In my role as a business consultant I regularly come across small businesses who are looking for help. They turn to business consultants for help as they fall into a blind spot when it comes to support from state agencies.
A small business is defined as one that has between 10 and 49 employees and has either an annual turnover and/or an annual balance sheet total not exceeding €10 million. According to the Central Statistics Office there are approx. 16,000 (probably more now as this is a 2015 figure) businesses fitting this description in Ireland. They employ 307,626 people. This makes them a very important player in the Irish economy.
Micro businesses (less than 10 employees) are really well supported by the state through the network of Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs). Businesses who export or have the potential to export receive excellent support from Enterprise Ireland. Some small businesses, based in rural areas can qualify for support through the LEADER programme. But that still leaves a lot of small businesses without state support.
In fairness to the LEOs, they do provide some excellent non-financial supports to this category, but they are excluded from the type of financial support that is available to the micro business. While I totally agree with encouraging and assisting businesses to export – we are after all a small island nation and the export markets represent huge potential for Irish businesses.
I do not agree however that this should be a prerequisite for receiving state support. Perhaps the solution is to increase the employee threshold for LEO financial support – increase it to at least 20 employees. Or broaden the definition of exporting to take account of products that are exported as part of their customer’s finished products.
I encourage all small business owners to lobby their local TDs to raise awareness of this issue. Also, please help to raise awareness by liking and sharing this post.
By Denis Casey
Casey Business Consulting – results focused consulting