Thursday, December 18, 2008
If you only have the word of said staff to go on, and you know that they are too afraid to "push their luck" because they are non-nationals in fear of losing their job in this economy? You hear that they have said to their employer that they are too tired to work 12, 14, 15 days in a row without a break and they would like to work only 6 days in row, then one day off - and the eyebrows are raised, the question is asked how much they value their job...
They are a victim of their own tiny wage with a family to support.
What would you do?
Friday, December 12, 2008
I'd forgotten I had a Google Analytics account and just checked in to see who's reading and who's not. How interesting to find that a whole 16% of visitors are popping in from across the big pond over yonder. Hello American readers! Thank you for calling, please come again... It's quite interesting to see that only about half of readers are from Ireland, I wouldn't have guessed that if I'd been quizzed... Almost 20% coming from non-UK/US/RoI - how cool is that. Hello Malaysia...
PS. I've just started one of those "followers" thingies if anyone would care to click :o) It's right there, to the right just below the links to Irish Blogs Dot Eye Eee
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Photo owned by volantra (cc)
I would like to point out that my first ever boss (male) in my first ever "proper" job (I was 22) broke rule no. 1...
"Adult" Items: Items that could be considered sexual in nature are inappropriate (and may even be illegal) in the workplace. Anything “adult” in nature should never be given in the workplace setting – even to the closest of co-workers. This not only includes the obvious like pornography and adult “toys,” but also includes artwork, books, and any image or rendering that depicts nudity or that may suggest a sexual act.
It was a chocolate willy.
I didn't know where to look!
He was a very nice guy, one of those sound bosses that was 100% approachable and always very fair.
And then he produced - that!
It's strange, I'm not a prude at all, I just felt it was SO inappropriate - I was all of 5 months in the place. Maybe it was because I was shy (ha!) or something... I will admit, it came with another small token - 2 festive votives, very nice.
Photo owned by wilttipöö (cc)
Jean-Claude Supremo was talking about something funny on 2fm today. I was at work (he gets me through the dull afternoons ye know) and started talking about a particularly funny YouTube. It's Carol Vorderman's last day on Countdown tomorrow so in her honour, they aired this on the national airwaves! Brilliant!
Thank you Rick for putting it up on the blog so I didn't have to put THOSE search terms into Google ;)
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
So I've been trying to put the countdown timer from leakynews.com onto the side menu thingie - it's for the new film which was meant to be out by now but has been pushed out to next summer (grr...) - and it just appears as a white box with a link to Leaky and no countdown timer! It worked the last time I had it up for the 2008 launch, so I am all confuddled. Anyone know what's wrong?
Here's the code-stuff (can you guess I'm not IT skilled...)
Get this and other HP countdowns at LeakyNews.com
Now why oh why is it not working, here or on the side menu bar...?
Friday, November 28, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
The thrills, spills and addiction of Scrabble on Facebook have returned. Legally ;) So goodbye sleep, hello unhealthy competition and much rivalry among crazy friends (woohoo! Can't wait...)
But Holy Cow Batman, take a look at this:
SCRABBLE® is a registered trademark.All intellectual property rights in and to the game are owned in the United States by Hasbro, Inc.,in Canada by Hasbro Canada, Inc., and throughout the rest of the world by J.W. Spear & Sons, Ltd., a subsidiary of Mattel, Inc.SCRABBLE® and associated trademarks and trade dress are used under license from Mattel, Inc. All Rights Reserved.The Mattel name and logo are trademarks of Mattel, Inc. and used with permission. Mattel and J.W. Spear & Sons are not affiliated with Hasbro or Hasbro Canada.
It's from the bottom of the screen when you log in... Covering all possible asses in all possible countries. I wish they (Mattel, Hasbro) had seen the positive side of what Rajat & Jayant Agarwalla did for Scrabble on the whole. It made people like me go out and buy the game so that I could feed my Scrabulous addiction when not online, and invite friends over to drink wine and play in person! In fact, a strategic alliance between all the vinyards in the world, the Agarwalla Bros. and Mattel & Hasbro would have been an excellent move! Harhar.
Seriously though, sometimes a copyright infringement can be a good thing, to awaken interest in an old and dying product and drag it back from mature market, to a growing one. I do NOT condone plagiarism! I just wish businesses could visualise the opportunities before they get all legal and nasty...
At the end of the day, Scrabble is back on Facebook! Hurrah!
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
It was never going to live up to the unexpected fabulousness of Casino Royale but it was still a bit of fun for a couple of hours.
Points of note (WILL contain spoilers):
1) The return of the naked dancing girls during the opening credits - hurrah.
2) "That" song turns out to be quite good in context!
3) I was rather shocked he didn't sleep with both of the whimmin :-O
4) Lots of blood and gore.
5) WHAT is the point of having all those smashing car-smashing scenes when the camera is zipping from one angle to another so quickly that you get a little lost trying to watch (yes I was sitting at the back with the best view, not up close - I felt for those up in the front rows - must have been like dodgy tennis or something)
6) WHO builds a hotel in the middle of the desert?? Really?
7) I likes popcorn
8) I worships at the church of Dame Judi
9) Can someone please explain what side Felix was on?
10) I loved the hat-tips to the older stuff. Strawberry, for one (did you miss it?! Miss Field's first name...) And the obvious link to Goldfinger, that was class. Poor girl, but class cinematographic hat tip. Love it ;)
11) The watch is back to being a Rolex rather than Omega! I have drooled all over the Omega posters in the past... Tried to rob one once. Didn't work.
12) OK the plot was full of the most tenuous links back to the original tale from Casino Royale. There was little resolution, we lost Mr White for good - no real clarity on Quantum, just Dominic Green's empire (that wasn't a cover for Quantum was it?? I thought he was just one part of it.)
13) The last scene set in Russia seemed to be just tagged on with only a small link to the rest of the plot. Weak closure twist for Bond in relation to Vesper too.
14) I think I got a lot more out of this film than some of my friends. Mainly because like the mahoosive nerd I am, I watched Casino Royale a few hours before I went to the cinema. I for example knew who the hell was in the trunk of the car and what part he had to play in the whole thing.
15) As usual, to end on a high note...the locations were just gorgeous and made me want to go straight home and book a holiday to somewhere beautiful! I particularly loved Mathis' villa in Italy. DROOL!
Thursday, October 2, 2008
If you see someone with a pink box flogging tacky merchandise, give them a smile! And if you have a few spare euro in your pocket, do pop it in the box if you can. If not, just that smile will do!
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Not much more to be said, really. So long, Twenty. And thanks for all the fishy laughs.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
But I return bearing gifts... I have been spending a lot of time talking with bank representatives and other lenders, so I picked some brains and found out exactly what they're looking for, when someone approaches them for a small business loan.
They are echoing general consensus I'm afraid - it's all down to the planning. And I quote one person from one of the Big Two banks, "it's the most critical part" of any application.
Two things are graded when you go near a bank for a small business loan:
1) The composition of your business plan
2) Your commitment to the project in cash/savings/time/other investment (e.g. angel source)
The key to an excellent business plan according to the banks is writing it yourself! Everyone I have spoken to cannot emphasise this highly enough. The number of people coming into them for small business loans with a business plan under their arm is increasing. The percentage of this group who cannot defend anything in said plan because they have not even memorised the contents, is also on the rise. This is a common mistake! If you don't understand your own cashflow projections or the demand in your local/national/international market, then they are unlikely to support you with finance. These are just not times of risk, banks & building societies will not take any unnecessary risk at all.
You not only have to be able to defend your plan and discuss all areas within it, but you have to make sure that you and it are realistic. For example if you want to start a business in any sort of luxury product or service, you have to be extra convincing, since lots of people are pulling in the belts just now. It was in the paper only the other day that the number of returns coming into Revenue are on the increase - people are looking for spare cash everywhere - Med1 returns, Rent relief - they're all flooding into the revenue commissioners.
So just to give you the definitive list from a bank on what they consider the core of a business plan:
- History of the firm (you/your business to date)
- Overview of the business (you, your market)
- Threats (within your industry)
- Company Structure (assigning responsibilities to the management team)
- Overview of your Competitors
- Any investment highlights (angels, family donations, your own savings)
- A list of upcoming business opportunities
- Financial Overview (cashflow projections are OK for pre-start up businesses but accurate historical financial accounts are imperative for existing businesses - there is no point in approaching a bank or building society otherwise)
Hope that keeps you going for a while, I'm going into another hectic few weeks...
PS I've blogged once or twice on business planning and market research before... here and here. More can be found down in Labels. Good luck!
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Friday, August 29, 2008
The question was to identify what you thought to be the most important thing at start-up for a new business.
Outright winner was most definitely PLANNING which came in at a whopping 73%, seconded by SALES at a winchy 13%.
The votes were certainly not cast in their thousands - I have a small, quality readership - but it is great to see what others believe in.
Well done planning ;o)
Monday, August 25, 2008
Just to say :'( I didn't make it to the festival in Dun Laoghaire this weekend *gutted* due to a recurring injury making its presence felt! (ouch)
But! Darragh went, worked, and had a great time, so if you want to read all about it and see some fabby pictures, please go here... Enjoy!
Now I mean it - have a happy Monday!
Friday, August 22, 2008
This weekend we've got the wonderful Festival of World Cultures happening in Dun Laoghaire - it's always great fun, so go along and support lots of Irish micro enterprises, in addition to all the great international tastes to be sampled! I love markets - the regular one (Sundays) in the People's Park dangerously near Teddy's is a great one, so is the market up in Marley Park (Saturdays) - I highly recommend both! Lots of small businesses that I have worked with are at both of these markets, so I am always delighted to see them there, listening to real feedback from customers and conducting a littel R&D with samples of new products. It's inspiring and a delight to see.
Another one on this weekend - this time for the trade - is The Autumn Home & Gift Fair at the RDS. It starts on Sunday and goes on into the week. More micro enterprises will be there, in need of support! There are some really exciting new businesses popping up all over the place. I am so delighted that they are not taking this "slowdown" lying down but are going out there and grabbing all available business by the horns. Go on yee good things!
Also, just thought I'd say... I'm tuned into 2fm today and the DJ's are just spot on this avo...
I Kissed a Girl
That's Not my Name
The Man Who Can't Be Moved
Black & Gold
Gettin' Jiggy with it
Dido's brand spanking noo toon
A bit of 5ive (hehehe!)
(plus, they've only played that horrific new BZ track once so far...yuk yuk yuk)
Lots of summer soundtracks there! Yay...
I just love it when the DJ's get it right :o)
I'm changing my "blogdrumrollplease" to "bookmarks" after Rosie's post! hehe
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
If you ride a motorcycle and keep arriving to work and home again soaked to the skin - ok, you're allowed to let the rain get you a bit blue (not literally I hope!) for a few mins per day.
Similarly, those who walk to work - bless you, I hope you have nice warm socks waiting for you at your destination.
For the rest of us who take public transport and drive sheltered vehicles, please STOP using the weather as an excuse to be a moaning old bag. Equally, unless your house is being taken off you by your lending institution, I don't want to hear any more complaints about the downturn.
I have met people whose homes have been flooded by the recent rain. And what is happening? They are rolling up their sleeves and getting on with it. Saying things like "It could be worse," and, "I'm luckier than some, you know."
Fair play to them. They're not curling up in a damn corner, muttering to themselves.
I have also met people who have no choice but to sell their property at the moment, the worst time to be selling in any Irish climate in the last 10 years. People who did not greedily buy up somewhere great in the hope that they would cash in on the Celtic Tiger a few years down the line. These are people who bought somewhere nice, modest and affordable as soon as they could. And now they have to sell up and go back to renting. Thankfully the number of people I know in this situation is still low, but they still have a damn smile on their face. Their outlook is something along the lines of, "Wasn't I lucky to be able to afford it in the first place?"
It just makes you want to reach out and hug them. I do, quite frequently.
Solidarity would be a lovely (alternative!) side effect to rain and pennypinching, rather than bitterness and grumpiness. When bad things happen in other countries, everybody clubs together to get through it. Teamwork! It's inspiring and to be quite frank, humbles me. Look at countries with real disasters - serious floods, earthquakes, even what happened in London on the Tube not so long ago - everyone discovered an inner strength that did not allow them to bring themselves down. We all know someone who was living in London in July 2005, we all spent a few frantic hours waiting to hear that they were ok. During my own relief I looked on in wonder at how the devastation brought the city and country together.
A few damp days, the climate changing and the economy slowing is making everybody miserable. Perhaps I shouldn't be comparing Irish mild flooding to those in SE Asia but I hope anyone reading can see that I am merely trying to put our own little dark cloud into some perspective. There is still so much to be thankful and happy for. Please put a smile back on Ireland's face!
And if you must continue to moan, please stop finding me - the chirpy one at the back - and taking all my smiles for yourself. That's just mean. I'll tell you how to do it yourself:
- Write down 5 things that made you smile in the last fortnight
- Write down another 5 things that you are looking forward to between now and Christmas
- Go away and think about those 5 things and start getting excited about preparing for them
- Call someone who is going to share one of these things and get excited about it with them
- Arrange to meet for said preparation, or just to talk about it in person over your favourite coffee/tipple of choice
- Now start sharing those smiles will you please? They're meant to be contagious...
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Two other competitions that people can consider are the Shell Livewire Awards and the InterTrade Ireland (Equity Network) Seedcorn Capital Competition.
The deadline for Shell Livewire was - yesterday! Hence the lack of mention last week...too late etc.etc. You also have to be under 30 to enter! The Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards is a great platform for new businesses to launch from. There may be an issue with bad press from certain groups from Mayo...something to do with landowners, oil pipelines and imprisonment. All voices warranted, I'm up for new business start-ups ;)
But the deadline for Seedcorn is not until September, so for those of your with High Potential Start-Ups, please look here for more info. Past winners have been from all sorts of industries - bioresearch, IT, food, medical, communications... Lots of opportunities there for regional prize funds as well as the overalls, so if you have a HPSU, give it a shot!
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
What do you do if you need funds, where can you begin.
Well there are a variety of options available and it does of course depend on what type of business you are in. Risky high-cost start ups are catered for by business angels, banks and of course venture capital firms. Yes they are called vulture capitalists for a reason, but the way they see it - they're taking a huge risk investing in a new type of business so they need some sort of security blanket, and will take up a chew of your business ownership for their trouble.
For the more day-to-day businesses the first stop should always be your own bank or credit union. You have been giving them your business for years, so see what they can do for you. It's all about shopping around and remembering the most important thing - you are in charge. This is your business, they owe you nothing - if they give you a business loan, they are making money on it so although you can thank them for their assistance, there is no need to name your first born after them. Banks are in it for the money - never forget that.
They also hate risk. They are not insurance companies, they are completely risk averse, so the more you can reassure them that there is little risk to giving you a start up loan, the better a position you will be in, in the long run.
Contacts are key to business, we all know that. So apply that to your funding situation. That is why I mentioned going back to your own bank. I have a bank manager I can ring and chat to about my personal finances (or lack thereof!), at my local branch. That is what they are there for. If you are thinking about starting a business down the line and considering your funding options, start chatting with your bank manager now. They are as hungry for business as the rest of the world.
If the bank says no, there could be a million reasons why. So don't lose faith. Like in a sporting situation - have a look at the post-match analysis and figure out why. Ask them straight out, they might just tell you! It might be that your credit history is poor with them. Or that you have no collateral. Or that they believe the market you are trying to break into is flooded already (they may have an inside track on this, their current customers selling the same things as you, at the same location, may be in financial difficulty - a great way to find out the most important info on your new market, could be in your loan-refusal-feedback-chat!).
If that bank does say no, approach the credit union. Find your local one, here. The staff in the branches I have visited are very supportive of indigenous industry! Local business is good for business. Cheesey but true!
Business Angels are people who invest in your business without grabbing all the shares. Almost exactly what it says on the tin really. If you can find one, good on you! There are some around... There was a Business Angel network running for a while but the last I heard it was running out of juice. More recently I have heard of people finding their own angels. Back to those all important contacts! It could be family friends, friends of friends you meet at parties or conferences (or party conferences, shudder!) - it could be anyone at all. Someone whose eyes start to twinkle when you talk about your new business idea. If they have any sort of passion for your business, they might just lend you those all important funds!
First Step is a great organisation, although their coffers are always stretched. They will help you get a small loan, when all the others have shown you the door. First Step are what you call, the lenders of last resort.
I heard the County Enterprise Boards and Enterprise Ireland on Today FM a couple of weeks ago talking about starting a business, but they were more talking about doing Start Your Own Business courses (incidentally, they run all over the country, right through the year so you can find one near you if you really want to impress the bank manager). What they did mention - briefly - was their funding situation. If you are manufacturing something different, or if you are trading internationally, then they can talk to you about money. If you're not - they can't. It seemed pretty clear - if you want to get into retail for example, they won't be able to help fund you.
The one thing everybody will need, is a business plan I'm afraid! That's where maybe the CEB's could help. Some of them run business planning workshops - not all, so you'll have to check with yours. I've blogged about it before, here, so check back for a basic starting point. Email me if you need more detail... I wasn't planning on running any business planning workshops myself but for the price of a pint... ;) Who am I kidding. A hot port please, if this weather keeps up...
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
1) I've been spending too much time updating my blogroll and finding lots of interesting people out there with either similar interest or interests so opposite to me that I am intrigued
2) Working is pain in the orse and I've had to bring stuff home, leaving little time for nice long posts on interesting things
3) I feel a little intimidated by the mammoth posts from people on my blogroll, who really just put me to shame with the amount of work they put into them
4) Spending lots and lots of time giving the face-to-face advice means I'm a bit drained of inspiration when I do in fact sit down to post!
Hence the lack of meat on this blog's bones of late. Apologies one and all.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Roll on November 2008!
Monday, July 21, 2008
Rick O'Shea's afternoon show has moved home while G.Ryan is on hols - yay I get to listen for once! Been missing the banter since he moved to the afternoon show from the drivetime slot, LOL. Go here, and click "Listen Live" http://www.rte.ie/2fm/
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Some more top tips for an easier life, running your own (hectic!) business:
1. Get a good diary - preferably a week to 2-pages. This one really works, even for me! You slot everything into the little lines on each page, and when there is too much on the page, odds are you need to shuffle things around and start to manage your task list a bit better. You have no idea how useful that little nugget is.
2. Task Lists - this one follows directly on from the last point, and leads us to the next one perfectly. There are lots of opinions out there on how to make your task list easier. One example I heard is: write down all the stuff you have to do this week and number them backwards, starting with the one you hate - that way, the only way is up! This tip reminded me of my mum getting me to eat my cabbage first, then I could enjoy the spuds and gravy when I was small. (But curses, I was always full by the time I'd eaten all the yukky stuff! Funny, I quite like cabbage now...) Personally, when it comes to task lists I prefer the priority approach. That way I get less ulcers ;) get the "holy crap this is important" stuff out of the way first!
3. Prioritise - this is what I work with best. Figure out which items on your to-do list are the most vital, and do them first. Leave the weeny things til Friday afternoon when everything else is done and you are cruising to the weekend. The stuff in between just needs to be sorted in order of importance and urgency. There is a handy graph that gets dragged out at every Time Management seminar, and I'm putting it here, with a hat-tip & thanks to Time Management Dot Com:
Essentially, everything on your list can be popped on to this graph, and you undertake each task in order, 1 - 4. If something is both urgent & important, it goes into quadrant #1 and you do it first. If it is urgent but not important, it goes into the next block. Things that are important but not urgent come next, and finally - if it is neither urgent nor important, it'll get done when it gets done! The grid is a handy illustration but you don't get it out every day. You just get used to realising what's important/urgent to you.
4. You have to become quite firm with people - more than firm - and just make sure you remember why you're going to all this effort in the first place. You are trying to run a successful business, and by that I mean you HAVE to put your own needs fairly close to the top of the list. For example if you are a sole trader, make sure you keep one afternoon per week completely free for doing your bookkeeping, VAT returns, invoicing, payments, etc. This is vital to keeping your business financially healthy, but you would be SO surprised at how many people end up doing this at midnight on a Sunday! It's important - do it when you're fresh. That way, you won't make mistakes! Or you'll make less of them, at least.
5. Last tip - plan to be interrupted. Seriously! Leave about 15-20% of your day open, every day. This is like a cushion, so that when some mad customer rings with a crazy "urgent" query, you have the time to deal with it, without sacrificing the control of your day...and business.
Friday, July 11, 2008
Odds are, they will not think of the little housekeeping things that take an extraordinary amount of time to design up, when they are starting off. All efforts will go into figuring out the service offering, going out and selling it! Admirable! Sure why not, isn't that what we're all here for...
Then we come to the making money part. What do you need? A few things actually, so it might be an idea to get them sorted before you start. If you have a customer or two, you will want to spend most of your time either taking care of them, or finding more of them. Not wasting time doing these things...
1) Get your tax registration sorted - a TR1 form for Sole Traders and Partnerships, a TR2 for Limited Co's - anything more taxing (pardon the pun) and you should call in the accountants/bookkeepers. Seriously. They're better at it, it will save you money in the long run to use professionals to do these things; it'll cost you your own man hours if you're no good at it. Harsh but true! Tax registration forms available from the Revenue Commissioners. There are sections on these forms for VAT by the way, but until you begin trading, don't register! Well you can, but it's a pain in the arse dealing with the paperwork before you have to, right?
2) Obviously in tandem with the TR forms - you need to register your business name(s). If you are planning on having more than one arm to your business (example - you walk dogs, but you also mind children - different business names required! You might also do people's books for them if you're good at numbers - a third business name - all trading under Joe/Janet Bloggs, Sole Trader...) RBN Forms are so called because they stand for...Registration of Business Name. They are all found at the Companies Registration Office, which also has lots of important information that you need to read!
3) Now that all the reasonably important stately stuff is out of the way, the next part is far more interesting. Figuring out your brand and your logo. If you are just trading under your own name that's fine, you should still find an interesting way of having your name in print. This will be vital for the next few items on this list! Mess around with your name in different fonts - it's that simple. Pick a colour that ties in with your service provision or product, and your identity - the one you want to project. This is really important! You will eventually become a champion of your own brand. Start watching how other people do it. I bet you can't look in any single direction in Coca-Cola's offices without seeing that trademarked brand everywhere...
4) Now that you have your logo or brand all designed up, you should start putting it on document templates. The first of these should be your headed paper. Even if it is just in the header or footer of a standard Word document, with your registered business address beside it in a nice shade of purple/grey/whatever brand colour you have chosen. Pick a nice, clear, legible font that you like and adopt that as your template font for everything. It's all part of developing your business identity.
5) Next on the list of vitals - your invoices! Get that brand/logo out again and put it on an Exel spreadsheet, or any type of spreadsheet. Use that font you liked so much, in the colour that's clear and readable. Don't forget your tax & CRO registration numbers, registered business address, trading names, etc... If you like, look at invoices from other people in your industry and see what are the all-important things they have included. Don't forget the invoice numbers - you have to start a ledger that is going to match up with your system for cash flow management. Lastly on this point - make sure your spreadsheet is printable - easy to forget!
6) Another important template to have at the ready is a quotation template. I know it is tricky, but at least have the bare bones ready. Google some templates if you like, there are loads out there. The important sections to have in a template - once you have plastered your mini-logo onto every header/footer of course - are: Introduction (a bit on your business), outline of the proposal (what you are being asked to quote for), list of items being quoted, their unit costs, any notes you have to include on special or bespoke items on your list, the tax (VAT) associated with various items on your list,(if there is any), your payment terms (50/50 or 25/50/25 or 40/30/20/10 or whatever you want it to be, within reason!), and finally the conditions of your quotation (how long is it valid for, etc.). The other important thing of course is your name & contact details at the end of the document, so they know who to ring & haggle with!
7) Since you have got the invoice done, get a receipt ready too. I think it is great to not only get a receipt but also a small note of thanks for the payment. It makes people smile, it really does. Making business a little more personable is always a total winner.
8) Other more miscellaneous items you can prepare in advance are things like internal memos, compliment slips, that sort of thing. They are not crucial but they are important at times!
9) Your business cards! Please get a proper print company to do these up. You can get them done inexpensively without being cheap, if you know what I mean. You want people to think of quality when they think of your business - so do not hand them a post-it with your number on it...please...
10) I've saved the best for last, because it is usually the thing that people think about last! But it is so important... Documenting. Filing. Set up a system - a system of folders on your server or hard drive or Internet storage space - so that you are ready, with a file structure in place, when you start up your business and start going through the motions. Having a structured filing system right from the start is going to be SO much easier in the long run. Please believe me when I say this, I really do know what I'm talking about... The same goes for the paper files. Follow the same structures if at all possible.
I hope you find this list of top ten preparation tips useful. I hate headaches, so any way to avoid them is good! If you think I've forgotten anything, let me know...
I will of course be blogging on the lovely CRM possibilities soon too...remind me...
Catching up on work is also challenging. Why did everyone leave the crap to me when I was away? Nice pile of crap awaited me. I left everything pristine, orderly and clear for 3 weeks. Someone even broke my printer and didn't tell IT. Why...
It's just post-holiday glums. I've returned to a country where all the prices have gone WHOOSH over three weeks, everyone is depressed & lethargic because of the rain, and those who are not burying their head in the sand [thank you Jazz for providing the link] are yelling about how pants everything is in Ireland. Honestly! I know there are problems at the airport but I'd be willing to sit there for 5 hours just to go back to the sunshine happy people...
So go on bloggers, enjoy Oxegen, have a brilliant time and come back enthused... Let's get some happy vibes out there!
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Thank you for all the good wishes, I had a splendiferous holiday thank-ee all. Can't believe I actually steered clear of all Internet-contact for three-ish weeks. I did!!! (extra !!! for a certain arm-chancer, haha).
I'm totally out of the current-affair loop, so will be checking all your archives and catching up over the next few days, before I get back to "work" - yuk. Have no idea what's been going on in the world, apart from hostage releases and the epic Wimbledon final - courtesy of fuzzy & patchy CNN.
Apparently there has been a bit of rain. I encountered some thunder storms on my travels - four or five in fact - but it's funny how much less rain hurts when you are on hols. Lightening is pretty, rather than depressing. Possibly because the storms manage to make a lot of noise in a short amount of time, and serve to clear the air for some brighter spells, thank goodness. I have some extra freckles this week.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Friday, June 13, 2008
Let's see how this effects us all in the long term... Thanks are flowing in from the UK already - just take a look at the comments on a number of Sky News articles! I never watch Sky News at home because it's just so tabloid, but it is up to date online, if totally biased sometimes.
[edit: thanks to comments on Twenty's site, I just saw more praise from the rest of Europe on the RTE Lisbon page.]
Will it really effect us at all, in our day-to-day lives?! I'm not so sure that the people of Europe will start shaking fists at us. Will a realistic business decide not to trade with an Irish firm, just because our public voted against a treaty that would ultimately only make life easier for politicians?! I don't know - I hope not, I doubt it. Not if they were practical businesspeople. You do business with people for a profit; relationships are built up on synergy rather than political agenda.
Conspiracy Theory #1:
That the govt. put in a half-arsed attempt to back the "Yes" side just to be seen to be backing it, while secretly strategising that the "No" campaign would be stronger, thereby looking good in the face of their EU/EC peers all the while getting what they really wanted...
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Jazz Biscuit blogged about it yesterday too...
The Apprentice (UK) was good for the first couple of runs but in my opinion is gone very stale, as I think all reality tv programmes get. (Big Brother anyone?! No? Didn't think so...). The US one was ok... Hopefully the Celtic Tiger Cubs gagging to get on and show off their clever-stuff will make at least the first Irish run interesting.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
And when you click the X, what happens? You are brought to their website. You click the "CLOSE" and what happens? You are brought to their website.
How irritating is that? I know it'll go away after a few seconds but I just hate it when I try to scroll away from it - and it follows! Very clever designing, hats off, but go away!!
It has happened to me most recently on independent.ie and entertainment.ie to name but two, and it is just irritating! Most of the time, these ad campaigns are organised by agencies, rather than the company themselves. So you can't blame Aer Lingus or HB Ice-Cream, or Heineken - can you? They think they're getting lots of hits on their websites as a result of this uber-expensive (no doubt!) campaign, when really it is just the pee'd off public trying to get rid of the ad off their screen when they're perusing the newspapers on their teabreak! Grrrr. Is that an unethical business practice or what? I think it's wrong. Would be interested in hearing what everyone else thinks.
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Friday, May 30, 2008
At least business was booming last year. Not. People were unable to go outside and enjoy BBQ weather so they could have stayed indoors and shopped, gone to the cinema [summer of sequels!], etc. but no they couldn't, because the cost of living was shooting up all over the place. According to the never-one-handed folk (Economists) the hike in fuels were offset by the drop in spending on fun things like shoes... Not to mention the old ECB hiking things up just for fun, people's mortgages shooting upwards, the effects really driving home during the summer months. Remember that? Personally I think everyone still went out shopping and going to the clickies and having fun. I think they never really believed that a downturn was on the cards. I reckon it was a case of "surely not, not the Celtic Tiger, sure we'll be grand! Aren't we streets ahead of the rest of them..."
Let's hope it doesn't happen again this year. And let's hope we get some sunshine too :) All the never-one-handeds are focusing on the positive, bless their socks. Matt Cooper's been chatting with ESRI this week and they keep talking about the positive medium-to-long-term forecasts. Nobody has the balls to talk about the big elephant in the room. As yes, those short term realities. I for one don't remember anything but cocopops and cartoons from the 80's so I'm in 2 minds about this. Greedily interested in seeing how it pans out, but also worried about what it could mean for the old financial security...
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
So, according to RTÉ News the old rental market is going a different way on the graph, for the first time in ages. This is news the day after it hit that McNamara's are pulling out of no less than FIVE social housing developments. My Dublin house is €50k cheaper than it was this time last year, at least.
So it looks like people are pulling in the belt buckles, it's been happening for a while. Some are making hay of course - lots of little business popping up all over the place, specialising in house extensions, renovations, home improvements........Woodie's & B+Q have never been busier I'm sure ;) When one thing goes up...
One thing I can't get my head around just at the moment is this: Ryanair - always with the finger on the pulse of a lot of people's purse strings - are increasing their fares, rather than strengthening their position as a low cost airline, in times of economic uncertainty. I wonder what they're up to? Ripping everyone off of course, as usual, but what does the Big Guy have up his sleeve, do you think?
Personally I'd rather not fly with the blue and yellow team unless I abolutely have to...
Friday, May 16, 2008
I just think it's brilliant, you sit there for a moment, staring at a big pile of poo and wonder to yourself "what am I going to do with this?"
Making money from the byproducts of your business is a fantastic idea, mainly because it is such a simple one.
I'll admit that this blog originally started out quite aspirational - but I think that bit of my learning curve has maybe ended. The thing about trying to think of something interesting to blog about has turned into blogging about things that come up during the week and just approaching it from a business sense. A business start up sense :)
I have just started a blogroll, I hope that's ok with those I've listed. They are blogs I read that I find amusing. As I venture futher into Irish Blogland I will no doubt keep adding to them...
But back to the point of making business from byproducts. It's not as difficult as it looks - just step outside the box for a moment and have a little think.
This is apparently the time for us as a nation to focus on The Knowledge Economy. So, if your business is not in manufacturing or farming or retail or hospitality, but more service or IT based, then think about getting a healthy cashflow early on.
If you have a web based business and you are busy looking for customers but they are not coming along as quickly as you would have imagined - how about selling your valuable IT skills on the side on a consultancy basis, just to get the coffers healthy. It will benefit you in 2 ways:
1) Cashflow, obviously
2) Get you back into other businesses
The second one is another byproduct, but this time - for you. It's a lonely old road starting up a business, and sometimes (cheesey but true) you can't see the wood for the....big leafy things. So interacting with others will help, but learning about their day-to-day issues will help you too. It can only help to discuss general business issues in the long term, I find.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Irish King of Blogging Damien Mulley posted about Perlico yesterday - a flyer came in his door disguised as a message from Eircom, but really it was just some "alternative" marketing by Perlico. Cue rant! Cue lots of other rants from fellow bloggers and blog readers alike! (Cue me laughing at the success of such a cheeky move by Perlico Morkeshing Deportment).
But what I think is really swizz is that they replied to all the moans and gripes, explained their moves and welcomed a cuppa with the ranters to really get feedback on what would work!
Have a read, go on - it's amusing. But also SO important. If you are going to start a business, LISTEN to your customers. It doesn't matter how big or small your business is going to be, just make sure you listen - people don't always moan for the sake of moaning (some do, I grant you!) so if it's free feedback on you, your services or your products - take it on board. Do something about it. Impress the world!
Well done Paul Woods, Perlico's Commercial Director. Now, the next time you post to a blog Mr Woods, would you PLEASE explain the stalker-like cold calling system? Does it really work anymore?
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Yes of course someone has got a website called www.marketresearch.com, but it still amazes me why people don't take more advantage of online research tools.
Some basic ones to get you started at the birdseye view (A.K.A. macro) end of things:
- www.census.ie (where is your target market? what's the population count there?)
- Also Known As...
- www.cso.ie (other people have done lots of work on handy stats - no need to reinvent the wheel! It's not laziness, just efficient! If you do use this site - reference it, make sure people know where you're getting your stuff!)
- Market Research Dot Com - you can get some basic stuff there but the juice info - you have to pay for. It was someone's hard work!
Check these out:
You decide to target architects. Hairdressers. Anything. You name it, the information is out there. Remember - the more you know about your competitors the better a position you will be in to be better than them. The more you know about your customers & potentials, the better equipped you will be to make their experience with you better, and bring them back to you for repeat business.
Monday, April 21, 2008
Efficiency. That's a thing. If you are going into business, make sure you have this item at the top of your priority list. It will make your customers happier, and that will keep bringing them back to you. Having given this a good bit of thought, I can safely say that if your effiency levels are tiptop, then you can charge quite a bit for your service...and that's always good news, hey?!
Monday, April 14, 2008
It's great to see so many versatile business types popping up all over the place. The most common questions posed to me recently have been around the areas of marketing - the market research side of things (in great detail, often sector specific!) and the advertising side. Much of the time, people simply just don't know where to start. The best thing to do is a wee spider diagram. It really is that basic! That's all it takes to start. A doodle.
Once you start you will realise it can be difficult to stop! And yes, you will automatically move into the more grown-up sort of scenario, with lists, graphs, diagrams of your target market... The pages of market research will become almost endless.
Because the more you know about your target market, the better equipped you are to service it.
Same goes for competitors.
If you can identify the best and worst bits about your competitors, then you're laughing.
You can make their weaknesses your strengths. And their strengths your strengths too. If you are both catering for the same type of client, find out what works for them and provide it too - do it better than them - and whatever area of weakness they have, learn from their mistakes and make sure it's not your area of crapness too!!!
Saturday, March 22, 2008
The best thing to do before you sit down and start writing of course, is to have a look at a few ideas online. The most important page to consider at this stage is the Contents Page.
To be honest, the most practical templates are the least complicated ones. As you go through your own plan, you will find that you need to add in relevant chapters and subchapter headings; then all you need do is check back with those listed below. Many of the online tools (found on websites like AIB) are helpful in the short term but the number of subheadings can look confusing (just a bit too academic!) for some entrepreneurs...
Some really helpful sources for a good, decent business plan template:
County & City Enterprise Boards - in Ireland, each county has its own local Enterprise Board - a support and development agency, run by small dedicated teams of business advisors. You can find your local agency online and just click the Downloads tab for a copy of their recommended business plan template.
I would recommend getting in contact with your local Enterprise Board anyway, for real, practical, genuine advice on how to start up a new business idea.
Enterprise Ireland - businesses who consider themselves having the potential to do huge international trade - millions of turnover in just a few short years (wouldn't that be nice for all of us!!) - can contact Enterprise Ireland. Their business plan template is reasonably straight forward, and the rest of their inforamation can be found on their extensive website.
High Potential Start Up businesses (H.P.S.U. for short) are the core target for Enterprise Ireland, a much larger organisation than a 4 or 5 person team at your local Enterprise Board. This can have advantages and disadvantages of course. It takes a long time to develop a good relationship with your "Development Advisor" which is assigned to you if you are HPSU material. When you do, they can open a lot of doors for you.
If you are hoping to start a local, service based business, then the team at Enterprise Ireland will probably direct you toward your local County Enterprise Board.
Of course, no Irish based Business Start Up advice column would be complete without mentioning Brian O'Kane - source of much knowledge on the subject and author of - amongst other things - Starting Your Own Business: A Workbook, published by Oak Tree Press. Brian has uploaded another template for writing a business plan, which isn't bad at all!
There are others out there, all you have to do is pop a search into Google. Dublin Institute of Technology have one, for example.
If I can share any advice with you it's this: writing a business plan is not rocket science! Anyone can do it, believe me. The super-dooper free software out there which you have to download for it to write it for you.....etc......it all gets a bit much.
The truth is, all you have to do is:
- Open a Word document.
- Write 9 or 10 bullet points on your own Contents page.
- Page Break.
- On the first page, write Introduction.
- Page Break (I mean it! Write no content the first time you sit down at your computer).
- Next heading: Executive Summary (leave this until last to write, since it's the "best bits" from the rest of the plan!).
- Page Break.
- Company Description...
- Page break....
Monday, March 10, 2008
At the same time, do not underestimate the value linked to spending a good bit of time compiling one. I'll blog later about the many different places you can find a decent template - online, in your local library...there are tons of books published on the subject.
I know it's scarey. I've done them - they take time! More time if it's not your business at all and you have to get to grips with someone else's industry/market/sector. Much easier when it is something you know a little about... Simple statement, rings true.
The first thing you do is open up the template and just have a think about each section. There are less than 10 major sections, and if you think about each one in chunks, it will not be so bad.
Before you sit down to talk about the actual business plan itself, the best thing to do is a little SWOT analysis. Write it on a napkin at a bar or a coffee shop, it doesn't take too long. Do the little grid first for yourself, and then for your business. Do not be afraid to complete it honestly - it's not for everyone else to see, it is for yourself.
A SWOT Analysis is very simple, it is just a list of your S-trengths, W-eaknessess, O-pportunities and T-hreats.
First of all, your strengths. Be generous, be realistic. List them with pride! Expand on them. Really think about all the areas in your life where key elements of entrepreneurship might lie. If your 9-5 is on a production line, you attention to detail might be a big strength. If you are a stay-at-home parent, your ability to multitask must be at a peak! Not to mention your budgeting abilities... If you are already a CEO somewhere...you probably know how to do a SWOT.
Next, your weaknesses get a good going over. A lot of people look unsure when I mention this one. It is a wise and more importantly, a responsible entrepreneur that knows their own boundaries & limitations.
If you were never great with numbers in school, and the idea of bookkeeping makes you shiver, then do not be afraid to identify that as a weakness. The main reason for this identification is so that you can do something about it now, before you start operating: if you can afford it, employ the services of a reliable bookkeeper or qualified accountant. If you can't afford it, ask a friend or family member who you trust, to give you a helping hand in the area, for the first few months of operation. Ask them to give you a crash course or better still, find a local course and take it.
The same goes for you if selling is a scarey concept. If the idea of picking up the phone to make a cold call and then being yelled at by 10 angry people makes you want to run & hide (and you would not be alone on this one) then go and learn how to do it best! Or ask a friend...or employ the services of a small telesales business operating locally...if you have the budget!
Can you see a pattern emerging?
What's next? Opportunities. They come in all shapes and sizes - the trick is to identify them. You are doing this SWOT on yourself so have a little think about where the opportunites are for you. Remember, nobody else has to see this SWOT analysis, so put anything you like down here. Some examples of personal opportunities from self-employment might be: better quality of life...more time at home with the kids...more money...control of your own time in order to travel a lot...who knows?! You tell me...
The Threats are then the last part of the S-W-O-T. This is anything that could possibly stand in the way of you achieving your objectives - such as a downturn in the economy for example. If there is a threat of maybe losing your part-time job in the near future, it may mean that you will not be able to find the energy and money you need to put into your new business. Your own personal situation will dictate what is contained in this list of threats.
Once you have completed the SWOT Analysis of your own good self, you should (after going and getting another cup of java...) conduct a similar list with the very same headings, for your business.
Much more fun! You will suddenly find opportunities everywhere, and realise the importance of measuring your threats.
The trick with entrepreneurship is to flip threats around and turn them into opportunities. e.g. If someone just like you went out of business recently, that is not a threat of the current economic climate - it is an opportunity to pinch all their good-paying customers and decent suppliers!
Saturday, March 8, 2008
I've been considering for quite some time whether or not to start a blog. Coming across so many interesting people, businesses, experiences & success stories over the past decade I thought it best to share. So here it is.
With this blog I hope to provide those who want it with a place to come and ask a few questions - mainly on the subject of enterprise.
In my experience it often matters less the identity of the sector in which you operate, but more how you approach it.
I myself am not that interesting. I have studied entrepreneurship, slogged my guts out for a real life entrepreneur and now I work every day with many types of business people, each with their own flair for enterprise. They come to me for advice, even though I have never taken that risk of throwing all my cash & time into a new venture, all of my own. It seems that being a little removed from the harsh realities of self-employment, that seat-of-pants-flying stuff, has given me a great opportunity to observe from the commentator's box.
One day I'll do it myself. For now, I'll just write about it.