Sunday 9 December 2018

How can I avoid common pitfalls SME startups face?

Problem Solver

Feargal Quinn
Feargal Quinn

Feargal Quinn

Q: Can you share with me the most common challenges that small-to-medium businesses experience, as I am in the early stages of getting my business up and running?

A: It is a good question, and even better that you know these things so that you can watch out for them and prevent them from becoming issues as your business grows. Potentially the list could be endless, but here are some that come up repeatedly as challenges.

At the very early stages, businesses sometimes don't do enough research and jump into the business too quickly, resulting in lots of errors that could have been prevented if the proper research had been done in advance.

Challenges with scaling up the business once it starts can also be very common.

These challenges can be numerous, but I find that funding the business can be high on the agenda. First of all, the business needs to ensure that it has enough cash to get off the ground, then it needs to have enough cash to fund daily cash flow.

The biggest issue arises around two years down the road when additional funding is required to scale up to meet market demand. You need to be thinking of where you are going to get funding from, from day one, as undoubtedly you will need it.

The final challenge we will focus on is that of the owner themselves. Some business owners jump into the business one hundred and ten per cent, work long days and do everything that is needed to make the business a success.

The one thing some fail to do, is to stand back and manage the business, and even though they are working very hard, on some occasions, the business fails because it is not being managed properly.

Give yourself plenty of structure, set weekly and monthly targets, and generally be very structured in your own approach to running the business.

I wish you well in your journey.

Q: I run a riding school and trekking facility. Can you give me any advice on how I might target more tourists to boost my revenue?

A: You probably couldn't have picked a better time to target tourists. Tourism numbers are up dramatically, and investment by Fáilte Ireland in the various different regions around the country is at an all-time high. An investment by Fáilte Ireland is significant.

First of all, a lot of how you're going to position the business will depend on where you're located, and what experience you are offering. You will notice now that much of the marketing to tourists is being targeted at particular groups. Fáilte Ireland has segmented visitors into different target groups which you should familiarise yourself with and see which is the core one you are targeting.

It would be even better if you could link your trekking packages to some theme that fits with the wider umbrella marketing teams - 'Ireland's Ancient East', 'The Wild Atlantic Way', etc.

The success that these themes have brought with them is unquestionable and to be able to link your positioning with that of these regions, would help enormously.

My advice would be to broaden the experience from trekking only, to a wider one where there are many experiences, as part of the packages, eg taking a trek along a route through local farms where your guests could sample some of the produce at each stop over.

This adds enormously to the overall experience, and would be reflected in the price you could charge.

Contact your local Fáilte Ireland representative, and they will be able to guide you on the steps to take and the supports that are available.

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