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2nd March 2021
Watch Video of the Cork City Herons Below... K.O'Connell Fishmonger - English Market, Cork City. An introduction to the hidden, early morning, Cork city centre. And it's earliest-rising residents. A fixture every Mon-Sat outside the English Market in Cork city. A must-see for visitors and residents of the city alike. Anyone who knows me, knows I go for a run - usually really early in the morning. My route around Cork City takes me through the Grand Parade. The main street in the centre of Cork City. That's where I often spot the grey herons and their early morning 'fishing expedition'. As you can see in the video, the herons are a fixture Mon-Sat outside the English Market. I never usually see them on a Sunday though. And according to Paul of K. O'Connell's fishmonger's in the English market. They don't show up on bank holidays either. Whether that's fact or local lore. I haven't been able to determine yet. But I thought I'd include it anyway. Maybe someone out there can confirm the bank holiday 'legend' for us? Not that I don't believe Paul or anything. But a good writer should double-check his facts nonetheless IMO. Anyway, like I also stated in the video. If you have the time and can spare a few euros. I'd recommend stopping by K. O'Connell's fishmongers in the English Market and picking up some fish the day before. Then setting the alarm clock for around 5 AM and feeding Cork city's boldest aviary residents and seeing for yourself. See you there.
28th January 2021
Choosing software for your small business can be a make or break opportunity for a small business. You need something that's value for money. Doesn't go offline too often and allows you to take your data with you should you decide to switch to another provider down the line. In this article, i'm going to go through the 10 points I look for in a software vendor solution. In the hope that it can give your small business some food for thought. Intro: I have a checklist of requirements that I go through before committing to choosing software for my small business. It's not only the cost involved in subscribing to the new software that matters. But there's also the not inconsiderable time commitment required in learning a new user interface and workflow. 1) Does It Have Data Portability? Can you switch software service providers and take your customers and customer data with you when you go? Important. Especially when it comes to payment gateways like Paypal or Stripe. Ask their support before committing to a solution. 2) Server / Bandwidth issues. How fast is the service? Simple test. Sign-up for a free trial and access the service online via your web browser. Is the site slow or fast? If it's slow, check Google to see if Google is slow or fast. If both are slow. Then it's your own Internet connection. If Google is quick. Then it's the vendor's software that is slow. 3) Investigate Uptime. The length of time between the vendor's service going offline for any reason. Worth checking out for your software solution (see below). 4) Support. Always test support. Often software companies will offer support over Twitter. Some companies are based on the other side of the world and work 9-5. So it takes at least 24hrs for support to get back to you. Also, is the support helpful and knowledgeable? 5) Sign up for a free trial. Generally, software vendors have a free trial. If you sign up but get distracted and can't spend the time to test. Ask them to extend your free trial for another few weeks. Make the time to test the system the second time around. I often get an extension on a free trial for software I haven't used much the first time around. 6) Check online reviews. Most important. Sites like trustpilot.com, capterra.com, g2.com all contain customer reviews of software services. The best thing to do is to type in "my-software review" into Google and look for one of these sites. Where "my-software" is the name of the software product you're researching. 7) Does the site have a status subdomain? Eg. "status.acuityscheduling.com". Acuity Scheduling has a status page that gets updated if they go offline for whatever reason. The status page should also tell you the uptime of the site. AcuitySheduling has a 99.98% uptime, which is good. 8) Does the software have an up to date changelog? Bit of a technical one. But you want software that is updated and improved often. The changelog displays changes made to the software. The when and the what. So type "changelog mypthub.com" into google and it brings up the latest changes to the software. 9) Does it have a WordPress plugin? Not a deal-breaker, but handy nonetheless. Especially if your website runs the WordPress content management system. Most software should have a WordPress plugin that gets updated regularly. WordPress runs 38% of websites so it's a good sign if the software integrates with WordPress. To check type "my-software Wordpress plugin" and see what comes up. 10) Are you contacted over social media (particularly LinkedIn) by a company employee after signing up? Good sign. Gives you a go-to person to contact with any issues you are having. Generally this means the company has their house in order in my opinion. Conclusion: Finally, I'd suggest shopping around when it comes to choosing software for your small business. Often up-and-coming software vendors will try to make a name for themselves by offering features for free. That their more established rivals are charging for. If you think I've missed any steps in the list. Let me know in the comments below. Alternatively if you have any questions. Just leave a comment or else contact us. Don't forget to read our blog post on sourcing free images for your business. If you market to clients in the health, nutrition or fitness niche. Make sure you check out the Hahamarketing.com Health Profiler. Happy Hunting!
21st January 2021
Next in our series of articles about the Trading Online Voucher Scheme by the Local Enterprise Office in Ireland. We talk to John Kennedy from the Bank Of Ireland business resource site ThinkBusiness.ie. If you've never visited ThinkBusiness.ie, we suggest you check it out for information that concerns Irish businesses. For more information on the Trading Online Voucher Scheme read our blog post. For specific advice from the Local Enterprise Office please view our article. What is the current state of Irish e-commerce in 2021 John in your opinion? Better than it was certainly. At one stage only 1 in 4 Irish companies had an online payment facility. It's improved a lot lately. Back in 2014 it was estimated that 70% of all e-commerce transactions left Irish shores. Nowadays it's estimated that 60% of irish people buy from overseas. The government started the Trading Online Voucher Scheme 5 or 6 years ago. They made it a big focus. Today companies such as Salt+soul, siar photography, ps i love you and many others are reaping the whirlwind. Salt+soul used to do 70% of their business online. Now it's 100%. Multyfarnham cookery school did only 10% of their business online. Since the pandemic, that's increased to 100%. So 100% of their revenue comes from the Internet. They received the help of their Local Enterprise Office in Westmeath. How has the pandemic changed the way people do business in Ireland? Online matters now more than ever. However, there are still disadvantages to shopping online though. Such as waiting weeks for goods to come from abroad. Then there's Brexit and customs charges. What would your advice be to business owners who are thinking about expanding their online presence? Enquire at your Local Enterprise Office. Online marketing is hard. The Local Enterprise Office will help you with site, training and ongoing support. Take this opportunity with both hands. A lot of shoppers and consumers won’t be going back to shopping offline in my opinion. The bigger sister to the Trading Online Voucher Scheme is the Online Retail Scheme. So businesses should check that out if they don't qualify for the Trading Online Voucher Scheme. Has the Trading Online Voucher Scheme been a successful business-incentive program in your experience? How could it be improved in your opinion? It could be improved by having more case studies coming to the surface. It's a great thing that it exists at all. Anything that helps. Which online tools should small business owners know about when beginning to trade online? Pointy.com helps you bring all your inventory online. It's an Irish company that was acquired by Google. They created a piece of hardware that interfaces with your Point Of Sale software. They help drive footfall to your brick-and-mortar shop. Sharing your site to a local community group on Facebook is a good idea. Shopify.com covers everything to building website, training, online promotions. It may not be your own website but allows you to trade online. Also, some retailers display a QR code in their window for customers to scan and be taken to their website. Which niches are in the best position to capitalise on the scheme and on online trading in general? I would have thought it’d be clothes and physical goods. But really it’s people being inventive. Necessity is the mother of invention. The ones that surprised me most were people who had something to train or teach. What is your advice to business owners who are thinking about applying for the scheme? If you don’t already have a relationship with your Local Enterprise Office. You should have. Start by enquiring. Local Enterprise Offices are keen to help. Talk to them. See what’s feasible. How can business owners maximize their budget with the scheme? Do your research. If you plan to spend on tools, courses and platforms. How does that fit in with your working capital cost? People don’t have time, the problem is lack of time and trying to keep the lights on. The Local Enterprise Office will direct you better in terms of what is a priority and what isn’t. Study other businesses and see what they invest in. Make sure you spend your cash on the right things. Web designers aren’t cheap. What sort of support does the banking sector (and BOI in particular) offer to SME’s that they should know about? We did some work with Shopify, Pointy and the E-commerce Association before Christmas. Talk to your bank manager and check out what’s available. The banking sector is a key part in keeping the lights on. Do your research. Having taken on the government schemes is a string in your bow. The Credit Guarantee Scheme helps with funding if a business needs to expand. These are loans underwritten by the government. Anything you’d like to add that might be important to readers? Just that digital is the future. People are shopping online out of necessity and convenience. You can still have a relationship with your loyal customers. Online selling means your business keeps selling while you sleep. Conclusion: A big thanks to John Kennedy from ThinkBusiness.ie for taking the time to share his experience. Online trading is clearly the future and is here to stay whether you like it or not. Contact your Local Enterprise Office. Do your research. Start today. If you would like to discuss any of these tips. Please leave a comment below. For a free consultation about developing, marketing or designing a website or expanding your online presence. Contact us.