Starting a business when you are older

Smart ageing – now is the time to prepare and support those over 50 who want to start a business.
There will be over one million people living in Ireland aged 65 and over by 2031. 
The enormous demographic changes that will occur in Ireland over the next 15 years will change the entire social, cultural and economic landscape of the country. 
According to 2016 figures from Social Justice Ireland, there will be at least one million over-65s in Ireland by 2031. “Now is the time to plan for this dramatic change,” says Michelle Murphy, research and policy analyst with the agency.
As well as the need for primary and community health services, in every community, there is also the need for better access to learning and employment for the over 50s, says Murphy.
Investment in rural broadband should be a vital priority for every community in Ireland. 
Wise and willing
Research by Amarach shows that 44% of respondents over 50 would be interested in a course to help them develop ideas and the skills to start their own business.
In fact, more than one in five over 50s had some experience of setting up their own business and 17% of those with experience set up their business when aged over 50.
There are supports available for people over 50 who want to start a business. 
Visit: The Ireland Smart Ageing Exchange.
Also visit: The Ingenuity programme for entrepreneurs aged 50+.
READ MORE: It’s never too late to start.
Did you know?
Charles Flint was 61 when he founded IBM. 
In Ireland, Peter Cullen founded Aran Candy in 1997 with his son Richard when he was 50 after an earlier venture failed. The business was sold for €15.5 million in 2014.

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/starting-a-business-when-you-are-older/ on thinkbusiness

A content marketing guide for beginners

Words sell. There’s no doubt that good writing will win you more customers. Here’s how to start.
Carefully selected words can help persuade a customer that they really need what you have to offer, and motivate them to go out and get it. The other side of that coin, however, is that even one badly chosen word can completely put off a customer and lose them forever. People are just as wary of hard-sell pitches online or in print as they are of foot-in-the-door salesmen. If you are writing about your own business, you will have first-hand knowledge of your products or services. You will also know where they fit in your marketplace and who your audience is.
Don’t just write about your company, and its products and services, from your own perspective.  That’s a mistake many businesses make. Customers who come to your website are looking for information, perhaps to inform a buying decision. You need to tell them what your service or product can do for them, and what problem it can solve.

Understand your customers and anticipate what they want
Expand your vocabulary
Test your content – see what works and what doesn’t

What are the words that work best to get customers to:

Notice your product or service?
Contact you?
Complete their purchase

Here are some of the ways you could start your pitch:

With a question: This addresses the customer directly, and may even be what they are doing there in the first place. Isn’t it time you…? Don’t you wish…? Why pay full price…? Are you paying too much for…?
With a statement: This gets your message out there immediately, while engaging the reader. Let’s talk about why you need… We’ll change your mind about… It’s never too late to…
With a challenge: You immediately call your customer to action and tell them just

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/content-marketing-guide-for-beginners/ on thinkbusiness

Tax back for Irish startups

If you are starting a business, you may be eligible for a tax refund of up to 41% of the amount invested.
Under a new Government scheme called StartUp Refunds for Entrepreneurs (SURE), entrepreneurs can make a claim for a refund against income tax they paid over the past six years.
Who qualifies and how does it work? 
How can you check if you are eligible and claim the tax refund? SURE is targeting those in employment, who are unemployed, who have retired and who have set or who are considering setting up their own businesses. 
The business must be incorporated as a limited liability company and trade from an Irish base. The company must be less than two years old from the date of incorporation to qualify. The minimum SURE investment is €250 and the maximum investment is €700,000, which is €100,000 each for each of the last six years as well as €100,000 for the current year.
To qualify you must:

Have mainly PAYE income in the past four years
Invest cash in the company through new shares
Hold at least 15% of the shares in the company
Not sell those shares for at least three years from the date of issue
Be employed in the new company as a director or as an employee
Ensure that the company carries out “a qualifying trading activity”

Exclusions to that “qualifying trade” rule include professional services (such as accountants, solicitors and business advisors), certain financial services (loans, commodities), film production and dealing in land. 
A company that takes over a previous trade is not eligible. Neither is a company that continued the trade of an individual who is seeking SURE relief and who was previously a sole trader.
There are other rules about the types of company, your role in the company and also requirements for particular tourism, green energy, internationally traded services and R&D ventures. To read

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/tax-back-for-irish-startups/ on thinkbusiness

Crowdfunding in Ireland – a guide

Crowdfunding can be a financial lifeline for a startup but it can also be a futile, time wasting attempt to raise money. Don’t try it until you understand how it works.
Crowdfunding websites match those who have ideas they want to turn into reality with donors.
The crowdfunding website takes a commission from the funds raised, typically 5% but the commission can be 10% or more on some sites. 
The top Irish crowdfunding platforms are: FundIt; SeedUps; iCrowdFund; iDonate.ie; and MoneyCrowd.

Pros and cons
For startups and certain types of small businesses, crowdfunding is seen as a low-risk way of raising funds without having to part with equity. 
Some startups have found that crowdfunding is a stepping stone to other capital. Increasingly, angel investors and venture capitalists back promoters who have been successful in crowdfunding campaigns.
But crowdfunding has its drawbacks. Failure rates are high – the majority of crowdfunding projects fail to reach the fundraising goals. 
Startups also find that crowdfunding is a time-burner. Success is often down to the amount of time spent preparing the campaign and then promoting and managing it.  Entrepreneurs need to put a lot of information about a product or service into the public domain. This carries risks – your competitors will know what you’re doing and you may be forced to defend yourself from online critics.
Below are five questions you should ask yourself before you ‘kick start’ your project.

1. Is your business suited to crowdfunding?
Crowdfunding suits certain types of businesses – usually startups or early stage companies that are looking for relatively small amounts of money. It has a higher success rate within certain sectors like the arts, digital media, music, and certain types of consumer goods businesses. You should find out if the crowdfunding platform you are considering has a track record of success with similar businesses to yours.
2. Do you have right skills for crowdfunding?
Crowdfunding suits particular types

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/crowdfunding-in-ireland-guide/ on thinkbusiness

Your startup needs a website not just a Facebook page

Having a business Facebook page is all very well, but it’s not enough. Your startup needs a website.
You have a splendid idea, your market research is robust, you’ve created your lean business canvas and devised a killer sales strategy, so now it’s time to launch. 
Before you do, though, ask yourself: ‘How do I look online’?
Here are seven good reasons why your startup needs a website.
1: You have full control
Having and owning your domain name, website, email address and communications database means you are in full control. 
Many small businesses think a Facebook page will suffice. However, don’t assume that your target audience is on older social networks. It’s much better if you are easily found on Google. 
2. It’s not expensive and sometimes it’s free
Having a website doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. These days there are very robust out-of-the-box solutions that offer domain names, website hosting, website templates and e-commerce solutions. 
Some banks even offer free websites as part of a startup package. 

3: Your customers are online and searching
You may not need to, or want to sell online, but your customers are making purchase decisions based on their online searches. 
Your website is also your digital business card. At any given time your next client, or investor, could be looking for you online.
4. You can measure how you’re performing
Having a website means you can monitor traffic to, and around, your site. 
You can add Google Analytics tracking to any website, and begin collecting valuable information on your visitors’ habits, as they view and navigate your site. In turn, this then feeds into your sales and marketing strategy. 
5. You’re always open
With a website, you are always open for business. Customers can easily find you, learn more about you, buy directly from you, or just reach out to you if they need

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/free-websites-for-startups-in-ireland/ on thinkbusiness

Is your business up for Bizworld?

Bizworld Ireland is looking for businesses of all sizes to get in touch and explore volunteering opportunities.
Bizworld, a not-for-profit organisation that promotes entrepreneurship skills to primary school children, is looking for volunteers to help it reach over 3,000 primary schools in Ireland.

Fiona McKeon, the founder of Bizworld Ireland, says the organisation wants more businesses to come on board.
“As businesses, let’s get our country starting again, starting at the right age, with 10-13-year-olds in primary schools,” says McKeon.
 
If you, or people working for you, would like to deliver a fun and informative two-day workshop in business skills, at a school near you, please contact BizWorld Ireland.
READ MORE: Bizworld aims to kick-start the next generation of Irish innovators.
Pictured above are Gavin Duffy; Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor; and Fiona McKeon. 

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/bizworld-ireland-volunteers/ on thinkbusiness

The power of Facebook for business

Facebook is the biggest social media channel your small business can use. Here’s why you should use it. 
To promote your business
If your business has a strong identity that is highly visible on Facebook, you will get an audience. While you can set up a Facebook page for free, you may need to advertise to get the reach you want.
To create a brand personality
Boring, business-specific posts won’t grab people’s attention. Express yourself online, and let customers see your business’s personality.
To engage with existing and potential customers
This is an obvious reason companies use Facebook, but it’s important. If you don’t engage, who will know about your business?
To tap into the largest online consumer network
Research has shown that three-quarters of Facebook users have some connection to a local business.
To connect with the local and global community
Depending on the type of business you run, you’ll want to engage people in different areas. Facebook lets you do that easily.
To run promotions or events
Organise some Facebook-specific events and giveaways, and watch interest in your business rise.
To learn from the audience
Communication is a two-way street, and Facebook gives people the chance to engage directly with brands. Don’t be afraid of what people have to say about you.
To share product or service information
If you are launching a new product, spreading the word on Facebook is an excellent way of letting a vast amount of people know about it.
To drive traffic to your website
Generating interest in your product or service through Facebook can refer traffic to your site, where you have further branding and communications opportunities.
To boost staff morale
Get your employees involved by encouraging them to contribute to your Facebook posts.
READ MORE: Facebook says 8 billion videos a day are watched on its platform. Here’s how to tap into this audience. 
Image Shutterstock. 

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/how-do-i-use-facebook-for-buiness/ on thinkbusiness

The best lean startup guides

1: The Business Model Canvas (or Lean Canvas)
This is the resource for startups. Forget a business plan, they are not suitable for early stage startups. This one-page business model, however, is golden.
Thoughtfully done, it can guide a business through the first choppy months. Download it here.
Below is a two-minute video overview of the Business Model Canvas.

2: The Value Proposition Canvas
This drills deeper into one of the key elements of the Business Model Canvas. 
The Value Proposition Canvas is a very powerful tool. If your business doesn’t clearly understand the value of what you are offering then you don’t stand a chance of survival.
3: User Stories
Understanding your user helps your business’ value proposition. It’s best to have a nice, neat user story to help get your startup focused. Here is a good article that shows you how to do this.
Article by Ita O’Sullivan.

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/best-lean-startup-guides/ on thinkbusiness

A Business Model Canvas

A Business Model Canvas is the resource for startups. Forget a business plan, they are not suitable for early stage startups. This one-page business model, however, is golden. Download a free ThinkBusiness Business Model Canvas.
Below is a two-minute video overview of the Business Model Canvas.

2: The Value Proposition Canvas
This drills deeper into one of the key elements of the Business Model Canvas. 
The Value Proposition Canvas is a very powerful tool. If your business doesn’t clearly understand the value of what you are offering then you don’t stand a chance of survival.
3: User Stories
Understanding your user helps your business’ value proposition. It’s best to have a nice, neat user story to help get your startup focused. Here is a good article that shows you how to do this.
Article by Ita O’Sullivan.

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/free-business-model-canvas/ on thinkbusiness

How to start a business from home

Before you start a business from home, you should consider a few important things.
A suitable home businesses
There is a wide range of businesses that you could run from the comfort of your own home. Here are seven examples:

Service business: This could utilise some of the equipment or materials you already have in your home. For example, you could use your car to start a delivery service. You could become a franchisee of a service company as well. You could fix things like bikes.
Desk-bound business: As long as you have a home computer and a decent broadband connection, it is quite possible to work from home. Your choices range from website design, IT support, and copywriting, among many others.
Consulting: If you have a lot of experience in a certain field, why not set yourself up as a consultant? The choices here are endless.
Trade: It is quite feasible for you to operate as a tradesman from home. Most of your work may be in different locations, so your base doesn’t have to be an office. Just make sure you have good transport options.
Fitness: Many personal trainers operate from their homes. Yoga and pilates businesses are also options to consider.
Childcare: Many childcare centres start at the home. If your house is big enough to accommodate infants, then it is certainly a business option to consider, but you need to be conscious of building your reputation. Also refer to the ‘regulations’ section for more information.
Food: It is realistic to operate a food business from your home, or indeed a food stall at farmers’ markets. See the ‘regulations’ section for more details.

Pros and cons of a home-based business
Establishing a business from home has a number of advantages, but also comes with disadvantages.
Pros

Save on costs: It is far cheaper to start a business from home, as

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/start-a-home-business/ on thinkbusiness