SFA E-Zine – The Tuesday Edition
 

Dear Member,

Many thanks to those members who have already paid their 2016 membership fee. I would ask all others to please remit their 2016 subscriptions as soon as possible. There are a range of payment options available.

In this week's ezine we bring you top recruitment tips for small businesses and details on the new Central Bank Regulations for firms lending to small enterprises in 2016. We also provide information on the DKM/BPFI SME Market Monitor for December 2015 and the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland Research Awards which are closing for applications on 20 January. 

Each week in the SFA e-zine, we will profile a different government support available to small businesses, in this edition we bring you details on a tax relief for new companies where you can write off up to €120,000 corporation tax in your first three years of trading.

Throughout 2016, the SFA will offer training programmes tailored to small firms at affordable prices. Book now for a one-day 'Performance management and appraisal skills' programme in Dublin on 28 January.

Book your place at the next SFA webinar on 21 January covering government supports for small business and at the first SFA / Vodafone Speed-Networking event of the season kicking off in Limerick on 28 January. A summary of recent press coverage is also provided. 

As always, we’d love to hear from you about any queries you may have, issues you wish to have raised with Government or other stakeholders and your ideas on how we can improve the business environment for us all. Please contact me directly at tel: 01 605 1602 or 

e-mail: patricia.callan@sfa.ie or tweet: @SFA_Irl or visit www.sfa.ie.


Kind Regards,

Patricia Callan
SFA Director


NEWS
SFA membership subscription 2016
 
Firstly, can I thank you for your continued membership and support throughout 2015, it’s very much appreciated. We hope that your business is benefitting from being part of the Small Firms Association and the support we have provided in what has been a very significant year for business in Ireland...

Firstly, can I thank you for your continued membership and support throughout 2015, it’s very much appreciated. We hope that your business is benefitting from being part of the Small Firms Association and the support we have provided in what has been a very significant year for business in Ireland.

We have worked to influence the commercial environment on your behalf, ensuring that small business is kept at the heart of government policy-making and delivering tangible wins for your organisation. Undoubtedly 2016 will bring new challenges and opportunities but we face into them with a growing sense of confidence and optimism.

We continue to invest in the high level of service members require, and encourage you to make use of our expert advice services, along with the extensive networking and sales opportunities we provide for you to other members, through our events and members web portal on www.sfa.ie.

2016 membership invoices were issued by post in December 2015 and you have a range of payment options.

You have the option of paying by direct debit by making a once off or recurring (monthly/quarterly) payment. Please visit www.sfa.ie/directdebit where you can submit your details electronically. 

Alternatively, you may choose to pay your membership fee in full by cheque, electronic transfer or online at www.sfa.ie/invoice. 

The SFA bank details are:

Bank  -  Bank of Ireland

Bank Address  -  2 College Green, Dublin 2

Account Name  -  SFA / Ibec

Bank Account  -  10025922

Sort Code  -  90-00-17

BIC  -  BOFIIE2D

IBAN  -  IE97BOFI90001710025922

Vat Number  -  IE 0051524W

From Wednesday, 10 February 2016, all individual company passwords to www.sfa.ie will no longer enable you to log on to the members only area of the website.  This will only be re-enabled on receipt of subscription.

Are you recruiting the right people? Top recruitment tips for small business
 
Recruiting the right talent is an important part of business. Some of us will have experienced the negative effects of hiring an employee that is not suited to a particular business...

Recruiting the right talent is an important part of business. Some of us will have experienced the negative effects of hiring an employee that is not suited to a particular business. An effective recruitment process will reduce employee turnover, increase productivity and in turn impact your customer experience and bottom line.

A simple 5 step approach to recruitment can give your small business the upper hand.

1. Job Design

By documenting a job specification you will establish the tasks of the role you are recruiting for, as well as the salary on offer and where this role fits in your company. You should outline the minimum requirements and skills needed to carry out the role. If you fail to create this document, you might end up with a low-quality pool of candidates and be unclear of what you are looking for.


2. Sourcing Applicants

Standard job sites and recruitment agencies, while effective, can be an expensive solution. Now that you have a documented job specification, why not look at advertising through your existing online or social media pages, ask your current employees for referrals or advertise through a college or university careers office to attract graduates.


3. Screening 

Your screening process provides a vital opportunity for you to de-select unsuitable applicants and focus on candidates that can bring value to your business. It is important that you screen heavily, either by using your own judgment or by enlisting the help of managers you trust. Delete applications that do not meet your minimum requirements. Simply having a 10 minute telephone screen with your short-list can identify those that you would like to meet.

4. Interview Process

You will want to assess the ability of your top applicants to handle the job in hand, as well as seeing if they will fit the culture of your business. Following a short telephone screen, why not invite your top 3 candidates for a face to face interview. Here you can talk through their track record to date and probe any areas of concern. Assess the candidates personality type and find out how they would handle certain scenarios by asking competency based questions. Remember that the candidate you are interviewing will be assessing the performance of your business and its culture just as much as you are assessing them; make sure to display the values that you would like to see as a candidate.

5. Employment Quality

All employers should familiarise themselves with the Employment Equality Acts, 1998 and 2008, as they are applicable during these recruitment stages. Employers may not discriminate in relation to the any of the nine protected grounds. View the SFA guidelines on recruitment and selection.

For further information on this topic, or for recruitment and selection advice for your business, contact Jonathan Callan, SFA Executive on 01 6051668 or jonathan.callan@sfa.ie

New Central Bank Regulations for firms lending to small and medium sized enterprises from 2016
 
The Central Bank of Ireland has published new regulations for firms lending to SMEs, with which regulated lenders (other than credit unions) must comply from 1 July 2016 or, in the case of credit unions, from 1 January 2017...
  • Greater transparency around the application process required
  • Lenders to provide greater protections for guarantors
  • Credit Unions will come under this legislation in January 2017

On 18 December 2015, the Central Bank of Ireland published new regulations for firms lending to SMEs, with which regulated lenders (other than credit unions) must comply from 1 July 2016 or, in the case of credit unions, from 1 January 2017.

The regulations introduce specific requirements for regulated lenders, including:

  • Giving SME borrowers greater transparency around the application process;
  • Providing SME borrowers with reasons for declining credit, in writing, that are specific to their application;
  • Providing greater protections for guarantors;
  • Contacting SME borrowers who have been in arrears for 15 working days;
  • Warning SME borrowers if they are in danger of being classified as not co-operating; and
  • Expanding the grounds for appeal and setting up an internal appeals panel.

Mr. Bernard Sheridan, Director of Consumer Protection, said: “The regulations aim to strengthen protections for SMEs, while also facilitating access to credit, by introducing specific requirements that regulated lenders must comply with”.

The regulations require firms to contact borrowers who are in arrears for 15 working days, in order to identify the reason why. This will allow them to assess whether the SME borrower’s circumstances are such that the requirements placed on firms for dealing with borrowers in financial difficulties should apply to that borrower.

In addition, under the regulations, borrowers will be entitled to an internal appeal of a decision made by a firm.  Firms will be required to have an internal Appeals Panel for this purpose. SME borrowers in danger of being classified as not co-operating must be provided with a warning.

The SME Regulations are available here. The Central Bank has also published a feedback statement to the public consultation on the review of the SME Code (CP91).

Write off up to €120,000 of corporation tax in your first three years of trading
 

Spotlight on the tax relief for new start-up companies, which offers relief of up to €120,000 corporation tax relief to companies in their first three years. This article provides information on the scheme and advice on how to avail of it... 


There are over 80 different government supports available to small businesses but many of them are not well known or understood. Each week in the SFA e-zine, we will profile a different support that could improve your business, giving you information and advice.

#8 Tax relief for new start-up companies

What?

Corporation tax relief for new companies in their first three years of trading, up to a maximum of €120,000.

The relief is equivalent to the amount of Employer PRSI paid by the company, with maximum limits of €5,000 per employee and €40,000 in total per year. Marginal relief is also available on corporation tax liability between €40,000 and €60,000 on a tapering basis.

Unused relief in the first three years, due to losses or insufficient profits, can be carried forward for use in subsequent years.

Why?

The aims of the scheme are:

  • to encourage people to set up businesses
  • to make it more likely for early-stage businesses to survive
  • to reward job creation in start-up companies

How?

The relief is claimed through your standard annual tax return (Form CT1) for the first three years of the business. 

More information is available on the Revenue website.

Tips

If you are interested in applying, don’t forget:

  • The relief is available to companies that pay corporation tax.
  • There is no relief for a company with corporation tax liability of €60,000 or greater in any 12 month accounting period.
  • The limits of €5,000, €40,000 and €60,000 are proportionately reduced for periods of less than 12 months.
  • The relief is not available for companies operating in the fishery and aquaculture sectors, the primary production of agricultural products or the coal sector. The maximum relief over three years is €100,000 for the transport sector.
American Chamber of Commerce Ireland Research Awards
 
Application for the 2016 US-Ireland Research Innovation Awards close on 20 January. The Awards recognise excellence in research innovation, creation and invention by an Irish organisation involving both Irish and US parties.

The 2016 US-Ireland Research Innovation Awards recognise excellence in research innovation, creation and invention by an Irish organisation involving both Irish and US parties.

The Awards are now open for applications and close on 20 January 2016.

Developed by the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland and the Royal Irish Academy, these awards recognise and acknowledge exemplary ideas, originating in Irish organisations, and underpinned by innovative research, that have a strong social and/or economic impact.

The awards will acknowledge and acclaim exemplary research innovation characterised by appropriate public domain metrics of excellence and impact, such as research publications, patents, trade journal editorials, awards, etc.

There are specific categories for Irish small businesses with US links and for the US operations of an Irish SME.

Full details are available on the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland website and on the Royal Irish Academy website.

DKM/BPFI SME Market Monitor December 2015
 
The DKM/BPFI SME Market Monitor, December 2015 highlights an underlying improvement in the economic environment for SMEs with many indicators rising and with others stabilising...

SME Market Monitor shows underlying improvement in economic environment for SMEs

The DKM/BPFI SME Market Monitor, December 2015, prepared by DKM Economic Consultants (DKM) and published on 18 December 2015 by Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI), highlights an underlying improvement in the economic environment for SMEs with many indicators rising and with others stabilising.

Tracking trends across 15 different indicators which are important for the performance of the SME sector, this latest DKM/BPFI SME Market Monitor points in particular to the significance of strengthening domestic demand and ongoing recovery in consumer spending, with DKM’s Annette Hughes stating that:

“One of the most important indicators for SME firms, Domestic Demand, continued an upward trend in the first six months of the year, with the quarterly value surpassing €42 billion (constant 2013 prices) in Q3’15 for the first time since early 2008. Investment was the star performer in Q3’15 for the second quarter in a row. Although overall retail sales were marginally lower in the month of October, the ongoing recovery in consumer spending and in the level of housing transactions is having a positive impact on sales in selected sectors”.

Download a copy of the report. 

EVENTS
Webinar - Government supports for your business
 
  • Thursday, 21 January - 2:15pm - 2:45pm

On Thursday, 21 January from 2:15pm - 2:45pm SFA Director, Patricia Callan will deliver a webinar on 'the what, where and how of grants, loans, tax savings and other government supports.' 

Small business are missing opportunities to avail of government supports for their business due to lack of information and confusion. 


Understanding what supports your business qualifies for, where to apply for them and how to avoid some common pitfalls could be the key to sustaining your business or taking it to the next level. 

The webinar will cover: 

  • the "Supporting SMEs online tool"
  • the various agencies that assist small business and their criteria
  • government policy incentives for starting and growing a business in Ireland
  • funding opportunities for small business, including SBCI, Microfinance Ireland and the Credit Review Office
  • enterprise space, training & mentoring, advice and promotional opportunities

Register online for the webinar

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

For all queries on the event, please contact Louise Swail on 01605 1664 or email: louise.swail@sfa.ie

Speed-networking - Limerick
 
  • Thursday, 28 January, 6:00pm - 8:30pm

The SFA, in partnership with Vodafone, is delighted to host FREE Speed-Networking events, which will provide attendees with an amazing opportunity to have a series of 3-minute one-on-one meetings with a wide variety of companies, to begin to build new business contacts.

The first Speed-Networking Event of this season will be held in the Limerick Strand Hotel, Ennis Road, Limerick on Thursday, 28 January from 6:00pm to 8:30pm.

Speed-Networking allows people to discover in a very short space of time, common areas of interest, which can act as a basis for developing ongoing business relationships, be it finding new clients, accessing new audiences or meeting strategic business partners.

The facilitated Speed-Networking session will last for 1 hour, guaranteeing you 20 new business contacts and will be immediately followed by refreshments and the opportunity to follow-up with those contacts that are serious prospects or to meet more participants in an informal setting.

Event schedule

  • 6pm: Registration
  • 6:30pm - 7:30pm: Facilitated 3 minute Speed-Networking sessions
  • 7:30pm - 8:30pm: Informal networking and refreshments

 Each ‘meeting’ will last 3 minutes – when the whistle blows you will move to your next opportunity. Make sure to bring enough business cards, and also put a bit of thought into the message you want remembered!

Due to the nature of the event, overall numbers will be limited to 100, with a maximum of 2 people from the same company in attendance.

This event is free to attend but you must pre-register online.

SFA IN THE MEDIA
Press coverage

Small Business Awards, election priorities, 2016 outlook


SFA National Small Business Awards

The SFA Awards finalists featured in the Drogheda Independent and the Mid Louth Independent on 6 January. 

SFA end of year statement 2015

The SFA issued an end of year statement for 2015 on 31 December which was covered in the Evening Echo on 6 January. You can read the full statement on our website.

Small Firms Outlook 2016

On 4 January, the SFA published its 'Small Firms Outlook 2016’ survey report. This was covered in:

  • 5 January: The Evening Echo
  • 7 January: The Avondhu, the Carlow Courier, the Evening Echo, Cork Independent and the Northern Standard
  • 9 January: The Limerick Post

Read the full press release on our website.

 

 

BUSINESS BYTES
The latest changes in employment law - an essential guide for small business - free seminar
 
This seminar on Wednesday, 13 January 2016 will update small businesses on the latest changes in employment law.

SFA Business Bytes, with the support of Bord Gáis Energy, offer unparalleled access to a wide range of high quality training events which are entirely free of change to attend.

The events take place on the second Wednesday of each month. The upcoming seminar will take place on 13 January 2016.

Employment law in Ireland is changing at a rapid pace and it is crucial that owner-managers and all those involved in small businesses keep up to date.

Following a complete reform of the dispute resolution services as well as a number of recent legislation changes, Jonathan Callan, SFA Executive, will share detail of the changes that took place in 2015 and will take a look at new initiatives on the horizon for 2016.

This seminar will cover:

  • Accrual of holiday pay while on sick leave
  • Travel time now counted as working time
  • Employment equality amendments
  • National Minimum Wage changes for 2016
  • The introduction of paternity leave in Ireland
  • The set up of the Workplace Relations Commission
  • The Labour Court reform
  • Improved framework for internal collective bargaining
  • The reinstatement of JLCs, REAs and EROs

The seminar will last for approximately one hour with an opportunity to network with peers before and after. Refreshments will be provided.

Date: Wednesday, 13 January 2016
Time: 6:00pm - 8:30pm
Venue: Ibec, 84-86 Lower Baggot St, Dublin 2

This event is entirely free of charge but you must pre-register online.

TRAINING PROGRAMMES
Performance management and appraisal skills for small firms
 
Throughout 2016, the SFA will offer training programmes tailored to small firms at affordable prices. Book now for a one-day 'Performance management and appraisal skills' programme in Dublin on 28 January...

WHY BOTHER?

  • Do you or your managers need to develop your performance management skills?
  • Would your business benefit from improved goal setting, more effective appraisals and employee feedback?
  • Would you like to develop your confidence in dealing with performance issues?

If you answered YES to any of these questions then this is the course for you!

TOPICS COVERED INCLUDE:

  • Managing performance and the employee lifecycle
  • Aligned performance management
  • The role of managers in performance management
  • Objectives and benefits of an effective performance appraisal system
  • Managing the appraisal interview: preparation, structure, style
  • Key communication skills in performance management
  • Delivering feedback to others and dealing with challenging people
  • Questions for appraisals
  • Managing poor and high performers

TAKEAWAYS:

  • Useful tools and techniques

Date: 28 January 2016
Time: 8:30am - 3:30pm
Venue: Ibec, 84/86 Lower Baggot St, Dublin 2
Member cost: €190 per delegate 

Book online now

FEEDBACK:

“A day well spent.”John Humphreys, General Manager, Filtertek