Women have unique abilities which can be applied to business

Vanessa Creaven, who co-founded Spotlight Whitening with her sister, says women have unique abilities which makes for great entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurial success isn’t about “any special talents or intellect but about hard work and determination”, says Vanessa Creaven, a dentist, who along with her sister Lisa, founded Spotlight Whitening, a revolutionary range for safe and effective teeth whitening at home. Spotlight has not only become a household name in Ireland but now it is also available in eight countries, across 7,000 retailers.

You and your sister, Lisa, run two successful businesses – your dental clinic and Spotlight Whitening. How do you juggle between the two?
Juggle is a very good word to describe it, it is a bit of a juggle. Myself and Lisa are dentists so we run a practice called Quay Dental. That’s where we work for let’s say a part of the week and before Spotlight was formed we were both full-time on the practice. Looking at it, the practice gives us a lot of ideas for when we form our products for the Spotlight.
For example, what we saw was that a lot of our patients didn’t have a real alternative to teeth whitening other than the whitening that we provided in the practice, which is a little bit of an investment as it costs around 300 euros. So we decided to come up with a product that could be used over the counter, that it would be available in a pharmacy, through a retailer, that would give a good result, wouldn’t cause sensitivity and would be a little more affordable. And that’s how we came up with Spotlight Whitening.
I think we are quite diligent with our time, we spend time in the afternoon touching base with the Spotlight team and how they are getting on. I also think we are very focused

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/women-have-unique-abilities-which-can-be-applied-to-business/ on thinkbusiness

Body Project balances for better in more ways than one

Gillian Hynes left the cooperate world to set up Body Project because she wanted to be in control of her own destiny. Here she tells Think Business how changing your lifestyle can change your life.

What drove you to set up Body Project?

As a personal trainer, I saw how my clients struggled to eat well with any real consistency. While they had their training right, breaking unhealthy eating patterns proved much more difficult for them. I set up Body Project to meet this problem. We provide personal training and healthy, chef-prepared meal plans under one roof, taking the stress and guesswork out of healthy eating and allowing people to make positive changes in the long-term. The programme is one of kind in Dublin and as far as I know in Ireland.

How important is a healthy mind and body to attaining business goals?

In my experience, it’s not so much that people fail to achieve work goals due to being unhealthy but rather they can find themselves having achieved a lot in their work life but at the expense of their health and fitness. We often have clients who come to us at the top of their game in terms of their career but feeling physically at a low. The great thing is that carving out time for themselves and getting fitter actually boosts the enjoyment of their work and gives them tonnes more energy to tackle their day to day.

“We often have clients who come to us at the top of their game in terms of their career but feeling physically at a low.”

How can we achieve a better balance?

First and foremost, it is vital to diarise exercise. If it’s not in the diary something else will always take precedence over an impromptu workout. I book myself in with my trainers at Body Project otherwise I’ll find myself tackling my to-do list and exercise won’t happen. Planning for healthy eating is also key. For instance, if you have a work dinner you simply balance the day by eating a lighter than usual breakfast and lunch. It’s important too to know that healthy eating doesn’t mean having to be ‘perfect’ all of the time.

Anyone setting up their own business has drive. I would say to people, find your niche, whether it’s Zumba or hill walking, find something you like to do. Having your own business is 24/7, you’re never really switched off from it. You have to have something that helps you switch off.

“It’s important too to know that healthy eating doesn’t mean having to be ‘perfect’ all of the time.”

How does the support Body Project provides help women in all aspects of their work/personal lives?

I think women generally can be very self-critical. I have seen so many women come through our doors with an outwardly great life and successful career and every reason to feel great but inwardly their confidence is at zero. Training doesn’t just make their muscles stronger; it makes them stronger mentally and more confident too. I am continually amazed at how life-changing adopting a healthier lifestyle can be.

“I have seen so many women come through our doors with an outwardly great life and successful career and every reason to feel great but inwardly their confidence is at zero.”

Energy levels are better, stress is reduced. We have women here who are going through a stressful period and it’s their lifeline. They come for weight loss but it changes their lives in much more profound ways. A lot of them don’t know how they will take time off to do the programme. What they realise when they do it is that business doesn’t ground to a halt. Wherever you work they will take as much as they can from you. You have to look after yourself. They get a better balance from doing our programme and realise life goes on. It’s good for them to get the balance back.

We had one particular client who came to us feeling very low in herself. She felt trapped in a well-paid but ultimately dissatisfying role and had neglected her personal life for years. Fast forward a few months later and she was bouncing in the studio door and smiling all of the time. Within the year she had a new job, a fiancé and was pregnant. I love that story; it encapsulates so much about what we do at Body Project and why we do it.

Gillian Hynes is the owner of Body Project, a fitness and lifestyle transformation business based in Dublin 2.

Interview by Olivia McGill.

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/body-project-balances-for-better-in-more-ways-than-one/ on

The best apps to help you be productive

Being productive means getting the important things done in the time that you have. Here’s the best apps to help you. 
We need all the help we can get to be productive in today’s world of instant communication and constant distractions. Being productive means getting the important things done in the time that you have. So let’s look at some apps that can help you stay on track and save some valuable time.
There are hundreds of productivity apps out there. If we are not careful, we can be unproductive trying out lots of different ones. Here, we present apps we have tried and tested to save you valuable time.
Most of these apps or software have a “fremium” version that provides basic functionality. This allows you test out the app before paying for more advanced features.
Google Keep
A great app for making lists or keeping ideas and notes. Effectively a digital post-it pad on your phone or laptop. Google Keep is an option on the share menu so it lets you save a clickable link to an article or website to read later, helping you manage your time and stay focused.
If This, Then That (IFTTT) can automate the routine jobs you do or possibly forget to do. It can connect between different apps or programmes based on a ‘recipe’ which is a simple list of instructions you create. An action or event in one app can trigger a task completion in the other. Here are some examples:

Mute your phone in meetings by automatically setting your Android phone to silent according to your Google Calendar appointments.
Track your work hours for a client by setting the location to automatically note your arrival and departure time in Google Calendar.

Try it out – the possibilities are endless and only limited by your own imagination.
This is collaboration tool

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/the-best-apps-to-help-you-be-productive/ on

Acres Machinery – thinking differently through design

Acres Machinery is an award-winning agri-machinery design and engineering company, based in Co. Roscommon. Here, CEO David Doran outlines some of the significant progress being made by this innovative agtech startup.
Recent developments
One of our latest developments is the Supercrop 1 crop conditioner. It’s a machine designed to reduce both the time and costs involved in the wilting of silage and hay and targeted at both silage contractors and large-scale farmers. Wilting grass reduces the moisture content of the crop in the field and plays a vital role in the process of quality silage and hay preservation, prior to it being baled or placed in the silage pit. The machine is now for sale worldwide across sixty countries in cooperation with leading Italian agri machinery manufacturer Sitrex. Recently, we were also delighted to have been selected as an Enterprise Ireland-backed HPSU company.
How does the machine work in practice?
Supercrop 1’s innovative design eliminates the need for three separate machines – the rake, conditioner and tedder, combining all three functions into a single machine. This design combination brings greater efficiencies such as the ability to simultaneously rake and condition altogether, in one go. This is quite a compelling proposition and means that you get better-quality forage, higher dry matter digestibility, better formed bales, eliminating at least one field pass, along with the ability to get your crop off the ground a day earlier.
“Supercrop 1’s innovative design eliminates the need for three separate machines – the rake, conditioner and tedder, combining all three functions into a single machine.”
What problems do you solve for the contractor?
The silage contractor gets paid per bale or per acre and looks to get in and out of the field as quickly and efficiently as possible. Most contractors don’t get paid for raking, which they carry out for their own

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/acres-machinery-thinking-differently-through-design/ on thinkbusiness

Donegal farmer doubles output since Brexit annouced

Keith Roulston has seen lots of changes to the dairy farming industry in his almost 40 years in business in Donegal. His farm now has 460 cows and he doesn’t see Brexit disrupting his operation.

Do you want to tell me about the history of this farm?

This farm started off with no cows after I came back here from Gurteen College. Prior to the early 1970s we used to milk cows but then we lost a herd of almost 80 cows here in 1976, which I remember well. After that, my father never milked a cow because it had such a damaging effect on him. I came back from Gurteen in 1981 and I bought 30 cows in Dungannon and we went from there and it has taken us to where we are today.

How big an impact do you see Brexit having on you?

For me personally, I’m not one bit bothered by Brexit. Of course the UK is a big market for butter and cheese, but our milk is internationally traded and we’re most interested in what happens in the GDT auction in New Zealand because that is what sets our price. Our milk goes to Lakeland Dairies in Co Cavan and they are trading with counties in North Africa, Asia and Central America, so the UK market isn’t going to be make or break for us. It may cause some inconvenience but I’m not worried in the slightest. The price of milk is going to rise this year. Brexit is a storm in a teacup and it will blow over. It’s just a case of getting the right measures in place that will work.

“Brexit is a storm in a teacup and it will blow over. It’s just a case of getting the right measures in place that will work.”

It will have a bigger impact on the beef trade because there is so much beef leaving here and going straight onto supermarket shelves in the UK. If things with Brexit go wrong, companies in the UK could decide to import from countries like Brazil or Argentina, but it depends mostly on the general public. If they demand for a food supply that is safe and trusted, well then they will continue to buy from here. But if it comes down to price, they may look elsewhere.

Have you had to make any changes to your operation since Brexit was announced?

None at all. We have just carried on as normal. Since 2016, we’ve doubled our output. At the end of our quota in 2015, it was about 1.5 million litres per year, and at the end of December 2018, we put out 3.3 million litres in the previous 12 months, so we’ve actually doubled our production in the time since Brexit was announced.

“No matter how difficult things might seem, especially now with the potential challenges with Brexit, there will always be light at the end of the tunnel.”

Have you spoken to any beef farmers and are they concerned?

Their only concern seems to be that people are trying to scare them by constantly giving them the worst case scenario, but until it goes through no one knows what the implications will be. At the moment, the beef trade is a bit of a disaster and that’s without Brexit. You can barely give cattle away at present, never mind actually selling them. There’s no money in beef at the moment.

For young farmers starting out, are there opportunities for them?

I think there are plenty of opportunities for young farmers today. If you’re willing to work and you have the right focus, then there will always be an opportunity. If I had adopted the ‘wait-and-see’ approach 35 years ago, I’d be sitting here growing old doing nothing. No matter how difficult things might seem, especially now with the potential challenges with Brexit, there will always be light at the end of the tunnel. In the dairy business, it’s continuous investment that is required, and take that from me because I’ve been doing it a very long time.

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/donegal-farmer-doubles-output-since-brexit-annouced/ on

Which Irish business sectors will be most impacted by Brexit?

Pierce Butler, head of sectors for business banking at Bank of Ireland, outlines the potential impact across different sectors. 

Irish manufacturers have enjoyed more than five years of continuous growth, but they’re now looking at how they can overcome the challenges that Brexit might pose.

They’re looking at their supply chains and routes to market: their supplier’s suppliers, and their customer’s customers, how they will be impacted by Brexit, and how they can plan or react accordingly.

The food, farming and beverages sector is likely to be one of the most affected by Brexit. If we look at beef farmers, 50% of exports go to the UK. That’s a very high exposure, and it’s going to be a significant challenge for the sector. Beef farmers are very resilient however, and have overcome challenges and volatility in recent years.

In the dairy sector, there is a wider diversification of markets. 25% of exports go to the UK, and it’s an area where there has been strong growth, driven primarily by strong global demand for dairy produce.

Here, there are opportunities for Irish companies to displace UK suppliers that sell into Ireland. There are going to be challenges where perishable exports are concerned, however.

To mitigate against this, we’ve seen a number of companies invest in frozen storage, or reconfigure their production processes, how and where they produce their products. Other businesses are trying to ensure they will have refrigerated logistics to try and counter any impact of disruption that might arise.

Retail is another sector where business will need to understand their supply chain. Where are their products coming from, and how could there be a disruption as a result of Brexit.

Equally, there may be an opportunity to displace UK retailers, who may have more products coming from or through the UK. So that might give Irish retailers the impetus to target that market.

At Bank of Ireland, we’re here to help and support our customers. There are a number of ways we can do this. If you log on to our new Brexit Hub, you’ll find we have a range of supports available.

But also talk to your Relationship Manager who will be delighted to help. We have a team of 120 mobile Relationship Managers who are out talking to customers at their place of business every day.

By Pierce Butler.

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/which-irish-business-sectors-will-be-most-impacted-by-brexit/ on

New start-up scholars join Waterford’s Boxworks community

Bank of Ireland’s latest cohort of Scholarship Desks users begin their six-month tenure at the much sought-after Boxworks co-working space 
This week Bank of Ireland’s latest cohort of Scholarship Desks users begin their six-month tenure at the much sought-after Boxworks co-working space in Waterford. 
The aim of the scholarships is simple – to give those who need a desk a vibrant co-working space while they tackle a specific business goal, over a six month period. All of the participants have a “time-bound goal” that they focus on achieving over the allocated period.
Employmum Scholarship Desks
As part of the Scholarship Desks offering in Boxworks, Bank of Ireland also offer a desk to Employmum – the flexible working platform. They then share this resource with a number of local professionals who can benefit from the work space and networking from being in Boxworks, but on a flexible/timeshare basis.
Importance of community
While having a city centre space and desk to use is the main attraction, all users agree that the feeling of community is a huge bonus and as important as the physical space. A key component of the success of this space is the ‘cross-pollination’ which manager Emer Powell does naturally – introducing start-ups to people that may be able to help their businesses to grow and thrive. Bank of Ireland are glad to support Boxworks with these sponsored desks and helping start-ups and SMEs to thrive.
Billy Rooney, founder of CameraShy and former scholarship desk user, said: “I found Boxworks, and the contacts and supports therein immeasurably helpful in building up my business.  The benefits of a co-working space for a fledgling business are truly massive. It’s only when you’re within it do you truly realise its importance in changing not only how you approach your own business, but also how you view yourself and the challenges and opportunities

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/new-start-up-scholars-join-waterfords-boxworks-community/ on

Farm Tours becoming more popular in Ireland

Farm Tours Ireland was set up in 2012, by long established Louth-based agricultural advisors, dad Gerry and son Aonghus Giggins. Here, Aonghus gives some background to the story of operating in what is a niche but burgeoning marketplace.
What is your target market?
We concentrate on incoming visitor trips to Ireland which generally makes up ninety-nine per cent of our business. Internationally, Ireland is known as the Food Island and our initial focus has been on the technical agricultural-tour sector, hosting international farm discussion groups, producer groups, veterinarian groups and university groups that wish to visit Ireland.

What has been a key factor in helping you grow?
Getting the word out to potential clients and creating awareness that our company exists has been key to both our commercial success and our on-going growth. We operate in a specialist sector with farmers travelling to Ireland from a range of continents and countries from across the globe. We have a limited marketing budget and tend to use the strategy of social media and word of mouth to get the message out there. In September, we were lucky to be selected to be the Louth Local Enterprise Office representative in the L.E.O. Village at the Ploughing Championships which proved very successful in helping promote our brand within Ireland.
“It’s quite a unique offering, visiting a real-life working farm, talking to the farmer and engaging with local communities to experience the real Ireland.”
How many work in the company?
There are three of us altogether – myself, my father Gerry and last year we were joined in the company by my sister Siobhan. Siobhan had been working in tax consultation in Dublin and since she returned home to join us, she has been a great addition to the family business.
What’s unique about your company?
We feel we are offering a different type of

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/farm-tours-becoming-more-popular-in-ireland/ on thinkbusiness

Startup Weekend coming back to Gorey

Techstars Startup Weekend will return to the Hatch Lab in Gorey in March and is open to anyone to come along.
The Hatch Lab in Gorey will host its second Techstars Startup Weekend from 1 to 3 March 2019, in partnership with Wexford LEO and Bank of Ireland.
Participants will have the opportunity to explore and develop new business ideas in a fun and inclusive environment.
Startup Weekend is a 54-hour event, where attendees pitch ideas, form teams and start companies. The weekend is community focused and provides a place for entrepreneurs to find co-founders, mentors and the momentum needed for their ideas.
In addition to developing their own ideas, participants will also be tasked with coming up with solutions for challenges relevant to Gorey, the surrounding region, and beyond. The goal of the weekend is to create an environment where passionate people can come together to get things done; to learn, network, bridge the gap between trades, expose potential weaknesses in their business models and see actual results.
Participants can bring their ideas to the next level and connect with like-minded people. Last year’s event saw 35 participants, and some Startup Weekend graduates, such as Vicki O’Donnell of Wilder Wander have turned their Startup Weekend idea into self-sustaining businesses operating from the Hatch Lab.
Some of the experts who will be in attendance over the weekend include Colin Keogh, a mechanical engineer and designer, who featured on the Forbes 30 under 30 list in 2016 and was one of the JCIs Ten Outstanding Young People in 2017, Cyril Byrne, a software innovator and mentor and Szilvia Szabo, CEO of Impacter.
The event is open for anyone to attend and you can book your place here. Alternatively you can email emer.cooney@boi.com or tina@thehatchlab.ie.

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/startup-weekend-coming-back-to-gorey/ on thinkbusiness

Violet’s still blooming in Kildare

The family-run flower store Violet’s first opened its doors 26 years ago in Kildare and continues to grow despite fierce competition from the big supermarkets.

How we began

In April 1993, 26 years ago, Catherine (my mother) who loved flowers all her life decided to do a floristry course and realise her dreams of owning her own business. Six months later, Violet’s Flowers opened its doors.

Being a family of entrepreneurs, we also had a newsagents in the town where I learned a lot about business working alongside my dad Pat. My brother, David, showed an interest in floristry when he finished school and decided to work in the flower shop also.

When Violet’s had busy periods, myself and sister, Katie, would pop in and help out, Pat would do the deliveries – it was very much a family affair. I really enjoyed these busy occasions and it ignited my passion for floristry.

The circle of life

I love this job and how creative you can be and how much joy you can bring to people for a variety of occasions, from their wedding day to the birth of their first child. You really do see the circle of life in this industry. I love the seasonality of this business and how it’s forever evolving and changing. No two days are the same which makes it interesting and enjoyable.

Getting social

In 1993, Catherine and Pat decided to build up a stock of giftware and dried flowers little by little over six months. Catherine also started creating dried flower arrangements at home in preparation for the opening of the shop.

“I love the seasonality of this business and how it’s forever evolving and changing. No two days are the same which makes it interesting and enjoyable.”

Over the years, we have very much moved with the times – in 2014 we opened our online shop, we’re also very busy on our Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest pages and we like to keep up-to-date with all aspects of our social media.

Social media has become a big part of our business and it allows us to interact with our customers on a daily basis. Going forward, our goal is to make as many people happy with our flowers as possible. We have toyed with the idea of opening a floristry school – all going well that will be in our near future.

The bigger stores selling flowers online

We are not affected by bigger stores selling flowers online as much as we were by big multiples selling flowers in-store. We have definitely seen a change over the years because of this – our customers that used to buy flowers on a weekly basis for their houses now pick up a bunch while they are doing their shopping.  Fortunately for us, we create flowers for extra special occasions i.e. weddings, birthdays, anniversaries and are able to provide that personal touch that customers love.

“We have toyed with the idea of opening a floristry school – all going well that will be in our near future.”

The quiet times

I feel that it can be difficult for every business at certain times of the year. During our quieter times, we have had to come up with fresh ideas to spark an interest in our customers. Most recently, we introduced beautiful framed prints, lanterns and giftwares – it’s important to keep our customers coming back.

Who has helped you most along the way?

That’s easy – my mam and dad. Without them, Violet’s wouldn’t exist. We also have very loyal customers who have been there with us since the beginning.

“We are not affected by bigger stores selling flowers online as much as we were by big multiples selling flowers in-store.”

If you were to do it all over again, what would you do differently?

At this stage, there is nothing I would change but having overcome a recession, it has certainly changed our thinking about certain aspects of our business and as a result, has made us more savvy and resourceful.

Who inspires you in business?

In our locality, we have a lot of family-run businesses that have been there for decades. Seeing these businesses continue to be successful, changing with the times, passing from one generation to another gives us the incentive to strive to grow our business for years to come.

By Stephen Larkin.

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/the-flower-business-ireland-violets-still-blooming-in-kildare/ on