Category Archives: Running A Business

Six of the best cinemas in Ireland

The International Union of Cinemas says that Ireland has the most cinema goers of any country in the EU. Below are six of the best cinemas in the land.


Lighthouse Cinema

Located in the Market Square in Smithfield, the Lighthouse cinema is regarded as one of the coolest places to catch a movie in Dublin. The Lighthouse distinguishes itself from its competitors by offering punters a mixture of Hollywood blockbusters, old classics and art-house films. A stone’s throw from the achingly cool Stoneybatter, the cinema is surrounded by a wealth of hip pubs and restaurants.

eye cinema galway

Eye Cinema

Galway’s locally-owned Eye bills itself as “the cinema that Galway deserves but has never had”. It sets itself apart from the big cinema chains by giving customers a choice of both mainstream film as well as more arthouse offerings. Visitors get the full multiplex experience with multiple screens, cafés, bars and an ice cream parlour. However, its Eye’s commitment to culture (as well as independent cinema it also host live events with musicians, poets, and comedians) that makes Eye the best in the West.

Phoenix Cinema Dingle

This family-run cinema is just another reason to love Dingle; an adult ticket to its nightly evening showing is only €8 while a matinee ticket will set you back €5.50. The 150 seat cinema also has its ‘Art Film’ night on Tuesdays, with tea and biscuits thrown in for good measure. A good option following a day exploring the Wild Atlantic Way or one of the town’s other attractions.

Century Cinemas

Another family run business, Century has been bringing cinema to Letterkenny for over 75 years. It has all the trappings of a multiplex with eight screens, stadium seating, and 3D movies. However, it also broadcasts live theatre and dance productions. In 2013 it opened its very own ice skating rink, Century Ice, so there’s no shortage of things to do in this enterprising venue.

best cinemas in ireland


Home of the Irish Film Institute, Temple Bar’s IFI is the go-to cinema for Dublin film buffs who want to get their fix of the latest in cutting-edge movie making. Its Georgian building gives visitors a cosy cinema-going experience, while its bar and café give people a place to hang out before sampling what’s on offer on the big screen.

Movie Junction

Cork’s Movie Junction is Ireland’s only dedicated drive in cinema, open seven nights a week. Visitors pick up snacks at the drive-thru kiosk, pull up in the parking bay, tune into the Movie Junction FM frequency on the car radio, then sit back and enjoy the latest blockbuster. Pizzas and chips can be ordered and delivered to your car door, and canopies keep your windscreen clear when it rains. A little slice of American culture in County Cork.

What’s your favourite cinema? Let us know on our Facebook page.

READ: The film sector is big business. If you want to open a cinema find the right finance.

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Data leaks, disasters and what to do

Data leaks are damaging. It’s never too late to put ten basic security practices in place.

52% of firms* in Ireland have no comprehensive strategy when it comes to preventing digital crime or data leaks.

Sensitive data leaks are the stuff of nightmares for business owners (and public representatives). What can you do when the horrible happens? 

darragh doyle

When it comes to sharing information, social media strategist Darragh Doyle says business owners should have very clear social media policies in place.

“Along with the policies and a nondisclosure agreement, employers should make it very clear that company information is never published in social groups,” says Doyle. 

Nightmare scenario

And what do you do if customer data or other sensitive data makes its way into the ‘wrong’ hands? 

“You have to own the problem,” says Doyle. “You have to find out how the issue occurred, where did it leak from, and then seek to address the fallout.”

Can someone press the big red button? 

“You also need to know the administrators of your social media groups and trust them. The question is, ‘Can someone hit the big red button?’” asks Doyle. 

Data dumps

It’s also important to keep company devices free from sensitive data. “Employees should be asked to do a data wipe, every day if necessary,” advises Doyle. 

“For example, they may have downloaded a database for a meeting to view it on screen. They should erase sensitive documents. It’s like having a clean desk policy but for smart devices and laptops.” 

The top ten things to do

*Grant Thornton suggested in a 2016 report that only 16% of Irish firms believe that cyber-crime is a credible threat.

The cost of cyber-crime to the Irish economy is estimated at €630m annually.

Here is a list of 10 useful tips that will help protect your business from cybercrime.

  • Secure your computers: Firstly, install anti-spyware and anti-virus software and always make sure that your firewall is activated. Additionally, Windows has a standard firewall on all of its computers. Access it from your control panel and confirm it’s switched on. This will help reduce your susceptibility to malware.
  • Secure your wireless network: Verify that your wireless network is not available to the public. Verify that your internet access is password protected and restrict usage to employees and guest visitors.
  • Encrypt your data: Encrypt, encrypt, encrypt. This cannot be emphasised enough. Encryption allows you to encode your information so that only authorised personnel can access it. Use encryption for any sensitive files or data that you own.
  • Avoid clicking unsafe links: The old saying “if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is” rings true here. Exercise caution when it comes to advertisements online, install ad-blocking software or, better yet, simply ignore them.
  • Use strong passwords: Perhaps the most obvious safety precaution, you should implement a strong alphanumeric password policy that consists of numbers, lowercase letters, uppercase letters and special characters with the password requiring a minimum of 12 characters.
  • Review statements regularly: A relatively simple action, review your monthly financial statements and check for any irregularities. If you spot anything suspicious, contact your bank immediately.
  • Keep systems updated: To combat any new threats that may emerge, keep your anti-virus software and Windows systems up-to-date. Advise staff to update their systems on a regular basis. If this approach is not suitable, automate how your updates are installed and roll it out across the whole business.
  • Social media housekeeping: Make sure there is adequate security surrounding who has access to the company’s social media accounts. Ensure that only authorised personnel have access to social media accounts and the log-in details.
  • Use multiple email accounts: Use a separate e-mail for financial dealings, another for social networks and one for general queries and so on. In the scenario that a hacker manages to gain access to one of these, all of the sensitive information isn’t compromised. In the same vein, use different passwords for each address.
  • Don’t store your credit card information online: Yes we know it’s a nuisance but having to input your card information for every transaction can save you a lot of hassle in the long term. If a hacker does manage to bypass your security they may also have access to your card details. Don’t take the risk. Alternatively, only use a prepaid card online.

If you find yourself the victim of a cyber-attack please contact The Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation on +353 1 666 3776 as well as the Data Protection Office and your Internet Service Provider.

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Performance management systems explained

Performance management is a system of involving your employees to help you achieve your business’s goals.

It’s as important for an SME to have performance management systems in place, as it is for a larger business. Why? Because the more you involve your employees in delivering your business targets, the more you will meet customer expectations, improve productivity and deliver the bottom line numbers.

This 10-point checklist will help you create a performance management system for your business. 

1: Start at the top

The CEO (owner) needs to champion a performance management system, and all senior managers should be involved in the process.

2: Communicate the benefits

The CEO needs to get the message out about why performance management is being introduced and why it’s of benefit to both the business and the employees.

3: Get employee feedback

Don’t just launch a new system without involving employees in the process. Tell employees how it will work for them. Seek constructive feedback and act on it.

4: Identify clear business objectives

Ensure that the business’s objectives are well-defined. Use financial and non-financial measures, such as customer retention, new business wins or speed of customer response. Next, translate them into individual goals.

5: Set tangible individual goals

Employees should be able to understand what they need to deliver, how their performance will be measured and the skills, behaviours and knowledge that are expected of them. Employees should be provided with written business objectives, a clear job description and the criteria that their performance will be measured.

6: Ensure goals meet the SMART test

The business needs to ensure that goals are specific, measureable, attainable, realistic and timely (or SMART).  Here’s an example. A manufacturing plant sets a goal of reducing overtime hours of ten hours per week to five hours per week no later than the end of the financial year.

7: Formalise employee feedback

Managers should continuously review an employee’s progress against targets. Review meetings should be formal and should be held quarterly, if there are quarterly targets. Employees should be asked to contribute and asked about how they perceive their strengths and weaknesses.

8: Give constructive feedback

Feedback should be about encouraging employee self-awareness. Managers should provide timely feedback and use specific examples to support the points. Focus on the behaviour, not the individual.

9: Understand underperformance

There are many reasons why employees miss targets. Sometimes it’s due to a lack of skills, miscommunication or inadequate supports. Employees may have personal problems or lack motivation. Managers should encourage employees to share reasons why targets are missed. Together, they should agree what support or changes are needed.

10: Seek professional help

Performance management is a specialist skill. If you feel you have insufficient expertise in-house, get help. The investment of retaining an experienced adviser to help design the system will likely pay off in the long run.

INTERESTING: You can’t do it all alone. This is why mentors make sense.

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‘Every breath counts’ – PMD Solutions

Myles Murray, PMD Solutions, on starting and growing a business in Ireland.

What’s your business pitch? 

Today it is well known that the difference between 25 and 29 breaths per minute can be the difference between life or death within as short a time as 24 hours. PMD Solutions has developed the world’s first continuous and accurate respiratory rate monitoring, to improve patient outcomes by making every breath count. We enable medical teams to deploy timely interventions for patients around the world.  

How long have you been in business?

I was first introduced to the clinical need in 2010. PMD was incorporated in 2011 and now employs 17 amazing people. 

What’s your ambition?

To make a meaningful impact in the world. I know this sounds very grand. However, I look at what we’ve accomplished in PMD, and what we have yet to accomplish, it makes me realise that everyone can make an impact. 

What’s the most important thing you have learned so far in business?

There’s the plan, and then there’s reality. What tells successful companies apart is their ability to pivot, adapt, and adjust to the changing landscape. It is so important to lift up your head to look and listen to be aware of what is being said. That whole idea of work on as appose to in your business.

What was your biggest ‘mistake’ been, in business so far?

Cash is king and it’s not real until it is in the bank. 

Who inspires you in the business world?

Nothing gives me a bigger kick than watching the EY Entrepreneur of the Year awards. 

What would you do to change the business climate in this country?

I believe Ireland has a fantastic infrastructure for supporting all types of business. In particular, for the MedTech sector, the Irish MedTech Association, IDA, and Enterprise Ireland. Great people are doing amazing work already. Ireland is a great place to start a business.  

Did you receive any supports to start your business and what do you need most at this stage of your business? 

PMD has been fortunate with support from LEO South Cork and Enterprise Ireland. We also have visionary investors and partners. Right now PMD is focused on growing its market share. Enterprise Ireland’s foreign offices are an enormous asset in helping to make this happen.

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VAT and tax tips for 2017

Follow these tips and you’ll be in a better position to hit the ground running when it comes to your tax affairs.

1: At the start of the year, review your taxes due. Your business could be eligible to file returns and make payments less regularly or using direct debit.

2: File your returns on time to avoid interest. Remember, Revenue’s interest rate is calculated on a daily basis, so missing the deadline can be costly.

3: Learn more about the VAT “cash-receipts” basis. This helps you avoid the cashflow difficulty of accounting for VAT on a supply when the invoice has not been paid by a customer. More information on the cash receipts basis and how to opt in is available from the Revenue website.

4: Consider whether you can make a claim for bad debt relief. Where bad debts arise and VAT has been accounted for on the supply, there may be scope for a VAT bad-debt relief claim.

5: Where at least 75% of your turnover is sales to customers outside of Ireland, it may be possible to register with Revenue to receive all supplies without VAT. Applications for authorisation should be made on Form VAT 56A, which is available from the Revenue District responsible for your tax affairs or may be downloaded from the Revenue website under “VAT Forms”.

6: Ensure that enough of your preliminary tax is paid in order to avoid possible interest charges.

7: Consider if any tax reliefs may be claimed and employ a qualified tax adviser to help you prepare the submissions and formal claim applications.

8: Use ROS to file and pay your taxes. This online system is obligatory for many businesses.

Tax arrears and the powers of Revenue

The Revenue pursues tax debts in a timely manner. If a tax liability runs into arrears and Revenue has not recovered the tax by following the normal process, it has the following powers:

    • It can refer the debt collection to the Revenue Sheriff, who can seize assets of the business and sell them to pay tax debts.
    • It can issue a “power of attachment order” to a debtor who owes the taxpayer money, requiring the money to be paid directly to Revenue.
    • A court judgment against the taxpayer can be sought, which can result in the forced sale of assets, an instalment order or a bankruptcy petition.

“Remember, if in doubt, consult a qualified tax adviser as early as possible to ensure you are fully tax compliant.”

READ MORE: Tax back when you retire.

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The top 16 articles on ThinkBusiness in 2016

What a year. How was 2016 for you? What interested you in the past year?

Below are the top 16 articles, features, guides and tools that drove the most engagement from readers (unique sessions and shares) on ThinkBusiness in 2016. It shows what people interested in business are interested in reading.


1: New ways of marketing

Ireland’s top bloggers and vloggers.

2: Business planning – starting and growing

The ThinkBusiness business plan template.

3: Human resources

How to pay people.

4: Ideation

Five small business ideas that beat goliaths.

5: Human resources

Job interview questions you may find useful.

Boyne Boats Game of Thrones boat tour

6: Innovative sectors

Off the beaten track – Ireland’s hidden tourism gems.

7: Management guides

Phrases you shouldn’t use at business meetings.

8: Marketing and sales

How to network successfully at events.

9: Ideation

Great business ideas and why they worked.

10: Innovation

Garry Broe – saving the HSE a fortune with one simple idea.

steve jobs with first iphone

11: Strategy

10 of the worst business predictions. Even the greats get it wrong.

12: Marketing

A free marketing plan template and guide.

13: Innovation

10 world-changing Irish inventions.

14: Starting

A guide to starting a business in Ireland.


15: Sectors

The resurrection and re-invention of the barber shop.

16: Tax advice

How to pay yourself if you are a sole trader.

What did we learn in 2016?

What can we learn from this list of articles, guides, interviews, and utilities? First, there is an appetite amongst our readers for innovative business ideas and insights into sectors that are doing well. Second, there is a real desire for useful advice and practical guides on how to start and grow a business. And third, we saw a keen interest in articles on how business owners deal with the practicalities of running a business, for example, tax advice, and HR guidance.

CONTACT US: If you have a query, or a suggestion for an article, case study, guide or useful tool, please contact us and we will research and get back to you.

Main image courtesy of Cian Twomey.

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Think business, think customer

Stephen Gallagher, head of business energy, SSE Airtricity on how to make your customers your key focus. 

What advice would you give to a business that is scaling, that is growing at a pace that may (at times) seem difficult to handle? What focus should they give to customers and staff?

The advice I would give to any growing business is that no matter your size or market your customers need to be your focus. This applies to startups and established businesses growing at pace.

All businesses need to consider the interaction from the customers’ perspective. 

Small mistakes, inaccuracies – even typos – can damage your credibility. It’s vital that businesses focus on getting it right, the first time. 

The first points of contact with your business, those who manage customer service for your company, must receive high levels of training and feel empowered to engage the consumer. 

Coaching and mentoring employees create a more positive work environment and boost employee engagement. 

Your customers’ needs will not always stay the same – be ready to adapt. Use data to inform your approach. 

“Embrace digital as a means of reaching a broader consumer base and to remain responsive to your customers”

Data is the lifeblood of organisations and is only effective if it’s gathered and analysed on a regular basis.

An omnichannel approach – in person, on the phone, through the website, on social media – allows for customers to have better access. We have found services such as webchat, to be a great way to be close to the customer. 

There is a huge opportunity for business in Ireland to embrace digital as a means of reaching a broader consumer base and remaining responsive to your customers.

For businesses of all sizes, to foster relationships and develop brand loyalty, the need to listen to and engage with customers and understand their needs is crucial. Make your customers your key focus.

READ MORE: User experience (UX) and customer experience (CX) may seem like buzzwords, but they are vital for any successful business. Find out why.

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What’s the best business insurance for you?

There are many different types of business insurance. What are the best options for you, your business and your staff?

Risk is an inevitable part of life. We can’t predict what’s going to happen with complete certainty but we do try to prepare for consequences. We routinely wear a coat, in anticipation of a sudden turn in the weather, while wearing our seatbelts when driving or as a passenger is standard practice.

Running a business is no different. We cannot be sure of everything that will happen, but we can take steps to offset some of the consequences of events outside our control, such as the damage caused by a flood or an injury at work sustained by an employee.

Whatever the cause, it is important to have an understanding of the different types of insurance that a business can take out to reduce the financial and business impact of something going wrong.

Your insurance company or broker will also give you advice on how to manage your business risks better, from suggestions on how to improve premises security to highlighting hidden risks for you to manage by improving your business processes.

Type of insurance

There are many different types of insurance available for businesses. The question is which ones are right for you.

It is useful to think of insurance covering three different types of eventuality:

  • Property insurance: This covers damage caused to buildings or equipment from hazards such as fire or flooding. You can also protect against the disruption that such an event could have on the business. Imagine if the premises had to shut down totally or if valuable equipment had to be replaced. Business interruption insurance would cover the cost of operating from a temporary location while your own building is under repair.
  • Liabilities: Your business faces a range of potential liabilities to members of the public, employees and customers. For example, a visitor to your premises falling over a cable, an employee being electrocuted by a faulty piece of equipment or a customer being seriously injured by a defective product. While insurance won’t protect against these events happening, liability insurance can meet the cost of compensation and the legal fees involved. Legal expenses insurance can pay for the legal costs involved in defending or pursuing a claim. If you are a professional, like an engineer or accountant, professional indemnity can cover the cost of compensation to your clients if they lose money as a result of the advice you gave them.
  • Financial risks: Your business also runs financial risks, and it is important to consider how to best protect against them. We have all read newspaper stories about trusted employees stealing large amounts of money from their employer or about small businesses that were forced to close when large customers went into liquidation unexpectedly. Fidelity insurance and credit insurance, respectively, can deal with these risks.

Compulsory insurance

In Ireland, the only legally required form of insurance that a business is obliged to take out is if your business uses a motor vehicle. In this case, like other road users, you are required to have third party motor insurance in place to cover someone getting injured, or if their property is damaged as a result of your (or an employee’s) use of a motor vehicle.

Additional cover often taken out by motorists includes third party fire and theft insurance, which covers third party motor liabilities, as well as loss or damage to your vehicle caused by fire or theft.

Comprehensive insurance, which covers third party fire and theft, as well as accidental damage to your vehicle, can also be taken out. Some comprehensive policies provide useful personal accident benefits, or cover against theft of personal belongings from the vehicle.

Make sure that if you are using a car or other vehicles in connection with your business, you have the right cover in place. Most insurers will offer policies specifically designed to meet the requirements of your type of business, be it a taxi, farm, distributor, building firm etc.

What to buy

As you can see, there are many different types of insurance. It can be difficult to work out exactly what to buy, given your business’s particular needs, not to mention your budget. Like any other purchase, it really pays to shop around and understand the different products offered by insurers, the risks covered by their policies, and the risks that are excluded.

It is important to to understand the fine print. Some policies will require you to bear more of any loss that occurs than a competing policy, so that may be one reason why the first policy looks so cheap.

Many insurance companies have put together special package policies, which contain the different types of insurance usually needed by a particular type of business. For example, insurance companies will offer a shopkeeper’s ‘combined’ policy, which covers the usual risks that retailers will wish to insure against.

Thankfully, plenty of advice is at hand to guide you through the insurance maze. This comes from the insurance companies themselves, many of whom will deal directly with businesses, by phone or via their website, or from insurance brokers, who are independent insurance professionals who advise their clients on the most suitable insurance cover for their needs.

You can check that the insurer or insurance broker that you are thinking of using is authorised, by checking the Central Bank of Ireland register.


4 Action Points


Work out what risks you most need to cover against.


Work out your sums insured accurately. Don’t waste money by over-insuring and remember that “cheapest” does not necessarily mean “best”. Be careful about what is covered and what is excluded.


Describe your business fully and accurately, including full details of any claims. You are obliged to answer any questions from an insurer honestly and to the best of your knowledge. If you don’t, your insurance company may refuse to pay a claim under the policy.


Take steps to fix any known risks e.g. defective safety guards, and to manage other risks e.g. additional security precautions for your premises. Consider how much of any claim you would be willing to bear, as a higher claims “excess” could help reduce your insurance premium.


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The staff Christmas party – a survival guide

As an employer, you can be held liable for any injury or other health incident resulting from a work-related social event such as a Christmas party.

What is considered a work-related social event?

1: An event hosted on your premises.

2: An event sponsored or promoted by your business.

3: An event held during worktime, whether by your business or your employees.

4: An event organised elsewhere where an employee has been invited in their work capacity.

5: An event organised by you or your employees outside your premises.

Christmas parties

Gently remind everyone they are attending as employees

You should assess whether an event can be considered work-related and circulate details to all employees. Without being heavy-handed, you may also consider reminding everyone that they are attending such events as employees of your business. You should say that this comes under the code of conduct expected of employees and issue a reminder, if necessary, of what that means.

You should:

1: Circulate details of the venue in advance.

2: Consider whether it is best for staff that they arrive and leave an event together.

3: Organise transport to and from the venue.

4: Ensure the venue has public liability insurance if using an off-site premises.

5: Make yourself aware of local emergency numbers and distance to hospitals.

6: Check the exits and emergency routes on arrival.

7: Store all work equipment safely if using the business premises.

8: Check the hygiene standard of caterers if they bring food to the premises.

9: Drink moderately and monitor if anyone is drinking excessively.

10: Be aware if anyone is acting inappropriately.

11: Make sure staff aged under 18 are not served alcohol.

And finally, have a good time and avoid the bores and the moaners.

VIDEO: No probably about it, one of the best beers in the world is made in Wicklow.

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Killowen Farm is dazzling the world

Killowen Farm’s yogurt is the only yogurt sold in the world’s most luxurious hotel, the Burj Al Arab in Dubai. How did this small Irish firm achieve this?

A small Wexford firm, Killowen Farm, transformed its traditional farm assets and diversified into the yogurt market.

It now successfully sells its products around the world against lots of global brands with big marketing budgets. The company is doing this with authority and conviction in the premium segment in particular. Alan O’Neill joins them to discuss how a small firm can still dazzle the world’s best.

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