Tips for buying an existing business

In some situations, buying an existing business can help you grow your business faster. You can buy your way into new markets, new products and new employees. Buying an existing business has many advantages, but there are also some drawbacks. A business owner may wish to sell a profitable, well-run business for many reasons, so selling does not automatically indicate a problem. However, you should not assume an existing business is self-sufficient and profitable. Potential buyers must conduct adequate due diligence to discover the true short and long-term financial and marketing position of the company before buying it.

The Pros

  • Easier purchase financing because of the company’s proven track record
  • Existence of an established customer base, allowing early and ongoing sales
  • Existing profitability, allowing for the generation of regular income
  • An established marketplace
  • The ability to focus on improving products and services because operating facilities and employees are in place
  • Established stocks
  • The former owner’s expertise and knowledge of the company and its markets
  • Existing business records to guide decisions
  • The initial financial outlay is known and may be less than that for starting a

Get Your Business Plan Right

Business plans are dead — or are they? For many entrepreneurs, the business plan is an outmoded document and start-ups rarely think they need one to get by. But the fact is that a business plan isn’t simply a paper document; it can be a very valuable tool and a roadmap for even the smallest or earliest-stage idea, writes Connor Sweeney from InterTradeIreland.

A good business plan can foster alignment of ideas, set the tone for the business and even help with the brand messaging. And by preparing one, a company can identify a clear and definite plan of action to implement the business strategy where every member of the team knows their clearly defined role.

Without a plan, a business is essentially rudderless, and day-to-day activities are likely to be haphazard and reactive, in stark contrast to those businesses that implement a well thought-out and structured business plan.

So, how can you prepare a strong business plan?

1. Presentation
Make sure your plan is easy to read – include headings, paragraphs, tables and graphs if appropriate. Include some white space.

How to success on business fashion

He’s only been in business for five years, but Evan Doherty has already gained a reputation as one of the most sought after photographers in Dublin. The 31-year-old from Bayside counts Dunnes Stores, Debenhams and Ryanair amongst his many commercial clients. What’s more, he regularly shoots fashion advertorials with the top models like Vogue Williams, Rozanna Purcell and Teodora Sutra.

“Most days I’m so busy that the phone is constantly ringing,” he says. “It’s hard work but I’m not complaining.” Although he has long had a love of photography and always showed an artistic flair, Evan studied Sound Engineering after school. He soon found it was not for him and left after a few months to take up a role as an assistant chef working on Irish Ferries. It was only when he was made redundant in 2011 that he decided to study photography.

 

A Change of Direction

“Taking pictures was always a hobby for me. It never occurred to me to try to make a living from it,” he says. “But when my friend’s mother suggested that

New Legislation and New Obligations

New legislation on paternity leave will come into effect in Ireland on 30th September. In advance of that, employers need to understand their obligations under the Bill and what they should expect from employees who want to take this leave, writes Ciara McGuone from the Small Firms Association (SFA).

The Paternity Leave and Benefits Bill 2016 enables a “relevant parent” to take two weeks’ paternity leave within the first 26 weeks of the birth/adoption of the child. The Act defines a “relevant parent” as a person (other than the mother of the child) who is the spouse, civil partner or cohabitant of the adopting mother or sole male adopter of the child, or in any other case, the father of the child, the spouse, civil partner or cohabitant of the mother of the child, or a parent of the child as defined under section 5 of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015. From this definition, it is clear that the Bill encompasses a wide range of circumstances and also makes equal provision for same sex couples. The paternity benefit is paid by the Department of Social Protection at €230 per week and employers have the option of providing a further

Hire the Best Talent

We hear that a lot in recruitment. The gravity of a hiring decision often leads hiring managers to hesitate when faced with the decision to hire or not to hire – so they wait instead. This last-minute hesitation is often a mistake.

The very best talent often have more than one offer on the table, and they don’t usually want to hang around. Cpl’s recent employment monitor found that 50% of jobseekers have turned down a job offer because the process took too long. To make matters worse, sites like Glassdoor invite users to submit reviews of companies they have interviewed with in the past. That means one candidate’s negative experience could cause others to resist applying because they think your business moves too slowly.

 Why Do Companies Move So Slowly?

The common factor in most “slow” recruitment processes is fear. Hiring a new employee is a big investment and most hiring managers are careful that they invest that money in the right place. However, that determination to make only the right decision often leads to no decision at all.

Instead, businesses will ask a great candidate to attend multiple interview rounds to get peers to

A large majority of businesses offside

The InterTradeIreland All-Island Quarterly Business Monitor (April-June 2016) indicated that over 95% of businesses surveyed across the island have no plan in place to deal with the consequences of the UK’s vote to leave the EU. Moreover, nearly one in five report that this uncertainty will lead to a decrease in their level or speed of investment.

Crucially, this uncertainty and degree of pessimism comes at a time when the wider economic and business back drop is very positive, with 90% of businesses reporting they are stable or growing. Encouragingly, also, is the result that almost two thirds of businesses on the island state that they have the ambition to grow in the immediate future.

In the meantime we encourage businesses to focus on the things they can control, such as:
 

1. Customer and Supplier Relationships

Focus on developing close value-adding partnership relationships with customers or suppliers that can endure potentially destabilising changes in pricing relationships.

 

2. Business Planning

Possessing a clear and concise plan for your business that identifies clear objectives, critical processes, threats and opportunities is a vital step to navigating uncertainty. Clearly this plan should be reviewed and adjusted on a regular basis.

 

3. Innovation

Innovation should

Some of the elements affecting 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 majority of phone numbers

Traditional telephony, where your phone calls are trafficked over physical lines, is dying out. The public switched telephone network (PSTN) has been decommissioned in some European countries, with end of life dates set for the near future in others. It is expected that the end date for Ireland will be announced soon.

The reason for this is IP telephony, or VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol). This technology uses your broadband connection to traffic your phone calls and has long been accepted as the alternative to PSTN due to the real business benefits it can offer. Essentially it allows you to put your phone system and phone numbers into the “cloud” so they are not reliant on the physical PSTN to work.

How does this improve your business communications? Let’s take a look at five very real benefits.

 

1.    Flexible user management
For cloud phone numbers, the inevitable comings and goings of employees in an organisation pose no issues. If an employee leaves, assigning their old number to a new starter in your organisation can be done with a couple of clicks, no matter where they are based. They don’t need to sit at the

How to grow brussels sprouts on easy way

Love them or hate them, there’s no denying Brussels sprouts are the ultimate Christmas vegetable. In fact, each Christmas, we munch our way through around 100 million sprouts, and a good chunk of that number is supplied by Anthony and Enda Weldon from their farm in North Dublin. Much like Santa’s elves, December means serious overtime for the Weldons –  as they aim to ensure a serving of sprouts makes it onto dinner plates around Ireland. Read on to find out how they do it.

When it comes to sprouts, the Weldon brothers have a lot of pedigree. They’ve been growing them for decades. “The farm has been in the family for around four generations,” Anthony says. “It was traditionally vegetable and cereal growing, but it’s only in the last few decades we decided to concentrate on sprouts specifically.”

“They’re obviously originally from Brussels, but sprouts would have been grown in Ireland from the early part of the last century,” he explains. “My grandfather grew them and he was a young man in the 1916 Rising.”

Brussels sprouts will certainly be making an appearance in the Weldons’ Christmas spread. “I would eat them three times a week,” Anthony says. “The traditional way is

Descriptive Brand Names

It is important that brand owners be aware of the trademark registration process when choosing a new brand name. Not only should a brand name address the commercial needs of a company, it should also satisfy the legal requirements for registration. To qualify for registration, a trade mark needs to be distinctive so that consumers can easily identify the trade origin of products or services, say David Flynn and Mary Bleahene of FRKelly – Ireland’s leading Intellectual Property firm.

 

There are many types of brand names which do not qualify for trade mark registration and these include “descriptive” trademarks. A trade mark is considered descriptive if it has a meaning which will be immediately perceived by consumers as providing information about the goods and services on offer. For example, the mark DetergentOptimiser was refused registration for washing machines (laundry machines / dishwashing machines), the mark ELITEPAD was refused registration in respect of tablet computers and the mark Original Eau de Cologne was refused registration for cologne.

 

All of these trademarks provide immediate information about the goods being sold. The rationale behind forbidding registration of descriptive trademarks is that purely descriptive terms should be

Tips on Keeping Your Limited Company

When you incorporate a limited company in Ireland, one of your main concerns should to be to keep the company (and directors) fully compliant from a legal, company secretarial, taxation and accounting perspective. With the level of corporate regulation continuously increasing in Ireland, it is of vital importance to the company and its officers to ensure all such legal responsibilities are met. If you are the director of an Irish company, these tips from Andrew Lambe of Company Bureau Formations Limited can help you and your company stay on the right track.

 

Hire a good Accountant

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

Know the primary value of your business plan

Here are some reasons not to skip this valuable tool and roadmap:

  • It will define and focus your objective, using appropriate information and analysis.
  • You can use it as a selling tool with lenders, investors, landlords and banks.
  • Your business plan can uncover omissions and/or weaknesses in your planning process.
  • You can use the plan to solicit opinions and advice.

 

Here is a checklist to help you get started:

  1. Write out your basic business concept.
  2. Gather all the data you can on the feasibility and specifics of your business.
  3. Focus and refine your concept.
  4. Outline the specifics using a “what, where, why, how” approach.
  5. Put your plan into a compelling format

Suggested topics you can tailor into your plan:

A Vision Statement: This will be a concise outline of your purpose and goal

The People: Focus on how your experiences will be applicable. Prepare a resume of yourself and each of your key people.

Your Business Profile: Describe exactly how you plan to go about your intended business. Stay focused on the specialized market you intend to serve.

Economic Assessment: Provide an assessment of the competition you can expect in your business.

Cash Flow Assessment: Include a one-year cash flow projection that will incorporate all your capital requirements. Try our cash flow planner to get started this year.

Handle Security Breaches Tips

In the last 12 months, the number of cybersecurity attacks has grown significantly. The potential ramifications of a cybersecurity breach to a business can be devastating, such as loss of customer confidence, damage to company reputation, theft of assets and extensive administrative costs in dealing with all affected stakeholders. However, there are a number of actions a business can take to reduce the likelihood of a cybersecurity breach and deal with the consequences where the company suffers an attack, writes Barry Connolly of Flynn O’Driscoll.

Risk assessment. Similar to any other risks that a business may face, when seeking to prevent cybersecurity breaches, the first step should include quantifying the risk. In the cybersecurity context, this will include identifying certain elements of a business’s system that are particularly exposed. This will range from the vulnerability of the company’s online web presence to the possibility of physical access (on-site) to a networked platform. Risk assessments should be carried out on a regular basis so that new threats can be identified and the business remains aware of current trends in cyber threats.

 

Software Security Measures. Having identified areas of risk, tailored security measures should be put

Find The Most of National Digital Week

It might be most famous these days as the home of Olympic heroes Gary and Paul O’Donovan, but Skibbereen is rapidly gaining a reputation as a centre for digital excellence in Ireland. This week, the eyes of the tech world will be on West Cork as the country’s best and brightest come to town for the second annual National Digital Week, backed by AIB. From the 10th to the 12th of November, attendees can take in talks and demonstrations from over 70 experts, visionaries, and movers and shakers in the global tech scene.

As part of our ongoing commitment to the digital sector in Ireland, AIB are the lead sponsor of Skibbereen’s Ludgate Hub, Ireland’s first rural Digital Hub. The Hub offers local businesses world-class fibre-optic broadband in a state of the art 10,000 sq ft facility that rivals anything in Silicon Valley. AIB has also sponsored National Digital Week since its inception last year, and we’ve got big plans this year with a fantastic line-up of speakers on the AIB Brave Stage all week. Read on for our insider’s guide to the best talks, workshops, and entertainment at this year’s National Digital Week.

 

Who

Starting Out in Business

For 15 years, David Wallace was a familiar presence on the rugby pitch, representing Munster, Ireland and the Lions with distinction. As a two-time Heineken Cup winner and member of Ireland’s historic Grand Slam winning team of 2009, David is someone who reached the very pinnacle of his sport.

Since retiring from rugby nearly five years ago, David has embarked on a career in business, opening a number of vintage style sweet shops in the Munster region. During the AIB Start-up Academy Summits, David stopped by to discuss his transition from the rugby pitch to the boardroom.

Moving from a career in rugby to a career in business must have been a culture shock. How did you adjust?

“I would say I’m still adjusting, four years on! I suppose I threw myself into everything that came my way, which was good and bad in equal measures! I think coming from a professional environment helped, because you’re used to working so hard and you have all that energy to put into something else. I was just eager to start my new career.

I threw myself into a few things after I retired from playing, which was

How easily handled on your website

As a small business, it’s important to have contact with your customers. But some phone calls could easily be handled by your website and other digital channels — saving time for you and your customers. Here are some ideas for how to tweak your website to handle some routine calls.

 

1. Add an FAQ page

You already know which questions come up again and again. Answer them once and for all on your website by creating a frequently asked questions (FAQs) page. Update this page regularly to keep up with the latest developments and to answer timely questions.

2. Review your website navigation

Maybe you already have plenty of information on your site, but no one can find it. If you use a creative, nonstandard navigation scheme, take a look at your web analytics to see if that is preventing people from finding the information they need. Even if you use standard navigation, check your labels. Are they clear and accurate?

3. Add a video demonstration

If you’re spending a lot of time on the phone giving directions on how to use your product, a video demonstration could save time. And because nothing beats a visual demonstration, an

Integral to farming success

To get an overview of some of the options available to farmers, we spoke to AIB Agri Advisor Patrick O’Meara about the current landscape and its effects on cash flow. He also provided us with some useful methods for cash flow planning and dealing with common cash flow concerns. Read on to find out more.

 

The Current Landscape

For all farmers, the outlook for 2017 depends on the specific sector you are working in. “Pig and dairy sectors are going through a positive period at the moment in terms of increases in market prices,” Patrick notes. “Both those sectors have come through a difficult period so it’s encouraging to see. In the beef and tillage sectors, there’s some frustration at farmer-level with prices and also concern around Brexit.”

Brexit will continue to throw up challenges for farmers and add a level of uncertainty, but there are some aspects of the changing economic climate you can plan for. “It’s difficult to know exactly what the effects of Brexit might be,” Patrick explains. “But in the short-term, you’ll need to consider the impact of exchange rates on output prices when planning.” In the medium term, he says,

Identifying your target market

A good way to determine who is likely to become your customer is to clarify the problem that your product or service addresses. For example, you run a housecleaning service. The problem that you solve is doing cleaning for people who cannot or do not want to do these jobs themselves. Upper income families, families where both parents work, and older people who no longer have the ability to do their own housekeeping, are all potential customers for your services.

Define your customer’s characteristics

Listing out the characteristics of your typical customer is another good step towards identifying your target audience. These characteristics need not be personal ones; they can pertain to lifestyle, income, geographical location, hobbies, and many other things. For example, for a gardening service, one type of target customer are people who live in neighborhoods with well-manicured lawns, attractive plantings and colorful flowers around their homes.

The business could also target corporate clients who want their office surroundings landscaped. For a business that specialises in home security, the ideal customers may be in a residential area that has a high crime rate and in high-income residential areas. Women living alone who

Build Growth Strategy on Your Business

Setting up a business is hard, but growing your business can be even harder. Have you got a successful business and aren’t sure how to plan for growth? Read on for some expert advice on devising a growth strategy.

Sasha Kerins is a tax partner with Grant Thornton in Kildare. With over 16 years of experience in tax advisory roles, she has also advised businesses in areas including e-commerce and construction. We spoke to Sasha to get her expert opinion on devising a growth strategy for your business – and some of the pitfalls you need to watch out for when expanding.

Every Business Needs a Growth Strategy

“Strategy in business is really important from the point of view of focus. To identify what your strategy is, you’ll need a business plan in place. The business plan identifies the milestones that you need to hit to achieve that growth.

One of the key questions in any plan or strategy is: where are you adding value? What is the proposition of your business that’s going to differentiate it from everyone else out there? Asking those questions is a key element of any strategic process.  That will

Influence business around the world

Irish people can sometimes be guilty of overestimating our influence around the world, but when it comes to business, it’s most certainly a trump card.

And if anyone should know, it’s Bobby Healy, founder of Ireland’s most valuable tech company, CarTrawler, which facilitates airlines, online travel agents and accommodation providers by connecting their customers with car rental, private transfers and rail connections all over the world.

Before CarTrawler – long before, in fact – Bobby founded travel software firm Eland Technologies as a young twenty-something back in Mexico City back in the 1980s.

Speaking on The Capital B podcast about the rise of Eland Technologies in Mexico over 30 years ago, Bobby said: “There was no Internet, there were no mobile phones, we had a real tangible business that was selling magic. No-one knew what software was, but we were making millions of dollars selling stuff to them.”

Asked by host Nick Webb about how he grew the company, Bobby explained that getting the right talent was the most important thing and how he discovered just how much of an advantage being Irish really was.

“The same applied back then, nearly 30 years ago, as it does now,”