Majority of Irish small businesses keen to remain at current scale, study finds

On 3 April, Senator Pádraig Ó Céidigh officially launched a new publication on Micro-Businesses in Ireland: From Ambition to Innovation and is the result of a collaboration between the Spatial and Regional Economics Research Centre (SRERC) at Cork University Business School, University College Cork and the UK’s Enterprise Research Centre (ERC).  


The publication describes new and unique survey data on established micro-businesses with 1-9 employees in Ireland. The report focuses on the ambitions – business and personal- of the owners, as well as innovative activity and the uptake of digital technology within microbusinesses.


In Ireland, most micro-businesses are mature, and many are home-based. They are closely related to the families which own and run them.


The below summarises the key-findings:


A Story of Ambition – for the business, for the individual

  • An ambitious 27 per cent of micro-business in Ireland want to build a national or international business, while 71 per cent of micro-businesses emphasise the importance of keeping their business similar to how it operates now.
  • Over 80 per cent of micro-business owners report ‘freedom to adapt my own approach to work’ and ‘greater flexibility for personal and family life’ as key personal motivators.
  • Micro-businesses in the West (Galway & Galway City, Mayo & Roscommon) are amongst the most ambitious in the country.
  • Micro-businesses in the Border region (Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Monaghan, Sligo) reveal a low ambition profile.
  • One-third of micro-businesses in Dublin consider growth to be an important ambition. However, micro-businesses based in Dublin are not markedly more ambitious than micro-businesses across the country.
  • In the South-East (Carlow, Kilkenny, Wexford, Waterford & Waterford City), microbusiness owners are more likely to emphasise personal rather than business ambitions.
  • Profiles of ambition for male and female business owners are largely similar. 3 Innovation - new products, new services, new ways of doing things
  • Levels of innovation in Irish micro-businesses in Ireland are higher than those in the UK and USA.
  • One in four micro-businesses introduced new business models or forms of organisation in the three years prior to the survey.
  • The percentage of sales derived from innovative products and/or services is approximately 11 per cent.

Uptake of Digital Technology: Trends & Patterns

  • From a relatively low base in 2012, diffusion of digital technologies by microbusinesses in Ireland is strong and growing.
  • Uptake of digital technologies by micro-businesses in Ireland compares well with those in the UK and is considerably higher than those in the USA.
  • The most popular digital technologies among micro-businesses in Ireland are Cloud Computing and Web-based Accounting Software, with 40 per cent of micro-firms using these technologies.
  • 34 per cent of micro-businesses in Ireland are using E-Commerce, while 26 per cent and 17 per cent are using Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) respectively.
  • There is little variation in the average number of technologies adopted by microbusinesses across the regions of Ireland.
  • However, approximately one in four micro-businesses have not adopted any digital technology.

Download the full report.

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Majority of Irish small businesses keen to remain at current scale, study finds
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