Friday 28 November 2014

Problem Solver: Surround yourself with smart business people and you will thrive

Feargal Quinn

Published 21/08/2014 | 02:30

Feargal Quinn. Photo: Tom Burke
Feargal Quinn. Photo: Tom Burke

Q: I run a cycle sales and repair business in a rural part of Ireland. We are successful in what we do but I am finding it very hard to keep myself motivated and feel isolated from other businesses. Any thoughts on how I can broaden my horizon?

A Business owner isolation can be quite a big problem. The reality is, as the entrepreneur, you have no one else to chat to, to sound out different ideas with, or to challenge you when you need outside thoughts.

Surprisingly, even owners of larger companies suffer from this same isolation. During my time in Superquinn I was always conscious that I needed to network with other people in my own industry from different parts of the world if I was to keep my mind challenged.

I put a lot of energy into joining global networks for the food industry, such as the Food Marketing Institute in the USA, and I found it refreshing each time I went to one of their seminars, or even just to meet other members of the group in their own companies.

I also found that because we were a relatively small company in the overall scheme of things, and from Ireland, we were not a threat to anyone so I found it relatively easy to get other much larger companies to share ideas and best practice with us.

This opportunity to network with others helped immensely to protect me against the isolation to which you refer.

Whether it is at domestic level or international level, I would encourage you to seek out an industry group for your sector and set yourself an objective of attending at least one event they are running throughout the year.

There are also many industry social media groups where you can converse with others online which will also help.

You will also find that once you start attending these events, you will form friendships and alliances with other similar businesses which will allow you to pick up the phone, outside of the formal events when you need some re-energising and stimulation with new ideas.

Surround yourself with other smart business people and you will thrive on the experience.

Do you have a problem with your small business? Email Feargal at problemsolver@independent.ie

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