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 with. I 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