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14th July 2011
Its a great question. The need has never been greater and the challenges never as onerous or tough. But I’m reminded that Businesses have been starting up in Ireland for hundreds of years – with or without aid. And there’s a lot of support out there. It’s a question I come across frequently. Anyone who wants to build on online business, often starts with someone who knows a thing or two about it – we call it Internet Marketing or SEO – and so we’re the first point of call for many new start-ups and exposed to a lot of new ideas, models and experiences. I’m very fortunate and I love it!
The primary skills that an entrepreneur needs, are
It also helps to have an understanding of the associated pit-falls (like a change in social support during and after becoming a business owner) as well as the types of support available as well as the legal and fiduciary duties.
Entrepreneurs for their part are the unsung hero’s of the world. The reward for the risk of creating companies and employment is profit. And profit, is a mighty hard thing to create when you’re pushed on all sides by difficult labour laws, tough lending conditions and a squeezed economy. And it’s such a pity that profit has such a blackened name – because if there’s anything we need right now – more than ever before – is profitable companies. Because profitable companies have this thing called hunger for more profit. And that creates jobs, employment and more economic activity.
What has this to do with starting a company? Everything: because if you start a company for the wrong reasons, you’re going to find yourself in a lot of trouble. If you’re starting a company for any other reason than strong market demand – i.e. a profitable, commercial and sustainable base of consumers or customers – be it for reasons of employment, love, passion, hobby or just complete touch-wood and see what happens – then you’re going to be in for a very hard landing.
Businesses that don’t make a profit very quickly become insolvent. And in draconian Ireland, that could land you in a lot of bother. For you see, many people are so enamoured with the idea of becoming the next Tony O’Reilly, that they’re not in the slightest bit aware of the basics of business and business law, probably because they’re far from basic.
If you want to set out in business, then you will need:
And, perhaps most critically, a scalable business model that will realise a profit.
We have so many freemium models out there – it must be pretty confusing to any entrepreneur must think there’s free cash somewhere. That free cash is Venture Capital – which is often just money borrowed from Pension funds and invested into good ideas like Facebook, Google and twitter. But Ireland has a terrible VC industry and unless you’re building a sexy online product it’s not likely to be very available to you.
To build a business in Ireland you need to know your marketplace. And you need to know it very, very well. Keep family and friends at bay. They’ll want to support you and will believe in anything you do. You’ll need them for support when the road gets tough, so keep them there. If you don’t have a group of business owners then get involved in one via a networking or business support group (via your local chamber of commerce, BNI, 1-2-1 Networking or Open Coffee movement). If you’re business needs to be online, make sure you talk to proven, track record online people. Web designers, often with the best will, sell via networking and are design orientated, not necessarily marketing people. I’ll actually get in trouble for saying that but it’s true.
The only reason to setup a business is market demand. If there’s something you love doing, then find the market demand for it. Don’t create it and then try to build demand. If people don’t need a service, they won’t buy it. Tell them how good it is and how much they need it will only drive them away. If your business needs to develop technology, then you’re going to need significant funding. Technology that doesn’t require funding is quite often seen as easy to replicate and therefore not worth investing in.
Go in with an open mind. If someone with experience and skill pin points a weakness in your product or service, then appreciate that advice. They’ve nothing to gain by lying to you. Blind ambition and determination is the hardest and the very last way to kick start a company – so why rely on it?