Taking Care of Business

Sponsored by: Local Enterprise Office Laois, Offaly & Westmeath
Entrepreneur and HR expert Ronan Berry steals ideas from the best business minds in the midlands, every Tuesday from 7pm.

Supported by the Local Enterprise Office, this programme introduces you to successful people, happy to share their insights and winning formulas – or from whom Ronan can prise the answers.

Need advice? Have a question or a discussion topic suggestion? You can contact the show, or select an article below to read more about previous shows in the series.


Taking Care of Business can be emailed at business@midlands103.com.


6 secondary school students are ready for take-off to Kennedy Space Centre Florida!

Students from Oaklands Community College in Edenderry are on their way to NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre in Florida. Under the guidance of teacher Laura Guinan this is the consecutive third year the school has been invited to enter a competition involving simulated space flights and moon landings amongst other STEM related activities!
The team of boys and girls from Oaklands CC are the only international team in the competition. How did it all come about – listen back to Laura Guinan talking to Ronan on Taking Care of Business.

Leaving the busyness of London to set-up a fermented tea producing company – the story of Offaly entrepreneur Tracy Armstrong.

Packed full of beneficial acids, enzymes and minerals, KO Kombucha is a Live Active Culture brewed with Reverse Osmosis filtered water, Organic Tea, Raw Organic Cane Sugar and a S.C.O.B.Y. (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast).

It is hand-produced in Moate by Tracy Armstrong and her partner Ronan since 2017 after the couple left the hustle and bustle of London city to set up home and business in their home country. Tracy talks to Ronan about the experience so far and their plans for 2019.

The couple availed of the Back for Business programme run on a pilot basis last year to support entrepreneurial activity among those recently returned or planning to return to live and set up business in Ireland. The call is open for applications for the 2019 programme, which will run from February to July 2019.

250 employees and no fixed assets – is remote working the future for Irish towns?

Shopify currently employs 250 people in Ireland and specialises in developing hassle-free platforms to allow companies build their retail business on-line. All employees are classed as remote-workers and there has been a sharp rise in the number of companies endorsing remote work and in the number of employees availing of the associated benefits.
John Riordan is Director of Support for Ireland at Shopify and he took time out to discuss the company and the benefits of remote working with Ronan.

The closing date for applications for Back for Business is 25th January 2019

Calling Westmeath based entrepreneurs – the closing date for applications is closing soon.
Returned emigrants to Westmeath are being urged to join a programme to help start and develop businesses in Ireland.
The entrepreneur mentoring programme runs over six months and there is no charge for those selected to participate.
It is funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and was launched before Christmas by Minister of State for the Diaspora and International Development Ciarán Cannon.
The programme was run on a pilot basis last year to support entrepreneurial activity among those recently returned or planning to return to live and set up business in Ireland.
The call is open for applications for the 2019 programme, which will run from February to July 2019.

Thinking about a career change or upskilling – AIT has over 300 free or part-funded Springboard+ courses on offer across the region.

Head of Lifelong Learning at Athlone Institute of Technology Seadna Ryan discusses the types of courses on offer, the delivery method, eligibility and how to apply. AIT is holding an information evening on Tuesday 15th January 2019 from 6-8pm.

Many employees and company directors may discover they are paying emergency tax in January 2019 – find out why!

PAYE Modernisation commenced on 1st January 2019 and it has been estimated that 120,000 people may incorrectly pay 51% emergency tax this month. John McCann of MCM Accountants explains why and suggests that the office of the Revenue Commissioner is currently one the largest recruiters of data analysts in the country.

Shopfront Enhancement Grant Scheme for Westmeath

Local Enterprise Westmeath yesterday announced details of a shopfront enhancement grant scheme.
Christine Charlton, Head of Enterprise at LEO Westmeath talks to Ronan about where the idea came from and who the grant primarily aimed at.

New rules to assist people in switching to a cheaper mortgage announced by Central Bank of Ireland.

To make it easier for you to switch your mortgage, the Central Bank of Ireland is introducing new measures that lenders will have to follow, including:

* Tell you about cheaper options 60 days before you come out of a fixed rate mortgage
* Tell you if you can switch to a cheaper mortgage based on how much equity is in your home
* Give you a comparison of how much your mortgage costs versus other options offered by your lender if you ask for one
* Give switchers all the information they need to switch, including how long it will take
Banks and mortgage provider have to put these measures in place by 1 January 2019.
David Kinsella of Kinsella Financial discusses.

Can we survive Brexit irrespective of what format it takes?

In the 19 years since the millennium we’ve survived the Y2K computer bug, we’ve weathered the storm of the financial crisis that began in 2008 and we’ve even managed to cope with the much-feared General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR introduced in May 2018.
Is it therefore OK to assume that we’ll survive Brexit too irrespective of what format it takes?
Who knows and in truth there have been no significant developments since I last spoke to you all in late December of last year.
Ronan is joined in studio by Midlands 103’s Ben Finnegan and John McCann from MCM Accountants in Tullamore to give an update on Brexit.

Ignore the political drama – Irish SME’s face a major threat from Brexit

Ireland has been proactive in its response to Brexit with initiatives such as the Brexit Loan Scheme provided by the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI).
Many Irish businesses have some form of a Brexit strategy in place and are eagerly awaiting developments from London.
The same cannot be said of UK based SME’s as the UK government has been somewhat complacent in acknowledging the scale of the threat of a hard Brexit.
Irish companies reliant on selling to or purchasing from UK based SME’s should thread carefully according to John Finn of Treasury Solutions Ltd.
Issues with cash-flow and in particular problems linked to reclaiming VAT after Brexit might also jeopordise the future of Irish SME’s.
John provides some key tips for Irish businesses as the Brexit process continues to weave and turn. The 29th of March 2019 is closer than ever.

Developing resilience to cope with workplace stress

An ESRI study, funded by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), has found that job stress among employees in Ireland doubled from 8 per cent in 2010 to 17 per cent in 2015.
What measures can people take to counteract the negative effects of working in increasingly stressful environments? Barbara Nugent is a Leadership and Emotional Intelligence specialist delivering resilience training nationwide.
Barbara talks to Ronan about the report and suggests a number of basic steps people can take.

Liam Linden – An Acknowledgement

Jack Nolan pays tribute to Liam Linden a founding partner of 4 Aces Cash and Carry in Portlaoise and a man well known in his local community.
His company employed 85 people and was bought over by BWG Group earlier this year with Liam retaining a senior management position.

Survey reveals the number of outbound daily commuters from Laois

The results of Laois Commuter Survey survey launched in February 2018 by the Business Support Unit of Laois County Council have been published.
The results show the profiles of the outbound commuters based on skills, education and their sector of employment.
The results are being used to assist companies in identifying new talent in an ever competitive jobs market.
Listen back to Director of Services at Laois County Council Kieran Kehoe discuss the survey and the results on Taking Care of Business recently.

Warehousing shortages in Ireland and the UK and stockpiling of pharmaceutical products are just some of the consequences of a hard Brexit.

Chief Executive of the Irish Exporters Association Simon McKeever discusses the draft Brexit deal announced last week and the barriers it faces to get past the UK parliament.
He also discusses the measures being taken by IEA members to prepare for Brexit and the supports required from the Irish government.

Are outdated parking charges and commercial rates putting the future of the main street in danger?

Edenderry Chamber of Commerce held a breakfast seminar on Tuesday 20th November with Bobby Kerr as keynote speaker.
The entrepreneur and broadcaster has spearheaded various campaigns highlighting the decline of Irish main streets and has strong opinions on what steps towns can take to counteract the threats.
Examining the length of our high streets and reviewing the type of businesses thereon, the outdated commercial rates system and the need for local authorities to abandon parking charges as a source of income as just some of his suggestions.
Listen to the full interview with Bobby Kerr here with input from Christine Traynor of Edenderry Chamber of Commerce also.

The Blue Apron Restaurant, Tullamore is included in Michelin Guide for fourth consecutive year.

Husband and wife duo Kenan and Sarah dropped in to talk about their restaurants inclusion in the coveted Michelin Guide 2019.
The Blue Apron in Tullamore is the only Offaly establishment included and one of only a few in the region.
What inspires the couple to reach these high standards – find out here!

Do not fear career change – you are likely worth a lot to other employers!

The recent announcement of 430 redundancies by Bord na Mona has left a lot of employees facing an uncertain future. What are the challenges faced by someone in mid-career entering the jobs market and importantly, what are the opportunities that exist too.
Ronan discusses this with Dr. Michael Tobin Dean of Professional, Continuing, On-line and Distance Learning at Athlone IT and Louise Digney of O’Reilly Digney & Associates recruitment.

Handmade chocolate infused with whiskey, coconut and lemon, cannabidiol (CBD) or seaweed – discover more here!

Michael Donegan of Kilbeggan Handmade Chocolate and the Beneficial Chocolate Company dropped into studio to discuss innovation in chocolate making. His company now produce sugar free chocolate suitable for diabetics and new product containing CBD.

How much can you tell about a person by looking at their facial features and how can this help you during the recruitment process?

To coincide with the launch of his new book, Ronan spoke to Joseph McGuire of Clearsight Communications to learn more about what is ‘hidden in clear sight’.
Face Facts – The Art of Reading Your Clients and Prospects for Sales, Negotiations and Recruitment is available at www.clearsightcommunications.com

Working towards eliminating fatalities in the construction sector – 22nd to 26th October 2018 is Construction Safety Week.

To coincide with Construction Safety Week 2018, Ronan was joined by Mark Cullen Assistant Chief Executive of the Health and Safety Authority. The number of fatalities in the sector has vastly reduced over the past two decades. With safety standards constantly increasing the HSA is determined to ensure that these standards are maintained in a sector where employment and output is set to swell in the short term.
Are attitudes to behaviours to workplace safety, health and welfare changing?
Find out here.

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