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Entrepreneur Q1 2023

How small businesses can grow, evolve and thrive in the digital future

iStock / Getty Images Plus / gorodenkoff

Brid O’Connell

CEO, Guaranteed Irish

Small Irish businesses have been challenged by the post-Covid-19 landscape as digital excellence and sustainability have become recognised as requirements for business success. 

Ireland has a well-grounded entrepreneurial culture — fostered by the Government through their Local Enterprise Office (LEO) and various initiatives. This has worked well for Ireland. However, two new elements must be added for a business to be successful: digital excellence and sustainability.  

Understand your market as a small business 

Businesses that adapted to a new online-focused economy in 2020 saw record sales numbers during the busy shopping periods of 2021. However, some saw a sales drop in 2022 as overseas products and services became readily available again.  

As the country continues to recover, it’s important to ensure your market knows that your business is following a sustainable route — consumers have never been more conscious and civic-minded. They are open to change, but it must be easy to access.  

Digitally engage in a meaningful manner 

As entrepreneurs, we have an opportunity to redirect our business sustainably and digitally inform our customers via TikTok, podcasts or any platform you’re committed to engaging with your audience through.  

Those with a sense of purpose and a well-crafted story will grow.

Smaller companies can have a massive reach if they are true to their story and use digital effectively — but don’t overdo it and deter customers. Find your channel, be authentic and engage meaningfully.  

Get your unique selling proposition correct 

Some businesses have combined digital with an in-store presence. However, retail experiences are demanding in terms of physical presence, offering trials and experiences.  

One constant thing is your brand proposition. Those with a sense of purpose and a well-crafted story will grow. Additionally, there are hubs such as specifically set up to help small businesses grow. 

Embark on a sustainable journey for your business  

Irish SMEs are trusted brands, with over 73% of consumers agreeing that Guaranteed Irish Member Businesses show genuine support for Irish jobs, communities and the circular economy — and this matters to the civic-minded consumer. We must continue to support local jobs and businesses, including those reopening brick-and-mortar stores.  

Keep it local and support the economy 

Working with local businesses and shopping locally has positive knock-on effects on the country — with every €20 spent locally worth over €100 to the Irish economy. Irish consumers are conscious of reducing their carbon footprint. By buying locally, there is less transport, less need for excessive packaging and more sustainable production methods. 

Guaranteed Irish are here to help. Visit for more information.

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