the restaurants in 5 star hotels only”. Extreme market segmentation if you like. Which means that they are also very, very close to their customers

They have grown by going global

All of the companies have an international focus. They on average 24 subsidiaries in other countries, a surprisingly large number for midsize companies. They are all in China and have been for a long time. The triad they focus on is China, Russia, India. They know that Japan is a source of innovation (“What happens in Tokyo today happens in the rest of the world tomorrow”), but is not their focus yet. All their managers speak at least 3 languages in the company, and increasingly the staff reflects the diversity of their client base. This as part of getting as close as possible to their customers.

Selling versus marketing

Approximately 70% of the hidden champions only sell directly and maintain intensive, lasting relationships with their customers and  enter into a long-term commitment with the supplier. They don’t have marketing departments or marketing titles. They have 5 times more contact with regular contacts then “normal” business. As a result, they have extremely close relationships with their customers, embedded in the value chain of the customer, nearly symbiotic. With emphasis on high performance rather than at low price. They offer complex product and service programs, more often systems solutions. Such programs cannot be sold off the peg, but require detailed consultation processes. They brand themselves by high visibility projects in the niche, focus on being know by the people that matter and the message is simple. Being the best, the number one, the market leader, are excellent communication messages both for the market and for the employees. The statement: “We are number one” is clear and comprehensible for everyone.

Innovation is key

They spend double the average spend on R+D. With a higher emphasis on process innovation, but also in distribution, pricing, design and sometimes technology and patents. If they go for patents, their patent intensity is 5 times higher!  Because they involve staff in vision, values and strategy, innovation is easier. With active involvement of the management team, who are invariable domain experts themselves. And of course they involve their customers in the innovation process. The main focus is on ongoing improvement versus breakthrough innovations. Even many technical breakthroughs were the result of a development policy of small steps.

Simple organisation

The typical hidden champion is a one-product, one-market company with limited organisational complexity. The top management of the hidden champions is very lean. They manage their global businesses with the aid of network organisations that make use of the latest information technology to the greatest possible extent. The hidden champions prefer to promote their leaders from within and have a long term view. The hidden champions have high-performance cultures and are intolerant of shirkers. Shirkers get fired. If you stay, you stay for a long time. The average length of service is 37 years. Which allows the organisation to retain a lot of the knowledge and expertise. Employee loyalty, training, motivation and flexibility are seen as pronounced competitive strengths by the management team. They always have more work than people, which develops a high performance culture. The high performance culture is achieved through the formation of small units that make the performance of individual employees transparent. The hidden champions are enthusiastic decentralises and rely less on formal systems and key figures when it comes to mobilising employees’ creativity.

In core competencies, the hidden champions continue to favour high vertical integration and avoid outsourcing. Hey strongly outsource noncore competencies. They prefer to go it alone and have an aversion to strategic alliances.


  1. .Willpower and goals always come first. Leadership means inspiring employees from all over the world to be the best, to become a world market leader.
  2. Ambitious goals can only be achieved by focusing one’s resources. The definition of the playing field itself is an essential means of getting the focus right
  3. High performance requires intolerance against shirking and swift dismissal of employees who do not pull their weigh
  4. Uniqueness can only come from within and cannot be bought on the market. It therefore requires depth and a certain reserve toward outsourcing.
  5. Decentralisation is the most effective way to retain the strengths of the hidden champions, even in larger and more complex structures. Decentralisation should be put into practice wherever possible.
  6. Globalisation opens up unprecedented growth opportunities, even for small companies. In order to use these opportunities, leaders and employees must put aside their national and cultural boundaries. Incessant stamina and perseverance are required to survive the multigenerational globalisation process. The greatest challenge is the internationalisation of the people.
  7. Innovation is the only effective long-term means of succeeding in competition. Innovation is primarily a question of creativity and quality, less so a matter of money.
  8. Closeness to customer almost automatically creates competitive advantages. Top customers, like top competitors, should be employed systematically as drivers of performance.

Other lessons:

  • Thinking in generations instead of over a short period of time, (e.g., three, five, or ten years as is common in strategic planning);
  • Maintaining high continuity in top management;
  • Resisting management fads, and observing timeless maxims instead;
  • Fostering the loyalty of the employees and the entrepreneur’s reciprocally high responsibility
  • Simplicity
  • The condition “more work than people” also favours simplicity. Parkinson’s law that employees invent the work which keeps them busy doesn’t stand a chance.

You can do it

The end of the book is brilliant. The message is simple, you can do it too. Hidden champions teach us that instead of managing only one great thing brilliantly, good management means doing many small things better than the competitors. The sum of many small advantages ultimately leads to success. Genius is not required. To become a hidden champion, we must do many small things a little better in a targeted and consistent way and with stamina.

Focus, clear and specific market definition, extreme customer care and focus, high quality, high performance and a long term perspective are all you need.

The post 8 lessons from supernichist appeared first on Small Business Can.

How to Choose the Best China Purchasing Agent to Grow Your Business

A lot of businesses need a helping hand when importing from a country like China because it is becoming the major manufacturer of industrial products due to its low price and improved quality. But the diversity of products, language, culture and business practice pose a problem for most foreign buyers and thus, having a good rapport with the suppliers is very important. This is where a China purchasing agent comes in.

What is a Purchasing Agent?

This refers to an individual, working as a freelancer or employed by a company in order to help companies overseas import from China. Although a purchasing agent isn’t a requirement to import from China, a very good agent is really valuable in your overall product procurement strategy.

Why You Need a Purchasing Agent?

Handling these Chinese suppliers can be time consuming and finding the right one requires a sound and tactical approach that completely weeds out the bad suppliers (about 80 – 90 percent), which constitutes the majority. If you don’t have the time to spend ten hours a week for each product and each supplier, follow development and production then you need to good purchasing agent.

Also, choosing the right supplier requires a certain amount of product knowledge which is an asset that is not possessed by a lot of inexperienced importer. You definitely need a China purchasing agent if you do not have the basic technical understanding that is needed to speak intelligently about your product and the requirements of your market or you cannot go to China to inspect factories and get to understand the people you work with.

With that said, it is really up to you to choose whether to work with a purchasing agent or not. If you have the wealth of experience and a high level of “in house” expertise that can manage the often time consuming and risky tasks, then do not hesitate to do it on your own and save a few dollars.

Importance of finding a Good Purchasing Agent.

The responsibility of a purchasing agent is to look for quality products and reputable suppliers and handle everything you need in China on your behalf while looking after your every interest in it. Below are some of the duties of a reliable purchasing agent.

It is his role to keep an organization’s inventory of either finished goods, raw materials, or important services at a satisfactory level in order to keep business tasks at minimum possible price or cost.

He should verify purchase requisitions and compare items requested to master list, clarify unclear items and recommend alternatives. It is the duty of the Purchasing Agent to forward available inventory items by verifying stock and scheduling delivery and also verify price and specifications in order to prepare purchase orders and obtain recommendations from suppliers for substitute items.

His duty also includes obtaining purchased items by forwarding orders to suppliers, monitoring as well as expediting orders. He should be able to verify complete receipt of items by comparing items ordered to items received and resolving shipments in error with suppliers. It is their duty to accomplish purchasing and organization mission by completing related results as needed.

What to look out for in a Purchasing Agent?

A qualified purchasing or sourcing agent in China must have good command of English or any other foreign languages both in written and verbal forms as language is extremely important in communication among businessmen world. A good China purchasing agent should know much about the policies in China and should have good links with local government authorities.

A purchasing agent should also have proper methods on purchasing and sourcing the target items as soon as possible. He should also have a good knowledge of international laws and regulations. He should be familiar with international practice, certificates issue, quota issue, tax issue and anti-dumping issue, etc.

As more and more businesses seek to expand and make their operations more efficient, getting a purchasing agent to handle all the time consuming tasks is a wise approach to take. The guide discussed above should be able to lead you in the right path so that you can get a China Purchasing Agent that is trustworthy, reliable and efficient.

The post How to Choose the Best China Purchasing Agent to Grow Your Business appeared first on Small Business Can.

Quality Design: Manufacturing Collaboration for Impressive Teamwork

If you are a believer in the philosophy that many hands make light work, teamwork should be right up there on your list of priorities.

Collaboration is often a successful ingredient in getting results within your business and this will the show itself in producing better results through impressive teamwork.

Here is a look at some of the ways that you can boost the quality aspect of your manufacturing process by pulling everyone together and working successfully as a team.

Success you can measure

Team performance is measured in a number of ways and manufacturing companies such as are one of a good number of organizations who understand the importance of collaboration throughout the manufacturing process.

Encourage workers within a team to look out for each other whilst still striving individually to produce the highest level of output. Also avoid assigning blame to a single worker when there is a breakdown in the line of production.

You should measure success in terms of a team performance and then look to reward accordingly when the group achieves targets through their strong alliance, even if they are working on specific tasks with the group.

Learn from the past

Another positive way to create a good level of teamwork is to study peers and previously successful projects.

It often inspires employees to learn from those that have been there before them and how they previously attained success and reached their targets. It can also be a great idea to bring in previous leaders or inspirational figures who have moved on to other achievements, as a way of motivating your current team to reach these same peaks.

Balancing rewards

When it comes to manufacturing, there is often a thin line between suppressing creativity and trying to reduce costly errors in the production line.

You need to devise a system that tries to avoid the negative aspects that comes from punishing failure and concentrate on rewarding a successful uplift in output, without avoiding any safety issues that need addressing.

This is indeed a tricky balancing act to get right. But if you aim to find a suitable middle ground that incentivizes employees but keeps their performance within strict safety levels, your business should prosper.

Process and product are equally important

It is essential that you don’t let the pursuit of maximum output outweigh the need for safety at any time.

Make sure that workers are fully drilled on the need for rigorous safety procedures and that they have access to all the documents and training needed for them to be compliant in this respect.

This is particularly vital when a new worker is introduced into the team. When this happens, they have the potential to raise the risk profile and may end up endangering their own safety and that of their co-workers.

Process and product are of equal importance and for everyone’s safety and re-assurance, this is a message that has to be understood and acted upon at all times.

It also has to be instilled into any new team member, so they truly get the sense from day one, that they are joining a business and a group of workers who believe in the importance of teamwork.

The post Quality Design: Manufacturing Collaboration for Impressive Teamwork appeared first on Small Business Can.

How to Enter a Foreign Market

Entering a foreign market can be one of the most exciting stages in the development of your business. Selling your product to a foreign market will mean many fresh challenges as well the opportunity to significantly grow your business. Operating in a foreign country can also diversify your business so that you are no longer exposed to the risk of a single market.

Researching Potential Markets

Before you commit to a foreign market it is important that you research it carefully. It is critical that you look at how the legal system, culture and religious beliefs may impact your business. Many products that are successful in their domestic market struggle in foreign markets due to differences in taste and culture. For example, when KFC entered the Chinese market it had to radically change its menu to meet the local culinary tastes. The Chinese KFC menu includes items that few Americans would recognize including egg tarts, shrimp burgers and soy milk drinks. It has even changed its menu to meet certain regional tastes in the country. By adapting to local tastes KFC has grown the number of its restaurants in China to more than 3,000.

Creating A Plan

The next step should be to create an export plan. This plan will help you to identify the potential risks, barriers to entry as well as opportunities that exist in that market. This plan should include a list of your major competitors and potential partners in this market. You should also establish how you intend to market and distribute your products.

Selling Your Products

Identify how you are going to sell your product in the market that you are entering. One of the most common approaches is to use local sales representatives or distributors. Sales representative typically work on commission and use the sales literature and marketing materials that you provide. Foreign distributor purchase the goods directly from you at a significant discount and then resell them for a profit. Alternatively, you may want to sell directly to end users either through establishing your own retail locations or online.

Franchising And Joint Ventures

Franchising and joint ventures are common approaches to entering a foreign market. When you franchise, you provide local businesses with limited intellectual property rights to your products. You also provide processes that must be followed by your franchisees. Joint ventures involve teaming up with a local business. The two businesses share joint management and control of the new business. This enables to you to share costs as well as benefit from the local business knowledge of their market.

Determining Pricing

Pricing can vary significantly depending on the market you are operating in. One of the most straightforward pricing models is the cost-plus approach. This involves basing your pricing on the cost of goods plus the costs associated with importing the product into the foreign market. While this approach is relatively simple, it has the disadvantage of potentially setting prices which are uncompetitive in the local market. In markets where your product is unique and there is high demand you may be able to price higher than in your domestic market. Another option is to attempt to undercut the local pricing in order to gain market share as quickly as possible.

Foreign Language Website

When you enter a foreign market, you will need to develop a new website for that country. This is particularly important if the market that you are entering speaks a different language to your domestic market. Having a new website will allow you to target the marketing messaging, store locations, contact information and product details to that market. Having a foreign language website created is not complicated, compared to some of the other challenges of entering a new market. One good option is to use a global translation service, (for example, Simple Translation), which specializes in translating websites from one language to another.

Entering a foreign market will often involve a sharp learning curve. You may be required to adapt your current processes and systems for the new market. But the benefits of selling into a foreign market invariably justify these challenges. Businesses that enter foreign markets typically become better diversified and more robust organizations with greater potential for rapid growth.

The post How to Enter a Foreign Market appeared first on Small Business Can.

The 10 Basics of Export Marketing for Small Business

Expanding your company by targeting overseas sales is a fantastic way of developing a business. However, export success certainly won’t happen overnight and there are many potential hazards out there that need to be overcome before success is achieved.

Marketing your business, product or service is crucial to your success. Prior to launching anything internationally, you need to sit down and plan, plan and plan some more.

So here are 10 essential points to effective export marketing that should hopefully help you on your way.

1. Create an Export Marketing Plan

Remember those days when you were launching your company and you sat down and spent hours writing out a business plan? Well you need to do that again but this time to plan out just how you’re going to be successful at launching into export. You need to work out where you are going to aim your product, when this important development of your business is going to take place and how much you should budget for it.  Keep hold of this and continually refer back to it.

2. Do your export homework

You have an idea just where you are going to launch your product but you now need to find out as much as possible about that country or region. Learn about the population, their habits and what possible challenges lay ahead. There is a wealth of free information available online now that exporters can use to get quickly up to speed on all the key areas that might impact their export offering.

3. Competition analysis

It’s important that you find out who your likely competitors are going to be. Find out what they are currently doing, how they are doing it and how you can do it better (hopefully) and conduct a SWOT analysis. If you are going to be selling toothpaste into Indonesia, would you really do so without understanding who already does so and how much they actually sell? Scrutinise competitors’ approaches; take what is good and leave what is bad.

4. Make sure you overcome any cultural differences

The country you are going to be exporting to is likely to have cultural differences and you must find out about these. It’s so easy to make expensive blunders that could have been avoided if research had been carried out. This is particularly important with your advertising material with everything from your logo to the name of your product being potential hazards. A US toothpaste manufacturer once sold into an area of South East Asia where the locals saw black teeth as beautiful! Obviously they didn’t sell too many tubes.

5. The importance of language

From the emails you send to your foreign clients to the language used in your marketing material, there’s plenty you need to learn if you want to be a successful exporter. Don’t include words that may be innocent in your own country but have a totally different meaning in the country you want to trade with. Make sure you use a linguist or a professional from the target country who can advise you on your language as well as your website copy, brochures, manuals, etc.

6. Where is the best place to put your message across?

Once your marketing material has been created where should you place it to get the best results? It could be via a search engine, in the local press or on social media. Again you need to find out what works best in the country you are exporting to. Not every country will have the same channels for marketing and advertising. In some West African nations, the tribal chief might actually be your best marketing channel!

7. An online presence

If you haven’t already got a website then get one!  If you do have one then you need to make sure it can aid your export drive not hinder it.  Make sure your site is towards the top of search engines and get the site translated so your potential new customers can fully understand the message you’re trying to put across. As well as translating the contents, look at the usability of your website. For example in some languages they read right to left – how would this impact your site’s effectiveness?

8. How do you want them to contact you?

Those potential new customers have found your website and understand it too. So what do you want them to do next? Decide if you want them to email you or telephone you. If you do want them to call you make sure you have staff who can successfully take that call. There is no point marketing your service to Germany and then not being able to deal with a phone call or email in German. Think through how these foreign prospects can be dealt with.

9. Ensure you can receive payment

Your new customer wants to buy your product online but is that possible? Make sure that your site can take foreign payments. Ensure you closely look at the local payment methods people use. Online credit card payments are distrusted in Germany so what would the alternative be? Check competitors’ sites and see what they are using.

10. Don’t forget to test

As you’ll see there’s a lot to learn if this export drive you desire is going to work. Have a trial run, start off small and apply what you’ve learnt. Take a small dip in the export waters, learn from any mistakes you make and then start to grow the export side of your business. Test, test, test and improve…..continuously.

The post The 10 Basics of Export Marketing for Small Business appeared first on Small Business Can.

Asia Trade Forum and UCD Smurfit Business School Team Up For Mentoring Partnership

The Asia Trade Forum of the Irish Exporters Association and Smurfit Business School has entered into a mentoring partnership where students will work on a group project with a member company to complete a new market entry strategy.  In response to the rapidly growing markets in Asia, a country from that region will be chosen. Other international markets may also be considered.

The key focus of each project will be on entry strategies for a particular product / service into a particular international market.

The key outcomes of this ‘live project’ for the students are:

  • To learn successful strategies for entering new markets with a real life Irish company
  • They will receive mentoring from successful business people
  • To enhance their CV and become more employable
  • To hone their presentation skills
  • They will learn how to deliver and present a professional report

The key outcomes for the IEA member company are:

  • To have the opportunity to develop an international market opportunity for their company
  • Give something back to the community.
  • Operating in a mentoring capacity, they will provide students with a live project to enhance their international market entry strategy skills which, not least, will make them eminently more employable in the currently difficult economic environment.
  • They will facilitate creativity and initiative taking by group members.
  • They will work more closely with Smurfit Business School, deepening the relationship over time, potentially provide internships for strong students, and potentially source Smurfit graduates as prospective employees over time.


Hugh C. Kelly, Managing Director, Associated Marketing Ltd. Director, Irish Exporters Association.
Mr Joe Tynan, Tax Partner, PwC. Director, Irish Exporters Association.

Feedback from Last Year’s Projects

The project for us has certainly added value. The market research on the various regions is excellent. In short, they covered all aspects of the project we asked them to. Everything from the perception of Irish beef to possible markets and route to market.

(the group) delivered a very good and well established project and I must say all of the team acted in a very professional and courteous manner throughout & I have given each of them a letter of reference following my time working with them over the last 3 months.

The whole team at SIA are very impressed with the quality and depth of your analysis and recommendations.  The report has been completed to an excellent standard with a real understanding of the industry and our position in the global market. To prove the point we have been in initial discussions with DC Logistics last week to become our partner in Brazil and they were first on your list.

I just wanted to drop you a note, to thank you and the group for the work done on the project. We believe it will be very useful. I would also like to let you know that we were very impressed with Killian’s work as leader on the project.

Project Schedule

Duration of Project: Monday 27 January – Thursday 24 April 2014.

What are Companies expected to do?
Company participants should take ownership of this project. Critically the intellectual property of this project resides with the company. Companies are expected to guide and mentor their groups toward the realisation of a high quality project, keeping in mind the grading criteria. Clarity with regard to brief is a starting point. Sometimes companies may be rigid in terms of their brief. Please provide space for the students to demonstrate creativity and to use their initiative. They may ‘talk theory’ initially, not least as academically they are expected to have a theoretical underpinning to their project. Please empathise, as I’m sure you appreciate that all business transactions have a theoretical underpinning. The presentation and physical copy of the final report has to be to the highest standards, a report and presentation that you yourselves would stand over.

Communication between Company and Students
It is the expectation that companies will communicate with students face –to-face, by phone, Skype, or email for the duration of the project, and be proactive in this regard. This is to avoid a situation where students get lost in their project and would gain from immediate communication and mentoring rather than losing time going down blind allies in their market research.


The contacts details for interested and eligible parties are as follows:

Dr John (Sean) Cassidy, Module Coordinator, UCD Smurfit Business School
Contact Details: Tel: 01-7164831; Mobile: 086 812 0654; Email:

Ms. Ashley Beston, Manager, Asia Trade Forum, Irish Exporters Association
Contact Details: Tel: +353 1 6424178; Email:

The post Asia Trade Forum and UCD Smurfit Business School Team Up For Mentoring Partnership appeared first on Small Business Can.

Export Ireland Survey

On Wednesday November 13th I had the pleasure to attend a reception to launch the Irish Exporters Association’s “Export Ireland Survey & International Trade Finance Review for 2013”. The reception was hosted by Grant Thornton and they were also sponsors of the publication.

The main objective of the publication is to research and measure the opinions and expectations of companies in Ireland in relation to their export activities. Every year hundreds of companies participate providing their highly valuable input.  The results allow the main stakeholders in the Irish economy to have a better understanding of the state of the Irish export industry and allows the IEA to present the findings to Government and propose actions to be taken to improve export performance.

Irish Export Industry

Speaking to Simon McKeever, CEO of the Irish Exporters Association, he said “Our survey provides an insightful annual temperature check on the challenges and opportunities affecting the Irish Export Industry.  This year the survey shows positive momentum with  increased plans to introduce new products and services over the next 2 years, and a positive trend in the number of sales people recruited over the last 12 months. “ However we cannot afford to be complacent.  Our competitiveness remains an issue for many small businesses. We need to encourage more Irish firms to export, to help them identify opportunities and to win business successfully overseas.  We are grateful for the professional expertise brought to the survey by our economic adviser Philip Halpin and the continued support of our partner Grant Thornton.

My thanks to Simon for granting me permission to use content from their publication. It is an excellent survey/review and I would urge any company involved in the export business or considering entering new markets to contact the IEA to discuss the findings in more detail and see how they can be of help.

There are seven main parts to the survey and these are:

  1. Challenges in the marketplace and opportunities facing exporters
  2. Currency issues
  3. Trade Finance and Banking
  4. Payment Issues
  5. Credit Management
  6. Support for Exporters
  7. Grant Thornton Review

The Guest of Honour was Mr Michael Noonan, Minister for Finance, Mr Patrick Burke, Partner Grant Thornton welcomed the guests, Mr Colin Lawlor – President of the Irish Exporters Association spoke on behalf of the IEA and Mr Philip Halpin, Economic Advisor to the IEA presented the findings.

The Report

The publication showed that the “green shoots” are coming alive as we emerge from our deep recession; they also tell us about the challenges our exporters feel as they develop new markets.

Some interesting points to emerge from this excellent report show that:

  • 80% of businesses expect exports to increase in 2014
  • 70% of respondents are targeting new markets
  • 88% plan to introduce new products and services over the next two years
  • 51% of exporters have recruited new sales staff over the past twelve months
  • 45% expect to increase their R&D spend in 2014
  • 95% of respondents export to ensure sustainability of their business
  • 61% see exporting as having helped them understand their home market more

The Irish Exporters Association can be contacted on + 353 1 661 2182 / or at

The post Export Ireland Survey appeared first on Small Business Can.

Irish Trade Mission to Moscow

Ulster Bank often works with Enterprise Ireland in their efforts to assist Irish companies in the SME sector develop their export business.

We do this in many ways, some recent examples involved speaking at their Funding for Growth seminars, joint hosting of events on doing business is a variety of markets and travelling on Trade Missions with Enterprise Ireland and their clients to key business markets.

Recently Gerry Ennis, Head of Trade Finance at Ulster Bank (pictured here with Minister of State Alan Kelly and Patrick Edmond of Shannon Airport)  attended a trade mission to Moscow , organised by Enterprise Ireland and led by the Minister of State Alan Kelly, and he has provided the following report on the trip:

Two trade missions to Moscow

Two trade missions to Moscow took place at the same time (Aviation and Agriculture) and in excess of 40 people travelled from Ireland. Each mission was fully supported by the Irish Embassy in Moscow.

The Irish Aviation / Transportation mission focused on the growing opportunities for Irish companies in that sector. It was interesting to hear that the aviation industry in Ireland is directly responsible for 26,000 jobs with an estimated further 16,000 jobs supported in the aviation supply chain. This sector contributes in excess of €4bn to Ireland’s GDP. The second group of companies attended an “Innovation in Agriculture” trade mission , these were companies providing product and services to a very dynamic market in Russia.

Irish exports of goods to Russia for the first eight months of 2013 were €434m , up 8.5% on the same period last year. It is interesting to note that our Imports at €109m for the same period this year is only one quarter of our exports.

Russia is not an easy market to crack, having said that many of the companies on these missions have shown that they can sell their product successfully throughout Russia and also to neighbouring countries such as Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakhstan.

Enterprise Ireland

Enterprise Ireland have a fantastic team based in Moscow , led by Gerry McCarthy and ably supported by his colleagues – all of whom were excellent hosts to attendees on the mission. Our Ambassador to Russia, Eoin O’Leary and his team were very involved and supportive of the mission. The Embassy and Enterprise Ireland both have an open door policy when it comes to supporting Irish companies as they seek to develp their business in Russia. Gerry can be seen here in the company of Ambassador O’Leary.

During the trip I attended a dinner hosted by Enterprise Ireland and in excess of 200 people , Irish and Russian were present at a hotel within a stone’s throw of the Kremlin. Ambassador O’Leary hosted an evening reception at the Embassy on another evening. At other times I networked with these companies to explore ways in which we could work together. I also visited the main local banks in the company of Natalia from the local RBS office in an effort to promote Ireland but more importantly to promote the bank in Ireland to these major banking giants. RBS employs close to 300 people in Russia, with offices in Moscow, St Petersburg and Sakhalin.

I would be pleased to talk to any of our readers if we can be of any assistance to you as you seek to explore new business opportunities in Russia or for any emerging market in fact. My main contact details are as follows:

Telephone: +353 1 643 1724
Mobile: + 353  87 7681263

The post Irish Trade Mission to Moscow appeared first on Small Business Can.