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Busy Lizzie Business Brain Interview with Donncha Hughes, Trainer and Business Mentor

22 May

Donncha Hughes GMIT New Frontiers Phase 1

About: Based in Galway (native of Tipperary), Graduate of NUIG with Masters in Marketing, works with Startups and Technology and Professional Service SMEs to grow their businesses. 

 

 1.          Why did you decide to start your business?

 I finished as Enterprise Acceleration Centre Manager in LIT in June 2010. I had great experience working with startups and I had a great network built up, so it was a natural decision to set up my own business.

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

As I was leaving my job, I was asked to do some projects and to submit some tenders. As such I was up and running. I also availed of the Short Term Enterprise Allowance which is a great initiative.

My biggest challenge was to figure out what services to provide and who would be my paying customer. The answer is that I provide training and mentoring on behalf of Enterprise Agencies. I had to decide what services I would not provide. It took me almost 18 months to finish the content for my website. One day, it dawned on me that I am a trainer and mentor and not a Consultant. The message on my website is very specific. I removed a lot of the standard marketing consultancy text that you might expect. I win business via direct Sales. This includes leveraging my existing network to get introductions to staff in the Enterprise Agencies. It is great to get a referral and then win work after I meet the new contact.

I have found that I have learned a huge amount about startups, technology and business since I started working for myself. It has been a fantastic experience. My biggest achievement has been to design and deliver a training programme for graduates in GMIT. Working with George McCourt in IiBC, it is branded as the ‘Lean Startup @ GMIT’ programme. We recently completed an End of Programme evaluation and the results were extremely positive. It is brilliant when you get proof that you are making a difference.

3.          What are your plans for the future?

I don’t really have a long term plan. My goals for each of my first two years related to keeping clients happy, winning new clients, and building my profile as an expert (a friendly and approachable one) in the startup community. From a personal point of view, we have two wonderful small kids so ‘being your own boss’ offers great flexibility. What I really like is being in control of my own diary and having the ability to respond to opportunities. As a startup, and particularly a sole trader offering services, it is difficult to forecast given the current environment but I have confidence that I will be busy for the rest of 2013 and into 2014.

 4.          Who do you look up to in business?

I love reading books. My favourite business book ever is the Jelly Effect by Andy Bounds. He has a great story.  My favourite blog author is Seth Godin. I read his blog via email every day. Ash Maurya, Running Lean is the author that I discovered in 2013. Those are three guys I would love to meet.

I have been very lucky in my career to date. I worked with IBEC in Limerick for 7 years. I met CEOs of all the multinationals and the big Irish businesses in the Mid-West. These guys were running big companies and have great pedigrees. But you quickly find out that they don’t know everything. I learned a lot from them and I got confidence that I could help them too. A brilliant guy from my time in IBEC is Liam Ryan, BMS Ireland http://bmsireland.com/. He set up a small business in Limerick 30 years ago and it grew to over 200 people at its peak. The company design and market a range of products to include the ‘Clever Paddy’ a brilliant torque wrench, which sells all around the world. He has a view of design akin to Steve Jobs. Keep it simple. Most recently, I attended a presentation recently by John Conconnan of JFC Engineering in Tuam. He spoke at the SCCUL mentors event hosted by Liam Bluett in the  Ballybane Enterprise Centre.  John has a brilliant story. I admire anyone who is out there running a business. It is a massive challenge and I feel privileged to be in a position to work with them.  I particularly admire women promoters. I have hundreds of examples of startups so it difficult to pick out any in particular. But, Aine Gleeson of WowWee http://www.wowwee.ie based in Ennis is running a fantastic online gift business which now employs 6 people – the business sells thousands of great quality personalised Christmas Stockings every December to every part of the globe.

5.          What is your advice for other entrepreneurs?

 There is amazing ‘startup goodwill’ to be tapped into when you start your business. It is very important to avail of the help that is out there. I definitely recommend Start Your Own Business programmes delivered on behalf of the Enterprise Boards. New Frontiers is a great option for promoters who have ambition to scale internationally over the longer term.

My big advice to entrepreneurs is to focus on the problem faced by an identified customer. Generally, promoters focus on an area of expertise where they have access to customers. It is very important to build up a track record of success by starting small. You can then reach for those ‘stretch’ goals.

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

 I win business as a result of my network and direct Sales. Tenders are very important and now that I am established, referrals are increasing in importance.

7.        Do you use any Social Media?

I help clients with Social Media and I am a big advocate of understanding how Social Media can contribute to business goals.  I always say that if a business can see two or more of its customers talking about their business or products in a café, then they should be on Facebook (with a facebook business page).

In general, businesses targeting the B2B should be on LinkedIn. I find LinkedIn great as a follow up to real life networking. It is also great for messaging people who I have not talked to in a long time. In general it is fantastic for keeping up to date with what my contacts are doing. I used to like LinkedIn groups to keep up to date on industry activities but I have found recently that LinkedIn groups are not as interactive as they should be. As such I am finding that I am gravitating towards Twitter and more particularly Google+. Both are great platforms for finding really interesting content.

I also write a blog and have contributed several articles to Tweak Your Biz. This is a brilliant network blog all about business. I want to establish myself as an authority on startups and this is a great way to circulate content. I also wrote an article for Small Business Can – this is a great resource for anyone in business in Ireland. Finally on social media, I appreciate the power of YouTube and have created a super video for one client. For my business Slideshare, the presentation sharing platform, is fantastic. I have embedded a few presentations on my website using Slideshare. I recently got an email saying that my presentations had received 10,000 views. But I don’t get carried away with such statistics as at the end of the day, I have to keep in direct contact with my customers. Ideally, you want them to ring you!

 

More about Donncha Hughes

 

About Me (Blog) : http://www.startuphughes.com/blog/donnchahughes/

Mobile : 086 1724887

Website : www.startuphughes.com

Linkedin : http://ie.linkedin.com/in/donnchahughes

Twitter : @donnchadhh

Member of SCCUL Mentor Panel http://www.scculmentors.ie/?p=334

Google+ : https://plus.google.com/118057181258567966884/posts

Slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/donnchahughes

Tweak Your Biz: http://tweakyourbiz.com/author/donnchahughes/

 

 

 

 

Job Description: Marketing, Web Designer and PR Intern

9 May

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BusyLizzie.ie is an SME support services provider, specialising in social media and administrative support, and are based in the Galway Technology Centre, Mervue IDA. For the next stage of our growth plan we are offering 2 x Full Time Marketing and Web Design Internships to join our growing team starting in mid-June.

 

We are interested in your attitude and ambition as well as your experience and qualifications. We don’t expect you to re-invent the wheel, but do expect you to create successful campaigns and follow what the industry is doing. You will be given the autonomy to follow through on your ideas and the satisfaction of being a significant member of a team who drives success. Full support and training will be given to help you achieve your goals.

 

On successful completion of the Internship and having achieved your KPIs, you will be appointed as a permanent full-time Product Manager where you will take ownership of one of our other online commercial ventures. You will also receive a financial bonus as a thank you.

 

Purpose of Role:

  • Drive awareness of BusyLizzie.ie using both online and traditional marketing activities
  • Work with existing customers and identify meaningful ways of attracting new ones and maintaining Customer Relationship Management system
  • You understand that customers and consumers are at the heart of any successful business
  • You recognise that Google Adwords and Facebook Advertising does not build a business
  • The ability to formulate a detailed commercial marketing plan and implement it
  • Be comfortable on the phone and speaking to customers, press and partners
  • Attend conferences, seminars, networking events and trade shows as required
  • Implement industry SEO (keyword research, writing Meta tags, Link building etc.) best practice techniques and apply them
  • Write content and articles on a regular basis to drive customer engagement
  • Online PR
  • General Administration
  • Research and Analytics
  • Content curation on social networks including Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn
  • List management and other tasks for email marketing
  • Promotion of competitions on social media and other electronic channels

 

Skills Required:

  • 3rd level qualification, preferable digital marketing qualification
  • Be a self-starter who is passionate about generating new and interesting ideas
  • Have a strong work ethic and be a core part of a small busy team
  • Telesales or customer service experience would be an advantage
  • Relevant experience in analytics and SEO would be an advantage
  • Excellent computer skills; proficiency in Microsoft Word, Excel & PowerPoint
  • An eye for detail and a high standard of written English are also essential
  • Have a sense of humour when things go wrong… because they often do!

 

How to apply:

  • 1 x page cover letter outlining why you would like to work with us and what skills you bring to the party.
  • 1 x page CV outlining your career experience and education to date.
  • Listing any proficiency in social media management tools, email marketing software and other relevant packages.

 

Send your application to jobs@busylizzie.ie by the 31st May 2013 for consideration.  busy lizzie logo blog

     

BPW Innovative Business Woman of the Year 2005

Listed in Top 40 Irish Female Entrepreneurs: Image Business 2006

Listed in Top 100 Women in Business by Entrepreneur Magazine 2006 & 2007

Finalist Image Magazine Young Businesswoman of the Year 2008

 

Busy Lizzie strives to improve our clients’ lives through our time saving services
Tel: Dublin (0)1 514 3401  Galway (0)91 39 99 50| Email: info@busylizzie.ie | Web: www.busylizzie.ie

 

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This e-mail and any attachments are confidential and may also be legally privileged and/or copyright material of Busy (or its affiliated companies).  If you are not an intended or authorised recipient of this e-mail or have received it in error, please delete it immediately and notify the sender by e-mail. In such a case, reading, reproducing, printing or further dissemination of this e-mail or its contents is strictly prohibited and may be unlawful.

 

Busy Lizzie does not represent or warrant that an attachment hereto is free from computer viruses or other defects. The opinions expressed in this e-mail and any attachments may be those of the author and are not necessarily those of Busy Lizzie.

 

Busy Lizzie Guest Bloggers with Philip Hodgkinson of Workspace: ‘Working From Home Vs Working In an Office.’

10 Apr

phil

One of the biggest debates for any freelancer looking to branch out on their own is whether to work from home or from within a dedicated office. There are naturally pros and cons for both options and it is therefore important to evaluate these before you start working remotely for yourself as a self-employed professional.

As more of us appear to be earning at least part of our monthly salaries as a freelancer, finding the best working environment that encourages you to be productive is vitally important. Here are the advantages of both sides of the self- employment coin, as well as our own concluding thoughts.

Pros of working from home

Better use of time

Undoubtedly when you work from an office there is very often a decent chunk of your day taken up by travelling to and from work, as well as coffee and lunch breaks that can add up to two to three hours of a working day. By working from home you can get down to business at a time that suits you without having to leave the comfort of your own study.

Low overheads

Are you a start-up freelancer that is looking to keep their overheads low in the initial stages of finding work? If you have a number of expenses that you have to fork out on a monthly basis just to survive it makes sense to save on the additional cost of fuel or public transport and work clothes you invariably have to buy to maintain your professional image.

Reduced stress

As well as wasting large parts of your day travelling to and from work, by working from home you will also avoid the undue stress that comes from being stuck in traffic or having to negotiate busy train or bus stations.

Freedom

If you choose to work from home – or telecommute as it is otherwise known – then you have the freedom to dictate where and when you work, anywhere in the world. Whether it’s a coffee shop, library, or even your own living room you have the flexibility to connect and get down to business wherever you like.

Pros of working in an office

Learning experience

As a freelancer you may choose to obtain a membership to a co-working space or rent a small serviced office to use as your place of work. This can be a very useful learning experience, particularly in a co-working space, as you will be working alongside like-minded entrepreneurs and professionals. It is always great to chat to fellow professionals about your work to bounce around ideas and solve problems.

Sociable

Working from home can be a very lonely, insular way to earn a living. If you work in a shared office with people that have similar interests it is likely you will develop new social friendships, while forging potential working relationships.

Amenities

Although it is possible to set up your home office just how you like it you may be able to gain access to a similar level of amenities as a member of a co-working hub or within a serviced office space for a fraction of the cost. You’ll be able to take advantage of free Wi-Fi, meeting and conference rooms, printing and scanning facilities and potentially call and mail forwarding that all works to create the image of a professional business.

Conclusion

While it is always nice to be able to work from the comfort of your own home there is the potential to be distracted by outside influences and other issues that impact upon your productivity.

Keep in mind that productivity is the primary consideration for any freelancer – the more work you can get through at a reliable rate the better chance you have for securing recurring work. A professional co-working or serviced office space gives you all the tools you need to do your job in a professional environment, giving you the edge in an ultra-competitive marketplace.

More About Workspace

This blog was contributed to us by Workspace, the leading providers of commercial property space to let across London and the outer areas of the capital. With over 100 properties and 5.4 million sq ft of work space they provide businesses with the means to grow.

 

Workspace Ltd: http://www.workspace.co.uk

Twitter: https://twitter.com/WorkspaceGroup

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Workspace-Group/111945592155898

Work:Life Balance Day!

1 Mar

work-life-balance-1

Work:Life Balance Day is TODAY!

 

Work:life balance is a term we all know, but one that only a handful of us actually implement and push towards. The commercial argument for work:life balance is as compelling as the holistic one.

 

When was the last time you took a proper lunch break? According to Datamonitor the average worker skips 24 minutes of his/her lunch break each day, the equivalent of approximately 2 weeks additional holiday per year. According to Tara Dalrymple, Director of Busy Lizzie Lifestyle Management [www.busylizzie.ie], working long hours, over a long period of time can be detrimental to health. ‘Working 12-hour days and missing breaks can actually lower work productivity. It can also affect our relationships with colleagues and people outside of work.’

 

A report by the Small Firms Association has shown that small businesses in Ireland lose on average €550 million a year through absenteeism. So it’s hardly surprising that the mention of the phrase ‘work:life balance’ is now causing employers to sit up and take notice. Dalrymple says there is a strong business case for the adoption of work:life practices: ‘Large companies are taking the concept of work:life balance more seriously at a strategic level. They know it’s important for attracting and retaining talent on a long-term basis. Young graduates are now using flexible working as a bargaining tool. Everybody can benefit from a better work:life balance. More flexible working boosts staff morale, improves employees’ commitment to their work and benefits business through higher productivity.’

 

So perhaps it’s time to reflect on your own work:life balance. If you’re working so late you’re on first-name terms with the cleaners, it’s clearly time to get talking to your line manager or human resources about that masters degree you’ve always thought about, or that teaching job in South America you’ve dreamt about for so long. Because life is all about balance, and you want to be sure you are achieving yours.

 

These work:life balance programs are an excellent resource for recruitment, retention in addition the benefit is also proving to increase employee focus, reduce absenteeism, relieve stress and extend a level of order and management between career and home. Work:life balance programs communicate a company’s concern for employee well-being and offer assistance for lifestyle management.
The work:life program is typically set up as a membership based on number of employees with variables such as a tailored list of available services, the method of offering services to employees, and hours per month with a specific day of the week for the company and services completed during normal business hours. Services may be offered at no cost or at a reduced cost to the employees depending on the company’s preference. “Outsourcing for balance is becoming more and more popular,” said Dalrymple. “On the work front there are projects, deadlines, meetings and professional functions to attend. On the home front there is grocery shopping, dinner, kids’ school functions and sporting events, volunteerism, the need to be home for repairmen and the list goes on”.
About Busy Lizzie Lifestyle Management

Busy management and personal assistant service operating in Cork, Limerick, Dublin, Galway and Wicklow that exists for the sole purpose of helping clients to lead more fulfilling lives.

 

Through their services, they enable their clients to enjoy newfound freedom by reducing the amount of time they spend performing time-consuming tasks. They strive to ensure that their clients have the opportunity to spend more time with their family, friends and on hobbies and passions.

 

Website: http://www.busylizzie.ie

Email: info@busylizzie.ie

Phone: 091 399950

Image

Are you a Graduate?

11 Feb

student flyer

WE WANT YOU

4 Feb

we_want_you3

Busy Lizzie is excited to announce that we are currently looking for a new recruit in our Galway office. This position is available through a workplacement scheme and will offer the chosen candidate the opportunity to work on a multi dimensional level in a vibrant and current company that is currently in the process of a technology expansion that will require hands-on help.

Tara Dalrymple, the founder of Busy Lizzie has been in business since 2004 and has many accolades under her belt, including:

Finalist in Network Galway Self Employed Business Women of the Year Award 2009
Finalist in The Image Magazine Young Businesswoman of the Year 2008
Listed in Top 100 Women in Business by Entrepreneur Magazine 2006 & 2007
Double Finalist Network Galway Business Women of the Year Award 2006
Listed in Top 40 Irish Female Entrepreneurs: Image Business 2006
Finalist in JCI Galway Entrepreneur Award 2006
Finalist in Midlands & West of Ireland Regional LiveWIRE
Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2005
BPW Innovative Business Woman of the Year 2005

If you are interested in joining our growing team please contact hr@busylizzie.ie for more info.

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BPW Innovative Business Woman of the Year 2005

Listed in Top 40 Irish Female Entrepreneurs: Image Business 2006

Listed in Top 100 Women in Business by Entrepreneur Magazine 2006 & 2007

Finalist Image Magazine Young Businesswoman of the Year 2008

Busy Lizzie strives to improve our clients’ lives through our time saving services

Tel: Dublin (0)1 514 3401 Galway (0)91 39 99 50| Email: info@busylizzie.ie | Web: www.busylizzie.ie

Sign Up for Our Newsletter

 

What are our clients saying

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

Linkedin.com/in/ronanw

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.

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