The need for people to look after themselves and put some distance between themselves and their companies should be emphasised, AIB Start-up Night in Sligo was told.
While many people devote themselves exclusively to their business, particularly when it its infancy, entrepreneur and author Joanne Hession stressed the need for people to create a business model that would not see themselves run ragged.
“Learn not to sweat the small stuff and only focus on the things that really matter,” she told an audience of more than 100 people who had gathered in the Glasshouse Hotel for the event. She said that she treated her education business, QED Training, like the dashboard of a car.
“There are certain key things I need to know – and they are on the dashboard – but I don’t have to know how the whole engine works to drive the car.”
She stressed the importance of hiring good people – and quickly recognising when you don’t and letting those who won’t work out go – and emphasised how important delegation was to any successful business.
Hession asked people to imagine they were stranded on a desert island and could only get a solitary text about the state of their company each day, and decide what that text would say. Staying with the theme of technology, she suggested that too many businesses focus on social media without analysing what impact it was having on their business.
“I see a lot of people spending two or three hours a day on social media but they don’t actually take a step back and ask what return they are getting from that investment of time.”
Deirdre McGlone, of Harveys Point Hotel, said business could be simplified into three questions. “Are my customers happy? Are my staff happy? And am I making money?”
She emphasised the importance of customer service and staff retention to the success of a business, particularly in the hospitality sector.
Like many in the hotel business, Harvey’s Point had been through some very lean years but she said that, like the economy at large, the sector had turned a corner this year.
There were also shorter presentations from Big Red Barn – a start-up that makes customised barns to be used instead of marquees – and the Donegal Brewing Company, which makes craft beers that are now stocked in more than 200 retail outlets and bars across the State.
Nephim Whiskey has yet to bottle a drop but is already taking advance orders while UPilot Teoranta took the audience on a flight of fancy through its world of flight simulators.