Category Archives: Business

Lets to be brave on your business

The ability to recognize holes in your knowledge — and find ways to plug them — propels your business. Otherwise, you might see yourself as a jack-of-all-trades and repeatedly take on duties for which you’re unqualified. Making decisions when you lack understanding or familiarity with the issues can lead to disastrous results. It sounds simple: Admit your weaknesses and address them. Yet when events unfold at breakneck speed, chief executives of young companies may feel that they lack the luxury of time to sit back, assess the situation, recognise their knowledge gaps and fill them.

Overcome the obstacles

What makes it so hard for founders to confront what they don’t know? For starters, they grow so accustomed to improvising that they assume they’ll learn whatever they need to know by doing. They assume part of running a growing business is rendering judgments without having all the answers.

Have you fallen into this trap? See if the following statements sound familiar:

  • I’ll never have all the information I’d ideally like to have, so I need to do my best with what I know
  • I don’t have anyone critiquing my performance every day. There’s no one around telling me, “You don’t know enough about this. Learn more before you plunge in”
  • Launching a business is a leap of faith. I’m busy drumming up excitement in our future. Obsessing over what I don’t know isn’t going to help us grow

What’s more, business owners cherish their independence. They may reject unsolicited input from others, especially if outsiders try to tell them what to do or how to do it. Unless entrepreneurs schedule periodic meetings with a mentor or advisory board, they may operate in a vacuum and lose perspective on their own strengths and weaknesses.

Self-confidence is a prerequisite for building a business. But too much confidence can convince you that you know what you’re doing when you really don’t, causing you to stray far from your field of expertise. Another obstacle is the temptation to assume you can muddle through on your own. Telling yourself, “I can get by for now” or “I can figure this out myself,” prompts you to accept your limitations without attempting to patch up knowledge holes. Even if you accept your knowledge gaps, you might not want to dwell on them because it makes you uneasy. Feelings ranging from misguided pride to flaring anxiety can lead you to forge onward rather than taking the time to confront unknowns.

 

Quiz your employees

To help identify your knowledge gaps, tap into your employees’ expertise to become more familiar with the inner workings of your business. Begin by asking workers, “What do you need to know to do your job?” Sit with them at their desks and ask them about:

  • The processes they’ve adopted
  • The systems they use
  • The knowledge they draw upon

Then compare what they know to your understanding of what they need to know. You may find that employees’ jobs have evolved in new and surprising ways. Expect to come away from this exercise thinking, “I need to find out more about.”

Also ask employees, “When it comes to working at this company, what do you wish you knew more about?” This question encourages them to share their knowledge gaps, which you can help fill. By exchanging insights and information about company operations, you’ll gain a stronger sense of how you can educate yourself and your staff to appreciate both the nuts and bolts of your business and the big-picture issues it faces.

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.

 

Want to find out more about AIB Agri Business Loans?

Get in touch with us today to find out more about our agri business loans specifically designed to help you grow your business. You can also get in touch with us on Twitter @AIBBiz and Facebook.

 

Allied Irish Banks, p.l.c. is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.

Some of the links above bring you to external websites. Your use of an external website is subject to the terms of that site. 

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.

Allied Irish Banks, p.l.c. is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. Copyright Allied Irish Banks, p.l.c. 1995.

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.

Ocean Bloom Story That You Need to Know

 

By chance, she got chatting to an elderly lady in the community, who mentioned in her day they would take the children down to the sea and bathe them. This was just the spark of inspiration that Cheryl needed. “I started thinking about it and I collected some seaweed and made a baby seaweed bath for him and his skin started healing,” she says.

She began experimenting by blending the seaweed with oils and created products for family and friends. They were a hit, and someone suggested she should make a business from it.  She subsequently enrolled in a business course with her Local Enterprise Office and began an in-depth study into growing seaweed and its health-giving properties.  It’s been a whirlwind adventure ever since.

 

Launching the Business

Cheryl confides that getting the business up off the ground was one of the bravest things she’s ever done.  She’s bootstrapped it from the beginning, handling everything from product development to filling the containers.  She notes: “To start a business, usually people save up or they have all these processes in place, I didn’t have anything in place. I would lie in bed and feel a bit panicky and think, ‘I’m too old for this’.”  But hearing how her products work made it incredibly rewarding. “I think people coming up to me and telling me that the products have made a difference to their skin is the biggest highlight,” she says. “If I can carry on making a difference to even a few people, that’s the best reward.”

 

The Importance of Good Advice

For anyone interested in starting their own business, Cheryl offers the following advice: “I think it’s important to have a bank who knows you and has a good insight into your business.  You can have a magnificent business plan but if you haven’t got a bank who believes in it, then it won’t work.  I believe going to your local branch, to people who know you, is so important.”

It was the staff at her local branch who first told Cheryl about MyBusinessToolkit, a package offering access to a suite of five 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.

Having access to MyBusinessToolkit through AIB and in particular Sage has helped Cheryl to keep everything organised. She explains, “Since using Sage in MyBusinessToolkit, I can actually see how much I have in my account and how much I’ve spent on products and that gives me an idea of where my account is at.” The software is also a huge timesaver. “At the moment my time is so taken up with the business and Sage just frees me up.” Knowing that she won’t have to move to new software when the business grows is also a huge plus. “I know that Sage will grow with my business,” she says.  “Some of the other packages can only cope with a small amount of money going through it, but with Sage there’s no limit so I can just carry it with me as I grow.” Being able to pick up the phone and speak to a dedicated customer support person from BCSG is also a huge plus.

 

Skincare for Everyone

Since launching in March 2015, the brand has gone from strength to strength. Within a year, Ocean Bloom was an award winning skincare brand, with their Seaweed Serum Pouches being shortlisted for Natural Beauty Skincare Product of the Year 2015.  Cheryl’s products have since earned a cult following in the beauty industry, with famous names like Triona McCarthy and Rosanna Davidson counting themselves as fans.

Sourcing the very best of everything is important to Cheryl.  As it turns out, her hometown of Castletownbere on the Beara peninsula has some seriously superior seaweed. “We have some of the cleanest waters in the world,” she explains. “They’re classed as Grade A waters, which means they’re crystal clear and there’s no pollution.”

 

Looking to the Future

As for the future, there’s no sign of Ocean Bloom slowing down. Cheryl already has plans for expansion into the UK and European market: “At the end of next year, I want to be in the UK. In five years – Europe. Then world domination!”

Need help getting your business off the ground?

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

Allied Irish Banks, p.l.c. is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. Copyright Allied Irish Banks, p.l.c. 1995.

Some of the links above bring you to external websites. Your use of an external website is subject to the terms of that site. 

Advantage of ecommerce market

The European B2C eCommerce market will break the €500 billion barrier in turnover this year. While growth is slowing down in major markets such as the UK, Germany and France, there is rapid growth in other countries such as Southern and Eastern Europe. The UK market has a turnover of €157 billion and is ranked number one in Europe, while Ireland is ranked 17th, but experiencing double digit growth.

 

Ireland vs UK eCommerce Landscape

The UK eCommerce market has more than doubled in the last five years, yet only 9.5% of retail goods are purchased online – over 90% are purchased on the high street. Despite this, the eCommerce market is growing fast, as more Europeans are shopping online, and on a more regular basis. The population aged 15+ in the UK is 53.6M and in Ireland it’s 3.6M. Despite this staggering gap the % gap is not as large when looking at our internet users (93% for UK and 82% for Ireland). However when we drill down to those of us who shop online the percentage gap widens again (81% of internet users in the UK shop online and in Ireland it’s 52%).

 

Free shipping is one of the key drivers to encourage consumers to shop online more often. However, many online retailers are still not offering this service. This is especially a challenge for smaller businesses where there are tight margins and the average selling price can be small. It makes it harder for them to absorb the costs. We analysed over 180k online retailers and took a deeper look at the shipping market; from those who offer free shipping, to those who declare international shipping upfront and who is ranking tops in the ecommerce shipping market.

You can read the full report here. Of the online retailers analysed 36% of Irish online retailers’ offer free shipping with the UK coming in at 34%. Only 20% of Irish and 22% of UK online retailers state availability of international shipping upfront. And here’s who ranks for the biggest market share  – An Post (31%), Fastway (12%) and DPD (10%) in Ireland and Royal Mail (45%), Parcelforce (8%), DHL (6%) in the UK  – see the top ten ranking in the report here.

There is no loyalty among online retailers with regard to who they ship with so it’s interesting how the market share changes when analysing the top Irish websites that are doing over $1 million in online volume – AnPost continues to hold top position. However, Fastway drops down to 5th position and UPS jumps up to second. Similarly in the UK Royal Mail continues to hold top position. And, Parcelforce slips down the table to fifth position and DPD jumps up to second.

 

The table below gives you a quick glance at the top 10 in Ireland.  It is based on the number of websites using specific shipping company services:

 

Conclusion

With the eCommerce market growing at a phenomenal rate, the opportunities for shipping and delivery companies are greater than ever before despite the highly competitive market. If free shipping is one of the main drivers to encourage more shoppers to spend online then ecommerce merchants must offer free shipping as a given to be able to compete in this space. This in turn will help drive the figure of 9.5% (of retail goods purchased online today) up much more in a market that has more than doubled in the last 5 years. International shipping connects businesses with the $1.9 trillion dollar market of ecommerce and with only 22% of UK and 20% of Irish merchants in this space it is an area that needs to be addressed for market growth. For businesses looking to scale those making strategic decisions around who they target and where they ship can make key differences in their market positioning and, ultimately, their bottom line. And for shipping companies, it’s clear that there are no loyalties among online retailers. But in this growth phase there may be an opportunity to try a number of different growth strategies until you get the right one that will bring you to No 1 in your preferred rankings. The rapid rate of change leads to exciting times ahead.

How to Improve Your Customer Support

Customer support or service interactions have the potential for a wide variety of outcomes – both good and bad. Customers contact your support team when they have an issue. Understanding this and making the interaction as efficient and effective as possible should be your goal. If you deal with the issue well you’ll have a happy customer, and potentially positive recommendations. Worst case scenario, you could be losing business.

How you use your phone system can be a key determinant of how your customers perceive your support service and their experience with your organisation. The option for the customer to speak to someone in the business over the phone is a communication method commonly offered in customer service. However if your employees are picking up the phone to someone who has already been transferred two or three times, you’ve already given your customer a bad experience.

Identifying ways to improve the experience your customers have with your support function, or company as a whole, can be tricky. One place to start at is when your customer makes the call. Here are four ways which your phone system can improve your customer support experience, before and during each call:

 

1. Use interactive voice response with time of day settings

Interactive voice response (IVR), otherwise known as virtual receptionists are used to direct those calling your business to the appropriate person by providing a menu of options which the customer can select. The longer your customer spends on hold or being transferred from department to department the more you are failing in providing them with an efficient and effective interaction.

Everyone has had poor experiences being left on hold waiting to be transferred. Use an IVR and avoid subjecting your customers to this. When constructing your menu, ideally have an option for each of your main customer facing departments. You should also finish with something similar to ‘for all other queries press 0’. This means even if your customers are unsure, they still have an option to press.

Time of day settings allow you to provide different instructions or menus depending on when a customer calls. For example, if a customer calls outside of office hours you can play a message which tells them your office is closed, what time it will be open at and provide an alternative contact method such as your customer service email address or a specific out of hours number. Accurately setting the expectations of your customer in terms of response or resolution time is critical for good customer service experience.

 

2. Use ring groups

A ring group is a feature which allows a number of phones to ring when one number is dialled. For example, when a customer selects the menu option for support on your IVR, it is possible to have every team member’s phone ring. If each team member’s phone is calling the chances of the call will only be missed or not answerable immediately if the whole team is already busy.

Using a cloud phone system it is also possible to add extra steps if the ring group goes unanswered by the whole team. After a certain amount of time, you could redirect the call to the department manager before eventually to a voicemail box. A common mistake that businesses make is not having a voicemail box as the end point for every possible path a call can take. After waiting on hold to speak to someone and being transferred around the sound of a disconnected line is disheartening to say the least.

Adding a voicemail box will allow you to set a voicemail greeting which can explain that all employees are busy for the moment and once again offer an alternative means of contact.

 

3. Everyone in your organisation needs an internal transfer number accessible via a centralised document

From time to time a customer with an issue is going to call the number for a different department or pick the wrong menu item. In this case, the first step is to get them talking to someone who can help with their problem. This means call transfer.

With a cloud phone system, setting up internal transfer numbers such as 102 or 2007 for each employee can be accomplished with ease. Make sure that each member of your organisation, with a priority on those which are customer facing, have an internal transfer number set up.

An updated and detailed list should be kept centrally via a resource such as Google Drive or Office 365 with each person’s transfer number. Using this, whoever takes a call should be able to easily transfer the customer to the right place. It certainly beats asking your customer to call the organisation’s main number again and dial 3 for support.

Avoid The Company Compliant Tips

One of your main priorities as a business owner is to oversee your company’s accounting and tax obligations. A good Accountant is worth their weight in gold, and can take a huge burden off your shoulders. They can take care of your company’s annual returns, payroll, VAT returns, CT returns and statutory annual accounts. It is vital that you choose a dependable Accountant to carry out these tasks as mistakes can be costly.

 

Ensure your company secretary is capable and keep your statutory registers up to date

By law, every Irish company is required to appoint a company secretary. The main duties of a company secretary are to ensure that the company complies with the law, manage the company’s daily administration and any additional duties that company directors may delegate. Whilst there is no qualification requirement for this role, it is important that your company secretary possesses the skillset and knowledge required to keep your company compliant.

The secretary will generally maintain the statutory company registers, which are required to be maintained under the Companies Act. The statutory registers include the register of directors and secretary, members, beneficial owners, transfers, directors and secretary’s interests and debenture holders.

 

Know your dates and put your company on a ‘watch list’

Once your company has been incorporated, it is good practice to add your company to a ‘watch list’.  A watch list will remind you via email that your company’s Annual Return Date is approaching and it will alert you should any changes be made to the company at the Companies Registration Office. Core.ie provides this service free of charge once you register with them.

 

Understand your role as a director

Company directors’ have a wide range of responsibilities which can be quite diverse. Company directors have to comply with the Companies Act 2014 and have duties under Common law. If a director is found to have breached company law, he or she can be liable to penalties that can range from a fine up to €500,000 or a maximum jail sentence of 10 years. There are different categories of offences ranging from 1-4 under the Companies Act.

To avoid such circumstances, company directors should become familiar with the responsibilities and duties of the role. Information can be found on both the CRO and ODCE websites.

 

Know the requirements for company letterheads and websites

One requirement that often gets overlooked is the requirement for Limited companies to list their full legal title on company letterheads. This includes the company name, company number and registered office address. As well as this, the company directors must also be listed by name in the footer. Both forename and surname must be included and the nationality in brackets beside any director who is in not Irish.

Company websites are another location where a company’s details must be displayed. This includes the company name, number and place of registration. This must be located on the website’s homepage or must be on an alternative web page that is to linked to from the homepage which is easily accessible.

If you have a database of customers or potential customers, it is important that you are aware of your requirements under Data Protection legislation.

 

Keep minutes of meetings and have an AGM

Keeping minutes of directors’ meetings is a requirement under the Companies Act and is prudent to ensure key decisions and matters are noted and dealt with. The Annual General Meeting (AGM) is a meeting of shareholders (and directors) of a company where they have the opportunity to ask questions and get information about the company. Whilst this is no longer a legal requirement for most companies, it is a good idea to ensure this takes place. It is usually the duty of the secretary to call the AGM and give 21 days’ notice to the members.