Blog: Don’t Bank On Things Changing

What a a past few days we’ve had. Roller-coasters of ‘will they won’t they ‘and T.D.’s walking out of the Dail in the early hours of the morning like it was September 2008. Slaps on the back have ensued with said politicians trumpeting that they ‘have delivered on creating a better deal for Ireland’.

But in reality it’s a false dawn. For the ordinary person on the street and the SME owner nothing will change. The challenges we face have morphed beyond a toxic bank and it’s lingering legacy.

We need to find 400,000 jobs, create a better framework for domestic business to grow and thrive, fill in the gaps between those who fit ‘ criteria’ and those who don’t. When the budget was announced last year it gave us the meandering points of the 10 point plan. These points were so memorable that I have no Idea what they are just a few months from them being announced.

Ireland’s problems no longer lie within banks. They lie with consumers, long term unemployed and taxing everything in site. Those taxes will soon include income taxes and so another squeeze for workers, owners and managers.

By facing down problems in the EU we have neglected the serious problems at home. As one economist described on primetime last – ‘we have a Tsunami of debt coming down the road’.

For SMEs very little changes. We still have to re-invent new ways of doing business to survive. If we stop moving we die. So all this posturing and cheer leading is irrelevant, because our domestic economic issues are far greater than a good deal. Small Businesses are at the coal face of this economy and we know that it will still be very difficult for some time to come.So stay focused and don’t bank on things changing any time soon.

Small Business Show 74 Part 1: Two Speeds, Commercial Rates & Maths

This week on the Small Business Show Kehlan and Brian are joined by the shows new permanent guest who’ll be joining us every week from now on – Olwen Dawe from Irish Business Intelligence.

Topics discussed this week:

- CPA Ireland talks about a two speed Irish economy

- Irish businesses completely unprepared for Single European Payments Area

- Going For Growth looking for 60 female entrepreneurs

- Legislation to make it easier for businesses to deal with debt

The Small Business Show is broadcast each weekend on Clare FM radio & Listened to by over 21,000 people a week ( official JNLR figures ).  Items from the show are published as podcasts throughout the week on FocuSMEIreland.com.  You can subscribe for free to download the MP3s automatically using RSS or iTunes.

Hotels Federation Calls For Positive Budget To Boost Stagnant Sector

The Irish Hotels Federation has called on the Government to take action in next month’s Budget 2013 to ensure tourism achieves a sustained recovery and lives up to its potential to create jobs and boost the economy.

In its pre-budget submission IHF said it would like to see the introduction of measures to improve tourism competitiveness, enable more effective marketing of Irish tourism and restore financial stability to the hotels sector, which currently employs over 50,000 direct jobs.

With overseas visitor numbers down almost 3% year to date and IHF said that declining visitor numbers from the British market, underscored the challenges faced in promoting Ireland as a tourist destination.

Jobseekers And Digital Tech To Combine To Aide Irish Gaming Sector

A new digital technology and games development programme, WebElevate, has been launched by Digital Skills Academy, in order to aide the fast growing digital tech and gaming sector in Ireland.

The scheme is part of the Higher Education Authority‘s Springboard programme.
WebElevate is an honours-degree level programme that develops talent for employment roles in the digital technology and digital gaming sectors, where there is strong jobs growth with over 4,500 jobs announced in these sectors since the start of the year.

The programme is free-of-charge for participants, who are eligible for the Springboard programme.

Some 200 jobseekers, who aspire to work in the digital technology and digital gaming sectors, will secure places, it said.

Austerity Not Working – Nevin Economic Research Institute

NERI, The Nevin Economic Research Institute, has said that austerity is doing far more harm than good in Ireland. Speaking today on it’s Quarterly Review they said that austerity, as being pursued by the Government is failing and growth through a stimulus package and more time to reduce the Exchequer deficit is the best way out of the downturn.

They are calling for the closing of existing tax breaks and reliefs and a graduated and incremental increase in the average target tax take for high income households with the aim of reducing the government deficit to below 3% of GDP by 2017 instead of the Government’s current 2015 target.

“Given the unprecedented uncertainty in which European Union member states find themselves coupled with the risk of a new and prolonged depression across Europe we argue for a cautious fiscal stance, here, based on the principle of ‘doing no further harm’ allied to the urgent need to bring forward in the shortest possible time frame a programme of investment in priority infrastructure.”

NERI says it wants a medium term reduction in public expenditure associated with high levels of unemployment and an increase in revenue buoyancy through growth enhancing measures over time; and a closing of existing tax breaks and reliefs and a graduated and incremental increase in the average target tax take for high income households with the aim of reducing the government deficit to below 3% of GDP by 2017.

The (dis)Connect Between The Micro And Macro Economic Picture – Part 2

Olwen Dawe runs Irish Business Intelligence, where she works with small businesses to produce clear strategies and messaging for their business. She has been referred to  as an ‘Entrepreneurs Entrepreneur’ because of her avoidance of jargon and straight talking

Susan Hayes is Managing Director at Hayes Culleton – a financial training and educational consultancy company, specialising in eLearning. She has earned the nickname ‘The Positive Economist’ after an advisory slot on 4FM

Every day, each one of us has a choice: to connect with the background noise, or not. Further, we have the choice to strive for the outcome we know is feasible, to research and understand the possibilities of change in the way we do business, to ask for help.

A large percentage of the issues presented to executive and business coaches are simply accounted for by lack of research or vision. It’s true, not everyone is cut out for self-employment – if you’re not, you’ll find out very quickly. If you have developed a product or service which could make you the next Trump or Branson, your market may not be ready for it – what do you do? Go back to the drawing board.

The misconception for most entrepreneurs is that a business plan [and many shiver at the distinct notion of it] is a necessity for someone else. Wrong. It guides your business’s trajectory. In every sense. It contains the heart and soul of the business, acts as a roadmap, and maintains focus for the individuals at the helm of the business. It IS the drawing board.

It is yours to highlight, step-by-step, how you will achieve your business’s vision – key clients, positioning, markets, figures – and the one place you must start at when things don’t appear to be developing as you wish. It’s the point at which you can park your business concerns and understand why the ‘as is’ isn’t reaching the ‘to be’ in the time you had planned it to.

So, in going “back to the drawing board’, that’s an assumption that you have an honest, clear and strategic one to start with. Your drawing board is an organic item – it grows and develops – it’s got a sell-by date too, so make sure you keep an eye on it. It’s important to review it quarterly or more if you can… that way you can manage and investigate possibilities, review what isn’t working and why. For those of us who advise business-owners, our role is to examine, guide and provide insight – to avoid jargon and contribute effectively to the drawing board. Keep your drawing board fresh and alive by exploring new markets, examining your product ‘line’ or business model and always striving for excellence.

Staying competitive in today’s market means innovating. Another misconception amongst entrepreneurs is that ‘innovation’ always means technical, scientific advancements. Not true! It can, but these days, innovation often refers to executing an established concept in a new, more effective way – or taking a product or service and re-engineering how it is delivered. Identifying a ‘market in the gap’ is another successful way of innovating.

Beware the entrepreneurial enemy: complacency. Time and again, businesses bemoan fall-off in client intake, competitors ‘taking all their work’ or new ‘kids on the block’ causing them heartache. Reality check: competition doesn’t take business from you. You do. Lose track of your client, their needs, and expectations and how you’re delivering to them, and you are simply leaving the door open to your competition. Customer loyalty is built on delivery and relationship-building, don’t be complacent.
Finally… don’t give up. Business is about stickability, persistence and belief – in yourself, in your business [one caveat: you must know you have a market]. All these traits are rewarded, in the long-term – you’ve got to be patient and realistic. That’s where the all-important vision keeps you on-track, no matter what.

It’s vital to think in a clear and focused way – how could you achieve the betterment in your KPI that you desire? What actions could you take today to bring you one step forward? If you’re looking for more business, what could you do to increase your revenue by 10%? You could attempt to find ways to add just 1% to your topline each month for the remainder of the year. Divorce the micro from the macro. Focus on what you can do and ignore what you can’t. The very result of your actions could affect the macro picture… for everybody.
Undoubtedly, we are experiencing challenging times – however, don’t be fooled, they’re not impossible. Only you can decide the temperature of your business’s thermostat, whether it’s up or down, you’re at the controls.

Read Part 1 of this article HERE

Exports Rise While Transport Equipment Pushes Imports Up

Figures released for March by the Central Statistics Office show Irish exports rose by 5% when compared to the same month last year. Seasonally adjusted exports rose by €361m, while imports rose by €961m (or 26%).

The CSO pointed out that the increase in imports was largely due to significant imports of  transport equipment during the month. Chemicals and related products accounted for €5.131bn (or 60%) of the total exports of €8.499bn in the month.

Comparing March 2012 with March 2011, exports of Medical and pharmaceutical products fell by €681m (24%) while the value of exports of Organic chemicals rose by €233m (13%).

On an overall basis the EU accounted for €5.259bn (or 62%) of total exports in March 2012, with Belgium and Great Britain accounting for over half of the EU share.

The US was the main destination for exports outside the EU accounting for 17% of total exports in the month.