As the American politician Kevin McCarthy said, ‘As any small business owner knows, starting a business is not glamorous work’, but it can be tremendously rewarding! This is why InterTradeIreland currently has funding up to €5,000 available through its sales and marketing programme, Elevate and Trade Accelerator Vouchers, which are specifically aimed at micro businesses across a range of sectors.
This Elevate and Trade Accelerator Vouchers funding can offer businesses sales and marketing consultancy support, which is 100% funded, to identify and capitalise on the cross-border sales opportunities out there. The support can benefit businesses in a number of ways including: providing an assessment of their Export Readiness capability, help with identifying cross-border sales leads and the development of a dedicated cross-border sales and marketing strategy.
Alison Currie from InterTradeIreland explains: “Through our quarterly All-Island Business Monitor, we have been monitoring the response from the business community across the island to the UK’s decision to leave the EU. Alarmingly, when asked about making plans to deal with the post-Brexit world, more than 90% continue to say they have none in place.
“This is driven by two key issues, first an understandable focus on ‘the now’. In what is already an intensely competitive market environment for small businesses finding the time and resources to plan for even potentially significant structural changes can be a problem.
“The second issue is the degree of uncertainty due to a perceived shortfall in reliable information that complicates and constrains the scenario building process.”
InterTradeIreland’s message is simple – while recognising the pressures facing small business owners dealing with the here and now, there is, nevertheless, a window of opportunity that must be grasped to prepare for the challenges and indeed the opportunities that will be presented by a new cross-border trading relationship that is set to emerge over the next few years.
The cross-border market will still remain a logical first step for businesses to develop wider export markets, giving them experience of working within a different legislative system and managing a different currency. Once mastered, this makes looking at European markets a more realistic prospect.
A company that benefitted from the Elevate programme was Sweetspot Sourcing, a product sourcing, manufacturing, promotional products and consultancy firm, founded by Sue Dempsey and Fiona Craul, which has seen its net profit rise dramatically since it received this support from InterTradeIreland.
Fiona said: “Our experience in the market over the past two years has been extremely positive. We started with Elevate and this allowed us to engage with potential clients in Northern Ireland. Our consultant was invaluable in the support and mentorship she offered and as a direct result we have a number of clients in Northern Ireland now and a strong pipeline of business. We would hope to open an office in Northern Ireland to service this business in the coming months.
“InterTradeIreland has also supported us during the uncertainty of Brexit and we have availed of their support by becoming as ready as we can through a Brexit Readiness Voucher and assistance from a specialist consultant in this area.”
Sue adds: “There is no doubt that, without the support of the Elevate and Acumen programmes, we would have had to navigate the day-to-day minutiae, which would have prevented us from properly focusing on the Northern Ireland market.
“I would encourage other small businesses to look at the range of supports that InterTradeIreland provides. Elevate has been very much a part of our journey and both Fiona and I tell people when the opportunity arises, just how much help the programme has been.’’
Interested in Elevate and Trade Accelerator Vouchers?
To apply and find out more about the Elevate programme visit www.intertradeireland.com/elevate
For other InterTradeIreland support visit www.intertradeireland.com