With small and medium enterprises (SMEs) making up a generous portion of all Irish businesses currently, we have spoken at length about the many and varied issues which face these companies. There are a great many difficulties to be faced in setting up and ensuring the continued thriving of a small business, and often it can seem like there are very limited helpful tools at your disposal. Today, we are going to focus on the positives considering how integral SMEs are to the Irish economy, now is a good time to take into consideration how these companies can utilise available tools to ensure the success of your small or medium business from the outset.


One of the greatest tools at any company’s marketing disposal at present are those largely free channels which allow a company to get their message to a wider audience known as social media. As we have discussed previously, social media and website marketing can be a key tool for companies of all sizes, with video marketing seeing a massive surge in popularity across social media in recent years. Social media can be a tricky tool to get a handle on at first, but could well be the key to getting more customer traffic into your business.


So what happens if you happen to not be the most internet or media savvy small business owner? Finally, there might be assistance on the horizon for you to empower you to harness the power of this medium. Recently, smaller Irish companies have been encouraged to contact their local Enterprise Office to gain assistance in building or improving an online presence for their company.


An initiative through your local Enterprise Office can help you unlock the online potential of your business by offering training and the ability to apply for a grant of up to €2,500 to build or update your website. If this seems like an ideal solution to your company’s tech worries, the only condition is that your small business must have fewer than 10 employees. If this is the case, we would advise contacting your local Enterprise Office to find out what your options are and watch your business grow as a result. As it has been estimated that approximately 90% of Irish consumers will research a product or service online before proceeding to make a purchase, it is now almost essential to have an online presence for your business.


Minister for Communications Denis Naughten has advised that even companies that already have an online presence should avail of this training to build on their existing presence.

“I would encourage any small business employing 10 people or less to avail of the training to make sure they are using Facebook and Google properly and to be able to receive payments online.”


Indeed, in this digital age we would encourage all clients to ensure that their online presence is functional and up-to-date. Should you require any assistance or guidance on any financial or business matters, please do not hesitate to call us here at DCA Accountants.


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When is it right to go public with your new business, and what groundwork do you need to lay?


Sticking your head above the parapet – whether it’s going for a promotion, or expressing an unpopular opinion – is an unnerving process. This is no less true for going public with a new or recently-formed business.


When you have something to sell, of course, you need to start selling it. However, many entrepreneurs make the mistake of going off half-cocked, when there are unresolved questions about their product or service, or when they’re not equipped to take on a surge in demand. This can create a bad first impression that it’s all too difficult to recover from. So what are the key steps that you need to have completed before you start clamouring for attention from your market?


A Defined Offering

Most obviously, you need to know what you’re selling, and know it in-depth. This isn’t just about your 30-second pitch, although that’s essential: you will need to be able to field any reasonable question from a potential customer. These questions range from how your product or service works (think carefully about how much you want to give away here) and whether it adds value to every business or household (or what individuals and entities can most benefit from it), to how long it will take to deliver a return on investment – and what the comeback is if it doesn’t. Your answers will need to be convincing, and it’s worth putting effort into them – remember, sceptics aren’t automatically time-wasters. Any sales staff that you engage for this product or service need also need to have this in-depth knowledge.


If it is possible to introduce your product or service to a select group of trustworthy potential clients, then do so as when you feel you’re ready. They will likely have questions that you haven’t even considered, and may flag up issues with your offering that had gone unnoticed up to this point. Tapping their feedback – making it clear that they’re getting their views canvassed as part of the development process – is a valuable exercise.


A Test Case

This can, of course, be taken to the next level by letting a business or consumer actually try the product or service for free – or at a steep discount. If you do this, liaise closely with this ‘test case’ customer during the implementation process, and continue to gather feedback after it is introduced.


Actually seeing your product or service in action will give you valuable information, both positive and negative. The negatives can inform the work that you do to improve your offering. The positives can be incorporated into marketing materials – few things attract a potential customer more than a concrete example of how a product or service has worked elsewhere.


The Capacity Question

When you have exhaustively defined your offering, and ideally have a positive ‘test case’ in progress, it’s time to make sure that you can actually deliver your product or service quickly. This can entail taking the plunge and either making hires or buying stock – and doing so is often the most nerve-wracking part of starting up. If it’s possible to have this capacity on stand-by, then that’s a great advantage. However, if it isn’t, don’t look to cut corners: you need to be able to resource any contracts that you win from day one, so make any financial commitments that you need to meet your projected sales – and ideally have some capacity in reserve.


After going through this process, of course, you face the tricky task of getting the market’s attention. But without a solid foundation of a defined offering and capacity to deliver, your best marketing efforts will be derailed.


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