SFA E-zine - The Tuesday Edition

Dear Member, 


Welcome to this week's SFA e-zine.  

Firstly, I would like to wish all our members a merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year.



Over the Christmas period are opening hours are as follows:


  • Friday, 21 December – Normal business hours
  • Monday, 24 December – Wednesday 26 December - Closed 
  • Thursday, 27 December – Open 9am - 4pm (contact Sven on 01 605 1602 or Helen on 01 605 1668)
  • Friday, 28 December – Open 9am - 4pm (contact Sven on 01 605 1602 or Helen on 01 605 1668)
  • Monday, 31 December & Tuesday, 1 January - Closed
  • Wednesday, 2 January 2019 - Normal business hours 

Our next ezine will be on 15 January and going forward in 2019 we will be sending our Tuesday newsletter on a fortnightly basis. 


In this edition we guide you through the annual performance appraisal so that you and your employees can assess goals achieved, areas for development and plan ahead for the coming year.


The SFA team together with our colleagues in Ibec are working very hard to address the concerns of the small business community in relation to Brexit, we provide you with an update below. We include a reminder of the key dates in 2019 for PAYE Modernisation and link to a Currency Risk Management booklet for Irish SMEs recently launched by the Department of Business Enterprise and innovation. We also include details of a Quick Guide for Selling Online from the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission.


Start the new year off on the right foot at our Business Bytes event on 9 January which will discuss workplace health and well-being and register to attend the next SFA webinar which has been rescheduled to 24 January and focuses on the characteristics of successful retailers. On 31 January we will be running our first digital marketing masterclass with 3XE focusing on social media fundamentals for small businesses, find out more below. The 2019 Business Connect event is taking place on 7 February in the Aviva Stadium, bookings are now open so be sure to register your place. We also provide a summary of recent press coverage.


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: sven@sfa.ie or tweet: @SFA_Irl or visit: www.sfa.ie.


Kind regards, 

Sven Spollen-Behrens

SFA Director

Recent press coverage
  • SFA Awards
  • Business Connect

SFA National Small Business Awards 2019


The SFA issued a press release on 4 December announcing the finalists in the SFA National Small Business Awards 2019. This week this was covered in the Sligo Champion on 11 December.


Business Connect


The SFA issued a press release on 12 December launching the 2019 Business Connect. This was covered on Business World on 12 December and in the Evening Echo on 14 December.  

The SFA guide to annual performance appraisals

We guide you through the annual performance appraisal so that you and your employees can assess goals achieved, areas for development and plan ahead for the coming year…

With end of year / new year appraisals looming, this article focuses on how businesses can make the most of these meetings to ensure that they are valuable and constructive for both the employer and employee.  


Performance should be managed throughout the year and regular feedback is invaluable to employees. They are ideal for recognising work well done, identifying areas for development or to coach an employee on how they can achieve better results. Performance management should not be a tick box exercise otherwise the golden opportunity to understand what motivates your employee in their work, to engage them and direct them in how you want your business to grow will be missed.


The annual performance appraisal is an ideal mechanism to formally review what has worked well in the year, scope out areas for development and work together to map out what can be achieved in the year ahead.


There are a few key steps businesses should consider so that you can make the most of the appraisal meeting and these are:




It is essential that both parties prepare for the meeting to ensure that it is useful and engaging. Managers should be aware of both the duties that the employee performs and the objectives that were set out in the previous appraisal meeting. There should be no surprises for the employee during the review. Some managers may wait until an appraisal to bring up areas of concern regarding an employee’s performance, but this should be avoided. Issues should be addressed at the time they occur rather than allowing these mistakes to build up and be repeated. The purpose of the appraisal meeting is to assess overall performance from the previous year and focus on future performance. It is a good idea to send out documentation in advance of the meeting so that the employee can complete it and return it back to the manager for discussion at the appraisal meeting.


Clarity about objectives


A clear set of objectives is crucial for an effective performance management system. If the employee does not know what is expected of them how can the objectives be achieved? Managers and employees should agree and record a set of objectives that are to be met during the year. One type of goal setting is the SMART method so that goals are specific, measurable, accurate, realistic and timed. The follow up meetings should be held to check in with the employee, assess how they are performing and to ensure they are on track to achieve what they have set out to do. If not, then additional support and /or training should be offered to assist the employee. An employer should never be reluctant to change objectives during the year if the employee’s role evolves or changes. Objectives are not set in stone and are meant to assist not hinder the development of the business. The yearly employee performance plan should be viewed as a working document that can be changed in line with the needs of the business.




The quality of the feedback given and how this is communicated by the manager is of utmost importance. The manager should provide information to the employee on their performance and progress and what’s required of them in order to continue to perform well in the future. The exchange should be an open and honest discussion where constructive feedback is given to the employee on areas that require improvement and what is required in order to achieve this. Managers should be trained in order to confidently give feedback and to manage difficult conversations. It is also important to focus on the areas that have been done well. This positive reinforcement ensures that the employee feels valued and it ensures they do not leave the meeting feeling demotivated or underappreciated.


Two way dialogue


The appraisal meeting is an opportunity for both the manager and employee to discuss performance and how things have been done to date. The manager should allow the employee to share their views and use open questioning to bring forward any difficulties that may be impacting their performance. It must be remembered that in a busy workplace, the appraisal meeting may be the only real opportunity where the employee gets to sit down with their manager to discuss their role. The manager should use this opportunity to check in with the employee and assess how they are finding the role and to discuss future career plans.




Both the manager and the employee should jointly reach an understanding about what needs to be done to improve and sustain performance as well as any agreed career development in the form of training or mentoring. The manager should follow up with the employee to ensure that anything implemented as a result of the meeting is working effectively and meets the requirements.


By implementing the above five steps this will ensure that both managers and employees are getting the most from appraisal meetings. The appraisal meeting should be viewed by a business as a means of collating and reviewing the feedback given during the year in order to assess overall performance and the performance of the employee.


We have a performance appraisal guideline including a template document that you can avail of here. If your line managers need training in performance or managing difficult conversations we have an online training course that can equip them in this area. If you have any further queries on performance management or need additional advice contact  Helen Quinn on 01 605 1668 or helen.quinn@sfa.ie

SFA Brexit update

The SFA team together with our colleagues in Ibec are working very hard to address the concerns of the small business community in relation to Brexit...

The SFA team together with our colleagues in Ibec are working very hard to address the concerns of the small business community in relation to Brexit. While ultimately a political solution to the impasse remains likely, the risk of ‘no deal’ is rising. If the UK crashes out of the EU, there will be immediate and far-reaching economic consequences. The Irish Government and the EU institutions must now set out in detail their plans for a possible disorderly UK exit. An extended transition period is vital in all circumstances, including ‘no deal’.

Ireland’s unique economic exposure to Brexit will demand very specific treatment. Keeping transport links and supply chains moving must be a priority. Key measures that Government would need to introduce in the case of a ‘no deal’ should include:

  • A new enterprise stabilisation fund, to provide short-term financing support for affected companies
  • Direct capital, marketing and innovations support for companies reorienting into new markets beyond the UK
  • Allowing companies to claim VAT as an input credit, at the same time as declaring their liability, to minimise cashflow needs
  • New trade support measures, including further export trade financing and export credit guarantees

To support you with your preparations for Brexit, we have a number of publications that you, as our members, have exclusive access to including the latest two page Brexit tracker and our SFA Brexit guide.


We are here to help so please feel free to contact us anytime with your queries or concerns.

PAYE Modernisation key dates in 2019

A reminder of key dates for the new regime...

  • 1 January 2019

PAYE real-time reporting goes live and will apply from this date on.

  • 5th of every month

A summary statement of your payroll reports for the previous month will appear on ROS.

  • 14th of every month

The deadline to check and correct your reports for the prior month.


Revenue has indicated that in the early days of the new regime it will be adopting a supportive approach to employers and stakeholders. Revenue’s National Employer Helpdesk has been scaled to handle additional support requirements and can be contacted on 01-7383638.


Additional information can be found in the SFA Get prepared for PAYE Modernisation - A quick guide for Irish business.

Currency Risk Management booklet for Irish SME

The Department of Business Enterprise and innovation have launched a Currency Risk Management booklet for Irish SMEs...

The Department of Business Enterprise and innovation have launched a Currency Risk Management booklet for Irish SMEs.


The guidance seeks to answer many of the questions that Irish SMEs may have when assessing and managing their exposure to foreign currency risk, set out in sections dealing with: the importance of currency risk management; how to assess currency exposure and develop a currency management strategy; practical guidance for companies that have not previously engaged in currency management; and a directory of support services and providers that are available in the market. Whilst the focus of this guidance will primarily be with respect to sterling related currency risk, the principles can equally be applied to Irish SMEs importing goods from or exporting goods to any non-euro country or market. Booklets available at www.dbei.gov.ie.

Guide to selling online: what you need to know

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has published a new guide to help businesses understand their obligations under the Consumer Rights Directive...

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has published a new guide to help businesses understand their obligations under the Consumer Rights Directive. The publication follows research released by the CCPC showing considerable differences in policies for returns, refunds and cancellation.


If you sell goods or services online to consumers in the EU, it is important that you are familiar with consumer protection laws and how they apply to your business. The Consumer Rights Directive (CRD), provides additional protections to consumers who buy goods or services online.


Some of your main obligations include:

  • Change of mind: You must allow 14 days for your customers to change their mind, cancel their order and get a full refund. The 14 days only starts from the date the consumer receives their order.
  • Returns: If a consumer cancels their order, they have a further 14 days from the date they cancel to send the order back to you.
  • Sale items: If you are selling items at a discount or in a sale, consumers’ rights don’t change. They still have 14 days to change their mind and cancel the order.
  • Clear and accurate information: You must always give your customers clear and accurate information about the total cost of what they are buying, including delivery, when they buy online.
  • Using social media channels: If you use social media channels to sell goods or services, you may be considered a business and it is important that you check what your obligations are.

Download CCPC’s Quick guide for selling online for more information on your obligations.

The wealth of business depends on the health of workers
  • 9 January
  • SFA offices, Dublin

The SFA Business Bytes events, which are entirely free of charge, offer small businesses access to expert information and advice and an opportunity to network with their peers. The series is supported by Bord Gáis Energy.

  • Date: Wednesday, 9 January
  • Time: 5:30pm - 7:30pm
  • Location: SFA/ Ibec offices, 84-86 Lower Baggot St, Dublin 2.

The World Health Organisation has defined the workplace as an optimum place to promote health through collaboration and use of a continual improvement process to protect the health, safety and well-being of all workers. Companies of all sizes have an opportunity and responsibility to embed a credible wellbeing program into the workplace culture that will improve society. 


This health and well-being seminar will demonstrate how to implement effective wellness programs, collect and analyse data, measure your return on investment and further valuable information. No matter what size your organisation or industry is, you can benefit from attending this event.


The seminar will be delivered by David Casey, Wellness and Health Promotion Manager/ Dental Professional at DeCare Dental Insurance Ireland Ltd.


A member of the SFA team will give you a sneak preview of our Grow, Scale, Succeed campaign, launching January 10. Grow, Scale, Succeed will provide small business with a variety of resources to enable them to recruit and retain employees as well as embrace Smart Working which is the combination of technology with flexible working arrangements.


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


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

SFA Webinar: The characteristics of successful retailers
  • 24 January

On Thursday, 24 January from 10.30am- 11:00am Owen Clifford, Head of the Retail Sector in Bank of Ireland will deliver a SFA webinar entitled “Perpetual Motion – the characteristics of successful retailers”. 


Owen will demonstrate how the core principles of retail – knowing your customer, building & developing your team and progressive in-store investment remain a fundamental requirement of any successful business strategy in the sector.  It’s the execution of these principles which marks out the leading retailers from the crowd – are you maximising the potential of your retail business?


Register online now for the webinar.


After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. If you can't make this time, you can still register for the session and we'll send you a link to the recording afterwards so you can playback in your own time.

Social media fundamentals for small businesses
  • 31 January

SFA are partnering with 3XE to deliver a Digital Marketing Executive Series for Small Businesses. The first event on Thursday, 31 January 2019 will be on social media fundamentals for small businesses. The three hour-long workshop will be delivered by industry experts in the world of social media marketing. 


Breaking through the noise with your social media content


Colm Hanratty is the owner of digital marketing agency Sixtwo Digital, a company that helps businesses get more from their social media marketing… by being social. Since the company was founded in 2013, they have worked with clients from a wide range of industries, both in Ireland and overseas. Colm also trains regularly with businesses all around Ireland. On January 31, Colm is one of the three tutors that will deliver the SFA Executive Series on Digital Marketing. Colm will talk about the importance of good content in a successful social media strategy.


Presentation overview:


Between algorithm changes and so many businesses using social media channels as a marketing platform, getting your content seen has become increasingly difficult. But there are still tactics you can employ to generate wide organic reach on the main social media channels – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

There are two things that are critical to any social media plan – a tight content strategy and an understanding of the tools being used to ensure that the content reaches the masses. This session will cover both of these topics. Topics will include:

  • Breakdown of the social media algorithms for the main channels
  • What you need to think about when devising your content strategy
  • The best time to share on social media
  • Examples of Irish brands breaking through the noise with their content
  • How to manage your time to ensure you remain active cross-channel

After the half day, the audience will have a greater understanding of how to utilise various social media channels to help their business grow.


Our aim is to give the audience a practical guide on social media on how to expand your network, connect with potential customers, engage with your customers and increase sales.  

  • Date: Thursday, 31 January 2019
  • Time: 9:15am to 12:30pm
  • Venue: SFA/Ibec Offices, 84-86 Lower Baggot St, Dublin 2
  • Cost: €135 +VAT SFA Members, €185 +VAT non-members
  • Package: All three Digital Marketing Executive Series events €345 +VAT SFA Members, €475 +VAT non-members

Book online now




Business Connect
  • 7 February
  • Aviva Stadium

The 2019 Small Firms Business Connect Showcase takes place on Thursday, 7 February 2019 in the Aviva Stadium, Dublin.


Now in its second year Business Connect is an exciting marketplace event designed to give delegates a window into the decision-making processes of Ireland’s leading companies.


At the showcase, delegates will hear from experts on how to work together with large organisations and case studies on small firms that have successfully cooperated with multinationals, as well as key insights on issues like Brexit.


The finalists in the SFA National Small Business Awards will exhibit at the showcase along with the sponsors of the awards programme.


Business Connect 2019 runs from 8am to 3pm with structured speed networking from 2pm to 3pm and the event is compered by journalist Richard Curran.


Tickets are €49 for SFA Members and €99 for non-members and can be booked here

Online GDPR training

Enrol your staff and managers on our newly designed online GDPR programme to ensure your staff are informed of their obligations under the Data Protection Acts 1988 to 2018 and GDPR...

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a ground breaking piece of data protection legislation, which came into force on 25 May 2018, has a significant impact on all organisations, as it enhances the data protection rights of employees, imposes specific obligations on employers and introduces severe financial penalties for non-compliance.

Enrol your staff and managers on our newly designed online GDPR programme to ensure your staff are informed of their obligations under the Data Protection Acts 1988 to 2018 and GDPR.

Benefits on online training:

  • Accessible
  • Cost effective
  • Scalable

This course will provide participants with the knowledge to:

    • Describe personal information and data subject rights 
    • Define consent 
    • Explain the role of the Data Protection Commission, Data Controller, Data Processor and the Data Protection Officer 
    • Determine accountability 
    • Conduct breach management and outline our role in the prevention of breaches 
    • Outline data subject access requests 
    • Understand the issue of privacy and its implications

Cost: €70 per license  

Key features

  • 30 minute duration
  • Interactive exercises
  • Short assessment
  • Certificate of completion


This programme has been designed in conjunction with Dillon Production. Participant name(s) and email address(es) will be forwarded to Dillion Production for the sole purposes of setting up the login for this programme. If you are making a booking on behalf of someone else, please ensure you have obtained their consent to share their contact information (name and email address).

Book online now or contact the event organiser Raquel de la Pena Sarrion with any queries on raquel.delapena@ibec.ie or on 01 605 1667.