Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Where've I been?

Well, working my socks off that's where. But enough of that.

Today, I'm looking over all the #outvesting candidates and trying to find my winners. Had been thinking about five bunches of ten votes then had considered four bunches - one x 20 and three x 10's, then had stopped thinking about that and just opened the spreadsheet with interest.

Lots of debate over on Google groups about what way we should all vote. Merits in all arguments I must say, I'm nervous about a public voting system but also think it's cool, like a little cheerleading squad for the start-up(s) we believe in most.

I am also worried. I know a few businesses there. In person and in Twitter and in Blogworld... So, tough decisions all 'round. Thank goodness I have until Saturday to decide!! Not only which businesses to go for but also which way to vote ;) Would just like to say a huge thank you and well done to John & James for organising it - you guys are pretty marvellous.

In other news... I'm flipping gutted that a certain Ms Kelly has been booted out of the Apprentice. I had been hoping my suspicions were incorrect yesterday but alas... Murmurings on Lucinda's twitter and facebook pages about new business launches and her job at eircom proved that Mr Penny Apples had indeed made the wrong decision (in my humble...) That said, she is making the most of the opportunity (saw her on Ireland am this morning!) and I have every faith that she will be "most likely to succeed" of all the candidates in there. Well gone girl, and best of luck with the new biz!! G'wan the entrepreneurs! Who's taking bets on Lucinda being on the enterprise seminar circuit in no time at all... She's a blogger, too ;)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Testing one for tomorrow

Or do I mean today?

Golly, I just don't know what I mean...

So the plan for this evening is some of this:

While listening to some of this:

Should be fun!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Testing, testing. Blog two three

Evenin' All,

Don't mind me. Running a quick test to see if this Blogpress thing works well or not.

Now to add a photo...

Since this is my first blogpost direct from my lovely iPhone I thought a picture of its box would be appropriate.

Now let's see if this works...

*clicks "Done" button*

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Outvesting is a go, submit your entry by 21st November

Go! Go! Go!

Outvesting is looking for good businesses to invest its first €5,000 in so get going! Submit a form to the organisers by 21st November and let the investors decide who should get the cash injection. There's just a wufoo form you've to fill out...


Now - go go go!

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

Went to see this last night and enjoyed it. Even burst out laughing on one occasion... Guffaw-like.

The movie was - far out - that's the only way I can describe it. It was very out there, even for Terry Gilliam! You could see influence from Monty Python's Flying Circus all over the place. They worked the Heath Ledger/Colin Farrell/Jude Law/Johnny Depp thing extremely well. I don't want to ruin it for anyone else by going into too much detail. Amazing set design, utterly mental costumes and groovy special effects.

A very strange movie but I'm glad I saw it!

Here's the trailer - enjoy -

Monday, October 12, 2009

Irish Web Awards 2009

Mr Mulley has done it again - organised an entire awards ceremony to showcase the best websites out there in a whole range of categories.

Saturday night saw 2009's IWA's take place at the Radisson in Golden Lane, in Dublin. I was gutted not to be able to make it as I had volunteered to be one of their non-IT-person judges. I had found the experience both challenging and fun - it's great to be a part of something good ;)

Full List of winners & sponsors available - here!

Congratulations to all of the award winners - and to the nominees, take it from me... The standard was pretty high and it took ages to grade the top sites in any category. Top class websites all over the place...

Friday, October 9, 2009

Culch.ie's take on Barack Obama and the Nobel Peace Prize

Culch.ie is a groovy website. Some excellently entertaining posts over the months but also some that make you think.

Today had two great ones, both from the same author - Darragh Doyle!

First up to grab my attention was this post on the latest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, El Presidente. Some think it's too soon, I disagree.

Second up from Senor Doyle was an interesting post on blogging and disclosure. Ethics, eh? What a mare! The post was written yesterday but I only saw it today...

May I take this opportunity to stand up and say I'm not sponsored to do any posts on any item here or over at t'other more personal blogaroo. All opinions here are just that - opinion. My own.

So thank you Darragh for bringing a little thought to my day.

*Skips off to high-five the Nobel chaps for some innovative thinking...*

Have a nice weekend!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

TV3 Start Your Own Business Competition

TV3 are running a competition for 5 competitors to battle it out for a start-up prize valued at €50,000, which includes advertising, sales training, IT support services and admin/telephone answering services for a year (or two).

To enter, you have to submit 500 words on your business idea by 22nd October. Strangely, you have to actually write to them - not email, or submit a form... So get your pencils out folks, and get applyin'

Best of luck!!

Further info from the TV3 website...here.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Good news for Small Business

The National Entrepreneurship Strategy is finally coming on stream. Full press release available on the Dept. of Enterprise website, gist of it here:

- The Tánaiste has announced a broadening of the financial supports available for fledgling businesses, from County Enterprise Boards.
- This does not mean that every start-up can apply for funding from CEB's now. Instead, those who were already eligible will have less stringent measures to adhere to.
- Whatever that means...

This seems to be an excuse for the Tánaiste to try and look good after last week's many blunders. This press release seems to be full of...well, nothing really. It's not opening the floodgates of eligibility and allowing every type of business apply for funding but at least it's a step in the right direction.

More info as I get it...

**EDIT** hearing rumours from CEB chums that now rent and wages can be covered in start up grants spanning an initial three-year period...this could be much better news than the press release suggests...sit tight!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Pledge 50 euro by Outvesting

Hello all :)

I would like to draw your attention to this here voluntary initiative:

James Corbett blogs here and is currently championing a bloody good idea. Group investing a small amount so there is not a huge amount of risk per investment, but gives a small business an injection of cash that is much needed - a mere €5,000 to help them on their way. James is gathering 100 people together who are each giving €50- to a business...

Now I don't know any of the details yet but not only is it a fun idea but it is a worthy one. Think of it as charity, think of it as gambling, think of it as chambling or gambity for all I care, I've signed up for it and I love the idea of helping out worthy businesses who have a good idea but are struggling to fund getting the idea to market.

Many of the financial supports that are already out there - from small business loans (ahem, hello bankers) to First Step to the County/City Enterprise Boards to the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance are already helping many fledgling business out, cashwise. A few of them require matching funding. Most people have a bit of savings or can raise a little capital from friends, family and fools - but wouldn't an extra €5k really help the cashflow situation?

So many times a business will apply for funding and only ask for the minimum so that they don't take on more than they can pay back. An extra bit of cash is sometimes all they need to patch each source of finance to the next, in a long line of varied supports.

I commend the chaps over here who spurned the discussion, and brought about this little initiative of James' - let's hope it's not a "little" initiative for too long.

PS. I hope it's open to all sorts of businesses. A lot has been done for start-ups already, I'd love to be involved in keeping something afloat with a new business idea in an existing business... A business that is reinventing itself in the new economy...

**EDIT** I now have a blog to link to about this!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

UCD Alumni Looking for a Female Entrepreneur who recently started up

Today from LinkedIn:

LinkedIn Groups
Group: UCD Business Alumni
Subject: Are you a recent female entrepreneur?
UCD Smurfit School in association with a leading Irish magazine, would like to profile some recent female entrepreneurs. If you have set up your business in the last 12/18 months and would like to be profiled please contact businessalumni@ucd.ie.

We will need a short paragraph on you and your business, along with your degree and year of graduation.

The most appropriate businesses will then be selected for inclusion.

>>> Besht of luck ya'll :)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Lots of business ideas, Inventions and New Services

People get in contact with me every day about a new idea they have had - they want to see if there is a business to by found in their idea.

I'm sorry if this sounds harsh but I must be honest. Most fantastical ideas have been thought of by now. For every new invention, there are usually lots of previous attempts. Most of them will have failed, and a few will have found success a lot less lucrative than originally anticipated.

Don't think I'm harsh - if you have a new idea, test it out. Not on your friends and family who may not want to hurt your feelings, but head to the next county, find your ideal target market - age demographic/gender/financial background - and really test it out with people you don't know, people who will be honest with you. Sometimes you need to take that scary step - don't worry, if your idea truly is as brilliant and as you believe it is, having an anonymous focus group reinforce your opinion will only be a good thing.

The way to protect your idea before you unleash a crude prototype on people you don't know, is to registered-post the designs to yourself and lock the unopened envelope away in a safe somewhere. If the time comes, a judge will open the envelope in court and go "ahoy ahoy, this idea certainly seems to be yours, good sir/madam..."

Be warned though, an idea or concept cannot be protected by copyright (disclaimer: I am not qualified in law, I just found all this out over time) - it is easier to copyright a design, painting, photograph, poem, song...

When it comes to protecting your Intellectual Property, there are many options open to you. Copyright, doesn't cost a jot. You don't have to buy the rights to use the copyright symbol (c), you just use it as a reminder to anyone checking out your product, that you are the sole owner of the property and you are aware of your rights.

Patents are expensive. There are not a lot of patent lawyers out there so the few that are, are busy and can charge as such. It is a valuable asset, a patent, so you need to be aware that it takes investment of both time and money to properly protect your idea. The thing about patents, is that they are registered in categories and by country. So, that can mean you could register your product in 5 or 6 categories, in the EU only or Ireland only or just in the UK and Ireland or in the EU and the US but not in Australia - you have so many decisions to make when considering patent protection. The best thing is to take some time out and search through the Patents Office website - they have lots of information there about how you can protect your idea.

If you have a service, which doesn't give you the facility to register a design - what can you do? Well, one option is to develop an excellent brand and register that instead - as a trade mark. You know Coca-Cola, the world's most recognisable brand? It doesn't have patent protection. It has registered the trade mark - have a look at the next can of coke you see, it will have a little (R) beside the brand somewhere. The thing about patenting, is that you are writing down your idea, therefore when the patent runs out - and they do - it will be anybody's gain. Coca-Cola have never registered a patent for their magic ingredient, simply because they never want anyone else to know what it is. So think about patenting before you do it - is it the best route to take? Think about the long-term plans and implications for the decisions you make now. Look at McDonalds - their greatest asset is their brand. Best option? Trademark.

Before you go to the expense of organising all your trademark categories for all the countries in which you see your product/service selling, you can use the (TM) after your brand. Properly protecting something means having registered it, which is why Coca-Cola have the (R) not a (TM) here in little old Ireland.

So that's three main options you have when protecting your intellectual property - copyright, trademark, patent.

There are guidelines available here for protecting your idea in Europe.

Copyright Association
2 Patent Attorney Firms I have had dealings with - in Dublin and in Wicklow
Patent Office, Ireland - Kilkenny, actually, some lovely helpful people down there!
EU Patents Office
World Intellectual Property Organisation - in Geneva, Switzerland
OHIM - for registering trademarks and designs in all 27 member states

Friday, August 28, 2009

Festival of World Cultures 2009

Hooray, it's that time of year again...

No I'm not talking about the kids going back to school and the traffic getting appalling again, I'm referring to: this... An opportunity to put the traffic and schools to the furthest part of your mind!

I'm in the county this time! Can't wait to head down and sample the delights. I love wandering around Dun Laoghaire at the best of times but once a year it gets really, really good - you just can't beat a carnival atmosphere to make you realise how much fun Dublin can be.

Whether you are looking for alternative gift ideas, to sample new food curiosities, to listen to different music, to party or really just the opportunity to soak up some atmosphere, head down to the Festival of World Cultures in Dun Laoghaire this weekend. Finish off the "official" summer on a high! You know it means the sun will come out next week anyway...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I've changed my Occupation

...to Small Business Agony Aunt. Because it's true!

Someone encounters a hurdle as they start/run their small business and they come to me. I suggest alternative routes - around, under, break through said hurdle... I have realised it before I just think it's becoming more and more true lately. I'm not just signposting anymore, I'm actually helping. It's nice.

Previous titles have included:
- silver-lining finder
- dragon without a rubel
- angel in disguise (i.e. no funds, just advice,haha)
- volunteer ass-kicker, steel toes as required
- soggy-shoulder owner

Now I just have the occasional white hair and the marginal increase in wrinkles. I am so privaleged to help people, I just hope I do make a small difference to some business lives out there. Apologies if this comes across as naval-gazing.

Happy almost-Friday everyone.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Please wake up and Smell the Recession

I spent three hours working hard with someone this morning who walked out of the meeting with nothing. Therefore I walked out with nothing. What is the point of trying so hard to help someone inject some strategic thinking into their business if they refuse to take any of the suggestions on board?

Pardon my tone of dejection but it has been a while since I met such an ostrich. No offence to any real ostriches out there reading this here blog ;o)

It is a long time since I've seen such an enthusiastic approach to head-burying.

Take a business, over 20 years in operation. When they started up they were pretty much the only operators in their field - well done, blue ocean etc., marvellously opportunistic.

5 years on, the Celtic Tiger arrived and the business grew organically by word of mouth, and has continued to do so since then. (Cue thoughts of "is that it? Could they not have grown some more?" and yes I would agree but I'll get back to today...)

They have never had to go out and look for business in their life - not once. It has all sort of just landed on their doorstep - OMG what luck.

And what happens now?
They are now not alone in their market. Lots of other - business hungry - people have entered their area of expertise over the last 20 years and what's more, they're good at it.

What ever about the alarming fact that this morning's "business" person did not even know who their closest competitor was (how have they survived!!) - my main worry was providing them with the basic tools they need to survive from here on in. They need to drastically change their strategy and start listening to their customers. At the moment they are manufacturing product and simply waiting for the clients to come along and buy it, without finding out if they want the stuff in the first place!

A bit of research, a bit of listening, a bit of reflexion wouldn't go amiss. This morning was just soul-destroying: at every opportunity the business person turned around and told me all about how they have operated in business up to this point. They are worried and stressed all the time, haven't paid themselves a wage in over 12 months and called me up asking for help. If they had the good sense to ask for help, why wouldn't they listen? I was so confused...

I think I have it now though. I just don't think their heart is in it. Looking for work now is too much effort for them - they have only survived because running a business until last year was easy for them. Rethinking strategies, networking, doing a simple competitor analysis, a SWOT on their own business, looking at trends in their marketplace - all too much like hard work, not at all appealing.

My goodness. It really is a wonder they got this far!

Rant over, apologies one and all...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Which is your favourite Blog?

Mine's the Lemonaders, they be cool - in my humble hopp-in-onion.

What do I like about them?

They're fun. They're real. They be pals. They write about fun things that are usually normal enough ;o)

T-Cup and Kitty Cat are 27 and 25 respectively, and write about their lives mostly. Their likes, dislikes, travel plans, fashion passions and footwear fetishes.

I do like my rant-y blogs, don't get me wrong, but I can always count on the Red Lemonaders for that bit of upbeat sparkle in my week. Thank you ladies!

Just call me Graham

Because here I am with a quick reminder...

The SEEDCORN Competition is closing next month. If you have not yet started to prepare your application please take a look soon - I underestimate the time it takes to do a business plan. It's important to make it as good as possible. The last BP I did took 11 revisions before I sent it out to be read by anybody else so imagine how long that took. (Three months).

Seriously, if you're looking for funding, consider Seedcorn - what have you got to lose?

The other one usually around this time of year is the Shell Livewire Awards, although I haven't heard much about them this time around. Whatever about the awards, the Shell Livewire online community is a great resource for budding entrepreneurs - it's a little less stuffy than other online resources, it's for the under-30's. I also like peeking at the site occasionally simply for inspiration! Some ideas are so quirky, I love it :)

Whatever you decide, good luck with any new business ideas you might be having just now... Personally, I'm working on a chocolate truffle recipe ;) hehe

Bizcamp Dublin

OK I'd been holding off for confirmation of a family "doo" before signing up for this and as it happens, the do is "on" so Bizcamp has been erased from my diary. ~sadface~

At the Guinness Storehouse on Saturday 19th September, a bunch of interesting business folk will gather round for what seems like an injection of inspiration when I look at the lineup. Well over 200 people have signed up for the conference, which is set up with a community vibe - those interested in attending will also be sharing (not making sales pitches, mind!) - and you can find a list of who to expect chattering away, here. By the way...it's totally FREE due to the organisers working hard to secure sponsorship (yes, sponsorship - imagine how hard THAT task has been in the current climate!) - from the likes of Bank of Ireland and Microsoft...

I'm pretty gutted I can't make it. I was unable to attend the last one due to academic reasons and although this reason is more fun, I'm still sorry there's a clash in the diary...

Here's a vid on what to expect which I pinched from the Bizcamp site this morning...

Saturday, August 8, 2009


Can I just say...

That yes I am AWARE that this blog is completly random. Some of it is fun-related and some of it enterprise. Hope you don't mind - I don't.

It's just a bit of fun really.

That is all. I wish you all a happy weekend.

On being Interviewed in the Bath by Terry Wogan. A lá Committments.

It has arrived at last. Fame. Oh, and Terry Wogan interviewing me in the bath.

Terry: So MJ, you've come to the end of your dissertation, come away from the Thesis Centre in Camden St with a few scars. Tell us about it.
Me: Well Terry, for some reason I thought it would be a good idea to do some research into the manufacturing industry. What with it being in trouble 'n' all, I hoped to help it along by finding some success routes for those that have stayed the course thusfar.
Terry: And what did you find out MJ?
Me: That it was not a good idea. My life has had to go pretty much on hold for the past year, and I'm not sure it was worth it.
Terry: Why so?
Me: Because I'm not sure anyone is actually going to read the damn thing.
Terry: You've lost faith in your findings already, so soon after publication?
Me: Not at all Terry, I've lost faith in other people's interest. My findings are fcuking amazing, I'm a fricking genius.
Terry: Well of course, of course...
Me: I found out that some fellas have the balls to go for it, and others are just ok ticking along.
Terry: Right, well, that's hardly scientific, is it?
Me: It was fricking case study based research Terry, it doesn't have to be scientific, that's the beauty of it. It's all down to interpretation. Gleaning from it whateverthefrick you want. Know what I mean?
Terry: How long did it take you to conduct the research?
Me: Well you know Terry, there had to be a few months of procrastinating in there, no good academic research is worked on consistently. Any PhD-person will tell you that. It needs a bit of...panic, drive, you know what I mean?
Terry: I think I do...
Me: So after p*ssing about for three months, I did a bit of a Literature Review. Picked a few holes in what others had done in the area.
Terry: That sounds good -
Me: Yep, that made me feel great so I p*ssed around for another few months doing sweet FA, then decided to get my finger out and conduct a few interviews.
Terry: Remarkable.
Me: Indeed Terry, indeed. I asked a few questions, prodded a few sore points and tried to get to the bottom of a few questions my research supervisor had mentioned. Transcribed the whole thing and eh, well...
Terry: What?
Me: Honestly? I stared at it for another while. Couldn't figure out how the hell to get from 40-pages of notes to a graph or barchart of any kind.
Terry: So what did you do?
Me: I looked in a few books, asked the supervisor a few questions that caused his eyes to roll heavenward.
Terry: And?
Me: I decided to ignore him completely and went off on a tangeant that got me to my 20-odd-thousand word limit.
Terry: Incredible.
Me: I know, I'm a fricking genius, like I said. An academic marvel, if you will.
Terry: That's one way of looking at it.
Me: I'm looking forward to results day and graduation. Should be a hell of a bender.
Terry: Is there anyone you want to thank now?
Me: Well of course! The makers of coffee, for one... My supervisor for not openly judging me. My friends, family and random strangers on Twitter who have kept me entertained when I was meant to be working. My better half for turning a blind eye when I scoffed ALL the chocolate in the house and then yelled at him for no apparent reason. Often.
Terry: And what is to come of your findings now, now that the class has disbanded. What will happen to your research findings?
Me: I'm fcuked if I know Terry. Have you any chocolate?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

National Pride

Went to see this recently. Shivers, spine, etc.

Evokes a memory or two that is worth awakening, IMHO.

For the first time it occurred to us as a nation that we could actually be sexy... That Irish dancing wasn't twee... That we had such a lot to be proud of. That we had so much potential.

And then we unleashed it! I'd love it if we could get back to that. The pride in our own ability, taken with a pinch of humility that didn't make us too big for our boots.

I hope we can get back to that. To being a great little nation.

Have a look - I hope you enjoy it!

The Irish Times has a lovely montage of the show backstage at the Gaiety Theatre. You can view it here.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Charles Dance as Lord Vetinari!

How cool will that be?

This is taken from this morning's edition of Discworld Monthly...

Sky1 will be showing Going Postal in Easter 2010. The latest cast
list is as follows:

Richard Coyle - Moist Von Lipwig
David Suchet - Reacher Gilt
Charles Dance - Lord Vetinari
Claire Foy - Adora Belle Dearheart
Andrew Sachs - Tolliver Groat
Tamsin Greig - Miss Cripslock
Steve Pemberton - Rufus Drumknott
John Henshaw - Mr Pony
Madhav Sharma - Horsefry
Jimmy Yuill - Mr Spools
Ian Bonar - Stanley
Paul Barber - Dave
Adrian Schiller - Gryle
Daniel Cerquiera - Trooper
Ingrid Bolso Berdal - Sergeant Angua
Kerry Shale - Mr Pump (voice)
Ben Crompton - Mad Al
Asif Khan - Sane Alex
Alex Parks - Roger
Sheila Shand Ginns - Old Lady

Again more details at

*sigh* now we have to wait until Easter...

I heart DW
I heart PTerry


That will be all for the moment!

*** pic robbed from Wayne

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Business Banking in Ireland

I'm getting some great questions lately and an old one came up quite recently. It was: Which bank should I set up with as I start my new business?

There is no one bank I could heartily recommend over another - mainly because I am not familiar enough with all the running charges in every type of business - retail, B2B, online, international - all businesses need different services from a bank so there is no one answer for everything.

What I can tell you is that where one bank has smaller charges, they will probably charge more in other areas, so it will take a small exercise to get a proper balance on what bank is best for your business specifically.

If you have been working in a similar business to the type you are setting up, have a look through old statements, making a note of every single charge there. If you can't tap into something like that, then really focus on the operational side of your business and think of every possible area you might need to use the services of a bank. For example if you are setting up an online shop then you will need to talk to the bank plus someone like Elavon plus someone like Realex to get everything up and running. Apart from making all three of their systems integrate with your own system. Sigh!

In simple terms, do up a spreadsheet and mark down what your needs will be, then pick up the phone and call the commercial department in three or four banks to see what they charge. Some of them will no doubt tell you that they will charge you zero on various items for the first two years - take down what the costs will be in year three for your comparison.

I suspect you will find they are all on a par by the time you weigh everything up. Ulster Bank and the Bank of Ireland have been fighting hard for Start-Up business in recent years, so they will be quite competitive in the short term - that is why I advise you to check the associated costs in year three! The same goes for the saving element. If a bank is quoting you a great interest rate, check for how long they are willing to offer it, and what are the penalties for dipping into savings if needs be.

The other important factor of course is the relationship you have with your bank. You need to be able to trust your bank manager and not be afraid to call them when something goes wrong. If you have developed a good relationship with AIB for example but would like to move to another bank, make sure they have a personal touch in the bank you are moving to, so that you can call them for advice as quickly as you can call them to flag any upcoming issues such as repayments on loans.

The final thing I'll say to you is - haggle! Banks desperately need to make money at the moment so they won't be giving their services away for free - but then, you wouldn't either, so why should they? At the same time, they are hungry for business so don't be afraid to play one off the other and get them down as far as possible on their charges.

Good luck!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Seedcorn Time for 2009

Can't believe it's rolled around again but there you go, time flies.

The InterTrade Ireland Seedcorn Competition is open for the summer - application deadline is not until September 25th but if you want to be in the running for some of the €360,000 that is up for grabs you should start working on your application - business plan, cashflows etc. yesterday! If you need help getting the application ready I'd say your local County/City Enterprise Board would be delighted to help... It's always good to let a pair of trustworthy fresh eyes take a glance over a business plan and give you some pointers on where to improve. With this "economic situation" I would imagine the competition will be teeming with entries.

Good luck to everybody entering, may the best businesses shine through!

InterTrade Ireland Info

Application Bits

Prize Details etc

Coffee Break Recommendation

I read a great (very long!) blog post about one person's experience as an entrepreneur. It's like a mini-bio, of both the business and the man behind it. I wanted to flag it here because it echoes one strong piece of advice that I am hearing from the most successful entrepreneurs that I know, all the time: when you start a business, go and speak to other entrepreneurs face-to-face and learn everything you can from them. Don't stop doing that when you have started and are successfully up & running - keep having those quick coffees face-to-face with the best people in your business - your contacts.

A few really great business people have said that to me over the years and it's true - you will glean more from an hour face-to-face than a day on the phone or even on Twitter!

Have a read of this with a big cup of coffee, it's long but it's worth it - lots of food for thought! Most interestingly, he doesn't hate VC's!! Has some great tips on how to handle them...

I'll stop rambling here now and direct you to the good stuff: SEOmoz's Blogpost, "My Startup Experience" - enjoy!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Em, Jay?

My tzoodonym is MJ, nothing to do with the MJ everybody's been talking about this past week but a happy coincidence nonetheless. It's really funny (for me) to see "MJ" in the top trending topics on Twitter! Ahem, I don't get out much, sorry!

So just because, I'm putting up a vid of Mr MJ proper. A guilty indulgence. My first ever album was BAD which I bought with my own saved up pocket money when I was 8 years old. It was on cassette. I had a crush on him (oh the shame) and wanted to dance like him until my feet fell off.

Had the privalege of seeing him in the RDS in 1997. I have a blue bracelet to show how close I got. When he hung over the front of the crown on a crane-arm-thingie during Earthsong I was right below his feet. His socks were of course white & sparkely, but what I remember distinctively is that his black shoes were so well worn they looked like the most comfortable footwear in the universe. I remember thinking how much of a perfectionist he must have been - his show was faultless and the wear of his shoes proved how much he had practiced. Even someone who had been dancing for the public since he was 6 years old had to work superhard to be that good.

I've been to concerts before and since, but never was there one like it. Magic.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Nails Inc - I'm an Idiot!

For someone always going on about value for money, I'm shocked at how silly I was on Saturday.

A week ago I sampled 2 of the new yummies from Nails Inc, namely Savoy Court (mmm, purple) and The Strand (kinky pinky).

So anyway, last Saturday I was in town dashing in & out of shops through the rainfeast, and popped in to get the purple one. Mmm... I grabbed the little box and handed over my little plastic pin-protected pal to the lovely ladies in BT's.

Holy crap, €23 for a little nailpolish?! I went the colour of Drury Lane (above) and just keyed in my pin. Ashamed at the careless spend.

Then I went to a party and told of my shame over a glass of something bubbly and the looks I got where quite a picture.

This is me, who goes on and on about the joys of awear being online etc... Why didn't I just go onto their website?

3 for £20 sounds MUCH better, doesn't it? Idiot, me.

And all this the same week as the results were out in Europe for online shoppers, and guess who's addicted the most? We are!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Fine Gael Manifesto - power to the who now?

I would like to direct you to point 1.2.8 in the FG manifesto - "Merge all city and county enterprise boards into Local Government"

There are 35 County and City Enterprise Boards (CEBs) located in each Local
Government area. The role of the Boards is to develop indigenous enterprise potential, to stimulate economic activity (via grants and training programmes) local level and to promote micro-enterprises that employ ten or less. Exchequer funding is allocated by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment via Enterprise Ireland. The functions of the city and county enterprise boards are broadly duplicated by other economic development agencies operating within the same sphere. The boards are made up of local Councillors, representatives of state agencies and the social partners. While input from industry and sector experts is highly valued the responsibility for the delivery of service should again be with the elected Councillors. It cost nearly €40 million to administer the City and County Enterprise Boards over the past three years. These savings could be used to help fund the merging of responsibilities and staff into the Local Government structure.

Ahem. So they're going to save money by cutting them out, then put the same money back into local government to run the same operation but hidden within the echelons of the mysterious county councils.

What's the point?

Then of course, with all independent (voluntary) non-political board members gotten rid of, it'll leave the "trusty" councillors to administer grant aid. Regardless of eligibility or ethics, I am sure. We already know that politicians and money DO NOT MIX so why rely on politicians to decide who is eligible for funding and who is not? What the hell do they know about running businesses?

For the record they also plan to get rid of LEADER &/or Partnership groups in the same breath (point 1.2.9) suggesting that their work is duplicated - but they don't clarify by who. Right. Say that to the countless number of businesses that have thrived on the support of the likes of LEADER groups who have thrice the budgets of CEB's.

What the frick are they thinking?

It's not money saving, it's moving the money around under another name. We've already had a huge fcukup doing this with the new name of the "fantastical" HSE when we all know that they're just the regional health boards under a different ridiculous guise.

For the love of the sungods, if you are going to do something radical do something good that makes sense and really saves money without robbing people of the supports they need to start, grow and develop businesses all over the country.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Enterprise Inspiration

I have pinched this from Le Craic because it's just bril...

Positive. Mental. Attitude.

Love it :)

Happy Friday Ya'll

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A little humour/reality, depending on your perspective

I'm spending time learning about culture at the moment. Hofstede and his frameworks, they're just thrilling you know.

Hofstede's most well known framework contains 4 indices:
1) Individualism - Collectivism
2) Power Distance
3) Uncertainty Avoidance
4) Masculinity - Femininity

What has this got to do with the price of oats, you ask? Not a lot.

The last one might be worth thinking about when you see this though - tis flying round tinterweb at the moment and is mildly amusing. Cue smug lady-smiles...

Caption: "Bill thought he was the President, too."


That will be all for now. Toodle-oo.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Wouldn't you love to be Nestlé?

I read in the Irish Times this morning that Nestle's first quarter sales are only down by 2.1% - not so much down to recession but a late Easter & a strong CHF. In the Reuters report, analysts are quoted saying that the company is "well positioned to ride out the recession compared to its rivals due to its comprehensive range of products and wide geographical presence."


Wouldn't you love to be so successful that you had a finger in every pie, in every price bracket, in every market? A simple lesson for us all there methinks.

I think I'll go make myself another Nespresso to make myself feel better.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Is that a flicker of light I see before me?

Has anyone else noticed that the moaning and groaning has quietened to a gentle hum, of late?

It's quite nice, isn't it? I much prefer the general feeling of "ah well, let's just get on with it," rather than everyone from the lady at the supermarket to the man behind the radio mic giving out about anything they can think of. At least we'll get on with it avec sonrise and sure why not.

Why not indeed! It's a bad time for banks but it's a great time for loads of other people. For Sale signs have been replaced outside homes with skips and builders' bums. Honest hardworking tradespeople are out-the-door busy. No this is not second hand, I've spoken to many of them myself! They're flipping delighted that people have stopped just throwing away broken items or moving when the house gets too small. Instead, we're all fixing things and extending or redecorating. And when we balls it up we call in the proper chaps and they're only delighted to help.

Woodie's, B&Q, Homebase - they're all raking it in! I would say the owners of Aldi and Lidl are rolling around their boardroom floors with glee. And sure why not, someone may as well give us what we want - value for money - and get something in return. Custom.

There's an article in today's Irish Times about whose sales are up at the moment. Apparently, the cinema takings in Ireland are the hightes ever recorded which is just marvellous... Ticket sales hit €1.7 million in January. Wowzers!

It reminded me of an interview with a good brain I heard last week, which I sadly haven't had time to flag here. Peter Sutherland was on RTE on Thursday 9th April - you may have heard it or heard about it, but you should listen to it, I really recommend it. No need to seek it out, here's the link - as usual you have to sit through the news first but it's worth it. Everybody needs to hear this. It makes so much sense!

Sudds came across as reasonable, logical and calm as he explained the economic reality of where we stand at the moment. We were one of the highest performing economies in the world, let's not forget that. He may have used the word resilient about how we are at the moment - with strong industries in pharma & IT keeping us charging ahead. The best point he made was a comparison with us and other European countries. If our standard of living has reduced, so has everybody else's, so we're still floating on the surface. In fact apparently, other countries' standards of living have decreased more than hours, so there are others in a worse position.

The underlying message was one of "Don't Panic" - we're still well off as a nation and the recent defecits in public accounts will work themselves out. It's economics!

Recent interest in the property sector in the UK is a signifier of positive outlooks for the rest of us. The graph is starting to creep upward, if ever so gently. Like a meek kitten looking up after it has been scolded. House prices are bottoming out. It will soon be time to start pouncing on good value wherever you see it. If you've been looking and wondering, I hope you're ready! Crikey, I'm almost tempted to get a second mortgage and snap up a few bargains. Almost.

Our glasses are all half full. And if I'm not mistaken about the twinkle at the end of the tunnel, they're slowly starting to fill past the halfway mark. Ahoy there...I think I'll have a glass of that please...

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Marching to our own Beat

It has been such a month.

The raw anger from January and February seems to have dissipated into a whole new attitude around here. Into something like -

- Well there's not a shagging lot of good any of us can do about it what with nobody bloody listening to us anyway so we may as well just get on with it.

And I like it. I have been droning on amongst friends and family (with whom I have spend most of March...yes, I've been MIA from here for a while...) about how marvellous 2 particular days were for Ireland Inc.

Tuesday 17th March. Cue the sunshine. Beered up growd-ups and sugared-up kiddleywinks. Green body paint, glitter, feathers and fluff. Flags. Smiles. Laughter. The most cheerful buzz that I have noticed in Dublin City for many, many months.

Saturday 21st March. Cue the anguish, the nerves, the anticipation, the prayers and the urgency of hope that spread throughout every pub in the country. I haven't prayed that hard in a long, long time.

- pleaseGodpleaseGodpleaseGodpleaseGodpleaseGodpleaseGod let this happen for Ireland we really need it everyone's so glum this would be just magic pleaseGodpleaseGodpleaseGod -

Cue history, tears, shock, amazement, joy and one of the best days for being Irish which I will cherish always. Mostly because I luckily got to share it with lots of people who I love to pieces and haven't seen enough of lately. I'd been missing them, and now it's all good.

I nearly welled up with hope on Paddy's Day when I saw crowds of smiling faces flooding through the city's streets after the big parade was over. Happy people, full of joy and excitement. A little bit of sunshine mixed in with remembering the good parts of being Irish, all rolled up into one. Magic.

Followed by the day that brought tears to George Hook's eyes and mine, and made him wear a silly hat and not care a jot.

Such pride. Such pride.

And now? Time for what? Determination. We've all had enough of the negativity. Reaction to picturegate is enough to remind us that the backbone of our little isle lies firmly within ourselves. Nobody else. Feck the government, let's just do it. Get ourselves out of the mess, drive forward and get back to what we do best. Most things, as it happens.

March is a good month.

Monday, March 2, 2009

EU Funding

It appears that news stories featuring small businesses & the help available from Europe are like the 46A...none for ages and then 2 come along at once.

Not long after I had the pleasure of posting this about the European Commission, I find something else to be cheerful about.

I have just started following Eoin Ryan on Twitter (I posted about that last week too) and found this interesting tit bit - the European Investment Fund's new programme, called Jeremie.

Think not that I am nailing political support to any flagpoles - this I will never do. I'm too flaky. I am, however, delighted that anyone at all is starting the odd initiative that actually might bring some good to the small and micro enterprise sector. Hoo-bleedin-rah I say. It's not like we don't need it!

So - Jeremie - stands for the Joint European Resources for Micro to Medium Enterprises. No wonder they abbreviated it. I won't ramble about which EU Fund it's coming from (Structural) but the basic gist is that rather than getting a once-off grant, money will be invested, and then can be reinvested in the same business at a later date. The money is not then linked to a specific project, just the financial health of an enterprise.

This makes a lot of sense, since at the moment you have to be incurring a specific cost in your near future when you apply to EI or a CEB. They always ask "well, what do you need the money for?" when truthfully you just need to be keeping your cashflow healthy and could do with a boost.

Now just to clarify - none of the details have been churned out yet. I'm trying very hard to gag the cynic in me that thinks this in reality this will take so long to put in place that the recession will be over by then, or that the hoops and loops people will have to jump through to get the finance in the first place will still be a pain in the -

But! I am tentatively thrilled that something is happening on the funding front. Hopefully it will come to something - at the moment they are only talking about "a range of financial instruments" so when I hear more I will elaborate!

Oh goodie for more good news... On a Monday too! The shock.


Footnote of Great Import:

JEREMIE funds are not issued directly to small businesses (SMEs).SMEs should therefore not apply to EIF or the EC for financial support.In due course, SMEs interested in obtaining finance will be able to identify and contact financial intermediaries in their countries based on information provided in this website, which will be provided as and when the JEREMIE initiative becomes active in Member States and Regions.

Last Wednesday's Irish Times

A bit behind - as always - I am surprised and shocked at the Irish Times publishing such an article. Interesting way to work at increasing circulation!

Apparently it's all our fault, ladies! We work, therefore we earn. With 2 incomes, the family's standard of living gets nice 'n' high - too high. We're the ones who love shopping & spending, right? So the glass ceiling which has just shattered is all our fault. Don't believe me? I wouldn't either.

Have a read, here. The article comes with a health warning - have a cuppa beside you and a smile on your face before reading! Newton Emerson (author) is a satirist from Northern Ireland. So I'm going to assume that this article appears tongue in cheek.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Good News for Small Business!

You may have spotted this on the news during the week - Brussels are trying to make life easier for people running small businesses. They are hoping to do away with the rule that annual returns have to be made with the Companies Registration Office for every Limited Company operating in Ireland. The new, better, regulations are going to be all over Europe of course, but here's what it means for us...

If you are running a Ltd. Co. and have annual turnover of less than €1,000,000, you will not have to make an annual return to the CRO. At least that is what I understood from RTE...

This process is one of the costs that a company is burdened with, a cost that sometimes makes people decide to run a Sole Trader business rather than an Ltd. from the get go. It can range from €1,000 upwards - a lot of smaller business like to get their trusted accoutant to do it for them, which is where the costs come in. It also takes up quite a bit of time - paperwork of course - so hopefully this ruling will mean that businesses can get back to running efficiently.

Ryanair are doing away with check-in desks to make themselves more effiecient and cost effective - here is what small businesses can do - soon, I hope.

To get the full information, read about the European Commission's proposal on EU Business.

Just to clarify, this "return" is different to the submission of Annaul Accounts to the CRO, which Ltd. Co's don't have to do unless their turnover hits €7,300,000 which is pretty great too... For more information on that one, hit the CRO website.

It's nice to see someone being practical and proactive about reducing small business costs! It's getting easier to start up a Ltd Co...hoorah.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Twit Much?

It's funny, but since so many people are talking about Twitter - on the radio, on the tellybox, in newspapers and in the pub - you would think that everyone knew what it was by now.

I've had to explain it lots of times recently. Me, who only started tweeting at the beginning of January. One of my new year's resolutions that has not failed!! (Ahem - please note - I was still only in the first 40k to follow Mr Stephen Fry, just to put things in perspective...)

When George Hook and Rick O'Shea both tweeted directly at me today, I thought I better start sharing so that other people could get all excited for no reason on a random Wednesday afternoon.

So. Twitter. What the hell is this twitter business?

Well, if you take something like a status update from Facebook, and merge it with the concept of blogging, then you have the mashup of fun that is twitter.

It's defined as "micro-blogging" - in other words, you pop your thoughts online for others to see, you just have an SMS amount of character spaces to do it in!

In sum...
+ + =

Anyhoo, there are lots of people on Twitter these days, average people, big people, small people and famous people. Some of the famous ones are fun to follow, and a little inspirational at times.

I really liked John Cleese's Happy New Year message - or "tweet" - it was: may your new year's flatulence be tuneful and fragrantly innoffensive

You can follow him, here: @JohnCleese

What is following?

Well, it's just the name given to...signing up to hear what other people are saying - like seeing your Friends' status updates on Facebook. You click "Follow" on someone's page, and all of a sudden your own homepage will include everything they say/tweet.

The Hookie Monster has two Twitter accounts, this one gets more action though: @ghook
Rick tweets quite a bit during his broadcasts: @rickoshea

For obvious reasons I love keeping up to date with this marvellous man. He doesn't tweet often, but when he does it's always something groovy. @richardbranson

There are tons of others to follow if you find them interesting. Don't worry that you have to follow everyone who follows you, a lot of strange beings start following you just to get you to follow them back - then they proceed to spam-tweet with so much crap....pay no attention. Have a look at their page, if it looks dull, don't bother following! A good clue to their spam-potential is that they are literally following thousands, but only have a few followers themselves.

From a business perspective, Twitter is a great way for your customers to get in touch with you, and for you to let them know what's going on with you. I started following @VodafoneIreland and asked them a few questions - which they replied to. It's just good business... I've changed to o2 but that's not the point ;)

Business is all about staying in touch. You can talk to experts like @damienmulley about how to really do all modes of social media well, but at least with Twitter you can dip your own toe in the murky waters and find out for yourself. DIY = not costing a fortune. And at least you'll know what they are talking about when you do start speaking to the experts about these things...

Happy Twittering!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Could you be your own boss?

Enterprise Guru Brian O'Kane has done it again... (cue cheesey lines such as hot off the press and things like finger on the pulse etc. etc...)

Fresh for January he had a new book out, one entitled Could You Be Your Own Boss? which is published by his own house, Oak Tree Press, based in Cork. Brian has written it for people who have never thought of enterprise before. Those for whom self employment was never on the long finger, or niggling at the back of their minds. Now, the recently redundant just might have to turn to themselves for their income.

This little book retails at €7.50 - not bad says you - and he's running workshops around the place to talk about enterprise as an option. It's like a pre-Start Your Own Business course. Well let's face it, a 4-day or 8-night training course is a bit much to sign up for when you're not really sure if it's for you.

I've read the book and it is thankfully written in plain English. None of your jargon here, matey. No I don't have shares in the printing press, I just think it's a groovy little book and it only has about 50 pages so it won't take long to read. Then, if you feel the enterprise flame looking for some air inside you, you can look up more information.

On a much more exciting note, Brian has started blogging! Hoorah for more blogs about Enterprise. Especially the ones written in plain English ;)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Twenty's New Business Idea

It's not bad!

Go, have a read. He's a blogger, he's a writer, but he's also too lazy to go and start this new business, so he's putting his idea out there ;)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Banks

This is just a quick post because I'm swamped! Sorry I have been neglecting this blog lately, it's the silliest time to be letting posts lapse, just when the number of people enquiring about starting a business is on the up and up.

I just wanted to express something very, very important.

The Banks Are Not Saying No

I could just strangle the media. Scaremongering to sell papers, because it's a recession, they need to keep their jobs and so they need to keep selling papers/ad-space online. There are a few voices of reason out there but the majority of news bulletins that the masses listen to/read/watch are all very negative, doom and gloom. As a result, many people are not approaching the bank for a simple overdraft facility to get them up and running, or even a small business loan to get a new premises kitted out. Why? Because - well, what's the point? They'll just say no. Try it. Please. It will be worth it. They are still open - especially for businesses.

I have heard from a lot of positive people who are excited to be finally started that business they were always thinking about (recession = little push they needed), that the banks are saying yes, within reason. If you are not asking for a massive business loan, Branch Managers have the authority to approve applications. That means it doesn't have to go to Credit Committee up in The Big Smoke. I'm talking about something less than €30k here. Statistics (I know, I know) say that on average it costs just under €25k to start a business. When you think about ALL the businesses you could start - from window cleaning to high tech software design - a €25k average is pretty great. If you have even a small redundancy package, approach your bank with a clear, concise business plan and see what they say. What's the worst that could happen? If they say no, you're in exactly the same place as you were before you went in, no big swing. If they say yes...

Good odds. I'd give it a whirl.

So who to go to?

It is vital that if you are thinking about starting a new business, you think about the finances. Approach your bank, the one you already have an existing relationship with. Business is ALL about contacts and relationships, so rather than start an uphill battle with a whole new person/institution - give your old reliable a try.

That said, if they high-ball you with interest rates, fees & charges, go elsewhere. Don't be afraid to shop around and go back to you existing bank, letting them know that you will swap your allegiance to suit your new pinched purse strings.

On a serious note...

If they do say no: ask them why. Don't waste your visit. They might have a very good reason for not supporting you to start a business that they are pretty sure will fail. Nobody wants to see any more of that! If they don't want to risk their money - why should you? Are there things they're not telling you? Why not ask? Perhaps - for example - let's say you want to open a certain type of shop on the corner of a certain street in your village or suburb. The bank says no. Don't take it personally!! Please don't walk away taking nothing from the meeting. Ask, why? What do they know that you don't know? The truth might be that there has been a long string of businesses who tried to start a retail unit there, but they kept failing, time after time, no matter what the product/service. Perhaps it has terrible parking, so there is a low footfall. Perhaps they know of three other similar businesses about to start down the road, and they know that the local market cannot sustain another one?

What I'm trying to say in a rambly way...was...keep all your doors open, talk to all your contacts, learn as much as you can from everyone that just might come in useful... And remember - the BANKS ARE NOT CLOSED!!! Go for it.

This was meant to be a quick one...sheesh!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Business Talk

So John Murray from RTÉ got in touch with Santa and made him put a copy of his book, "Now that's what I call Jargon," in my Christmas stocking. It adds to the ever increasing pile of books on my nightstand/kitchen table/car's glove compartment/desk/bedroom shelves/kitchen shelves/sitting room shelves... So I finally got around to finishing it yesterday morning.

It has a promising starting, taking the mickey out of a decent selection of public figures - CEO's, County Managers, Councillors - and of course the politicians.

Yes, I would have to say the introduction is pretty funny.

Then there are of course chapters, each one covering a different topic. HR, for example. John rambles on for an age in each one, simply giving tons of examples showing how those featured in broadcasting and print media spend a lot of time saying nothing. Really? My gosh, I hadn't noticed!

I was hoping the book would me give some helpful examples of how I could encourage people to express themselves in business plans without using flipping jargon, but no. It's just basically a hundred page rant with countless examples of PR machine incompetence and political crap like "downward trajectory."

If you are starting your business, please express yourself in plain English. I have met with over 20 new start ups since January 5th (I know, I can't believe it either), many of them with excellent business ideas - some even had plans to go with them already! Lots of activity, lots of hope. *glows excitedly*

One, stood out from the rest - it took more than one reading, a bit of self-doubt on my part, "...am I stupid? I just don't understand..." - because the plan had over 100 pages and by the end of it I still didn't know what the original business idea was. The only phrase from the book that wasn't in the plan was in fact, "downward trajectory" would you believe. The rest were all there.

So the moral of my little tale is that an effective business plan will be written in plain English with no need for subtitles from Ranter Extraordinaire, Mr John Murray.

Don't buy the book folks. Stand in Eason's and squizz through the Introduction. It's quite funny! And makes you think...but that's where the quality ends. Don't waste your Earth Euro.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Best. Ad. On. TV.

Saw this at the weekend. It made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end, and no I don't fancy the chicks in it, I just thought it was fantastic. I admire Branson, I'll admit it. Love the way everything is seen as an opportunity, in a positive light. The world needs more positive people in my opinion. So this is perfect - especially for the week that's in it - remembering something bright and shiney that started in a recession and is still around, still looking fabulous.

On one side of the Atlantic you have hope, on the other you have a plane-load of PMA. Go on, smile & be positive...look for any opportunity that might be lurking under a snowcloud and bloody run with it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Who are you gunning for?

OK so I haven’t read every single one of them…yet…but at first glance here’s who I’ll be crossing my fingers for on Saturday 21st February 2009.

Best Popculture Blog
Raptureponies: http://raptureponies.wordpress.com

Best Blog from a Journalist
Unarocks: http://unarocks.blogspot.com

Best Food/Drink Blog
Italian Foodies: http://italianfoodies.wordpress.com
If only for the lovely photos!

Best Fashion Blog
Lili Forberg: http://missliliphoto.wordpress.com/

Best Arts and Culture Blog
Confessions Of A Film Critic: http://maguiresmovies.blogspot.com
Mostly commentless ;)

Best Political Blog
Tuppenceworth.ie Blog: http://tuppenceworth.ie/blog

Best Group Blog
The Lives Of Others: http://thelivesofothers.wordpress.com
Because some of the posts can be quite haunting.

Best Use of the Irish Language in a Blog
The Spanish Exposition: http://spanishexposition.blogspot.com
Coz Rosie’s great…

Best Technology Blog/Blogger
Digital Darragh: http://digitaldarragh.com
Honestly, I have no right to have an opinion on this; I really am quite clueless

Best Sport & Recreation Blog
Irish Rugby Blog By Peter Bills: http://blogs.independent.ie/peterbills
Ahem. I know nothing about GAA or ze foozeballingz…

Best News/Current Affairs Blog
Bock The Robber: http://bocktherobber.com

Best Specialist Blog
Paul Dervan: Random Thoughts On Marketing: http://pauldervan.com

Best Newcomer
Seriously. How on earth are the judges going to choose…here’s my top 5 in no particular order:
The National Lottie: http://thenationallottie.com
This Is What I Do: http://darraghdoyle.blogspot.com
Red Lemonade: http://redlemonade.blogspot.com
Chancing My Arm: http://chancingmyarm.blogspot.com
Darren Byrne: http://darrenbyrne.com/wordpress

Best Blog of a Business
Weddingdates.ie: http://weddingdates.ie/blog

Best Music Blog
Nialler9: http://nialler9.com

Best Personal Blog
Yeah, I’m not going to be able to pin any names to the flagpole for this one either.

The Spanish Exposition: http://spanishexposition.blogspot.com
This Is What I Do.: http://darraghdoyle.blogspot.com
Infantasia: http://infantasia.blogspot.com
Annie Rhiannon: http://annierhiannon.blogspot.com
Head Rambles: http://headrambles.com
Dante And The Lobster: http://dante-andthelobster.blogspot.com
Raptureponies: http://raptureponies.wordpress.com
The National Lottie: http://thenationallottie.com
Chancing My Arm: http://chancingmyarm.blogspot.com

Best Humour Blog
Twenty Major - Still Smoking In Dublin Bars: http://twentymajor.net
Coz I laugh out loud. Heartily. Regularly.

Best Photo Blog
Annie Rhiannon: http://annierhiannon.blogspot.com

Good luck everybody!
Link to Blog Awards..blog...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Something Fun

My Mum sent me this today:
What goes through your mind when someone says "Let's go for a drink"?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I don't usually complain officially, but...

As suggested by Damien Mulley...

to complaints@rte.ie
date 13 Jan 2009 15:27
subject New Afternoon Plan on 2fm

Good afternoon,

I would just like to add my voice to the huge number of emails I understand are flooding into you guys in RTE since this article alerted the public, bloggers and Facebook troops to the new afternoon plans on 2fm. I am sure you have heard it all before so I will not waste your time by ranting here, I will just ask you to note the disappointment of many including me, at your decision eliminate the quirky and different nature of Rick O'Shea's show, choosing instead to turn it into an iPod session. It's tough enough for us all in a recession-filled January without sapping a bit of fun out of the afternoons. I respectfully request that you reconsider your decision.

Kind regards,

Out of Office AutoReply: New Afternoon Plan on 2fm
Thank you for contacting complaints@rte.ie Your e-mail will be responded to as soon as possible.
RTÉ Corporate Communications
Go raibh maith agat as ucht do theagmhála chuig complaints@rte.ie Cuirfear freagra ort a thúisce agus is féidir linn.

Thank you for your e-mail.

Your comments in relation to the Rick O'Shea Show will be included in our Audience Log of calls and e-mails, which is circulated for information to senior management in RTÉ Radio and is reviewed at the weekly meeting of the Editorial Board.

We appreciate you taking the time to make your views known to us.

With best regards,
RTÉ Information Officer

Friday, January 9, 2009

Thought for the weekend

I read something yesterday that I thought quite apt.

"Advice is like snow - the more softly it falls, the better it takes hold."

I might take note of that myself this year when doling it out.


PS did anyone notice that we'll be calling him Sir Terry now?

Thursday, January 8, 2009

New Year and a New Beat

There's a scurry of activity on the entrepreneurial front so far this year, and us only a week in. I'm delighted to see it. Lots of people working away on business plans; I was getting emails over the Christmas asking me for cashflow projection templates and information on available grant aid from various sources. Lots of people gearing up for the new year, planning their attacks on the recession! I love it.

As predicted, not many of the businesses are ground-breaking and mad. This is not the time for risk taking. OK, some people are thinking about starting luxury businesses which I have to question, and gently ask a few tough questions about proving a demand for the service/product before they invest 90% of their redundancy package in a frills-filled start-up. I'm not a damp squib, I'm a realist. I wouldn't be able to sleep if I say idly by and didn't make a few realistic suggestions here and there.

However the majority of people dropping by and asking questions are planning to start normal businesses, assured that the recession will create a bubble of opportunity for high quality value for money service offerings. And I couldn't agree more. I've said it before - this period of time will bring out a desire for quality, stuff that will last and give the best value for money. So it turns out that Frugal Ireland has been hiding behind Tiger Affluence all along - who knew?! The crappy half-arsed low-quality rip-off merchants will fall away, out of the marketplace and the quality businesses will remain. Hurrah.

Over the entire course of the Christmas period I only met one retailer who was rude, and didn't have the phrase "customer service" in his dictionary. He was a dic in fact. But his business partner made up for it by being utterly lovely and helpful. So that's just one person who took a sale for granted. The rest of the country has been realising that the customer is back to being king - and values their revenue enormously. Hurrah for the consumer.

So if you are thinking about starting a business and wondering what to get just right - remember the simple things. Service at a decent price, with a smile. That's it.

Simplicity I tell you. All the best ideas are so simple and straightforward. The trick is not to overcomplicate things. Good luck!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Happy New Year Everybody

Just a quick note to wish everyone all the best for 2009. I look forward to blogging a lot more this year! 2008 was great in so many ways...it's been lovely to read lots of blogposts this past week looking at the upside of the last year! Damien, Lottie, Rick, just to mention a few.

Also thank you to Darragh for mentioning this here little blog on his recent followers post. You're my first follower Darragh!

I was going to change the background for this blog - fresh start for new year etc. But instead I have started a whole new blog instead ;) Come visit, if you are so inclined...

Happy Noo Beer ya'll