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Entrepreneur Q1 2022

Empowering small Irish businesses in a digital world

iStock / Getty Images Plus / elenabs

Briana McTiernan

Projects & Marketing Executive, Small Firms Association (SFA)

With small businesses employing 65% of the Irish population, supporting small Irish businesses benefits not only the island of Ireland, but each of our own local communities.

Although the pandemic brought uncertainty for businesses that were forced to shut their doors, it also brought opportunities to innovate by following the changing consumer landscape. One major innovation was by taking advantage of the growing digital transformation.

Go digital to meet consumer demand

According to the Small Firms Association (SFA) Business Sentiment Survey, Winter 2021, domestic growth was the primary driver of business opportunities over the past year. Ireland’s entrepreneurs have continued to seek out new opportunities in their digital transformation, as well as investing in business expansion. Of the 90% of Irish small businesses that took a negative hit during the pandemic, around 80% of them utilised their digital tools and, as a result, experienced 80% better sales and 60% better revenue than those that did not.

Consumer behaviour has changed drastically in the last two years, moving predominantly to an online focus. Ensuring that your online presence is strong and engaging thus continues to be a driving factor in the growth and development of successful businesses.

Take advantage of all the small business grants and funds that you are eligible for.

Campaign to ‘support local’ helps small businesses

Champion Green, a national movement to drive the recovery of small businesses following COVID-19, boosted small businesses by heightening the awareness around the importance of supporting local. The campaign shared online toolkits, insightful webinars to inform small business owners, plus directories for local small businesses to promote their offers.

Financial and mentoring support for businesses

Support systems and tools have been made available, to empower small businesses across the country. Take advantage of all the small business grants and funds that you are eligible for from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment or your Local Enterprise Office, ranging from financial supports, business development and more.

MentorsWork, a free business-support programme, offers personal mentoring with an expert in your industry as well as masterclasses and workshops.

The SFA National Small Business Awards celebrates excellence, achievement and innovation in small Irish businesses by giving them the opportunity to enhance their credibility, nationally and internationally. The Awards promote these small businesses and recognise the valuable commitment that employees make, highlighting their contributions and achievements, plus plenty of training and networking events throughout the year.

There is a lot of help out there for small businesses and budding entrepreneurs: being in business for yourself doesn’t mean you have to be in business by yourself!

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