Monthly Archives: October 2016

Learn your business academy right now

Martin’s company is Nasal Medical, which produces a range of nasal filters and dilators that help with various breathing issues, from allergies to sleep apnea. The effect of the Academy win on the nascent company was instantaneous.

“The minute we won, things went crazy,” Martin explains. “I think the advertising from The Irish Times really helped. Online sales became extremely busy and have continued to increase on a daily basis.”

Despite the challenges of scaling up the business, Martin has already achieved some impressive sales figures: “We’ve sold a substantial amount of the discreet snoring aids in 500 pharmacies and we’ll be in 1000 before the end of the year,” he says. And he’s already set his sights on some big targets at home and abroad: “We’re in McCabe’s pharmacy, Health Express, Pure Pharmacy group, Horgan Group, O’Sullivan Group, McLoughlin-McSharry Group, and McCauleys, and we’re in discussions with Boots and Lloyd’s and a number of other big chains. We also hope to be selling in the UK by January or February of next year and Germany in mid-2017.”

 

Expanding the business

The initial success of the business has also allowed Martin to expand his workforce. “At the moment there are two of us in the company but we have two sales and marketing staff joining in October,” he says. He hopes the new hires will lighten his workload, which remains prodigious. “I don’t have any time at all,” he explains. “We have a ten-month-old baby and even getting time to see her is difficult at the moment. I often work until midnight and am up again at six. Thankfully, my wife, Marie-Louise, is very understanding and supportive. Once we take on the new employees, hopefully the pressure will be reduced.”

Martin has also seen the benefits of the prize package, with his first meeting with creative agency Rothco already bearing fruit. “We’re rebranding the filter product, which I’m delighted with, and we’re working on a new brand for people travelling on aeroplanes to block the germs carried in the recirculated air. We have a pharmacy at Dublin Airport who are going to trial it,” he says. “As a normal start-up, we’d never have access to something like that. It’s gold, because it could potentially decide whether the customer buys the product or not.”

Growing as an entrepreneur

Winning the prize has also had a hugely positive effect on Martin’s personal profile and he has a whole range of exciting projects planned for the months ahead. “At the end of September, I’m taking part in the Pipeline Innovators Summit,” he says. “It’s a program where entrepreneurs and mentors from the US are matched with Irish counterparts to exchange ideas over three days. I’m also presenting at the MedTec Ireland event in Galway in October which I’m looking forward to.”

 

Martin moved into new premises in the Guinness Enterprise Centre in May, and he sees it as the perfect environment for Nasal Medical to expand and grow as a business. “There are 180 companies in here, all with the same mindset and a lot of them are doing really well,” he says. “We still have to go through patenting in every country and there’s a lot of work involved with it. Eamon Sayers who runs the Centre along with Dublin BIC, has helped me with various issues I come across on a weekly basis, and Michael Culligan and the staff at Dublin BIC have also been an enormous help to my company”

Martin hasn’t stopped innovating in terms of his product line and has some exciting plans for the future of the company. “We’re in talks with the Royal College of Surgeons and Trinity College Dublin about rolling out a new product,” he explains. “We’ll also go back to the original idea for the product, which was an anti-TB device for cattle. That will probably manifest a couple of years down the road, but it’s always in the back of my mind.”

 

Applying to the AIB Start-up Academy

Martin also continues to stay in touch with his fellow Academy finalists. “One of the other finalists actually set up a WhatsApp group between us all, so any updates we have, we can share there,” he says. “And there’s always some news every couple of days. It’s great to be able to keep in touch and I’ve met up with some of them at industry events since too.”

And if you’re thinking of applying for this year’s Academy, Martin would highly recommend it. “I’m getting calls from serious companies, globally. The amount of calls and emails I get on a daily basis about the product,

from all over the world, is just amazing,” he says. “Every single entrepreneur in the country should do it. If you get down to the final eleven, I think your company has a very good chance of succeeding long-term.”

Expanding the Business ABout Pamkin

Over the years, Noel has expanded the farm to include a washing and packing facility. He explains, “Often farming practices are not that profitable, so I met with some other people and we decided to set up a packing company. And it grew from there.” It certainly did as the facility now washes and packs an average of 40 tonnes of carrots a day. It was a case of spotting an opportunity to add value and running with it. Noel thinks that a good relationship with the bank is key. “It’s very important to have a good relationship with your bank. It’s the mainstay of any business. We have a good relationship with our local bank, although we don’t have any borrowings at the moment.”

 

The Farming Landscape

Noel acknowledges that it’s a tough time for the farming community, “Farming in general is in a depressed state at the moment. Grain, livestock and milk are under wicked pressure,” he says. The uncertainty of Brexit is also a concern. He said: “Nobody seems to be able to give a straight answer as to what kind of an effect Brexit will have. Everyone has different thoughts.”

But despite the pressures, Noel is still passionate about his profession. “Farming was something I always wanted to do from a young age. It’s a nice way of life really. You’re out in the fresh air, you’re dealing with land and you’re dealing with nature.”

 

Looking to the Future

As for the future of his farm, Noel is planning on sticking to his current formula and hopes to expand his reach. “Hopefully we’ll gain a bit more in the marketplace with regards to selling vegetables. We’ll just keep it to the carrot and potatoes.”

Noel carves a couple of pumpkins each year to decorate the pillars on his gate – a tradition he’ll continue this year. We couldn’t let him go without getting his top carving tips. For him it’s simple. “You get stickers in the shops and place that over and trace it out.” he laughs.

 

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Do you know the effect of SMEs

In last year’s Budget, the Minister introduced an Earned Income Tax Credit of €550 for small business owners who cannot benefit from the PAYE tax credit of €1,650 available to employees. The Minister announced an increase in this credit to €950 for 2017.

The three lower USC rates have been reduced by 0.5%. Accordingly, all income earners will have a lower tax burden to varying degrees. The ceiling at which the 2.5% USC rate applies is increased to €18,772 – this ensures that a full-time worker on the minimum wage will remain outside the top rates of USC.

 

2. Minimum Wage

The higher cost to employers arising from the increase in the hourly minimum wage from €9.15 to €9.25 will take effect from 1st January 2017.

 

3. Entrepreneur relief

The standard rate of capital gains tax remains at 33%. However, the Minister announced a reduction to 10% in the capital gains tax rate that applies to disposals by Entrepreneurs of qualifying assets. Entrepreneur relief offers the reduced rate of capital gains tax on the disposal by an individual of business assets up to a lifetime limit of chargeable gains of €1 million. The Minister is to review this lifetime limit in future budgets.

To qualify for the relief, the business assets which include shares in a company must have been owned by the individual for a continuous period of at least three years in the five years immediately prior to the date of disposal.

 

4. Share-based remuneration

Following a public consultation and review of share-based remuneration earlier this year, the Minister announced the intention to develop a new, SME, focussed share-based incentive scheme which is to be introduced in next year’s Budget.

 

5. Retailers and Tourism

The reduced 9% VAT rate for tourism and related activities will continue to apply.  The Minister noted that the reduced rate will act as a buffer for the sector against the weakness in sterling which increases the cost of holidaying in Ireland for British tourists.

 

6. SMEs in the Construction and Property Sector

The Minister introduced a new ‘Help to Buy Scheme’ for first time buyers of new houses that take out a mortgage of at least 80% of the purchase price. This scheme will provide a rebate of income tax paid over the previous four years. The rebate is subject to a maximum of 5% of the purchase price of a new home up to a value of €400,000. New houses with a cost between €400,000 and €600,000 will also qualify for the scheme but the rebate is calculated at the €400,000 limit. No rebate will be paid on new house purchases in excess of €600,000. The rebate does not apply to the purchase of second hand houses.

The Home Renovation Incentive will be extended for a further two years to 31 December 2018. This measure provides income tax relief to home owners who undertake qualifying renovation works which cost a minimum of €4,405 (excluding VAT). The relief is payable over the two years following the year in which the work is carried out and equals 13.5% of the qualifying expenditure.

How to Finding Your Business Style

For Mairead, owning her own boutique was a natural progression from her successful personal styling business. “I’m a personal stylist and shopper, and I decided that maybe I could actually provide the clothes for the people I go personal shopping with instead of having to go elsewhere,” she explains. “That’s how Smock Boutique started.”

Her years working as a personal stylist and shopper have provided Mairead with an invaluable insight into her target customer’s needs. This heavily influences the clothes she chooses for Smock. “I’m in the wardrobe of my target market at least once a week. I feel that I have a certain advantage when I’m going to buy my collections because I feel 100% confident that I know what is needed,” she notes. “We’re not filling the wardrobe with pieces that don’t suit your lifestyle, we’re providing a working wardrobe within budget for that person. That’s absolutely at the forefront of my mind. That’s my USP.”

 

Building the Boutique

Setting up a business on your own comes with many challenges and there’ll always be a few learning curves. Although Mairead was absolutely certain in her vision for the boutique, she was conscious that the admin side of things also had to be perfect. She heard about MyBusinessToolkit from her local AIB branch and thought it would be useful to help get the business off the ground. The Toolkit offers access to a suite of leading business tools, from Sage Accounting and Payroll to the bOnline website builder. MyBusinessToolkit is free for 3 months when you open a Start-up Business Current Account before the 31st of Dec 2016. She explains how MyBusinessToolkit has helped her get her business off the ground: “You have so much paperwork, and because it’s a seasonal business it all comes at the one time,” she says. “If you don’t keep up to speed with what and when you need to pay, you’ll quickly fall behind and your front of house suffers. I don’t want that to happen.”

She credits MyBusinessToolkit, and in particular Sage, with helping her keep tabs on the admin side of things. “Sage really helps me define what my cash flow looks like, who my suppliers are and it’s great for categorising everything and keeping me organised. I almost leave them running in the background. I trust them fully and I trust they’ll work. And my accountant can log on to Sage as well and check everything is ok. It was like having an uncle in the background that you knew you could rely on. That’s a strange analogy I know!” she laughs.

The bOnline website builder provided in the toolkit was also a huge help in getting her online presence up and running. She explains: “MyBusinessToolkit has helped me get my business off the ground by allowing me to have an almost free website. That cost would have been a huge undertaking for me at the beginning. It just made it so easy.”

 

Secret to Success

It turns out the secret to Mairead’s success is something learned from her years as a personal stylist – follow your gut. “My advice to anybody starting out is to really and truly follow your gut instinct,” she explains. “Listen to yourself and try and block out all the negatives. And there will be negatives. It’s like anything, if you have confidence in your idea then nobody can take it away from you.”

Mairead is currently focused on building up her online presence and growing her customer database, but she’s definitely staying local at heart. “I love Enniskerry,” she says. “I want to stay here, and I’d love to expand Smock Boutique within itself.”

Fancy a fashion fix? Smock Boutique is open Monday to Saturday from 10am – 6pm.

Need help getting your business off the ground?

Call into your local branch to find out more about how MyBusinessToolkit can help your business.

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Begin your farming

1.      Know exactly why you’re doing what you’re doing – if you don’t it’s hard for anybody else to know. Explore the options and pick the one that suits you best. Seek advice from others to see what worked for them.

 

2.      Establish a good track record when you’re young – in work, in college and with the Bank – it gives others more comfort you have the credentials to deliver on your plans.

 

3.      Put your best foot forward when meeting the bank – prepare well in advance. Don’t sell yourself short – Have your costing’s and have your research done. Show you understand your business and its profitability and most importantly ensure your lender understands it.

 

4.      Treat the farm as a business – if you don’t look after the business, financial management is useless. The opposite is also true. Costs and cash flow must be controlled and monitored to ensure the business remains profitable and bills can be paid, when they fall.

 

5.      Have a simple system – more easily expanded, and helps ensure consistency and accuracy – especially important where additional labour is employed.

 

6.      Ask for help – you don’t know everything and it won’t all be plain sailing. Build up a goodsupport network and use them.

 

7.      Take a break – it’s important to maintain an appropriate work life balance.