Small firms re­solve to set am­bi­tious busi­ness tar­gets

Irish Examiner - - Business - Ruth Doris

As life­style tips and New Year’s res­o­lu­tions fill our news and so­cial me­dia feeds, Ir­ish busi­nesses are busy set­ting goals for the year ahead.

Com­pa­nies are look­ing to de­velop in 2019, with twothirds of small busi­nesses in­tend­ing to re­cruit and in­vest in their com­pa­nies, ac­cord­ing to a sur­vey by the Small Firms As­so­ci­a­tion.

Tak­ing time to look back at the pre­vi­ous year’s achieve­ments is valu­able for any busi­ness.

And the first few weeks of Jan­uary are an op­por­tune time to set tar­gets and re­visit goals.

Co-founder Ka­rina Mur­ray of Aunua Academy, a non-profit which pro­vides free re­sources on men­tal health, hopes to build on an “in­cred­i­ble year”.

She be­lieves a re­view of your busi­ness is use­ful when set­ting goals: “I have big plans on where I see Aunua Academy go­ing and look­ing back is al­ways the best way to help move for­ward.”

Is­abel Ron­ayne of Ard­more Jew­ellery agrees that con­duct­ing a re­view is an es­sen­tial ex­er­cise to do at this time of the year.

Ms Ron­ayne, who runs the new com­pany with her mother Marie, is learn­ing as the com­pany grows.

Marie Ron­ayne de­signs and makes the brand’s sea and nat­u­rally-in­spired jew­ellery while her daugh­ter runs the busi­ness side.

The com­pany started as a hobby and grew into a busi­ness in 2017.

The duo be­gan this year’s goal-set­ting with a re­view of the pre­vi­ous year.

“We started by list­ing ev­ery­thing we achieved last year and what we’re grate­ful for,” she says.

The as­sess­ment helped them to fo­cus on their strengths and to learn from other com­pa­nies. Hav­ing missed out on events fo­cused on Ir­ish-made prod­ucts, this year’s cal­en­dar is full of dates. One item on their 2019 to-do list is to pre­pare to ex­hibit at Show­case Ire­land in 2020. A key chal­lenge for busi­nesses in 2019 is at­tract­ing and re­tain­ing staff, ac­cord­ing to a re­cent Dublin Cham­ber sur­vey.

Cel­e­brat­ing achieve­ments and ac­knowl­edg­ing the con­tri­bu­tion of em­ploy­ees is a cru­cial el­e­ment to build­ing a team. Recog­nis­ing wins is es­sen­tial.

Ms Ron­ayne says: “It’s good to pat our­selves on the back for what we’ve done be­cause we are so small and so new.”

Ms Mur­ray plans to ex­pand the Aunua Academy team from its cur­rent staff level of 30. She be­lieves cel­e­brat­ing mile­stones is a great way to show vol­un­teers the “value of their work and what it is pos­si­ble to achieve through or­gan­ised team­work”.

Set­ting up in Oc­to­ber 2017 and hav­ing run two pi­lots early in 2018, the Aunua Academy team is busy with plans to de­liver men­tal health sem­i­nars at schools and de­vel­op­ing an on­line plat­form.

Its main part­ner­ship is with Belouga, a so­cial ed­u­ca­tion plat­form in over 2,500 class­rooms in 82 coun­tries.

Hav­ing de­vel­oped the busi­ness with the help of a pri­vate spon­sor, a big pri­or­ity for the com­pany in 2019 is to se­cure ad­di­tional fund­ing to achieve its goals.

Fam­ily busi­ness Good4U is thriv­ing and its manag­ing di­rec­tor Bernie But­ler wants to con­tinue the mo­men­tum built up over the past two years. While busi­nesses are cau­tiously op­ti­mistic about 2019 most of the re­spon­dents to a sur­vey by the SFA still be­lieve that busi­ness con­di­tions are im­prov­ing.

How­ever, one of the big­gest chal­lenges is, of course, the loom­ing threat of Brexit.

Most of Good4U’s busi­ness is in the UK. Ms But­ler, who runs the com­pany with her hus­band Paul, daugh­ters Laura and Michelle and son Karol, says the com­pany is “plough­ing on”.

“You could get over­whelmed with the what-ifs and de­cide to do noth­ing,” she says. She aims to build on UK growth, hav­ing se­cured three sig­nif­i­cant c on t r a c t s wi t h ma jo r re­tail­ers for 2019.

“We will face chal­lenges if there is no deal and like ev­ery­one else, we’re try­ing to plan for that. But by the same to­ken, we’re look­ing at in­creas­ing our ca­pa­bil­i­ties, our ca­pac­i­ties and our fac­to­ries,” she says.

The com­pany makes pri­vate-la­bel and branded prod­ucts with ranges in­clud­ing pro­tein balls, salad top­pers, seed and fruit snacks, as well as roasted and sprouted seeds and pulses.

It says it is on track to­wards its goal to be­come a lead­ing health-food brand.

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