SFA E-zine – The Tuesday Edition
Welcome to this week's edition of our SFA e-zine.
As the team here recover from the SFA Annual Conference we bring you a quick overview of the day. We were delighted to have Michael Martin, TD and leader of Fianna Fail attend our conference and hear our calls for a new Small Business Strategy. As part of competitiveness panel we highlighted the importance of small and local business to economic growth.
We then has a session on Digital Transformation in the small business sector, followed by a talk from John Keyes, Assistant Data Protection Commissioner who kindly took questions from the audience on the eve of the introduction of GDPR.
The day was a great success and we would like to thank all of our speakers, including Kevin McManamon who gave a great talk on moving from ‘prey to predator’.
Our conference would not have been possible without our partnership with Ulster Bank and the support received from One4All and The Sunday Business Post.
We already have the thinking caps on for next year’s event!
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 on tel: 01 605 1602 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet: @SFA_Irl or visit: www.sfa.ie.
SFA in the media
- SFA Annual Conference
SFA Annual Conference
This week we received excellent coverage of the SFA Annual Conference and our call for a Small Business Strategy
You can read our press release from the Annual Conference here, which states that small business sentiment is down 9 points in 6 months.
There was coverage of the press release and our Annual Conference in:
The Irish Times
The Irish Independent
The Irish Examiner
There was also coverage of Michael Martin TD and his comments stating there was 'no room' for tax cuts in The Irish Independent.
SFA Director, Sven Spollen-Brehens was on the Breakfast Business show on Newstalk last Thursday to discuss the SFA's call for a national Small Business Strategy.
SFA Executive Helen Quinn was on Morning Ireland last Wednesday to talk about GDPR as well as being interviewed for the One O'Clock News on RTE (18 minutes in).
SFA launches campaign for a national Small Business Strategy
At the SFA Annual Conference 2018, the SFA officially launched its campaign for a national Small Business Strategy. Delegates received two new publications outlining the case for such a strategy. Find out more and learn how to get involved.
At the SFA Annual Conference 2018, the SFA officially launched its campaign for a national Small Business Strategy.
Launching the campaign, Sue O’Neill, SFA Chair, stated: “Small business has a lot to be proud of but, in contrast with the multinational sector, the small business sector is not performing at its optimal level in many areas. This is clear whether we look at the rate of start-ups, success in scaling our businesses, productivity and exporting… Changing government policy step-by-step has got the small business sector to where it is today. There are many State supports for small firms but, from an owner-manager’s perspective, they are fragmented, confusing and inconsistent. There are many individual success stories, such as those being showcased at today’s conference, but also many tales of struggling businesses. One thing is certain: the potential of the sector has not been realised. That is why the focus should now be on creating a leap forward for small businesses.”
Conference delegates received two new publications, the start of the SFA’s Small Business Strategy campaign series. The first sets out the scale and impact of small business in Ireland, which is enormous. The second document explains why a Small Business Strategy can harness entrepreneurship to create the next leap forward for the Irish economy.
Delegates were encouraged to read the materials and to support the campaign by raising it with their local representatives and spreading the message with the hashtag #smallbizstrategy.
Sue’s speech went on to outline eight key considerations for government when developing the Small Business Strategy:
1. The strategy should be a common vision with whole-of-government buy-in. It should not be confined to the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, although that department will, no doubt, have an important role to play.
2. Public awareness and acceptance of the strategy is essential. The man on the street could tell us the broad strokes of Ireland’s FDI strategy – this is where we should try to get to with the Small Business Strategy also.
3. The strategy should support all small business. No business owner should feel alienated or that they are not in the ‘right’ sector on the ‘right’ trajectory. An Ireland that is truly open for business must encompass firms of all sizes, sectors and levels of ambition.
4. The strategy should provide coherence and consistency. It should ensure that all policies and schemes are aligned and that there are no contradictions in the government’s approach to small business. Equally, it must guard against mismatches between rhetoric and practice.
5. In the same vein, a business-friendly approach must be instilled in public officials across the apparatus of the state. Entrepreneurs should expect to find a positive, business-friendly and customer-centric attitude when dealing with officials from the Local Enterprise Offices to Revenue and from the CRO to Welfare.
6. The key policy areas to be addressed are: tax, the cost of doing business, regulatory burden, suitability of business supports and enhancing spillovers from multinationals to indigenous firms.
7. The strategy should be seized as an opportunity for a new approach to communicating with small businesses. This is an area where there is nowhere near enough focus at the moment. It leads to good support schemes being undersubscribed and a feeling that decisions are being thrust upon businesses.
8. All other decisions affecting small business should be informed by the strategy. This means that when important decisions are being made, whether about the future of pensions, the funding of higher and further education or the response to Brexit, the Small Business Strategy will give the principles on which the decisions are taken.
Ireland’s competitiveness challenges: Key insights from the SFA Annual Conference
The opening session of the SFA Annual Conference last week focused on Ireland’s competitiveness challenges, which represent an urgent concern for businesses around the country. This article highlights the key points made by Micheál Martin TD, Prof. Peter Clinch, Ian Kehoe and Eddie Cullen during this session.
The opening session of the SFA Annual Conference last week focused on Ireland’s competitiveness challenges, which represent an urgent concern for businesses around the country.
SFA Chair, Sue O’Neill, opened the session. A detailed breakdown of her speech is available here.
Micheál Martin TD, Leader of Fianna Fáil, outlined what he sees as the overall economic challenges we face and then detailed five specific areas of action to strengthen smaller firms. The areas he focused on were the cost of doing business, skills and staffing, diversification, Brexit and the need for State investment in infrastructure and broadband. His full speech is available here. In the Q&A session which followed his speech, Deputy Martin supported the SFA’s call for tax equalisation for the self-employed but indicated that it would not be a red line for Fianna Fáil in the upcoming negotiations for Budget 2019.
Next to take the floor was Prof. Peter Clinch, Chair of the National Competitiveness Council. He stated that “Competitiveness is part of the DNA of sustainable jobs”. He highlighted five key areas where action by government can enhance Ireland’s competitiveness: ensure the fiscal position remains sustainable; coordinate and closely-monitor the delivery of capital investment projects; develop a more diverse export base; adequately resource higher education to enhance the skills base; and facilitate innovation and productivity through a business-friendly regulatory framework.
The core message from Ian Kehoe, Editor of the Sunday Business Post, was that Ireland can’t run forever on a single good idea, i.e. our economy can’t depend on FDI to fuel continued economic growth. He spoke passionately about the need for greater emphasis from government on the success of indigenous and small firms, endorsing the SFA’s call for a national Small Business Strategy.
Eddie Cullen, Managing Director of Commercial Banking with Ulster Bank, was the last speaker in the competitiveness session. He shared his insights into the challenges facing the SMEs that Ulster Bank interacts with. He referenced weak demand for credit and encouraged businesses to consider the right mix of finance to fuel their business ambitions.
Sue, Peter, Ian and Eddie all participated in a panel discussion, moderated by Colette Fitzpatrick with questions from audience members. Topics included the business priorities for Budget 2019, the main business cost concerns for small firms, skills shortages and how non-bank finance can be used to complement bank borrowing.
Digital transformation in the small business sector
The second session of last week’s SFA Annual Conference gave us an insight into the future of digital technology. Technology and social media have already transformed how we work, communicate and do business.
Digital visionary Colin Chapman focused on how digital technologies are now changing customer and employee engagement, as well as processes and products – with big opportunities for those that can keep up. He emphasised the importance of having a digital strategy and ensuring that it is understood across your organisation.
Aidan Healy, Head of Learning and Development of UnPlug, shared with us his belief that people should take control of their technology instead of technology controlling them. His main argument was that technology itself, if used mindfully, has extraordinary benefits. However, it is the way in which people choose to engage with technology that determines the positive and negative impacts that it has on them and their business. In his presentation he reviewed a number of workplace tech habits as well as social media usage behaviours and he suggested a number of strategies and techniques to increase productivity and facilitate higher quality downtime.
Keith Mahon, founder of TheTaste.ie, joined Colin and Aidan for a panel discussion. Keith shared with us how the use of technology can transform the user experience for the consumer and drive sales. His emphasis was on providing relevant, value add content to the user before pushing for a sale.
GDPR: Pitfalls and possibilities
At the SFA Annual Conference, attendees received last-minute advice from John Keyes of the Data Protection Commission and they heard the GDPR journey of three small businesses. Read on to hear all about it…
John Keyes, Assistant Data Protection Commissioner kicked off the GDPR session with his presentation, A view from the regulator on the eve of GDPR.
Less than 24 hours before GDPR went live, he shared five ways that businesses can reduce their risk of receiving an administrative sanction:
- Evaluate your risk for personal data breaches
- Identify and eliminate common data security threats
- Communicate processing activities to customers and staff in a transparent way
- Effectively deal with subject access requests
- Demonstrate your compliance
John Keyes announced that the Data Protection Act 2018 was just passed and advised that 50% of all complaints they receive arise from ignored data access requests. In closing, the key message he gave to the audience was to communicate the processing of personal data to customers and staff in a clear, transparent way that is easy to access, read and understand.
In the panel discussion that followed, Fiona O’Carroll of Gifts Direct, Jock Jordan of One4all and John Carney of Butler Technologies shared their GDPR journeys with the audience. Jock Jordan talked about how One4all have managed their consent lists and shared that they now have a focused contact list of engaged customers. John Carney advised that Butler Technologies focused strongly on staff awareness so that GDPR is taken on board and implemented across the entire business. Fiona O’Carroll talked about the strong focus in Gifts Direct on staff being aware of and understanding the risks of data breaches.
If you would like more information on GDPR or to discuss your requirements further, please contact Helen at SFA on 01 6051668 or at email@example.com or visit our GDPR section on www.sfa.ie/advice
- Come pop by tomorrow, RDS Dublin
Thousands of tech savvy stakeholders will descend upon the RDS Main arena tomorrow Wednesday the 30th of May as part of this years’ TechConnect Live. Now in its third year, the event brings top emerging talent in the SME sector and experienced entrepreneurs together to network, exhibit and debate some of the key challenges and trends facing the tech industry today.
TechConnect Live is Ireland’s largest B2B and technology expo with over 150 speakers, 300 exhibitors and 100 investors taking part. The key focus of this year's event is nurturing upcoming SME talent and growing business online. Over 5,000 key corporate and SME decision-makers, entrepreneurs, owners and managers from all across the globe are set to attend a range of talks from key speakers such as:
- Entrepreneur and broadcaster, Bobby Kerr
- Director of Digital Education SMART N.I, Naomh McElhatton
- CEO and Founder TechIreland, Niamh Bushnell
- Tanya Duncan
- CEO Popertee, Lucinda Kelly
The unique day long event is supported by IBEC and the Small Firms Association (SFA) and aims to help create a new marketplace for a wide range of SMEs experiencing rapid growth.
Stop by the Grow SME stage to see SFA Executive Helen Quinn at 2pm as she talks about GDPR and the human element.
This event is FREE but you must register.
Radio interview skills for your business
As a business owner, you should be creating opportunities to be interviewed on radio, talking about your own business, talking about your industry, commenting as an SFA member and participating in panel discussions.
Every radio interviewer must introduce you by mentioning you and your company – that’s valuable publicity! - and every contribution you make adds to the perception of you as an expert in your area.
However, if you get it wrong, the opposite impression will be created. So, you need to know what you are doing.
This course will teach you two important skills:
- How to be interviewed, one-to-one, and be really effective at getting your company message across
- How to participate in group interviews which enhance your standing as an expert in your field
Don't miss it. Max 12 people. One full day. In the radio studios of Dublin City fm. Interviews conducted by radio journalists. With your own personal audio to review later at your leisure.
The course fee is €140 and you can sign up here
Regional Business Connect Networking Event
- 13 June, Abbott Diagnostics, Longford
With Business Connect, we aim to shine a light on some of the successful collaborations between different parts of Ireland’s business community and to create a pipeline of opportunities for all businesses, large and small. After the success of the first Business Connect event in Dublin in February, we are now bringing smaller events to regional locations. In collaboration with Abbott we are holding an evening networking event in their Longford facility on 13 June 2018 from 5.30pm.
Abbott Diagnostic, Longford
Wednesday, 13 June, commencing with registration and refreshments at 5.30pm. The seminar will kick off at 6pm sharp and will last approximately one hour with a tour of Abbott afterwards
This event is entirely free of change to attend however you must register
5.30-6.00pm Meet and greet
- SFA welcome
- Abbott Ireland
- Case study: Abbott Mentorship Programme for small businesses
- MÓR Model
6.45-7.30pm Group tours
7.30pm Q&A and wrap up
The event is open to SFA members and non-members. It will last for approximately two hours with an opportunity to network before and after. Refreshments will be provided.
This event is entirely free of charge, but you must register.
For all queries on the event, please call the event organiser:
Gillian O'Keefe, Tel: +353 1 605 1664
Radio interview skills with PR guru Ellen Gunning
This course will be held in a working radio studio. Interviews will be conducted by radio journalists and you will leave with your own personal audio to review later at your leisure. You will learn how to be interviewed one-to-one and how to participate in group interviews.
As a business owner, you should create opportunities to be interviewed on radio, talking about your own business, talking about your industry, commenting as an SFA member and participating in panel discussions.
Every radio interviewer must introduce you by mentioning you and your company – that’s valuable publicity! - and every contribution you make adds to the perception of you as an expert in your area. However, if you get it wrong, the opposite impression will be created.
So, you need to know what you are doing. That's why the SFA and the Irish Academy of Public Relations are offering a one-day practical course on radio interview skills on 31 May in the studios of Dublin city fm. The course will be delivered by PR guru Ellen Gunning.
This course will teach you two important skills:
- How to be interviewed one-to-one, and be really effective at getting your company message across
- How to participate in group interviews which enhance your standing as an expert in your field
At €140 per participant, this course is amazing value: one full day of training with a maximum of 12 people in the radio studios of Dublin City fm. Interviews will be conducted by radio journalists and you will leave with your own personal audio to review later at your leisure.
Don't miss it - sign up here.