Entrepreneurs gear up for lively Local Enterprise Week
Hundreds of seminars, workshops and other events to take place across the country during flagship week aimed at giving small businesses a boost
Back row: Carlow Toolmaking Services founder Pat Amond; Zendra Health co-founder Thomas Coleman; Eileen and Thomas Ashe of Annascaul Black Pudding; Gym + Coffee co-founder Diarmuid McSweeney; front row: Zendra Health co-founder David Coleman; Richard Murphy of Enterprise Ireland; LEO network chairman Oisín Geoghegan; and Dún Laoghaire- Rathdown County Council chief executive Philomena Poole at the launch of Local Enterprise Week. Photograph: Cathal Noonan
If you are planning, starting or growing a business, book your seat for Local Enterprise Week. Run by the country’s network of 31 Local Enterprise Offices (LEO), it takes place from March 2nd-6th, with hundreds of events happening across Ireland and is supported by Enterprise Ireland and local authorities.
Local Enterprise Week is the country’s flagship entrepreneurial event and offers a packed programme of seminars, workshops and masterclasses. Each is designed to ensure participants come away with practical tips to boost their chances of business success.
This year’s event is themed #MakingItHappen and is on track to be the most important yet, with people all over the country signing up early to attend events in their local area. The events will feature some high profile sports personalities and entrepreneurs such as athlete Derval O’Rourke who will attend the Cork city event, Gaelic football legend Jim Gavin who will be at the south Dublin event and Kilkenny hurling manager Brian Cody who will be at the Donegal event.
Pamela Laird, the businesswoman who flew the flag for Irish entrepreneurship in the most recent series of the BBC’s The Apprentice is another well known entrepreneur who will be involved.
Viewers who loved Laird’s moxie in the face of Alan Sugar will know she is the brains behind successful beauty business Moxi Loves. The canny entrepreneur chose the day of her departure from the TV show to launch her newest product, a range of biodegradable Dry Shampoo Sheets. It sold out immediately.
Laird is currently busy growing sales around the world, from the UK to Pakistan, but knows exactly where she’ll be in the first week in March.
“I’m going to a number of Local Enterprise Week events, including a seminar on cash flow management. No matter how long I’m in business, figures are my Achilles heel,” she says.
Her LEO in Dublin city has supported Laird since soon after she set up Moxi Loves, in 2016. “If I had known what amazing supports they offer to start-ups that are pre-trading, I’d have gone even earlier,” she says.
“Now I’d say to anyone, ‘Before you spend €1 on a business idea, go talk to your Local Enterprise Office and see the supports that are there for you’.”
Laird secured a LEO TAME grant, which halved the cost of attending trade shows in Italy and Dubai. She also availed of mentoring from industry experts, “the kind of people you wouldn’t normally get the opportunity to meet”, she says.
Laird came second in the Dublin city final of Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur, a competition run by the Local Enterprise Offices. As well as prize money, it brought her credibility. “Before I went on The Apprentice, the IBYE was the first thing I told people about my business,” she says.
She attended a Brexit Readiness workshop called Prepare Your Business For Customs . “It provided the practical information I needed and meant that instead of just worrying, I could look for opportunities too,” says Laird.
For this year’s Local Enterprise Week she has signed up for an “Ask the Expert” session and a networking event. “Just talking to a new person can give you ideas and contacts are so important – all the people I pick up the phone to regularly, to ask questions about my business, are people I met through networking.”
The week showcases all the training, development, networking and financial supports available from LEOs. These span a range of strategic areas including competitiveness, digitalisation, sustainability and the green economy as well as Brexit.
The event showcases the kind of supports that helped Laird turn her business ambition into a reality.
Video supplied by Local Enterprise Office
Some other events during Local Enterprise Week include:
- Achieving Your Vision: Taking Your Business to the Next Level – Monday, March 2nd in Donegal
- Improve Your Productivity: LEO Successes and Expertise – Tuesday, March 3rd in Galway
- ONE Network Meeting: Keeping your Eye on the Prize – Tuesday, March 3rd in Offaly
- Breakfast briefing: How to reduce energy costs – Tuesday, March 3rd in Roscommon
- Goal Setting Made Easy: Daily Habits of High Achievers – Wednesday, March 4th in Laois
- Work Smarter, Grow Faster: Digital Productivity for your Business in association with IE Domain Registry – Wednesday, March 4th in Sligo
- Win That Tender: Everything you need to know about procurement – Thursday, March 5th in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown
- Connect and Learn: Lunch with Blaise Brosnan – Thursday, March 5th in Kildare
- Stepping Up and Driving Change – March 5th in Louth
- Building Innovation Capability for Business in Mayo – Thursday, March 5th
But that’s just a snapshot; all around the country there are business sessions covering everything from branding and human resources to developing age friendly marketing or starting a food business. There are Brexit related workshops, environmental management seminars and business breakfasts that break down topics into bite sized chunks – from solo entrepreneurship to social media marketing.
Each event will provide an opportunity to learn about all the financial, training, networking and mentoring supports available at LEOs. These include supports such as the Trading Online Voucher Scheme, Agile Innovation Fund and Lean for Micro programme, designed to boost productivity in small businesses.
Participating in the Local Enterprise Week provides an opportunity to connect with and plug into the eco system of enterprise support we have here in Ireland, a pretty robust system for supporting start-ups and early-stage businesses at local level
There are invaluable networking opportunities throughout the country, including specific Women in Business networking events.
Places are limited so early booking is vital, says Oisin Geoghegan, chair of the network of 31 LEOs.
“Local Enterprise Week is our flagship event and has gained a lot of traction since we started it in 2015. This year we are seeing more interest in it than ever and events are booking up at an earlier stage,” he says.
A big part of its appeal is that events are held locally throughout the regions. As well as events covering topics of interest to anyone planning, starting or growing a business, many of the seminars and workshops are specifically tailored to local business needs.
“Participating in the Local Enterprise Week provides an opportunity to connect with and plug into the eco system of enterprise support we have here in Ireland, a pretty robust system for supporting start-ups and early-stage businesses at local level,” says Geoghegan.
Local Enterprise Week showcases this support in a practical way. “A key part of its success is holding events locally. Small business owners don’t have time to travel long distances for information or networking.”
Instead, the week brings such activities to them. “The week is very much focused on owner managers and entrepreneurs and we know these are people who are very busy,” he says.
Have a business idea of your own? Local Enterprise Week, organised by the Local Enterprise Offices, is taking place from Monday, March 2nd, to Friday, March 6th. Hundreds of events are being organised with the support of Enterprise Ireland and the local authorities – all designed to help you plan, start or grow your business in 2020.
Find out what’s happening near you by visiting localenterprise.ie/week or searching #MakingItHappen