Tag Archives: business management

Create a Successful Working Environment from Home

17 Jul

Working from home in recent years has seen a growing trend in popularity. Many people are making the leap from working in an office to setting up their own in the comfort of their home. However, along with working from home comes loads of possible distractions that you wouldn’t typically see in the work place. In order to conquer these distractions, it is key that you follow a few simple rules. Here are three key tips that will set you up with a home office that will send your productivity level through the roof.

Create a productive space – First thing is first. In order to generate the level of success you are looking for from home you must create a designated work space that is strictly used for your work and nothing else. Setting up a proper office will allow you to get done what needs to be accomplished. Find a quite area where people will not distract you where you can concentrate. Working from home will not work if you try and lay on the couch with your computer while watching TV. It’s important that you treat your home work office as if you were in an actual office building.

Get the support you need – In order to be successful working from home, it’s important that the people who live along with you understand that when you are working there is no interrupting or distracting. Whether it is your roommate, spouse, partner, or children, they should understand that they need to treat your workspace as if it was an office away from home. Keep things that don’t have to do with your work out of your workspace. Once you step into that workspace at home it should feel as if you are in a regular office. Keep those distractions out!

Stay on track – If you were in your old office space, you wouldn’t be able to just come in whenever you want and finish when you were tired, right? Or you can’t just take a break to watch a TV show and tell yourself you’ll make up the work another time. Well you can’t let yourself do this at your home office either. Stay on track! In order to be productive, it’s important to follow a routine schedule. Get in the habit of doing the same thing each day. Try and start and end work at the same time each day. Be sure to take the usual breaks. Give yourself an hour for lunch like you would if you were in an office. By doing this, you’ll naturally get used to a regular routine that will allow you to stay on track.

Working from home can only be a challenge if you allow yourself to fall out of the normal work routine. By creating a productive office space, having understanding loved ones, and keeping to a regular working schedule, you might even be more productive than in an actual office. Give it a try and discover why so many people in recent years have been switching to working from home!



The Keys to Content Creation

4 Jan


Busy Lizzie Business Brain Interview with Ronan Walsh @ MyToysDirect.com

16 Oct

This week we interview Ronan Walsh of MyToysDirect.com

1.    Why did you decide to start your business?

It has always been a goal of mine to start my own business. I have, for years,  being thinking about it but never actually doing it, so about a year ago I decided just to go for it.

I had looked at a wide range of areas, and felt there was a need for an online toy and gift store designed with both adults and kids in mind. One that was built and branded around 3 key points: Fun, Bright and easy to use.

2.     What have been the biggest challenges and achievements for your business?

The biggest challenge is trying to get the mytoysdirect.com name out there on a shoe-string budget.

We face challenges every day, we are at the bottom of Mt. Everest looking up. There is a long road ahead with a lot of challenges and obstacles to overcome, but once you stay true to your goal and enjoy what you’re doing, it will be a worthwhile adventure.

We are placing a strong emphasis on our social media marketing and on site SEO, we are starting to see the results with traffic to our site growing week by week.

At the start I wanted to create a site that was bright, fun and easy to use, so to win the Digital/Online Friendliness Category in this year’s JCI Friendly Business awards was a fantastic seal of approval that we achieved this.

We are also thrilled with the feedback we have got from our customers so far.

3.     What are your plans for the future?

To continue to build and develop our brand. We want to continue to build our product catalogue and are constantly looking at ways to help and support Irish manufactures and distributors. We are also currently working on a new blog which will be aimed mainly at kids and will have a strong educational element to it.

We also hope to expand into the UK market in mid 2013.

4.     Who do you look up to in business?

I come from an entrepreneurial family so I have always looked up to them. I also admire anyone with the entrepreneurial spirit to start a business.

It is a very difficult economic climate out there, but it’s never going to be easy to start a business and that’s why business start-ups should be encouraged and nurtured now more than ever.

5.     What is your advice for other entrepreneurs?

Go for it… on one hand it might fail, and so what; but it might just as easily be a huge success. There are fantastic support groups and mentoring programs available. I was lucky enough to be involved in the SCCUL mentor program in Galway, which was a fantastic help to me and to my company.

The start-up scene is really growing in Ireland. LinkedIn is also a great tool for getting in touch with people who have started their own business, from my experience most entrepreneurs are more than happy to offer their support and knowledge in any way they can.

6.     How are you gaining visibility and promoting the business?

By any means we can. We are nothing if people don’t know about us.

We focus a lot on our social media channels, newsletters and improving our ranking on search engines.

7.       Do you use any Social Media?

Our main social media channel is Facebook. I don’t want our Facebook page to constantly be pushing for sales. We want it to be an engaging and informative side of our brand.

We also have a strong presence on Twitter and are building our Pinterest profile.

Twitter and blogs are also a fantastic way to look at and learn more about online marketing and social media trends.

More about 

Ronan Walsh | My Toys Direct

Office:   + 353 91 768 965

Mobile: +353 87 269 3398

Skype:    rwalshmtd


Busy Lizzie Business Brain Interview with Jill Holtz @ mykidstime.ie

24 Sep

This week we interview Jill Holtz from mykidstime.ie

1.    Why did you decide to start your business?

For personal need. I ended up following young girls in ballet dresses down the road to find out where ballet classes took place.  I thought to myself, there must be a better way to find out about these things!  I thought we could do a printed after school classes brochure but Michelle, my business partner, has a print background and she pointed out it would be out of date as soon as it was printed, so we decided to create a website.

2.     What have been the biggest challenges and achievements for your business?

The biggest challenges have been trying to market on a shoe-string and learning how to run a business, as neither of us had any business background so it was all learning from scratch.  One of our biggest achievements has been growing to over 50,000 visits a month with a significant mailing list and social media presence, on that very shoestring budget!  We are also very proud that the Minister for Children & Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald, supported our Positive Childhood campaign this year, that meant a lot to us.

3.     What are your plans for the future?

We plan to enter the UK market and perhaps other markets abroad while continuing to grow our Irish business.

4.     Who do you look up to in business?

Fiona O’Carroll from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is an inspiring businesswoman.  But I just really admire anyone who has stuck their neck out and gone for running their own business, big or small, because it does really take guts.

5.     What is your advice for other entrepreneurs?

Life is so short, you need to just go for it and be prepared for a rollercoaster, you will have some highs and some real lows but keep your vision clear in your mind and enjoy the experience!

6.     How are you gaining visibility and promoting the business?

We use social media extensively for promoting Mykidstime to our potential users, parents, whilst we work hard on our PR to build visibility and raise brand awareness amongst our potential customer base.

7.       Do you use any Social Media?

Yes, particularly Facebook, where we have built a very engaged community of parents.  As everyone knows, it’s not high numbers that count but how responsive and how engaged with your brand your community is, and we are proud of our Facebook pages.  We use Twitter to network B2B and to find out information, events.  I use Flipboard now for ideas for content for the website, and we launched our Pinterest page last year which is great for sharing content as well.

More about Jill

Before starting Mykidstime.ie in 2007, Jill had 15 years’ experience in the UK and the US in the fields of business analysis and Customer Relationship Management, including e-commerce data mining, with extensive project and people management experience. Jill managed projects for British Gas, Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays Bank, AIB. Originally from Scotland, she arrived in Galway in 2002 with a young child and did the Executive MBA at NUI Galway before working part-time until she plucked up the courage to launch Mykidstime with Michelle Davitt.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/mykidstime

Twitter: www.twitter.com/mykidstime

Mykidstime Ltd  www.mykidstime.ie

Busy Lizzie Business Brain Interview with Orlaith Carmody

16 Sep

This week we interview Orlaith Carmody from MediaTraining.ie

1.    Why did you decide to start your business?

I  started  the original business, Dorland Training, with Gavin Duffy in 1992 in response to a perceived need for communications training, particularly in the area of media relations.  There were many PR companies in operation at the time, but very few companies which specialized in training people to do it themselves – not the full PR package, which definitely needs to be handled by a specialist, but the front line media interviews. From the get go we were very busy, but we kept the business small and specialist.  Over the years my hands on time has changed.  In the nineties I took up a contract with RTE and then my family intervened – by then Gavin and I had married, and I needed to take some time out when my kids were small. We rebranded the business as Mediatraining.ie a number of years ago, and with Gavin’s involvement with the Dragon’s Den, I am busier than ever managing the show. We have broadened our offering recently  to leadership and management training, prompted by our experience of brand building with the Dragons’ Den companies.  I also do a lot of work with women in business.

2.     What have been the biggest challenges and achievements for your business?

Over the years there has always been the nagging feeling that we should be growing – employing more people, offering more training options, reaching more of our target market – but in reality when something is not broken, why try to fix                                                             it. We are small and specialist and do what we do very well. People know how to find us, and what we can do for them.  The return is in seeing a client perform really well when having questions fired at him or her on Prime Time, or delivering                                                                 a presentation at a conference that gets a huge reaction. I have a client at the moment who is growing every day as a public speaker. Every time I see him I am impressed by how much he has improved since the last time.  There are so many ill-prepared people who get up and speak at conferences and events and do it so badly.  We sit at these things and listen politely, and then give out afterwards about how boring the speaker was, or how awful the ‘death by PowerPoint’ was.  A small amount of training can make a huge difference to how you perform.

3.     What are your plans for the future?

To take on new and interesting projects, to work with interesting people, to do what we do further afield.

4.     Who do you look up to in business?

This will sound corny, but I really do look up to Gavin.  He is a power-house of creativity and energy, and has an innate sense of how things should be done, and what will play right and what won’t. But he will be the first to admit he is not a                                            detail person, and this is probably why we work so well together. I make sure  the back end is completed.  Another person I really admire is Michael O Leary, the one who runs HRM Recruit, not the fly boy!  Michael set up in business on the same day as we did all those years ago in the serviced office next door to ours. He has grown the business strategically over the years and is now poised to take it to the next level internationally. He invited me to join his Board of Directors last year and I am really enjoying being a part of the story.

5.     What is your advice for other entrepreneurs?

Love what you do, and only launch a product or service that you really, really believe the world can’t do without.  That belief and passion is the only thing that will keep you focused and keep you driving forward. Money and fame and                                                              professional reputation are all good in their place, but on their own they are not enough as drivers.

6.     How are you gaining visibility and promoting the business?

We have never engaged in big marketing or advertising campaigns.  We do B2B promotions from time to time in specific areas and the work comes in.

7.       Do you use any Social Media?

I have begun to use it quite a lot recently, but again I think I use it quite strategically, and usually to help the organiSers of an event that I am chairing or speaking

More about Orlaith

Orlaith Carmody is Managing Director of Mediatraining.ie, a company specialising in the communications training and management development of individuals and organisations. As a keynote speaker, conference chair and seminar leader, Orlaith has addressed some of Ireland’s most influential business people and networks on the subjects of professional business development and corporate leadership. Also a director of a number of other SMEs in recruitment and production, Orlaith regularly delivers engaging and energetic seminars on Pitching for Success, Building Confidence in the Workplace, Self Esteem, Goals and Strategy & Successful Networking; and she has also presented at international conferences in the USA and Canada.

Alongside founding her company, Mediatraining.ie, in 1992 Orlaith had a successful career as a print & broadcast journalist with several Irish news organisations including RTÉ, where she is today a member of the Board of Directors.

Orlaith is happily married to television ‘Dragon’ Gavin Duffy and together they have four teenagers. She is an active media commentator on her blog, www.orlaithcarmody.com and hosts and contributes to a variety of radio programmes on LMFM and Newstalk.

Busy Lizzie Business Brain Interview with Sandra Lawler @ Alternatives

11 Sep

This week we interview Sandra Lawler from Alternatives.

1. Why did you decide to start your business?

My business partner Aldagh and I had been in the corporate world for 15 years and wanted to create something that we could own and grow. When we came up with the idea of providing a way for clients to access great marketers in a flexible and alternative way, we decided to go for it.

2. What have been the biggest challenges and achievements for your business?

Definitely the economic downturn in 2008. A challenge to go through it and an achievement to survive it! We had a well run, award winning business, with a motivated team-but business just came to a halt as many businesses just stopped investing in marketing and cut back on marketing staff, consultants, training… our key services. Luckily we had a good cross sectoral spread of clients and a strong, trusted brand which helped us survive the worst of those years

3. What are your plans for the future?

To double our business in 3 years-but won’t reveal our plans publicly 🙂

4. Who do you look up to in business?

Anyone who has taken the risk of going into business, who has worked relentlessly in the toughest of climates to create something that adds value to clients and that employs anybody at all. It’s risky and consumes so much of your time and your thoughts. So hats off to anyone who has done that.

5. What is your advice for other entrepreneurs?

Where to start?

Do what you’re passionate about.

Think big-you’ll put in so much effort and time anyhow you may as well think big, as think small.

Make sure you have the right team. It’s all in the team. Ensure you have good sales, finance and marketing expertise, as well as your technical expertise.

Don’t come with a product and just try and flog it. Think customers first and create from there.

Turnover is vanity, profit is sanity, but cashflow is the biggie-particularly today.

6. How are you gaining visibility and promoting the business? Do you use any Social Media?

We have worked hard to invest in our brand since 2000 and even when budgets were tight, we never stopped investing. We’ve developed the brand online, we’ve advertised, sponsored key community events, spoken at conferences, sent direct mails and e-zines. But as ours is a service business our brand lives or dies in the experience marketers have with us every day-and this has been a key focus for us.

More about Sandra

Sandra Lawler is Managing Director of Alternatives, the No 1 marketing talent business in Ireland, which she co-founded with Aldagh McDonogh in 2000.  Alternatives specialises in interim and permanent marketing recruitment, marketing outsourcing, consulting, training and digital, helping companies successfully drive their market performance.  Alternatives were finalists in the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards in 2006, won the Image/ Sunday Times Female Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2007 and the Chambers Ireland Best SME CSR Award.

Busy Lizzie Business Brain Interview with Pat Keogh @ Call Management

4 Sep

If you decide to go for it, just commit fully to it so that you are not wondering later on…what if

This week we interview Pat Keogh from Call Management in Cork.

1.Why did you decide to start your business?

I always wanted to work for myself as I wanted to be in control of my own future. I worked in the wine trade for 5 years and increased turnover from 200K to 1 million in that period. I got very little thanks so that really motivated me to set up on my own. The major obstacle was finding the idea as drive and ambition on it’s own is not enough.

2. What have been the biggest challenges and achievements for your business?

I left college with an Honours B Comm degree from UCC majoring in marketing & management but knew nothing about running a business such as…vat returns, prsi, employment law, payroll packages, limited company versus sole trader (advantages & disadvantages).

I had to learn as I went along which is crazy after spending so much time in college.

In 2008 we lost a client that made up 50% of our turnover with very little notice, that was a major challenge to stay in business and continue to pay staff and suppliers.

Our major achievement to date has been our ability to re-invent ourselves from initially offering just call centre inbound call answering we are now offering Live chat, e-mail handling, mystery shopping, business mailing address and a whole host of market research packages. I also decided to go back to college and did a Diploma in International selling with D.I.T. last year in conjunction with Enterprise Ireland to help us with our re-invention.

3. What are your plans for the future?

We are launching a new company in Sept 2012 called Arema Connect which will concentrate on the UK market.

Arema will be completely separate with it’s own website and identity but the work will be completed from our contact centre in Cork.

Arema will be using web-based technology such as live chat, large volume voice mail drops, social media management.

4. Who do you look up to in business?

John Concannon would be  a major influence on me because he is determined, successful and above all he never lost his sense of humour. I firmly believe that you should enjoy what you do and gain satisfaction from working with other people. I believe that our staff are our most valuable asset and John shares that philosopy and has always focused on growing his business by using Ireland as his hub. He has offices in Poland and South Africa but his head office will always be in Ireland.

5. What is your advice for other entrepreneurs?

If you find an idea that you are comfortable with, seek as much advice as you can but remember that the final decision is yours.

If you decide to go for it, just commit fully to it so that you are not wondering later on …. what if

6. How are you gaining visibility and promoting the business?

We have registered with Enterprise Ireland, entering awards such as ccma.ie, SFA, european business awards, registering with governing bodies such as ccma.ie and call centre helper in the UK, blogs, media articles, meeting with chamber of commerce, google adwords testimonials from clients, networking, referral partners  and good old fashioned word of mouth

7. Do you use any Social Media?

Currently we are using LinkedIn, Facebook & twitter

Call Management
1G The Atrium Building
Blackpool Retail Park



Phone:- 00353 214824300

Busy Lizzie Business Brain with Olwen Dawe @ Irish Business Intelligence

28 Aug

Do the boring stuff: market research, planning and financials

This week we interview Olwen Dawe who is the creator of Irish Business Intelligence.

1. Why did you decide to start your business?

A culmination of events! And a genuine desire to work for myself… I had always harboured a real interest in running my own business, but hadn’t ever been brave enough to take the plunge.  When things became somewhat turbulent in the late noughties, I took my chances and dove  head-first into self-employment.  Enterprise and regional development were  natural choices for me; I’ve always been interested in individual and collective growth and development, making change for the better – thankfully the times we’re in are conducive to those kinds of projects so I’m very fortunate.

2. What have been the biggest challenges and achievements for your business?

There are lots of challenges in business; mainly managing ones’ own feelings about things, I find! There are lots of swings and roundabouts in the early days, and I found that a little troublesome to start withI always say that you’re tested in ways you couldn’t possibly imagine when you run your own business, but you also learn an infinite amount about yourself and others in the process! My biggest challenge has also been an achievement: being able to handle ambiguity.  I could well have been referred to as a tad of a control-freak in my managerial days, however, that’s all changed now! In business, you carve out your own destiny – but equally, you have to be able to accept that a lot of things are beyond your control.  Deliver excellence at every turn and accept the learnings that come your way.  A tangible achievement has certainly been the fantastic clients I work with: exciting SMEs with amazing vision and drive, charismatic entrepreneurs and forward-thinking regional and rural development agencies and organisations – all making an important contribution to Ireland Inc’s recovery.

3. What are your plans for the future?

I am delighted to work in the area I do, and want to continue to do so into the future.  Much of my work is project-based, so I constantly seek to broaden my portfolio in terms of sector and delivery outcomes.  I relish a challenge, hence why I work in the enterprise and regional development end-of-things! Every piece of work is different.  I’m hoping to do some more work in the creative and social enterprise arena, as well as cross-border initiatives – and as time goes on, I identify new focuses… the grey cells are seldom bored!

4. Who do you look up to in business?

There are so many people I admire… I’ve been fortunate to meet many great Irish entrepreneurs, all from different walks, through my association with Network Ireland – a few names that spring to mind? Tina Roche, Norma Smurfit and Nicola Byrne are very inspiring ladies [and I could think of dozens more too!].  I think the essence of entrepreneurship is vision, resilience and persistence.  If you can keep yourself on that track at all times, you’ll stay focused.  I’m also a big fan of Richard Branson, mainly because of his unfaltering commitment to innovation within a brand, he carries himself in a very genuine, unfussy way which is also very welcome… obviously, the same could be said of the late Steve Jobs, another extraordinary entrepreneur.

5. What is your advice for other entrepreneurs?

Do the boring stuff: market research, planning and financials.  Most entrepreneurs either a) hate it b) avoid it or c) pretend they did it. Don’t kid yourself; in business, what you don’t know will always hurt you.  Do have a vision:so many start-ups think it’s big picture and not ‘for them’. It is.  The big vision will keep you focused during the tough times and you’ll be able to revel in it when you’ve started to see the results.  Do have a team of honest supporters: beware the cheerleaders! Honest but supportive peeps are necessary when the going gets tough.  They’re also the pat-you-on-the-back types when things come good.  Don’t give up: you’ll know if there’s no future, but when you know there is – don’t throw in the towel

6. How are you gaining visibility and promoting the business?

In my line of work, most client projects are gained through longevity and reputation – however positioning is helpful.  I blog regularly on topics related to my area of expertise, as well as utilising social media [LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook] and forums.  I enjoy writing, which means I find blogging enjoyable, and as a result, tend to get quite a bit of newspaper coverage too!

7.   Do you use any Social Media?

I’m a major advocate of social media, it’s fantastic to be able to connect with so many individuals and groups – as well as sharing knowledge and information.  My media of choice are LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.  From a business point-of-view, LinkedIn is a great tool for building relationships, whilst Twitter allows you to interact, share [and learn] what’s going on in the business community and elsewhere.

More about Olwen

Olwen Dawe is Owner and Principal Consultant at Irish Business Intelligence [IBI]. Olwen works in the enterprise and regional development sector, project managing and advising agencies and enterprise organisations on specific areas or rural, regional and enterprise development. Offering a hands-on and practical approach, IBI also acts as a Business Partner for SMEs, providing strategic business development and communications advice and support, focused on real results for clients. Olwen also mentors and supports start-up enterprises through the various enterprise agencies.

Olwen graduated with a BBS [BA] Hons. in HRM and IR from NCI, and has also studied at the IMI [Irish Management Institute]. During her career, Olwen has worked with some of Ireland’s best known corporate companies [such as Tesco Ireland] as well as well-established indigenous Irish companies [imag!ne, Celtic Invoice Discounting Limited]. Olwen’s experience spans HR, Operations Management, CRM and Marketing, in retail, telecommunications, manufacturing and professional service sectors.

A member of Network Mayo since 2007, Olwen has served on the committee since 2009, becoming President of the branch in 2011. Olwen was appointed to the National Executive in 2012 as Secretary. Olwen is a previous recipient of a Network Mayo Businesswoman of the Year Awards, winning the ‘Employee’ category in 2009; she was also shortlisted for the national award and received a nomination for an IMAGE Businesswomen of the Year awards in the same year. This year, Olwen received a JCI Mayo TOYP award [The Outstanding Young Person] for services to business

Busy Lizzie Business Brain with Aoibheann from Ard Bia

21 Aug

This week we interview the lady behind the brand Ard Bia – Aoibheann…

1.    Why did you decide to start your business?

Because no one would employ me or i could not find a job at all

2.     What have been the biggest challenges and achievements for your business?

Biggest challenge: finding a good accountant, I had 7 terrible ones ..

Achievements: to have a business come back from the brink during the hight of the recession to now having a turnover of over 1.5 million and employing 30 staff.

3.     What are your plans for the future?

Keeping up good quality food, service and continuing to look after our wonderful customers and employing more people.

4.     Who do you look up to in business?

I really admire Aron McMahon from Cafe Rua in Castlebar he is my professional pin-up !

5.     What is your advice for other entrepreneurs?

Do it! But make sure what you are doing is coming from a place a true belief

6.     How are you gaining visibility and promoting the business?

the press love us, so we keep giving them more..

7.       Do you use any Social Media?

Yes heading towards 2500 Facebook friends and very strong on twitter, it’s essential these days

More about Aoibheann and Ard Bia

Aoibheann Mac Namara – studied Art History at University College Dublin followed by a postgraduate degree in Arts Administration at NUI, Galway during which time she worked part-time at (and was fired

from!) the original Nimmo’s. She travelled and worked in art galleries around the world before working in Soho House and Babington House, where her real education began. After a stint cooking in a Buddhist centre in Cavan, Aoibheann opened Ard Bia Café in Donegal in 2001. Two years later she moved the business to Galway, initially to Cross Street, then above Tigh Neachtain on Quay Street and then to the iconic Nimmo’s building under the Spanish Arch. In 2008, Aoibheann had a baby, Önundur (Öni), with whom she sits and watches the sea from where they live and work on The Long Walk.

Aoibheann has started travel writing, which she hopes will see her into a more gentle retirement.

The Ard Bia cook book is now on sale, for your copy try here

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