Government To The Rescue!
A key criticism that entrepreneurs and small business owners often level at government is that it is divorced from the everyday realities and hardships that they face. In an effort to show what it can do for SMEs, the government is organising a series of roadshows this year to show what it can do for those in this crucial sector of the economy. Here are ten tips that the Taking Care of Business events in Limerick, Galway, Cork and Dublin in 2014 will give to SME owners:
1. There are over 80 Government funds available dedicated to helping SMEs
Knowing what supports are out there to help businesses can be a real quagmire. For example, there are over 80 developmental business supports across Government – totalling over €2bn – that are available for Irish SMEs. The Government announced in Budget 2014 an awareness raising campaign about SME business supports called ‘Supporting SMEs’. It is about to kick off and will be a good place for Irish businesses to find information on the supports they are potentially eligible for – be it start-up funds, supporting loans or other non-financial supports, such as mentoring, help getting to international fairs and skills training.
2. If you have been refused a loan by your bank, you can have that application reviewed and potentially overturned
The Credit Review Office will accept applications from SMEs, sole traders and small and medium-sized farm enterprises that have had their application for credit refused or reduced or have had credit facilities withdrawn, and feel that the bank’s decision is unjustified. It will carry out an independent and impartial review of the bank’s decision to refuse, reduce or withdraw credit facilities from €1,000 up to €3,000,000.
3. There is a financial incentive for your business if you hire the long-term unemployed
JobsPlus is a new employer incentive is designed to encourage employers and businesses to employ people who have been out of work for long periods. The Department of Social Protection will pay an incentive of €7,500 for each person recruited who has been unemployed for more than 12 but less than 24 months. It will pay €10,000 for each person recruited who has been unemployed for more than 24 months.
4. It can be easier than you think to go green(er)
There are state grant schemes to encourage organisations to research and implement cleaner greener production/service provision practices. To date €7.9 million in investments has been made to 116 organisations. The Environmental Protection Agency provides a range of advice to small businesses:
- Web based tools and guides
- Site visits
- Grant aid for research
- Saving money through resource efficiency
5. Investing in workplace Health & Safety early can save you money
The average cost of a workplace injury in a small business is €9,138 and 1 in 6 small businesses will have a workplace injury this year. The Health and Safety Authority can provide a range of supports to business:
- HSA Business Supports
- Sector and topic specific guidance
- Workplace Contact Unit 1890 289 389
- Free risk assessment tool www.besmart.ie
6. The public sector is a large market into which to sell your products and services
The Office of Government Procurement (OGP) provides advice on how to make the most of opportunities to bid for public sector contracts; the all-island spend on public procurement is almost €14 billion.
7. Being legally compliant may seem costly but there is help available
- The Food Safety Authority of Ireland can help to guide food and hospitality businesses.
- The National Employment Rights Authority can help you to understand employer obligations in regard to employment rights.
- The Data Protection Commissioner is responsible for upholding the rights of individuals to control how data relating to them is used and for enforcing obligations upon data controllers. It can help businesses understand how to comply with data protection requirements, how to improve their data handling practices and the business advantage from reassuring customers about their data.
- The National Standard Authority of Ireland can help businesses understand the standards that are not always noticeable in everyday life but that are in the background from medical devices used in hospitals to car seats set-up for the school run.
- The Equality Authority can help an SME needs to avoid illegal employment discrimination including guidelines for Employment Equality Policies and Equal Status Policies in enterprises.
8. It’s useful for small businesses to consider exporting earlier than you think
There’s significant potential for Irish companies to grow international sales in export markets. Enterprise Ireland focuses on capability in key areas to get companies export ready.
9. Corporate Governance isn’t just for large companies
The Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement dealt with over 2,000 reports last year. The ODCE publishes comprehensive legal guidance and provides a series of quick guides on the roles of key players, AGMs, keeping proper books, and committees of inspection.
10. You’ve got a local office there to help you
You should talk to your local City or County Enterprise Board regarding financial grants, training and mentoring programmes. The CEBs have a broad range of supports on offer. The CEBs are in the process of becoming Local Enterprise Boards (LEOs), which will incorporate the business supports of Local Authorities.
Contact Avid Partners to discuss any of the above supports. Call us on 0818 303087 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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