Should I sell off my late husband's business or try to keep it going by myself?
Q My husband died recently and I have inherited his business. My children are all of school-going age. I don't know whether to sell the business or keep it going until one of them can take over. I know many women in the town where I live who have taken on a business with little experience. Do you think I should give it a shot or sell up?
AI am sorry to hear your husband has passed away. This must be a challenging time for you. Your decision will probably be based on what realistic options are available to you.
Selling up in the current climate is going to be a difficult challenge and I can almost certainly say that you are unlikely to achieve the full value of the business right now.
If you have the enthusiasm and time, then it might be worth exploring taking the business over for the next year and then making a more informed decision at that stage.
There will be some practical considerations. What extended family support structure have you in place to help with your children?
Does the shop have a strong team of staff and even possibly a supervisor/manager in place who can take care of all the day-to-day running of the business?
If you do decide to take the business over for the next year, one of the first things I think you should do is go out "on tour" to some of the larger cities in Ireland and the UK and see how your own business sector is doing business.
Any business in the same sector as you should be more than happy to assist you in this process, so don't be afraid to pick up the phone and ask can you come and visit them.
You could get invaluable lessons through this and perhaps move the business on to a level that it has not been at previously. Many families running a business make the mistake of thinking that they have to be involved 100pc of the time themselves – which, of course, is untrue.
There are plenty of examples of highly successful family businesses where the family are not involved on a daily basis and that is another option for you to consider.
Can the business afford that you put in a robust management structure that would allow you to be involved at key management meetings and set the overall direction, without having to put every hour of your time into it?
Don't forget your local Enterprise Board will be able to provide you with a mentor who could help you through this process also.
In summary, and if I were in your shoes, I think it is certainly worth your while to hold on to the business for the next year or so, give it your best and then make a further assessment at that point.
Q I have decided to emigrate after trying to find a job here for three years. What countries do you think are the best for those hoping to set up a business? I would like to stay in Europe if possible.
AWell, the simple answer is somewhere with sunshine, good food and a great economy! The reality is that while you might find the sunshine and good food, the economic climate is varying significantly from country to country. I think this should be the first task of your research, which is to have a look at the economies of each of the countries you are considering as this will have a direct bearing on your business.
Don't underestimate cultural differences from country to country. Many people going to live in another country underestimate cultural differences and simply make assumptions that it will all be the same as Ireland. This could make or break your business. Also, question if you have a grasp of local languages, the business legal system in that country and the taxation rates, etc, for start-up businesses.
If I were in your shoes, I would treat this like a feasibility study and create a spreadsheet with the pluses and minuses of each of your chosen countries and rate each one accordingly. That will certainly help you in the decision process.
However, may I stop you for a moment and ask why are you going in the first instance? There is an apparent conflict in your letter that you are leaving because you can't find a job here.
However, you are talking about starting up a business in the new country. Why don't you simply look at setting up a business in Ireland?
There is an array of supports and training for those wishing to set up a business and at least you would have a support network of family and friends to help you in those early difficult stages.
Perhaps the proverb "far away hills are always greener" might be appropriate in this case.
I am a great fan of getting international experience and one of my earlier experiences was in France, which helped with the formation of who I am today.
Perhaps an option is for you to go off and work for other people in a few different companies, take stock of what you are seeing and learning and then make the decision on where is best to start your business.