How to grow your business with smart borrowing

Is using your cash reserves to grow your business the best strategy? Most likely not. 

The Irish economy is performing well, and Irish SMEs are in confident mood. However, instead of using smart borrowing to grow their businesses, they are dipping into their cash reserves to expand, which may not be the best strategy.

“It is important that business owners remember to engage in smart borrowing to grow their business while maintaining sufficient cash reserves.”

According to new research into Irish SMEs, conducted by Red C, 78% of Irish SMEs are confident in their ability to borrow – if they need more capital over the next twelve months.

However, just one quarter (23%) say they will borrow in the coming year, as they look to grow.

“The research findings have shed light on current borrowing habits and expectations of SMEs across the country,” says Michael Lauhoff, director of Business Banking, Bank of Ireland. “Interestingly, 60% of SMEs report using personal funds to invest in growth over the past three years. It is important that business owners remember to engage in smart borrowing to grow their business while maintaining sufficient cash reserves.”


VIDEO: Watch this video on how smart borrowing, rather than using your cash reserves, can help your business grow and ensure you don’t run out of cash.


National Enterprise Week

Brexit is a concern for 53% of firms, along with staff recruitment and being able to retain excellent staff, suggests the Red C poll of 450 Irish SMEs which was carried out in August and September 2018.

However, 53% feel positive about the Irish economy in the next twelve months with more than half (58%) expecting turnover to grow. Only only 9% expect their business to decline over the coming year.

Bank of Ireland is inviting business owners to attend the various National Enterprise Week events taking place nationwide starting on October 5. Book your place now. It’s free to attend and open to all businesses. 

“In addition to SMEs gaining insights into financial discipline, achieving growth and greater returns and enabling efficiencies, the events will also examine the potential impact of Brexit and how best to prepare. Events will cover all sectors,” says Lauhoff.

As SMEs across the country look to grow; working capital, new machinery and equipment are the top reasons for borrowing according to the research. 81% of SMEs looking to raise finance, say they would consider Irish banks over the Credit Union or private investors.

70% of firms polled for the research say they would like an easier loan application process from a bank.

If you would like to easily apply for finance and get a result within 48-hours, go here.


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Gorey chosen for Internet Day 2018 digital initiative

IE Domain Registry launches Internet Day 2018 with new ‘Digital Town’ initiative to combat low rates of e-commerce in Irish towns.
The IE Domain Industry has launched a new ‘Digital Town’ initiative to mark Internet Day 2018.
The company, who manage and maintain Ireland’s .ie domain name, launched this initiative to combat low rates of e-commerce in Irish towns and will take place in Gorey, Co Wexford on October 25th.
While Ireland’s e-commerce economy is worth an estimated €12.3bn, only three in ten SMEs take sales orders through their website, a survey of 1,000 SMEs has shown.
The ‘Digital Town’ initiative will promote awareness and understanding of the internet in Ireland by its citizens, businesses and communities and celebrate the digital achievements of the local community.
Gorey has been chosen for its achievements in cultivating a truly digital environment in the town, and for its ongoing successes in fully embracing digital for its residents and local businesses. IE Domain Registry believes that through showcasing its efforts, Gorey can inspire Irish towns to begin their journey to becoming fully digital.
The IE Domain Registry also reported a 29% growth in new domain registrations in Gorey in 2017 which made the town very appealing for the initiative.
As part of the initiative, IE Domain Industry, along with Wexford County Council, The Hatch Lab and Gorey Chamber of Commerce, will oversee a number of digital initiatives over the next four weeks which will further develop digital skills for businesses and community groups.
David Curtin, chief executive of IE Domain Registry, said: “Gorey is actively embracing digital and the possibilities of the internet, and has made significant advances in cultivating a digital environment. The arrival of high-speed broadband in the town has stimulated a significant increase in digital activity. This includes the launch of the tech co-working space, The Hatch

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Learn how to do finances in minutes

DoLearnFinanace is a game-changing tool for entrepreneurs. 
This is brilliant. I watched these short videos and now I feel like an expert.
I never really ‘got’ accountancy before. I had a blind spot when it came to finances. Now you can learn how to do finances in minutes. It sounds too good to be true, but seeing is believing. 
All you have to do is watch a few short videos and, within minutes, you will be able to create, test and explain smart business and financial models.
“DoLearnFinanace is a game-changing tool for entrepreneurs, teachers, students, advisers, lenders and investors,” says Prof. Thomas Cooney, DIT School of Business.
“The vision of the founders is to help create an environment where no small business fails (or fails to reach its potential) because of a financially naïve business model,” says Jack Foley, CEO of DoLearnFinance.
To get access to DoLearnFinance and Fablinker, REGISTER FOR FREE.
Watch the videos below.
Finance for startups – first steps

What happens when you include your overheads

What happens when you include funding and fixed assets

How can you increase your profits?

How to make sure you don’t run out of cash

How to assess your business model like a pro

Don’t forget, to get access to the Fablinker tool you just have to register here. It’s free to use. 

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The future of community banking

We have already seen glimpses of ‘future banks’ in recent years. However, a new Bank of Ireland in Ballycoolin gives us a more accurate picture of the future of community banking.
It’s not so long ago that high-street banks were hives of activity in the most central locations of the communities they operated in.
People of all ages and professions did their banking in, usually granite-clad, buildings with the help of the people who worked there: the cashiers, the loan managers, the financial managers and the bank manager.
Banking was a paper-based activity, very much ruled by the flow of notes, drafts and cheques. However, paper no longer rules.
Today, in Ireland, 78% of people do their banking online, and 60% do their banking via mobile apps.
For example, of the 20 million customer interactions Bank of Ireland has every month, half of these come via the mobile app.
“People still want access to their banks but for different reasons.”
Very few people have a daily or weekly need to visit a physical bank.
The high street and community bank is, like many of the relics of the pre-digital age, no longer an essential part of daily life.
This does not mean, however, that people don’t want their banks. They do. People still want access to their banks but for different reasons.

So, what does the future of community banking look like?
“If you get the balance right between a great digital service and a physical presence and one-to-one interactions with customers I think you’re on to a good proposition. The challenge for us is to always make sure we keep the balance,” says Gavin Kelly, CEO, Retail Ireland, Bank of Ireland.
Kelly says Bank of Ireland will spend close to €10m upgrading the network this year. “We’re also going to spend €15m next year and €15m the following year on capital

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Backyard at Blas returns to Blas na hÉireann

Bank of Ireland announces partnership with Blas na hÉireann as Backyard at Blas returns for a second year.

The hugely successful Backyard at Blas will return to this year’s Blas na hÉireann which takes place in Dingle on October 4, 5 and 6.
Backyard at Blas is a meeting space designed to bring food producers together in an informal way to meet and share experiences and insights on running a business, and to offer support to those starting out.

Speaking about the partnership, Liam Sheedy, director of Munster for Bank of Ireland said, “We are very happy to partner with Blas na hÉireann to create Backyard at Blas at the Blas na hÉireann Irish Food Awards. We saw many Irish producers visit the space, negotiate and complete deals.
“Bank of Ireland has always played an active role in supporting Irish food businesses. The energy and passion that producers in this sector have for the work they do and the wonderful local Irish products they create is something we are proud to back. These producers source many of their inputs locally, making a significant contribution to the rural economy in Ireland,” says Sheedy.
“Food & Wine editor Dee Laffan will speak to the team behind London’s renowned Borough Market.”
The programme for Backyard at Blas 2018 is packed full of talks with experts across the industry. On Friday, October 5, food writer Aoife McElwain speaks with Pat Mulcahy about topics raised in Aoife’s book, ‘Slow at Work’. Other themes on the day include online sales – how to navigate this medium for the first time and financial planning for future growth, the decision is yours – making the right decisions for your business. The final talk is titled ethics and metrics and editor of Dee Laffan will speak to the team behind London’s renowned Borough Market.
With four more

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Are you ready for the new PAYE system?

The most significant reform of the PAYE system since its introduction in 1960 is underway. Businesses and employers have until the start of 2019 to get their houses in order.

PAYE Modernisation – what’s the main issue, what’s being reformed? In a nutshell, it’s about filing returns to Revenue in real time.

ray rogers surf accounts

Employers will have to calculate and report their employees’ pay and deductions as they are being paid.

“Current practices will have to change,” says Ray Rogers, CEO of Surf Accounts (pictured). “This is especially true if you pay employees net. Revenue now wants to see all tax deductions returned in real time, on the day people are paid.”

As this is a Revenue reform, there will be strict fines for businesses that don’t comply with the new rules.

“Big changes like this rarely run smoothly,” says Rogers. “I’d advise any business to look into this reform and put the necessary fixes in place. There will be a €4,000 fine per employee that hasn’t been returned,” says Rogers.

Revenue expects all businesses to comply with these changes from the minute they come into force on January 1, 2019.

“For small businesses who feel they may have knowledge gaps in the handling of payroll, they have two options,” says Rogers. “The can train their payroll operators if their PAYE knowledge isn’t up-to-date or, they can outsource their payroll to an accountant.”

Goodbye to the P45

Another major part of the reform will be the abolition of all Revenue forms as we know them – namely, the P45, P30, P35, and the P60.

From January 1, 2019, people looking for a mortgage won’t be able to get a p60 to prove their earnings, they’ll just go to the ‘My Account’ portal on the Revenue website and print out what they need.

For full details on the changes to happen, you can download this guide from Surf Accounts.

Related Resource

Revenue is hosting a series of seminars across the country in the run up to the modernisation deadline.

You can find out more and book your place here.

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Drones to make search and rescue more effective

DroneSAR was established by four individuals who each have expertise in the area of drone technology, network and satellite communication and search and rescue (SAR).
Who is in your team?
There are four of us on the team: myself (Oisin McGrath), Matthew Kelly, Leo Murray and Gearoid O’Briain. I am a military helicopter instructor, unmanned aircraft examiner and hold a degree in aeronautical engineering. Leo is deputy team leader in Donegal Mountain Rescue and has a background in product research and design. Matthew is an award-winning app developer and mountain rescue volunteer. He also has degrees in electronics and satellite communications and lastly, Gearoid is currently on a scholarship in Smurfit Business School completing his MBA. He is also a military manned and unmanned aircraft instructor.
What’s your business idea? 
The DroneSAR product is the first worldwide to include rescue specific functions including live drone tracker and live first-person view (FPV) video streaming made viewable from any location via the DroneSAR web-browser interface. Drone advancements in recent years have witnessed an increased capacity to take on a range of dangerous tasks in emergency response which are traditionally performed by humans. Return on investment to the emergency response and SAR industry is reflected in potential savings made possible resulting from a lesser dependency on conventional solutions, involving manned aerial assets such as helicopters and fixed wing aircraft, where hourly rental rates of up to €3,000 per hour exist. This allows rescue agencies to conduct the most effective early stage aerial search so that lives can be saved.
As emergency response agencies see the huge value in these machines, DroneSAR will soon become the go-to application of choice for rescue agencies across the world. This service can be extended into humanitarian, disaster management, security, pollution control and much more.
“Drone advancements in recent years have witnessed an increased

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Leading designers offer services to businesses

Are you a business owner? Would you like a one-hour consultation with a top Irish creative designer for just €75?
The Institute of Designers in Ireland’s ‘Mind over Matter’ event is coming to a venue near you. It takes place on October 10, the National Day of Creativity, with all proceeds going to AWARE.
This valuable initiative gives businesses of all sizes a consultation with the best of Irish design talent for a minimal fee.
The sessions will run in nine venues nationwide – Belfast, Cork, Carlow, Dundalk, Waterford, Limerick, Galway, and in two Dublin locations.
Full details are on the IDI’s website.
Good design is essential to a good business
Entrepreneurs, SMEs and startups are now encouraged to book a session with design experts in areas such as website development, graphic design, Design Thinking, branding, and marketing.  
Kim Mackenzie-Doyle, the former president of the IDI and founder of ‘Mind over matter’ says mental health is something the design community and the business community are keenly aware of. “Mind over Matter brings the business community and the design community together in mutually beneficial ways. Many business owners and creatives often work in isolation. Mind over Matter is as much about networking and mental health awareness as it is about the work and new contacts and new business,” says Mackenzie-Doyle.
Book your consultation with a design expert
Nearly 200 designers from all over Ireland are donating their time for free with all funds raised being donated to AWARE.
Designers from all specialities are represented including graphic designers, UX specialists, architects, creative strategists, illustrators, interior designers, product designers, brand experts, marketing leaders and web developers. There is something for every type of business.
Booking is open from now until October 9 at

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Mastering the ‘art of people’ in a team

“The difference between success and failure is a great team.” – Dave Kerpen.

Ekaterina Voznesenskaia

What is a secret of a great team? A study of 133 teams found that psychological factors such as higher levels of interpersonal sensitivity, emotional stability and curiosity result in a more cohesive and productive work. Do psychological factors, personality, and emotional intelligence predetermine growth and development within the team? What makes a great team?

Teams are more innovative and productive than just a group of people. Today’s teams are far more different compared to ten years ago. In the past teams included relatively homogenous members who worked face-to-face and had a similar mindset. They perceived themselves as a joined cohesive group. In face-to-face teams, nonverbal communication and contextual cues provide a deeper insight into what’s going on.

“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results. – Andrew Carnegie.”

Digital and diverse

Today’s teams are Digital – diverse, dynamic and dispersed. Lots of them work remotely, and if you imagine a group of different nationalities, age, gender, and race with their values, beliefs, norms and behaviour working on a distance in differing time zones – it makes the whole teamwork process much more complicated. The question arises: ‘How to break down the barriers to cooperation and information exchange, and make a perfect team in the whole complexity of today’s digital environment?’ The answer is building ‘team effect’, making each member feel part of the team even on a distance, feel strong mutual commitment to work, and most important – feel “We’ instead of “I”. This ‘We’, this mutual commitment creates an enormous potential for the team’s interpersonal growth and great motivation for business development. How can this feeling of ‘We’ be achieved?

J. Richard Hackman, a pioneer in the field of organisational behaviour, identified the basics of team effectiveness: a compelling direction, a firm structure, and a supportive context. Every team feel inspired when they have a clear path – a goal. The goal should be explicit, consequential and also challenging. A compelling direction highly benefits the emotional stability of the team, as we usually feel much more motivated working toward a particular goal.

A team can be a mix of different nationalities, age, gender, and race with their values, beliefs, norms and behaviour. Such groups can quickly become disintegrated and even isolated unless they have a mutual goal and a structure of what each of them is responsible for. When there is a clear structure within a team, there is a clear structure inside each member of the team. Support is another condition that contributes to team effectiveness. Supportive context includes sharing reward when your team member succeeds, and, at the same time, letting them know if they fail to perform. Support is about giving only objective feedback. Also, feedback is never negative as we learn from mistakes and achieve higher results in the future.

“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success – Henry Ford.”

What team Google knows

Google’s recipe for a successful team is “being nice and joining”. Google’s research has found that effective team performance is determined by the team’s average level of emotional intelligence and a high level of communication between the members. Moreover, the broader scientific evidence proves that individual’s personalities play a significant role in team performance. Why? It is an individual’s personality that affects our position within the team, how we interact with the rest of the team, whether our values and beliefs correspond with the team’s. 

Imagine your team with a high level of interpersonal sensitivity, emotional stability and curiosity, a group of inquisitive, cool-headed and altruistic people. Now consider team members who are results-oriented, relationship focused, process and rule followers, innovative and disruptive thinkers and, definitely, pragmatic. It can be not that easy to keep the balance of all these features in a team, and there can be success and failure in some of them. However, it is possible. Also, it’s highly essential to take small steps to gain this balance.

Now, let’s think about emotional intelligence and its substantial impact on a team. First, let us ask ourselves – how emotionally intelligent are we? Also, are we emotionally intelligent? We can be great professionals, successful, experienced managers, fantastic leaders, great leaders. However, are we great on our team, for our team? This is a tricky question. So sometimes it is tough to answer. Let us remember first, what is emotional intelligence.

“Emotional Intelligence is the other kind of smart – Travis Bradberry”

Why EQ is so hot at the moment 

EQ first appeared in 1995, and the decades of research have revealed that emotional intelligence is the critical factor for a star performance. It is something intangible in each of us, that affects how we behave and manage our behaviour, how we tackle social complexities, how we make decisions and achieve results. EQ consists of two main competencies: personal and social. Personal competence is our self-awareness and self-management, while social skill is social awareness and relationship management. When we try to understand other people’s mood, motives and behaviour, we improve the quality of our relationship and manage interactions successfully.

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is the capacity for recognising our feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and our relationships.

How much of an impact does emotional intelligence have on your success? The short answer is a lot.

TalentSmart found that “emotional intelligence is the strongest predictor of performance, explaining a full 58% of success in all types of jobs.” Above all, EQ is not only the most significant predictor of performance in the workplace, but it is also the most reliable driver of leadership and personal excellence.

Travis Bradberry in his profound study found that 90% of top performers are also high in emotional intelligence, and just 20% of bottom performers are high in emotional intelligence. Let us remember one critical point – we can always develop high emotional intelligence, even if we’re not born with it.

“The strength of the team is each member. The strength of each member is the team – Phil Jackson.”

Now we are ready to answer the question ‘What makes a great team?’ The answer is all of us. We make a perfect team. We – a group of inspired and motivated people, united by the mutual goal, having a clear direction where to move and develop, and continually giving support to each other.

We are all great professionals with excellent professional skills. So we are also highly aware of the importance of personality, psychological factors and emotional intelligence within the team. 


This guide was written by Ekaterina Voznesenskaia. (pictured above)

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PlayerTek – sports performance science for everyone

PlayerTek is one of Ireland’s leading firms in the sports science sector. Co-founder Ronan Mac Ruairi reveals how PlayerTek started and grew into a market leader.
How did you get into this business?
My background is in physics and I landed my first job in data and analytics. I moved to IBM and spent a few wonderful years working there and much to my parent’s dismay, I left the company to join a startup called Web Factory in the early 90s. It was a time when very few people used the internet and we saw ourselves as innovators. We even invented our own version of Facebook which was called PaddyNet and at this point the term social media was unheard of. We then sold it to Horizon in 2000 and I spent the next decade working in academia (in computer science). I then moved into the sports science field as I felt there was a gap in the market which I could fill.
“We’re able to answer all the questions coaches ask.”
Is the sports science sector big in Ireland?
It’s a big market in relation to our population. We’re a country that’s sports-mad and by that I mean the level of participation, not just fan engagement. The GAA is one of the major drivers in that because they are able to get communities all across Ireland to back their local teams from grassroots level up.
“It’s an easy-to-use system for coaches who don’t have deep sports science experience.”
What is PlayerTek?
We’ve developed a small physical device which weighs about 50 grams and it’s placed on your back when you play football. It has a high-precision GPS tracker. It can track you down to within 30cm of your location so it’s incredibly accurate and we try to do that ten times per second. This will then

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