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All the Best Things in Small Packages

As we mentioned when we discussed the Government’s announcement of the July Stimulus plan there would be some options available to the owner of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), to protect their businesses during and following on from the Covid-19 emergency. As previously discussed the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme has come to an end being replaced with the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS), which has changes that may come as quite a blow to some SMEs as it may see them no longer capable of keeping their full complement of staff, or of topping up wages to the full amount. This has been a cause for concern for many small Irish businesses who wish to keep their business afloat during these times. With this in mind, we have decided to focus on one of most recently available funding options for some of our most vulnerable businesses, micro businesses which could be of great assistance to them during this period.

Microfinance Ireland are now open for loan applications of up to €25,000 for small companies of 10 employees or less. The loan term will be 3 years and follows on from an earlier loan scheme we discussed earlier in the year, which saw loans approved for 687 companies. CEO of Microfinance Ireland, Garrett Stokes has said of the current loan landscape;

“We can see where the demand is coming from most and out Covid-19 loan scheme has been tailored to meet the ongoing needs of those micro-businesses as they navigate their way through the current challenges and beyond.”

The key point to note in this loan which may be of interest to small struggling companies is the fact that these loans will have no repayments and zero interest for the first six months. In addition to this, interest paid in months 6 to 12 will be refunded by the Government in month 13 of the loan, providing that all repayments are up to date. Following on from this period, interest will apply at a rate of 4.5% on applications made through Local Enterprise Offices or at a rate of 5.5% for applications made via Microfinance Ireland themselves.

There is to be a state backed Credit Guarantee Scheme available to larger SMEs once they can prove that they have been negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Applications can be made through Local Enterprise Offices or through MFI directly.

We hope that this information is of benefit to you and your business. Should you have any queries or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us here at EcovisDCA where we are always happy to help.

The Restart Grant Plus Scheme

Here at EcovisDCA, we are as always aiming to help Irish SMEs flourish. The current emergency has been a troubling time for all business owners, with SMEs being some of the most vulnerable by nature. We are committed to providing you with all the information available which could assist your business in flourishing in the face of this new adversity.

The Restart Grant Plus scheme offers a grant to businesses in order to help them to reopen their premises and return to work following the Covid-19 crisis. The grants available range is from €4,000 to a maximum of €25,000. The scheme has been increased from a previous minimum of €2,000 and a maximum of €10,000.

The Restart Grant scheme will be based on the rates assessment for the business for the 2019 year and is primarily available to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as well as independent hotels. The scheme is now also available to sectors such as sports businesses, charity shops, restaurants, pubs, activity centres, and tourist attractions.

If your company has utilised this scheme previously, you may still be eligible to apply for a second payment, this second payment will only reach a total combined value of the new maximum value. In the event that your company was unable to access funding from the scheme but now qualifies, you will be entitled to make a new application.

The requirements for accessing this grant are that the company must have:

  • Between 0 – 250 employees.
  • Eligible firms now include medium-sized firms and independent hotels with up to 250 employees, as well as small firms (increased from 50 employees).
  • A turnover of less than €100,000 per employee up to a maximum of €25million.
  • Operating from a premises that is commercially rateable by a local authority.
  • A reduced level of turnover of 25% as a result of the Covid-19.
  • Committed to a reopening plan and remain committed to sustaining employment levels.
  • Intention to retain employees that are on the temporary wage subsidy scheme.
  • B&Bs in non-rated premises will be eligible to apply for the minimum €4,000 grant from Fáilte Ireland.
  • A franchisee which is a financially independent company and is completely separate to the franchisor is eligible to apply.
  • Multinationals are not eligible. Small Irish based subsidiaries with overseas parent companies are not eligible.

The aim is that applications will be processed, and an answer received within two weeks of application. Applications can be made through your local authority website.

As always, we here at EcovisDCA are here for you. Should you require any assistance or guidance on any business or financial matters, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Planning Your Best Exit Strategy

We have discussed in the past, the importance of having a long-term plan for your business, particularly for when you are no longer in a position to run the company yourself. The importance of an exit strategy or long-term plan can not be overstated for businesses of all sizes, particularly small and medium enterprises (SMEs). It is as always advisable to stay abreast of current issues and changes that may affect the long and short term plans you have in mind for your business and in this vein, there has been some cause for concern in recent days regarding ways that taxation could inhibit future planning.

A new report issued by PwC this week has stated that current tax rules which hit the transfer of family businesses are putting both jobs and companies at large in danger. These rules make options incredibly limited for business owners as they limit owners passing on their business to family members while they are living. Some anomalies to the system in this respect mean that the new business owner could find themselves incurring high tax costs that would potentially place additional pressures on the business and put it at risk.

PwC have given some suggestions on changes they would like implemented in the next budget to protect business owners and entrepreneurs in the event of passing their business on while still living. One such suggestion is the removal of the current cap of €3million on the value of business assets which can benefit from Retirement Relief. There is also calls for the Entrepreneurial Relief Capital Gains Tax threshold to be reduced to allow further relief to these businesses as well as increasing the lifetime limit applicable and reducing current restrictions which may exclude many. It has also been suggested that tax relief options could be made available.

Consultation with the Government for this process is ongoing and submissions will close on May 24th and there are hopes that there will be changes announced in the next Budget to combat this issue and make the family handover of businesses a smoother and more profitable process. The transition of a business is inevitably a stressful and concerning time, so any changes that can be of benefit and ensure the longevity of an existing healthy business should certainly be embraced.

Should you have any queries or concerns on any business or financial matters, please do not hesitate to contact us here at EcovisDCA where we are always happy to help you and your business.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

Enterprise Tax Relief & Grants

Entrepreneurs exist in a section of Irish business that is often overlooked when it comes to grants, relief and assistance. It is an area that is prized and valued in terms of training initiatives, but often forgotten about when it comes to actioning. Entrepreneurship remains the riskiest sector of Worldwide business, but particularly in Ireland which is quite a small pond for any business-savvy fish to set up shop in. As we all know, SMEs form a massive part of all Irish businesses, and we have spoken recently about the ways in which increased support is being made available to these businesses, so this naturally begs the question as to why the same isn’t being extended to entrepreneurs who may be poised to become the next big names in SME or even large-scale enterprises.

The chorus of voices crying out for change and support in the entrepreneurship sector has increased exponentially in recent months. This call for change has begun to spread to state agencies with Enterprise Ireland becoming involved and in February, divisional manager of the high-potential start-up unit, Joe Healy went as far as to call entrepreneurs “The real heroes of the Irish economy who deserve recognition and attention”.

Mr Healy also revealed that Enterprise Ireland had invested €23million in start-ups in 2018, including many of the high-potential start-ups and expressed his belief that there should be increased support and recognition for entrepreneurial risk-takers as they are ambition, resilient and innovative, which should all be highly prized in the business world. Healy also expressed his desire that this support encourage more female entrepreneurs to take the lead in Ireland going forward as he has seen an increase in the number of female entrepreneurs in the last 2 years.

While there are currently no large-scale plans for governmental support of entrepreneurs, the government have been repeatedly called upon to overhaul the Capital Gains Tax system and the Employment Incentive and Investment Scheme for entrepreneurial candidates. With the addition of a state funded body like Enterprise Ireland adding their voices to the cry for change it is hoped that we may soon see more steps in the right direction. As Healy stated:

“There are still challenges around retaining and attracting talent, and we need to ensure that the tax system supports and encourages risk-takers […] Not only changes to reward the real heroes of the economy but the tax system must be internationally competitive […] The taxation environment is critically important for starting and scaling companies. It is a key factor in the overall competitiveness in Ireland […] There is a need for an entrepreneurs’ relief scheme to reflect the risks of setting up a business, and a share options scheme to reward shares.”

Perhaps we may soon see Irish entrepreneurs being capable of entering the worldwide business market in a more competitive manner. In times of financial recovery such as these “risk” can often seem like a dirty and dangerous word, but this is perhaps exactly the right time to reward innovators and risk takers.

Should you have any concerns or queries on any business or financial matters, please do not hesitate to contact us here at EcovisDCA where we are always happy to help.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

SMEs Come In To 2019 Fighting

As we cruise in to the middle of January, and we finally stop writing the incorrect year on all of our notes, we begin to look towards what 2019 may have in store and what we can bring forward into this New Year that was learned in 2018. It is natural to be caught somewhere between cautious and optimistic for the year ahead even on a personal level, and reports this week suggest that the feeling amongst the Small Business Community is no different.

The latest report from the Small Firms Association (SFA) this month suggest that the mood within the Small Business Community at present is very cautious yet somewhat optimistic with just under 60% of members (all small businesses with 50 employees or less) stating that they feel that the business environment is improving and continuing to do so. This is a drop of just 2% from last year which emphasises the level of uncertainty within the year ahead as the idea of a Hard Brexit and border issues for Irish businesses continues to loom large.

Brexit was naturally highlighted as one of the larger areas of concern, which is unlikely to change for a number of weeks as talks in Britain ramp up and the situation becomes more tense, fraught and confusing for those of us that could be impacted. We have often discussed the increasing cost of living in Ireland, but we have not highlighted another cause of concern with small businesses and SMEs which is the increasing cost of running a business which rises in conjunction with the cost of living. With unemployment decreasing steadily, attracting talented staff has also become a tripping point for some small businesses.

Director of the SFA Sven Spollen-Behrens has stated that;

“2018 has been a challenging year for small business […] The confident mood of a year ago has eased a little on account of Brexit and the tightening labour market. Nevertheless, the Irish economy remains in a strong position and this is confirmed on our member’s feedback.”

Despite these concerns, over two thirds of the businesses surveyed outlined their plans to recruit and expand their business over the course of 2019, whilst half of those surveyed had reported continuing growth. This shows that even when the environment is clouded by uncertainty and difficulties, Irish SMEs will always come out fighting.

Whether 2018 was your businesses most successful year to date, or fell somewhat short of business expectations, there is a full year of opportunity to embrace ahead. While we may be wary of the changes Brexit may bring to our shores, we must also be prepared and safeguard our businesses against any coming storm. We hope 2019 will be an incredibly successful year for all and as always we here at Ecovis DCA are ready and available to assist with any queries or concerns you may have with regards to any business or financial matters. Please don’t hesitate to contact us we are always available to help.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

The Climate Action Fund – A New Grant Available

Save the Planet – It’s the only one with Chocolate

Whilst Irish business can often be a stressful place to be in the current environment, there has been a lot of movement in the right direction during Ireland’s economic recovery and we have spoken in the past about new layers of support being put in place for SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) which remain the backbone of Irish business. From new funding opportunities to new investment opportunities Ireland is fast becoming the ideal place to do business, with some suggesting that Brexit may in fact be beneficial to Ireland’s business standings worldwide. We have spoken in the past about a number of available grants and today we will discuss one which we feel may be of particular benefit to our clients.

In our modern age it has become increasingly apparent that each individual must make strides to make our planet a more sustainable place to live. Often there is very little incentive to engage in such a costly process with the return of investment being a very long term process. Now however, for the first time not merely exclusive to SMEs there is a grant available that will help you make your business more eco-friendly without leaving a massive hole in your pocket.

The Climate Action Fund is part of the National Development plan which promises to change Ireland for the better by 2027, and will offer support to those businesses which assist the country in reaching its climate and energy targets. The purpose of the grants given will be to fund projects which would otherwise not be possible to complete. The fund will have an allocation of at least €500million leading up to 2027. The first call for applications to this fund will deal with larger scale projects scheduled for development in 2019-2020, which seek support in excess of €1million. Should you feel that your company may benefit from this, there is a rather small window of opportunity as the applications will be open from September 17th until October 1st so it would be imperative that you gather all required information and begin the process of collating this and having a project plan in place in advance of the application call opening.

The funding will be available to a wide range of projects which serve the greater interest of Ireland’s eco-awareness including:

  • Renewable Energy Projects.
  • Heating Projects.
  • Electrical Vehicle Charging Projects.
  • Environmental Protection Projects.
  • Energy Efficiency Projects.

This is of course only the first call for applications, there will be more over the course of the project and undoubtedly these will apply to a wide range of businesses and serve varied functions so if this first call does not apply to your company, we would advise keeping a close eye on the scheme for the next series of calls for applications.

Should you have any queries or require further information on this or any other business or financial matter please don’t hesitate to contact us here at EcovisDCA’s new head office, where as always we will be delighted to help.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

SME’s The Backbone Of The Irish Economy

Let’s hear it for the Little Guy

As you all know, we here at EcovisDCA are big supporters of small businesses, new start-ups and SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) and we have spoken many times in the past about new and interesting funding opportunities becoming available for these kinds of businesses. We have also spoken in the past about the way in which SMEs can be said to form the backbone of the Irish business world as in reality they form over half of all Irish Businesses. The shows the absolute vital importance of keeping these types of enterprises up and running in Ireland.

This week there has been good news for Irish SMEs as figures compiled by business and credit risk analyst Vision-net show that 2017 was the best ever year for the formation of new start-ups in Ireland. This is not only good news for our business world, but it shows a new and growing level of confidence in doing business in Ireland which can only mean good things going forward for our small island with big dreams.

These figures showed that a total of 22,354 companies were set up in 2017, which is a marked increase on previous years which barely surpassed 20,000 in 2016, the first time these figures have been seen since the late 90’s. Managing Director of Vision-net, Christine Cullen has been quoted as saying that the results are a

“Clear sign of a buoyant economy. Despite the continued uncertainty surrounding Brexit and the Border, the national business community has remained productive and innovative. Ireland is an attractive place to set up and do business, for indigenous and foreign companies alike”.

Unsurprisingly, Dublin was the strongest county for new start-ups, with professional services and finance businesses compiling the greatest share of these new businesses. It was also found that the construction industry continues its ongoing recovery and that there is a burgeoning sense of confidence in these industries that was previously unseen. This means that there is money being leant into these businesses which was not available to them before.

As always, it is important not to let good news let us become complacent, as Cullen states:

“There are important factors to consider. As Ireland approaches full employment, it’s likely that the impressive year-on-year growth that we have seen since the end of the recession will slow. Brexit, too, remains a largely unknown quantity. Its effects on the economy will likely not be felt for several years”.

Whilst this shows positive movement, we do of course have further to go and as always we here at EcovisDCA are always available to help with any new business or finance queries you may have. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

Little Fish in a Big Pond

As you no doubt are aware by now, we here at EcovisDCA are big supporters of Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s). We have spoken at length in the past about the challenges faced by these types of businesses as well as the opportunities for growth and investment surrounding them. This week, we are focusing on the bigger picture for SMEs in Europe.

Data released from Eurostat, the European Union’s statistical office this week revealed that SMEs actually generate half the value of the intra-EU trade in goods. Whilst we have long known that SMEs form the backbone of the Irish economy, we now see that they are beginning to form the cornerstone of trade within the European Union also. SMEs in counties such as Latvia, Cyprus, Estonia and the Netherlands fly the flag for European SMEs as they are understood to have generated in excess of two thirds of intra-EU goods exports.

These new findings show that 98% of companies trading goods within the EU are SMEs, and that 70% of these companies are micro-enterprises. Small and Medium Enterprises are defined within the European Union as being non-subsidiary, independent firms which employ fewer than 250 employees, whilst micro-enterprises are defined as being businesses operating on a much smaller scale, with fewer than 9 employees.

Whilst we know that SMEs account for more than half of all Irish business, this new data shows that there is massive room for improvement for Irish SMEs within the larger European Union market. Irish SMEs account for less than one third of the intra-EU exports which given our size compared to larger countries may be understandable, but does allow for more expansion of Irish SMEs into this marketplace.

With Irish Small and Medium Enterprises now having greater access to a wider number of funding options than were available previously, there is now more opportunity for Irish SMEs to take to the World Stage. As always, we root for the underdogs here in Ireland!

Should you require any assistance or guidance on any financial or business matters, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us here at EcovisDCA where we will be delighted to be of service.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

Looking at the Big Picture for SMEs

As you know, we here at EcovisDCA are massive supporters of the SME (Small and Medium Enterprises) community in Ireland. The businesses were some of the hardest hit by the economic downturn, and remain affected despite continued recovery. Funding for SMEs has been relatively slow to make a return to the market and in recent weeks we have discussed some new options coming to the market for these types of business. This week, we return with even more good news in the SME market.

The ISIF (Ireland Strategic Investment Fund), an economic stimulus vehicle is set to join forces with AIB and Bank of Ireland as a backer for a new investment fund targeting Irish SMEs. This venture will be managed by BGF, a private UK company with a wealth of British lenders at its disposal. This UK-based company will now have an Irish branch for this purpose and will have a dedicated Irish team based in Dublin.

The idea behind this investment endeavour is to allow Irish SMEs access to a longer term funding and investment than would be ordinarily available, whilst also giving managers access to expertise from their investor. This will allow these companies to expand and scale up their operations whilst having the financial back up, and advice on hand.

Investments will initially be available of between €2m and €10m in exchange for minority stake in the business in question, it is planned that additional funding will then be available from the investing company. Qualifying businesses will have revenues between €5m and €100m per year.

Should you require any help or guidance on any small, medium, or indeed large enterprise, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us here at Ecovis DCA where we will be happy to help.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

High Risk, High Reward

We have spoken at length in the past about the importance of SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) are to the Irish economy. SMEs alone currently comprise over half of all Irish businesses, and have come to form the backbone of the ongoing economic recovery. As such, it has become increasingly important to protect and encourage these kinds of businesses.

In recent months we have seen the beginnings of a welcome change in the availability and range of funding and assistance options for SMEs which has shown a real shift in focus towards taking note of the importance of our Small and Medium Enterprises as well as our entrepreneurs.

Something which is rarely focused on is support for the financial backers of these seemingly higher risk enterprises and companies. The Government have created a scheme to act as an incentive for such financial backers called the Enterprise Investment Scheme. This scheme allows qualifying companies access to investment from shareholders, and in turn offers these shareholders tax breaks as incentive.

The purpose of the scheme is to assist some small and higher risk SMEs to raise capital where this may ordinarily be difficult or almost impossible. This will help to reduce the amount of SMEs forced to wind down due to a lack of financial investment.

It is hoped that this scheme will encourage investors to back what may be perceived as higher risk companies, in order to act as a buffer for these companies and increase their chance of continued survival. As these would be a higher risk investment, there are of course a number of enterprises which do not qualify, these are as follows:

Land shares, goods (except normal retail etc.), financial, legal and accountancy, property development, hotels and nursing homes, agriculture and power, etc.

There is also a time limit of two years applied during which the invested capital must be utilised and the investor must never have been previously connected with the business prior to investment.

Companies wishing to avail of this scheme must be EII certified and must directly seek certification from the Revenue Commissioners.

As always we are available for any advice or guidance you may require on business or finance matters.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY