SFA E-zine - The Tuesday Edition

Dear Member, 


Welcome to this edition of the SFA e-zine.


This week we have two articles on Brexit, firstly, GDPR advice for your business if you transfer personal data to the UK, including Northern Ireland. Secondly, we focus on customs and the implications of trading with the UK in a post-Brexit environment.

As part of our Grow, Scale, Succeed campaign we discuss ways to engage with your employees in an impactful way. We provide a roundup of our successful Business Connect event which took place last Thursday and information on the Modos training course for businesses in the food, craft or retail sectors in Dublin interested in sustainability.


Our next Smart Business Workshop is taking place this week in Gorey on Friday, 15 February, we would love to see local businesses attending. Registration is now open for Business Bytes on 13 March focusing on how small business can use consumer research and insights.


The first of our three digital marketing masterclasses is scheduled for 21 February and will examine social media fundamentals for small businesses. Find out more about our upcoming training courses on performance management and appraisal, running effective disciplinary processes and project management. 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
  • Brexit
  • Business Connect



SFA Director, Sven Spollen-Behrens was interviewed on Brexit on RTE Morning Ireland and RTE TV News on 4 February. 


Business Connect


The SFA issued a press release on Business Connect which brought together 350 small and large businesses in the Avivia Stadium on 7 February. This was covered in the Irish Times on 4 February and the Irish Independent on 8 February and on Business World

Brexit and GDPR

Does your business transfer personal data to the UK, including Northern Ireland? If yes, read on to prepare for the possibility of a “no-deal” Brexit…

The Data Protection Commission have issued guidance on how businesses can prepare for a “no-deal” Brexit and ensure that the transfer of personal data to the UK, including Northern Ireland can be transferred legally.


Consider if your business is impacted if you transfer personal data to a UK based company for the following reasons:

  • You outsource to a HR, IT, Payroll or Accountancy provider in the UK
  • Your pension scheme is based in the UK
  • You avail of insurance services from the UK
  • You avail of training providers in the UK where employee personal data is transferred to them
  • You are storing data in the UK on a server or in the cloud

These are just a few examples but your first step is to verify whether your business transfers personal data to the UK, including Northern Ireland.


Whilst it remains uncertain whether a “no-deal” will take place, businesses should prepare for that eventuality. The rest of this article will operate on the basis that a “no-deal” will happen and outline what businesses should do to prepare for it.


Currently the UK comes under the remit of GDPR but in the event of a “no-deal” the UK will no longer be a member of the EU and will become a “Third Country”. What this means is that the transfer of personal data will need to be treated in the same way as countries like Australia, India, Israel and so forth.


Businesses will need to ensure that there are specific safeguards to protect and legally transfer the personal data to a third country. These are called transfer mechanisms.


Some third countries have received an approved adequacy decision. What this means is that the EU has verified that particular third country has equivalent standards of data privacy to GDPR. The difficulty with the UK is that the EU cannot grant an adequacy decision until it is clear a “no-deal” takes place and then it could take up to two years for it to be approved. Businesses will not be able to rely on an adequacy decision to transfer personal data from Ireland to the UK.


The easiest option for small businesses is to use a transfer mechanism called Standard Contractual Clauses” (SCCs). The Data Protection Commission have just released a template SCC that businesses can use. The use of SCCs relates to data controllers and data processors. You would not use this for data subjects, e.g. customers or employees.


Businesses can complete the SCC and issue it to their UK data processor and once both parties sign and agree to it, a legal transfer mechanism is in place and the personal data can legally flow from Ireland to the UK. The Data Protection Commission give advice on how the template should be completed which you can read here.


Ibec have issued information and some useful links in relation to this which you can view here. We will continue to keep you updated on how to prepare for Brexit and GDPR and we will be issuing details of an event on this in the coming days.


We are working with the Data Protection Commission to create a list of FAQs so if you have any specific issues or scenarios please contact SFA Executive, Helen Quinn by 20 February on 01 605 1668 or helen.quinn@sfa.ie.

Brexit focus – customs

This week our Brexit focus looks at the implications of trading with the UK in a post-Brexit environment...

If you trade with the United Kingdom (UK) post-Brexit, the rules of trade with a non-European Union (EU) country will apply.


Enterprise Ireland's online Customs Insights course helps businesses understand the key customs concepts, documentation and processes required to succeed in a post Brexit world. The course will give learners a firm understanding of customs, the implications for their business and the options from Revenue that are available to make the customs process more efficient.


If you are trading in goods to or from the UK, an Economic Operators Registration Identification (EORI) is required to be entered on a customs declaration. In the post-Brexit environment, all goods movements involving the UK will require a customs declaration. To register for an EORI number go to the Revenue Online Service or find further guidance here


Fing out more information on moving goods through a non-EU country here


If you have a specific query in relation to Brexit and customs matters, please email brexitqueries@revenue.ie with the relevant details.


Ways to engage with your employees

As part of our Grow, Scale, Succeed campaign, we share a few of our excellent podcasts on employee engagement. Discover how you can engage with your employees in an impactful way…

There are many ways that you can engage with your employees from increasing pay, offering a bonus scheme or putting time and effort into communicating with your staff to see how they are progressing or acknowledging the great work they have done.


As part of our Grow, Scale, Succeed campaign, we spoke to two small businesses on their employee engagement strategies. Geraldine Magnier of Idiro Analytics share how they have managed to keep their staff in the highly competitive tech sector and Breda Clancy of Atlantic Prosthetic Orthotic Services discusses how flexibility and treating all staff with respect has been key to retaining their people. You can view these video case studies here.


As many small businesses are time poor, we have produced a number of podcasts on employee engagement that you can listen to on the go or in the car. Brian Smyth of Maybe International talks about how we can get the reward and recognition packages wrong and he offers advice on how businesses can recognise the real value of what an employee is doing and appreciate that for itself.


Many small businesses are planning their employee development training for 2019 and in this talk, Brian talks about the benefits of coaching as a method of training and how it can enable people to learn through discovery rather than passive learning.


You can listen to these podcasts on the Grow, Scale, Succeed website or on the SFA Soundcloud channel.


In the meantime if you have any specific concerns or questions please contact SFA Executive, Helen Quinn on 01 605 1668 or at helen.quinn@sfa.ie or visit the advice section on our website.



Business Connect networking event a success

Last week the SFA brought together 350 small and large businesses together at a special event in the Aviva Stadium. A packed programme with top class speakers as well as time for networking were the ingredients for an interesting and successful day. Here is a snapshot of the event...


On 7 February, the SFA brought together 350 small and large businesses together at a special event in the Aviva Stadium. The SFA Business Connect event provides a platform for companies to learn how they can win contracts with larger companies and how to position themselves correctly to deliver value.


A packed programme with top class speakers as well as time for networking were the ingredients for an interesting and successful day. Here is a snapshot of the event. 


Session 1 - How to stand out from the crowd - prepare your elevator pitch


This session brought together two experts in the art and science of what to say, how to say it and who to say it to.


We all have a network, but few of us leverage it to its full potential; delegates received practical advice on how to make the most of their existing network and how to expand their network in a practical and useful way.


And, every business needs a story to tell and a compelling way to tell it.  This session also gave practical tools on honing your story and delivering it to maximum effect.


The session finished with structured round table talks amongst delegates to allow networking, knowledge sharing and development of new connections and relationships.


Session 2 - Our connected world post Brexit


In this session we explored the opportunities and challenges presenting themselves in the Irish economy in 2019. The speakers and panelists discussed how to be successful in new export markets but also how to get Brexit ready and what Brexit supports are available for SMEs in Ireland. Crucially, we discussed how bigger businesses and SMEs can work together and how businesses owners across the island of Ireland can work together and mitigate some of the impacts of Brexit. We were delighted to welcome a delegation of 30 small business owners from Northern Ireland at the event. They are all members of our sister organisation the Federation of Small Business (FSB).


The session finished with structured round table talks amongst delegates to allow networking, knowledge sharing and development of new connections and relationships.


Session 3 - Case studies - successful cooperation models between big and small


In this session we explored practical, real world examples of successful partnerships between large organisations and SMEs.


Case studies were presented in the areas of MedTech, ICT and the legal profession on successful partnerships. Examples were also discussed from Sean Gallagher’s recent bestselling book ‘Secrets to Success’.


The presentations of the day can be downloaded here and we are currently working on a report based on the findings of the roundtable discussions. We are hoping to publish the report by mid March. You can view photos of the events on our Facebook page

Are you interested in making your business more sustainable for the future?

If you are a small firm in the food, craft or retail sectors operating in the Dublin Region for at least 18 months this training course can benefit you...

  • Are you interested in making your business more sustainable for the future?
  • Do you want to win more business and improve your success when tendering?
  • Are your customers demanding that your business improve its environmental performance?

If you are a small or medium enterprise in the food, craft or retail sectors operating in the Dublin Region for at least 18 months this training course can benefit you.


MODOS is a training programme (6 x half day training) run by Dublin City Council Local Enterprise Office.


Over the 6 weeks, the training course with take your business through the following:

  • Basic principles of the circular economy
  • Examine your supply chain and procurement
  • Show you how to be more resource efficient in your operations
  • How to engage your customer and market your green credentials
  • How to innovate and design your products to minimise waste generation

The training programme starts on 16 April and costs €150. 


Come along to the free industry workshop on 21 February at Wood Quay Venue, Dublin City Council offices at 10am to talk to organisers to find out more about the programme.


Find out more information and register to attend the workshop or contact michela.ferrando@dublincity.ie to discuss further.

Smart Business Workshops
  • Gorey, Galway, Cork, Limerick
  • 15 February - 3 April 

The Small Firms Association and Vodafone have partnered to help businesses grow, scale and succeed in a changing business environment.


Alongside Abodoo, Vodafone will share the benefits of smart or flexible working and how to implement it in your business to increase productivity and attract and retain talent through a series of regional workshops. You will also learn about increasing your profits through employee-led models from the SFA. The first workshop took place in Drogheda last week and was a great success.


Set within co-working spaces, you will gain insight into:

  • The benefits of smart working and why you should avail of it
  • How technology can empower your business to work anywhere at any time through technology, connectivity and security
  • How to increase sales and profits by ensuring that every employee is a profit centre and loves what they do

Event details:

The events are free of charge and pre-registration online is essential. Places are limited so please book now through the above links to avoid missing out.




Time Topic Speaker
8:00 – 8:30 Breakfast / registration/ networking  
8:30 – 8:35 Welcome Sven Spollen-Behrens, Small Firms Association
8:35 – 8:45

How to increase your sales and profits and engage your people

Marina Bleahen, Engage and Grow

8:45– 8:50

What is smart working?

Vanessa Tierney, Abodoo

8:50 – 9:00

The four pillars of smart working

Treasa Doran, Vodafone

9:00 – 9:05 Implementing smart working in your business Vanessa Tierney, Abodoo
9:05 – 9:30 Q&A and roundtable discussion  




Social media fundamentals for small businesses
  • 21 February

SFA are partnering with 3XE to deliver a Digital Marketing Executive Series for Small Businesses. Note all three events have been rescheduled and the first event is now on Thursday, 21 February 2019 and will focus 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. 


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. If you feel you are not attracting enough customers from your social media platforms, then this the ideal event for you.

  • Date - 21 February 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

Who should attend:


This Masterclass is ideal for Business Owners, Managing Directors, Marketing Directors, Marketing Managers, Sales Managers, Sole Traders and Entrepreneurs.




Colm Hanratty

Colm has over 13 years experience in digital marketing. He began his online marketing career at Hostelworld.com, the world’s number one hostel booking website. During his time there he was responsible for establishing and growing their social media presence on a global scale. His work took him around the world as he produced award winning travel videos, guides and podcasts. His YouTube videos have generated more than 9.5million views to date.


Sandra Hennessy

Sandra Hennessy is the face and name behind Be Dynamic. Having started out working in the web world in early 2002 and since then has taken the plunge and set up her own business from her base in Tipperary. Sandra is well known in the online marketing world as one of the leading service providers of digital marketing training, consultancy and services in Ireland.


Felicity McCarthy

Felicity gained from her extensive digital marketing background at Facebook, eBay & Dell. Felicity now runs her own business, Sparkdigital, whose impressive client list including Daft.ie, Irish Times Training, Facebook EMEA, Pinterest UK, Grant Thornton Ireland, dylan hotel, AIB Startup Academy, Azon Recruitment Group, Bank of Ireland, IDA Ireland, Microsoft Ireland, 123.ie, Gigaset Europe & TopOil to name just a few.


SFA Digital Marketing Executive Series


This event is the first of three in our Digital Marketing Masterclass Series, see below details of the next events in the series.


25 March- Search Marketing


The second masterclass will consist of a three hour-long masterclass from experts in the field of Search Marketing. Each of the experts comes with a deep knowledge of digital marketing and implement search marketing campaigns on a daily basis. Their knowledge and expertise in PPC, SEO, and all aspects of traffic driving methods is beyond question.


9 May - Increase your business conversion


The final masterclass in this series will be a three hour-long masterclass that will focus on online advertising and increasing your business Conversion Rate Optimisation. Our speakers will be experts in the area of Online Advertising and will bring practical examples that can used in any company’s digital marketing strategy.


Who are 3XE Digital:


3XE Digital organise the best digital marketing conferences in Ireland. Every year 3XE host three conferences in Croke Park, each conferences covers a different area of digital marketing, e.g. Search, Conversion, UX, Social Media and Digital Transformation.

Business Bytes: How small business can use consumer research and insights
  • 13 March

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, 13 March 2019
  • Time: 5:30pm-7:30pm
  • Venue: SFA, 84-86 Lower Baggot Street, Dublin 2

Consumer research and insights allows new discoveries about the consumer that have the potential to unlock growth, improve your products, services, marketing efforts, and customer service. In the long-run it allows small business owners to make well-informed market decisions about their businesses and develop effective strategies.


This consumer research and insights seminar will explain the fundamentals of consumer research and insights, how it can be implemented and benefit your small firm. Delegates will also learn from successful case studies. No matter what size your organisation or what industry you are in, you can benefit from attending this event.


The seminar will be delivered by Grace Binchy, Consumer Insights Specialist at Bord Bia. In 2016, Bord Bia launched a new integrated, state-of-the-art consumer research and market insight centre. Bord Bia's consumer insights team runs tailored programmes for Irish food and drink companies; allowing access to global intelligence; specialist category knowledge and experience and professional facilitating skills from clear and imaginative marketing thinkers.


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.


Training Matters - Essential skills to grow your people and build your business in 2019
Find out more about upcoming courses on performance management and appraisal, running effective disciplinary processes and project management...

In 2019 the SFA is offering courses designed to address the needs of small businesses. Important versus urgent is a key distinction for small firms, but one which is not always easy to make.

Is too much of your time spent on tasks and meetings that seem urgent but are not important for the future of your business? At SFA, we’re here to help you create time for things that can make a real difference, like developing management capacity and other skills for you and your staff. The SFA training offering for 2019 contains an interesting mix of courses – online and off-line - to enhance key skills in your business.

They are delivered by expert trainers with many years of industry experience. Based on your feedback, the courses are short, so that you can get on with running your business. Now is the time to plan your training calendar for 2019 – to make sure that vital upskilling does not get usurped by the urgent but non-important day-to-day distractions. Below are the training courses, dates and booking links. You can also find more information in our brochure.