SFA E-zine - The Tuesday Edition
 

Dear Member, 

 

Welcome to this edition of the SFA e-zine.

 

Despite the ongoing uncertainty we must continue to be ready for Brexit. In this edition we provide members with information on funding available to support future working capital requirements, innovation, change or adaptation of the business to mitigate the impact of Brexit. We link to Q&As related to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU with regard to industrial products, medical devices and cosmetics and advice from the UK Government for companies exporting to the UK in the case of a no deal Brexit. Ibec are hosting a special Brexit briefing with Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Simon Coveney on 6 March. Find out more and register to attend

 

As part of our Grow, Scale, Succeed campaign, we put together a checklist that business should consider if they plan to introduce remote working in the workplace as well as a sample policy on flexible working arrangements. Find out more about our recent submission to the Low Pay Commission calling for the minimum wage to remain unchanged in 2020. As of 4 March, the sub-minimum rates for trainees under the National Minimum wage will be abolished, we provide a simplified version of the rates. We also bring you details of An Taoiseach's recent visit to Ibec to discuss a range of business concerns.

 

Our next Smart Business Workshop is taking place in Cork on 21 March, book your place now. Business Bytes is taking place on 13 March which focuses on how small companies can use consumer research and insights to benefit their business.

 

The second of our three digital marketing masterclasses is happening on 25 March and will focus on search marketing. Find out more about our upcoming training courses on performance management and appraisal and running effective disciplinary processes. 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


SFA IN THE MEDIA
Recent press coverage
 
  • Business Connect
  • Smart Business Workshops
  • SFA Awards
  • Maternity benefit
  • Small businesses seek State support to promote growth
  • Brexit

Business Connect

 

The SFA issued a press release on Business Connect which brought together 350 small and large businesses in the Aviva Stadium on 7 February. This was covered in the Newsletter on 19 February.

 

Smart Business Workshops

 

The SFA Smart Business Workshops were covered in:

  • Gorey Guardian - 12 February 
  • New Ross Standard - 19 February 
  • Tuam Herald - 20 February 
  • The Southern Star - 23 February 

SFA Awards

 

One of the finalists in the SFA National Small Business Awards 2019, The Big Red Barn featured in the Western People on 11 February and the Mayo News on 19 February. 

 

Maternity benefit

 

SFA Executive, Helen Quinn provided advice on telling an employer you are pregnant for an article in the Irish Independent on 20 February.

 

Small businesses seek State support to promote growth

 

SFA Chair, Sue O'Neill wrote an article for The Irish Times on 21 February seeking tax policy changes intended to help small companies expand and innovate.

 

Brexit

 

SFA Chair, Sue O'Neill was interviewed on The Business Show on RTE Radio One on 23 February on preparing for Brexit. 

NEWS
Brexit advice
 

Despite the ongoing uncertainty we must continue to be ready for Brexit. In this edition we provide members with information on funding available to support future working capital requirements, innovation, change or adaptation of the business to mitigate the impact of Brexit. We link to Q&As related to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU with regard to industrial products, medical devices and cosmetics and advice from the UK Government for companies exporting to the UK in the case of a no deal Brexit...


Despite the ongoing uncertainty we must continue to be ready for Brexit. One way to do this is to ensure that your business has access to funding to address cash flow and working capital issues that may arise due to the challenges posed by Brexit.

 

Listed below are several government schemes available to eligible Irish businesses to support future working capital requirements, innovation, change or adaptation of the business to mitigate the impact of Brexit.

 

Several financial providers have also put in place funds and provisions to support small firms at this time. Members are reminded that the Credit Review Office provides an independent review process for SMEs, sole traders and farm enterprises that have had requests for credit refused or had existing credit facilities reduced or withdrawn.

  • The new Brexit Loan Scheme, which was announced in the 2018 budget, will provide affordable financing to businesses that are either currently impacted by Brexit or will be in the future. The Scheme, which will be delivered by the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) through commercial lenders will make €300 million available to eligible businesses with up to 499 employees at an interest rate of 4% or less.
  • Start to Plan Voucher Scheme (through Inter TradeIreland) offers SMEs advice and guidance to help navigate their way through Brexit. The vouchers offer 100% financial supports of up to £2,000/€2, 250 (inclusive of VAT), towards professional advice in relation to Brexit matters. This support can help businesses get advice on specific issues, such as the movement of labour, goods, services, customs, logistics and financial issues such as VAT and currency management.
  • The Trading Online Voucher Scheme is designed to assist small businesses. It offers financial assistance of up to €2,500 along with training and advice to help your business trade online. Participating in this scheme can make the process of trading online much easier for you.
  • The Technical Assistance for Micro-Exporters (TAME) grant supports LEO clients to explore and develop new export market opportunities. This scheme is a matched funding opportunity with up to €2,500 available to eligible businesses. Under the scheme costs incurred when investigating, researching and accessing export markets can be part funded.
  • Microfinance Ireland offers loan funding up to €25,000 to both new and existing small businesses in the Republic of Ireland.
  • Local Enterprise Offices offer several other financial supports see for more information.

Industrial Products including cosmetic products and medical devices

 

The European Commission has published guidance in relation to industrial goods including cosmetics and medical devices on the legal position and requirements after Brexit.

 

The Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) is the competent authority responsible for the regulation of the manufacture, sale and supply of cosmetic products. HPRA are available to assist with queries in relation to Brexit preparedness and can be reached at cosmetics@hpra.ie or  for  Brexit related questions on article50changes@hpra.ie.

 

Advise from the UK Government for companies exporting to the UK in the case of a no deal Brexit 

If you require additional information, please contact SFA Senior Executive, Elizabeth Bowen on elizabeth.bowen@sfa.ie

Considerations for remote and flexible working options
 

As part of our Grow, Scale, Succeed campaign, we have put together a checklist that businesses should consider if they plan to introduce remote working in the workplace as well as a sample policy on flexible working arrangements...


The demand for flexible and remote working options is on the rise. According to Vodafone's research on smart working, 77% of SME employees are in favour of remote, flexible or smart working practices but only 9% of SME owners are fully embracing it. In response to this gap, Vodafone and their partner Abodoo, collaborated with the SFA to give small businesses a variety of resources so that they can embrace smart working practices into their business which you can look at on our Grow, Scale, Succeed website.  

 

There are many benefits to working remotely or availing of smart working from increased productivity, higher staff retention rates, reduction in absenteeism, increased access to the labour market as you can select new hires based on their skill set and not on their geographical location. There are the wider social benefits such as reduced carbon footprint as commuting is either reduced or removed and there is an increase in regional regeneration as more people are opting to work in co-working spaces around the country. Equally though businesses do need to look at the employment law and health and safety implications of setting up remote working or flexible working arrangements.

 

The SFA have produced a checklist for remote working that offers a series of questions for your business to consider on the following key areas:

  • GDPR and data privacy obligations
  • Health and safety both for home working and in a co-working space
  • Equality considerations around the area of reasonable accommodation
  • Work / life balance and your obligations under the Organisation of Working Time Act

If your business decides that remote working is a viable option, we have a number of checklist points that will help you consider your next steps in:

  • Updating contracts of employment
  • Updating the relevant policies and your safety statement
  • Updating company handbooks

Whilst technology and security of data is a major concern for many small businesses, there are technological and infrastructural solutions that can support your business in the implementation of smart working which you can view here.

 

Once you are satisfied that smart working is viable for your business why not download our sample flexible working policy.

 

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 of our website.

Submission to the Low Pay Commission on the National Minimum Wage
 

On 8 February 2019, the Small Firms Association made its submission to the Low Pay Commission, presenting the issues facing small businesses around the country. The submission calls for the minimum wage to remain unchanged in 2020...


On 8 February 2019, the Small Firms Association made its submission to the Low Pay Commission, presenting the issues facing small businesses around the country. The submission calls for the minimum wage to remain unchanged in 2020 and outlines the reasons why it is neither appropriate nor viable to increase the rate at this time.

 

The submission provides essential information for consideration in a number of areas:

  • Evidence-based policy
  • Recent developments in the National Minimum Wage
  • International developments
  • Domestic economic context
  • Labour market issues
  • Wage levels in Ireland
  • Breakdown of impact on specific sectors and regions

The full submission can be accessed through the SFA website.

Sub-minimum rates for trainees under the National Minimum Wage to be abolished
 

As of 4 March, the sub-minimum rates for trainees under the National Minimum wage will be abolished. Read on to the see the simplified version of the National Minimum Wage rates…


The Employment (Miscellaneous) Provisions Act comes in to force on 4 March 2019 and it will simplify rates under the National Minimum Wage Act.

 

Currently the National Minimum Wage Act allows for lower rates to be paid known as sub-minimum rates for young people and trainees who are on a structured training or directed study subject to various criteria and can apply to employees on structured training who under 18 and over 18 years of age.

 

As of 4 March these trainee sub-minimum rates will be abolished and a new simplified version of the various National Minimum Wage rates will apply as outlined in the table below:

 

Age

Amount

% of the National Minimum Wage

Experienced Adult

€9.80

100%

19 years

€8.82

90%

18 years old

€7.84

80%

Under 18

€6.86

70%

 

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 of our website.

Taoiseach visits Ibec
 

An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD met with businesses at Ibec on 14 February to discuss a range of business concerns including Ireland’s response to a possible ‘no deal’ Brexit, how to better attract and retain talent, carbon tax policy, third-level funding, regional investment and corporate tax policy...


An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD met with businesses at Ibec on 14 February. In a detailed exchange, Mr Varadkar addressed a range of business concerns. These included: Ireland’s response to a possible ‘no deal’ Brexit, how to better attract and retain talent, carbon tax policy, third-level funding, regional investment and corporate tax policy. A video of the session is available to view here. The Taoiseach made the following key points:

 

Brexit:  If the UK becomes a ‘third country’, over 90,000 businesses in Ireland will immediately be required to pay VAT on all UK imports up front. The Taoiseach said he had listened to Ibec’s proposal in relation to a VAT deferral scheme and that the Government would introduce a system of postponed payment. In light of business proposals on possible Brexit-related state aid, he said Government was involved in detailed discussion with the European authorities on this issue.

 

Entrepreneur Tax: The Government has looked at the possibility of reducing the headline rate of CGT. It recognises the importance of a competitive regime to support entrepreneurship and hopes to be able to deliver a meaningful rate reduction in future budgets. He was also supportive of more favourable tax treatment for share benefit schemes.

 

Carbon tax: The Taoiseach said he preferred a charge and dividend (return money to consumers and businesses) approach to carbon taxation. This would help convince individuals and businesses that there was a reward for changing behaviour. Business, however, is in favour of a model that more directly reinvests revenue in schemes to address climate change and incentivises behaviour change.

 

Income tax: Income tax will rise by €1.2 billion this year if employment levels remained at the same level. The Government was proposing to use half of this sum to raise the level at which workers began paying the higher rate of tax, while investing the other half in public services. In the future, Ireland’s income tax system needed to be competitive, particularly vis-à-vis the UK.

 

Investment: Government is committed to ensuring delivery of the National Development Plan, even in more challenging economic circumstances, and the Taoiseach gave particular support to infrastructure projects which will underpin the all island economy such as high -speed rail and upgrades to roads of strategic importance such as the A5 in the North West.

 

Work permits: The Taoiseach acknowledged that delays in granting work permits and visas were causing significant issues for business and more resources were needed to reduce waiting times.

 

EVENTS
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.

Smart Business Workshops
 
  • Cork & Limerick
  • 21 March & 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.

 

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.

 

Agenda:

 

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  

 

 

 

Search marketing
 
  • 25 March

SFA are partnering with 3XE to deliver a Digital Marketing Executive Series for Small Businesses. The second masterclass will focus on search marketing.

  • Date - 25 March 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 
  • Book online now

Session 1: AI & Machine Learning For SEO - How Good Is It Really! 

Overview:

 

Over the past 10 years SEO has shifted from keyword stuffing and directory listings to multichannel digital campaigns. Join us while we discuss how the SEO landscape has changed and understand how to use SEO tools to your advantage. We’ll be reviewing case studies to give you insights into what’s making Google tick in 2019.

  • How Does Google Rank Websites in 2019 – Case Studies
  • An Overview of an SEO Audit
  • SEO Tools - Take advantage of AI

Session 2: KISSing (Keep it Super Simple) Google Ads

Overview:

 

The structure of Adwords can be mind boggling, even though its abilities are endless your knowledge on the topic might be limited. The aim of this session is to give you an understanding of how an AdWords Campaign goes together, and tips to give you the best chance of developing campaigns that deliver a cost effective return.

  • Learn the basics of how a campaign goes together
  • Learn about the most common errors
  • Understand user intent
  • How to monitor your account effectively

Session 3: SEO should be at the top of your marketing agenda in 2019

Overview:

SEO is a misunderstood marketing medium; a task often left to a developer when in fact it should be a marketer’s main priority.

Understand why SEO should be at the forefront of your marketing campaign and how it can drive a business’ overall marketing strategy by getting a more comprehensive understanding of your customers. Understanding your users, knowing how they are searching for your service and what content to show them is vital to your campaign’s success.

  • Where does SEO fit on the Marketing Funnel?
  • What’s the link between Blogging & SEO?
  • The importance of Personas for SEO
  • Know your competitors and where you stand

This programme is designed and delivered in conjunction with 3XE Digital. Every year 3XE host conferences covering different areas of digital marketing, e.g. Search, Conversion, UX, Social Media and Digital Transformation.

TRAINING PROGRAMMES
Training Matters - Essential skills to grow your people and build your business in 2019
 

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 offline – to enhance key skills in your business...


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 offline – 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.