How to grow your business at the right pace

It is possible to grow your business too quickly, it’s called overtrading and it can be dangerous.
Managing growth can be tricky, requiring a careful balancing between meeting customers’ orders on the one hand, and not over-stretching the resources and ability of the business to meet these orders on the other.
This constant balancing act is at the heart of a key risk for many businesses – the risk of overtrading – or the ability of a business to safely finance customer orders, before these orders are paid for by customers, without running out of the cash that the business needs day-to-day.
It’s often a particular dilemma for start-up and high growth businesses – finding the cash to fund business expansion, before being paid by your new customers. Even long-established businesses can be affected by over-trading. So all businesses should be aware of the risk and take active steps to prevent it. Luckily, there is a wide range of practical steps and actions that can be taken to manage business growth safely and avoid the risk of overtrading.

Step 1: Listen to your accountant

Your accountant will often be the first to spot the warning signs of overtrading. Listen to advice offered to you, carefully, and then act on it. Do not bury your head in the sand and ignore good advice. Advance planning and taking preventative steps now, could save a lot of trouble later and make the difference between business survival and extinction, especially in the early stages of business growth.

Step 2: Know your cashflow

Cashflow forecasting is an essential tool for any business, either new or well established. Read the ThinkBusiness.ie cashflow guide for more information. You need up-to-date financial information at your fingertips, to help you assess and plan the impact that any business expansion will have on your

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Thinking Business – Ronan Murphy, Smarttech

‘We invested heavily in cybersecurity before it became a major issue facing business.’
What’s your pitch? 
Smarttech is one of the leading Cybersecurity managed service providers in Europe and the only company in Europe to implement cognitive computing (Artificial Intelligence) to run our European Cyber Security Operation Centre, which is powered by IBM Watson. 
How long have you been in business? 
We have been in business since 2004, but we reinvented the company in 2010 to focus purely on cyber security. This has been our core focus for the last six years, and in addition to service delivery, we have had a strategic focus on innovation of development of new security products and services. 
What did you want to be ‘when you grew up’? 
A fireman. 
What’s your ambition now? 
My ambition is to become a global leader in the delivery of managed cyber security solutions. We are experiencing tremendous growth as a company and delivering immense value to our customers who range from some mid-size business to some of the largest businesses in the world. We deliver all of this from Cork.
“I would make coding a mandatory part of all school curriculum. This would help drive innovation and fill the skills pipeline for the future. ”
What’s the most important thing you have learned so far in business? 
I guess its patience. We invested heavily in cybersecurity before it became a major issue facing business. From a sales perspective, it often felt like we were knocking on closed doors but eventually the patience paid off. 
What has been your biggest ‘mistake’ in business so far? 
Biggest mistake has been diversifying from our core competencies. 
Who inspires you in the business world? 
I find Richard Branson inspiring. 
What historical figure would you choose to have dinner with? 
Albert Einstein  
If you were ‘ruler for a day’ what would you do to change the business or social climate

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‘We want one billion euros in savings for our customers’

UrbanVolt supplies lighting as a service. Founder Kevin Maughan is on a global mission.

What’s your elevator pitch?
UrbanVolt is an award-winning Irish company that provides ‘Light as a Service’ to industrial and commercial clients. We invest all the money to install and maintain new LED lighting fixtures, generating an immediate 75% savings on energy costs for our customers. We then share those cash savings with our clients for five years.
How long have you been in business?
We started in September 2015 and went to market in Jan 2016. Since our market launch, we have helped our Irish clients save over 20 million euros, without anyone ever asking a customer for a penny upfront.
What did you want to be ‘when you grew up’?
I don’t want to grow up, ask me in 20 years.
What’s your ambition now?
Our innovative business model can save billions of euros for businesses around the world, and we are determined to deliver on that potential. By 2020, we aim to provide one billion euros in savings for our customers and help to make the world’s transition to sustainability easier.
“We never received support from any of the government-sponsored programmes, as they showed no interest and a total lack of understanding of our business model.”
What’s the most important thing you have learned so far in business?
Surround yourself with great people and then give them the confidence and the belief that they can achieve anything. Most businesses look for people who have reached their potential and are ‘proven players’ in their respective careers. We believe in the opposite – find people before they reach their potential and help them to get there.
What was your biggest ‘mistake’ been, in business so far?
This is a tough question as I’ve made many errors in business over the years. However, upon reflection, I can say that there has

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The bike business – Michael Fearon, Cycle SuperStore

Cycle SuperStore began its story in business, over 30 years ago, in 1982. Ray Fearon, having completed a B.Sc. in business management, started trading as Ray’s Bike Shop in Rathgar, Dublin.
Shortly after this, he was joined by his brother Michael and over the next 30 years, together with their dedicated staff, they built the business into Ireland’s biggest cycle store.
What’s your elevator pitch? 
In short, The Cycle Superstore, from humble beginnings, is now the largest bicycle retailer in the country.
How long have you been in business?
Established in a shed in Rathgar in 1982 we’ve had many moves since then to our new superstore on the Airton Road in Tallaght. It’s been a very fast 30 years. 
What did you want to be ‘when you grew up’?
Believe it or not a Garda. I think it was a power thing and as soon as I got sense, that ambition ended. 
What’s your ambition now?
To continue building on what we have achieved so far and build a center for cycling excellence on par with any place in the world. Our motto is “We can do it better.”
What’s the most important thing you have learned so far in business?
Every day is different, take a deep breath and never think you have it cracked. 
What was your biggest ‘mistake’ been, in business so far?
Negotiating and entering into commercial leases. We have had many over the years, and none were a good experience. My advice to anybody starting out? Don’t rush in, seek good professional advice and adhere to it.
“Armed with a business plan and a personal guarantee from our father, we went round the houses with no joy.”
Who inspires you in the business world?
What can I say? A great friend to the cycle industry and cyclists in general, Michael O’Leary. You can’t fault what he has achieved.
What historical figure would you choose

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Thinking business – Liam Holland, Colourtrend

Liam Holland, sales and marketing director, Colourtrend is on a mission.

What’s your business pitch? 
Colourtrend is Ireland’s largest independent paint manufacturer with 90 people employed at our facility in Celbridge, Co. Kildare. We create technically superior paints in colour palettes inspired by the Irish landscape.
How long have you been in business?
We are a family business founded by the current managing director’s father in an old 1841 famine workhouse in May 1953.
What did you want to be ‘when you grew up’?
Still working on that – haven’t grown up yet.
What’s your ambition now?
To build the Colourtrend brand into an iconic Irish brand.
What’s the most important thing you have learned so far in business?
Surround yourself with good people, listen to them and empower them. Do less but do it better.
“When you are growing as fast as we are you need good cash flow and good business systems.”
What was your biggest ‘mistake’ been, in business so far?
No show stoppers. But from a previous industry like so many others – putting content on the Internet for free.
Who inspires you in the business world?
Anyone that follows their dreams, irrespective of whether they succeed or not.
What historical figure would you choose to have dinner with? 
Well, being a golfer, Jack Nicklaus. I think he’d have some great tales to tell.
If you were ‘ruler for a day’ what would you do to change the business or social climate in this country?
Introduce a regulation to promote the production of water-based paint products. Lower VOC (volatile organic compounds), low odour and much kinder to the environment. Colourtrend has been manufacturing these type of goods for the past 12 years.
Did you receive any supports to start your business and what do you need most at this stage of your business? 
Well, we are 63 years in business, and I am only here five years,

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Thinking business – Paul Jacob, Smart Storage

Paul Jacob of Smart Storage secured Dragon’s Den investment in 2012. He has grown the business dramatically since then.

What’s your elevator pitch?
We supply modular under stairs storage units that fit under 11.5 million suburban homes across the UK and Ireland. Our units are designed to use the un-used space under your stairs by providing a modular system that slides out giving you storage for everything from shoes, school bags, and the vacuum cleaner. Simple clean and affordable storage solutions fitted in a matter of hours.
How long have you been in business?
Smart Storage is in business since 2011. I, on the other hand, have had various business ventures since 2004 (12 years).
What did you want to be ‘when you grew up’?
I wanted to be an archaeologist. I ended up as an engineer on motorway construction. The only similarity was I got to dig holes with bigger cooler machines instead of a small hand trowel.
“You need to listen to your customer and provide the service and sales route the customer wants. Otherwise, it’s like trying to turn an oil tanker in a bathtub.”
What’s your ambition now?
Professionally for Smart Storage I wan to see it as a global brand & business with sales across the EU and North America.
Personally – I love the opportunity to try different things. I would love to go back to college in the future and study law.
I also want to continue to travel with my family, and try new challenges each year. Something we all enjoy.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned so far in business?
It’s hard work! So make sure you enjoy what you are doing otherwise it could be a long day. I love my job. I don’t see work as a chore. I see work as just one of the parts of my day.
What was your

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Thinking business – Guy de Bromhead, Emojitones

What’s your elevator pitch? 
Emojitones is the world’s first sound based messenger. The usual social cues from face-to-face interaction are absent or misconstrued in text-based communication. 
How long have you been in business?
In general, ten years. However, we raised €500k seed capital for Emojitones Messenger towards the end of 2015. The iOS and Android apps are now available in the app stores. 
What did you want to be ‘when you grew up’?
A stockbroker. I then read a book while studying my masters in finance at Smurfit Business School that changed my outlook. After qualifying as an accountant, I immediately left the workplace to start my own business.
What’s your ambition now?
For Emojitones Messenger I want, in the short term, to build a highly ambitious team focused on taking the product to a global user base. 
What’s the most important thing you have learned so far in business?
Start and never give up.
What has your biggest ‘mistake’ been, in business so far?
Overworking – sometimes it’s good to take a step back and try to view your activities from an outsider’s perspective. You can get stuck “in” the business on occasion.
“The risk, effort and time entrepreneurs put into growing their businesses, in most cases come with too little reward all things considered, mainly because of the tax system.”
Who inspires you in the business world?
Elon Musk, he has incredible drive. 
What historical figure would you choose to have dinner with? 
A round table dinner with the men that built America – John D. Rockefeller, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford, and JP Morgan.
If you were ‘ruler for a day’ what would you do to change the business or social climate in this country?
It’s hard to say without studying the potential effects of any change. I do think entrepreneurs are the bread and butter of the economy. However, the risk, effort and

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/%EF%BB%BFguy-de-bromhead-emojitones/ on
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UCC to invest €241 million in its development

‘This is the largest investment in capital projects at UCC in our history.’
The European Investment Bank (EIB) is lending €100 million to University College Cork. 
The investment is part of an ambitious €241 million development plan for UCC. 
More than 500 new construction sector jobs are likely to be created as a result of the development.
“This is the largest investment in capital projects at UCC in our history,” says UCC President Dr Michael Murphy.
More than €60 million will be invested in student accommodation.
The investments breakdown is as follows:

€64 million investment in student accommodation;
€37 million to build a new Cork University Dental School, Research Centre and Hospital;
€27 million to fund Western Campus Development including the Cork Science & Innovation Park (Phase 1) and outdoor sports facilities;
€90 million for a new student hub, ICT services, facilities upgrade, refurbishment, building extensions as well as flood remedial works and Western Gateway infrastructure;
€23 million to fund new clinical medical school for the Cork hospitals;
The funding will also help facilitate a €10 million University investment across University Hospital Waterford, University Hospital Kerry and South Tipperary General Hospital.

The total development programme is valued at €241 million. The EIB is lending €100 million, with the rest of the money coming from capital grants, borrowings and philanthropy.
READ MORE: The best Universities and colleges in Ireland for student entrepreneurs.

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A dream invention turns into a business

Declan Cosgrave is living proof that people can follow their dream and be successful.
After a career in corporate insurance and a stint running a successful web business, forty-five-year-old Declan Cosgrove (pictured below with George Hook) retired to restore his thatched cottage near Ballymitty, Co. Wexford. His new business is to inspire people to play music. He is the inventor of the world’s fastest learned piano method – DecPlayPiano.com.
How quickly can someone learn to play the piano?
Most people can play a song using both hands within the first hour, using the DecPlay method. The best way to demonstrate this is to have a look at a couple of examples. 
The video below shows Mel playing Silent Night within one hour, having never learned piano before and shows her surprise and fun of being able to play so well, so quickly.

In another video, you can see Hannah, also with no background in music, playing Fairytale of New York, from scratch in less than an hour.
Why do you want to inspire people to play the piano?
Playing music can be one of the greatest joys in life and is a powerful way to build confidence, express yourself, have fun and create deep connections with others. My passion is inspiring people to unlock their natural musical abilities. Also, contributing to the community and personal growth gives me a great sense of fulfilment. 

What’s so innovative about your method? 
DecPlay enables you to start playing fun songs within one hour, which would often take over a year of traditional tuition. This rapid progress and fun approach motivates you to practice and develop your skills further. This is the opposite of the traditional piano tuition I experienced as a child, where the focus was passing exam grades, which took years and still didn’t equip me to play fun music at parties. 
Secondly,

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Alan O’Neill – supercharge your business

O’Neill has a reputation for making the complex simple with a commercial focus that brings everything back to the customer.

The current business climate is experiencing more change than ever before. Indeed – the volume, speed and complexity of change is growing exponentially. Brexit is of course one big example. But so also is the digital revolution, the political environment, the economy roller-coaster and customer behaviours are causing us all to rethink what and how we do things.
What does all this mean for the SME that is trying to compete against the big guys? While large corporates usually have lots of people to share the load, SMEs have to do the best they can with limited resources. The answer is partly about having a compelling proposition that makes you stand out. It’s also about taking time out for yourself to work on your business and not just in your business – and learn from each other.
WATCH: Alan O’Neill visits Wicklow Brewery, undoubtedly the best beer in the world.
For more than 25 years, Alan O’Neill has been guiding global brands across industry through change.
A visiting professor with Ashridge, O’Neill is also a trusted mentor to many chief executives and board directors who seek his advice on a range of issues. O’Neill has a reputation for making the complex simple – for being down-to-earth and practical – with a commercial focus that brings everything back to the customer.
WATCH: Alan O’Neill visits Killowen Farm to discuss diversification and growth.
Main photo by Kevin McFeely.

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