The Business Achievers Awards 2015: Open For Entries

As many of you know we at Small Business Can are big supporters of business competitions: anything that gets you thinking about your business and working on your business rather than in it. And if you can generate publicity, link into a great business network and meet bankers, politicians, founders and journalists along the way, that’s even better.

Enter The Business Achievers Awards

The Business Achievers Awards competition is probably one of the biggest and most broadly based competitions on the island with categories to appeal to most businesses of all sizes across sectors. The application form is here and will take no more than 30 minutes to fill in. It could be 30 minutes well spent because there are great benefits to entering.

Here are some good reasons why you might want to consider adding ‘must enter business competition’ to your ‘business planning to do’ list!

  1. The application process is an opportunity to reflect on what your business is all about and clearly articulate your USP.
  2. It’s an opportunity to work on your business rather than in it by stepping back to look at achievements, challenges, market trends and areas for improvement.
  3. It will give you time to reflect on new angles and perspectives to overcome obstacles or to plot new strategies for growth.
  4. Competitions are also about PR, marketing, selling…spin. They’re an opportunity for you to raise the profile of the business for free. Entering the competition will get you into the local press. You could get your business national and even international profile.
  5. By working the competition – filling in the forms correctly, engaging with local reps for the competition, turning up at the networking events, volunteering to give quotes and elbowing yourself into photos, you will get marketing material that’s ‘independent’ for your website and other marcomms.
  6. If you progress through the competition there are some programs such as Ulster Bank’s Business Achievers Awards that produce corporate videos for all of the short listed companies. These are done by professional companies with editors and designers. You probably cannot afford to produce these yourself! They are given to you after the competition for your website and other marketing material, and they will impress!
  7. Working the competition will also give you access to a big network of people that can help your business grow. The politicians always turn up. You’ll meet the local and national enterprise support agencies. Bankers, funders, journalists, other successful businesspeople…the big national Awards are a veritable who’s who of the great and the good in business. And you’ll be one of the stars of the show…just by entering. And if you win…!
  8. When you sit down and take the time to apply to a competition, you’ll realize that you have a team supporting you. It illustrates the importance of the support of family and its role in moving your business forward. You’ll see the staff that have and are stepping up to the mark.
  9. You’ll probably get your management involved. Sometimes just by reflecting and internally acknowledging what you’ve achieved together is a major win in its own right.
  10. Even if you’re not short-listed you will benefit from working ‘on’ your business. You can use the knowledge to plan future strategies and identify weak areas. It’ll help you make your business stronger and better. And that’s what it all, eventually, boils down to!

Don’t miss your chance!

The post The Business Achievers Awards 2015: Open For Entries appeared first on Small Business Can.

This post was originally published here - on thinkbusiness

Ulster Bank Fraud Seminar Reaches Omagh

Continuing with the Ahead for Business Programme and trying to help businesses get ahead in Tyrone, Ulster Bank held their latest Fraud Awareness Seminar in Silver Birch Hotel, Omagh. The objective of the seminar is to help businesses keep themselves safe, by understanding the threats from fraud and what measures they can take to counteract these risks.

Ulster Bank Fraud Seminar

Shauna Burns, Head of Mid Ulster & Fermanagh Business centre welcomed 50 local business people to the business suite of the hotel and introduced the first speaker Margaret Hunter, RBS Security & Resilience. Margaret gave an overview of trends that the bank are experiencing and discussed hints and tips on cheque and invoice fraud. Michelle Garrigan, Head of On line Operations was the second speaker and gave the audience a great feel for the sophistication of fraudsters and what the banks golden security rules are regarding bankline. With some surprising statistics for the audience:

  • 1m people are affected daily by cybercrime
  • 170,000 identities stolen each year
  • Online fraud costs the UK economy £27bn each year

Fight Against Fraud

After a series of questions and answers, Shauna Burns closed the seminar and recommended that everyone shared the information of the day to business colleagues, family and friend to help “the fight against fraud”.

The local business team who were also in attendance received very positive feedback from the audience who appreciated the event being held in Omagh;

  • “great speakers, good content and good length”
  • “Definitely something I need to consider more in my own business”
  • “Can we arrange another for all local solicitors?”
  • “excellent event, very informative & worthwhile”

The post Ulster Bank Fraud Seminar Reaches Omagh appeared first on Small Business Can.

This post was originally published here - on

Ulster Bank helps STEM sector

The Northern Ireland Executive’s has recognised that the future success of the Northern Ireland economy will require increased numbers of skilled workers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) qualifications. A STEM business group was set up in 2013 to examine how businesses can inspire young people, male and female to consider careers in these sectors and help address the gender balance. The group comprises of companies and education centres such as QUB, UUJ, Norbrook, Schrader Electronics, All State, Citibank.

The STEM Sector

Karen Lawther and Shauna Burns from Ulster Bank were invited to speak at the Belfast STEM Employers Equality Networking in Malone House on 10th June, to discuss the topic of networking and how Ulster Bank uses its internal network, Women In Touch and its external network, BusinessWomenCan to help address the gender balance in the business community.

Shauna Burns, Ulster Bank’s Head of Mid Ulster and Fermanagh Business Centre told the members about Business Women Can which is a network to encourage and support female entrepreneurs. Karen Lawther, Ulster Bank’s Head of Markets NI spoke about Women in Touch which Ellvena Graham started in 2010. This network was featured as a good practice case study in the STEM Business subgroup’s report Addressing Gender Balance-Reaping the Gender Dividend in STEM. The aim of this internal network is to support women in managerial roles to network, share experiences, learn from each other and realise their potential.

The WIT network offers Ulster Bank employees the opportunity to develop and advance their careers, becoming involved in activities that challenge and inspire them.

Participants then discussed the benefits of networks and the speakers kindly shared their expertise in answering members’ questions.

The post Ulster Bank helps STEM sector appeared first on Small Business Can.

This post was originally published here - on

Queens University: Dragons Den

Lights, Camera, Action…..Queens University: Dragons Den

Head of Mid-Ulster and Fermanagh Business Centre Shauna Burns recounts her recent experience as a judge on Queen’s University’s Dragons Den, where enterprising local students faced a grilling as they pitched for new investment…

IT bench marking for the agriculture sector; concierge for the nomadic digital community; medical diagnostic devices ; chargers for electric cars – these were just a few of the ideas from Northern Irelands brightest young students at the final of QUB Dragons Den last week.

The basement of Elmwood Hall was transformed into a film set just like the real Dragons Den, with the 11 final businesses pitching for £5,000 investment. Myself and the other Dragons, Philip Bain (Director, Shredbank), Nancy Brown (business consultant and entrepreneur), John McKee (Chief Executive, Linkubator),and David Bradshaw (Client Executive, Invest Northern Ireland) were given an insight to the future. We saw not just students with ideas but with ambition and with products that were ready for the market.

It was truly inspiring to see that the future of Northern Ireland economic growth is in the hands of people with such diverse and innovative ideas. I believe that all of them will become leading entrepreneurial figures and business people of the future.

Winner: SleepState Labs

As judges we faced a tough decision as the standard was so high but ultimately we decided on one winner – SleepState Labs who won the full £5k investment for their sleep detecting mobile application. Each finalist also received 12 months business accommodation at QUB, which will hopefully enable them to evolve their businesses..

Across Northern Ireland, Ulster Bank encounters many new and exciting business ideas and one of the refreshing challenges I find is helping turn those ideas into reality. Our dedicated start-up proposition is a great tool to help us do this, and this has given me even more motivation to get out and support local enterprise.

The post Queens University: Dragons Den appeared first on Small Business Can.

This post was originally published here - on

Calling all Innovators & Entrepreneurs, we need your help & your green VOTE !!

As with any Irish technology company, we all suffer unique challenges when growing business internationally. As a country we have a small population so we struggle when trying to make as much noise as our International competitors. Even places we assume are tiny states such as Haiti & Togo have twice and three times our population.

Hence we need your help…

One of our company’s, Surface Power HONE which has developed a revolutionary “daylight” powered Nano-heat engine technology is short-listed (final 18 was judged by experts) for the 2Degrees Champions Award –  “Innovation of the Year” which is the world’s leading collaboration platform and service for sustainable business with over 46,500 members from 177 countries.

Surface Power HONE has nearly 7,000 installations of this patented technology over 8 countries to date and it has been kept fairly secretive until recently. The technology was field tested in the West of Ireland & New Zealand as the daylight levels are some of the lowest in the OECD. In short, it replaces the use of oil and gas for heating and cooling with free daylight. Have a look at LIVE customers on our website such as the UK National Health Service running their hospital’s central heating on free “daylight” (sounds mad but true !!)

The next phase of the 2Degrees “Innovation of the Year Awards” is a voting stage which will reduce the final 18 to 5 for the big awards ceremony and we need your help and your vote. 

Although already in the short-list of 18, we are the only Irish Technology company in this shortlist and are up against huge players such as Nestle, General Motors & B&Q.

You can vote for us by clicking the link below to get us into the final 5 and we thank you in advance for that vote. Be sure to tweet it afterwards using the link so we can personally send you a thank you tweet. Go raibh maith agat as do chabhair.

Best Regards, John Quinn, CEO. (Twitter – @johnquinn_irl )

Read our story and VOTE from below.

The post Calling all Innovators & Entrepreneurs, we need your help & your green VOTE !! appeared first on Small Business Can.