So you’re thinking about starting a new business venture. We know that you know that it’s no easy task with all the paperwork and legal structures in place.
Well, we’re here to help you make sense of it all. In fact, we’ve curated a complete guide to starting a business in Ireland covering many things, from setting it up to some notes about funding.
Ready? Then, let’s dive right into it!
Developing Your Business Plan
The first step you should take is to lay your cards on the table. Take time to carefully think about the nature of your business, which could be anything from services like carpentry to retail businesses like flower shops.
Once you’ve got that part covered, think about your long-term goals and how you’re going to achieve them.
Say you have some ideas in mind, you can start to write your business plan bit by bit. A business plan is an important tool that guides entrepreneurs on starting and managing their businesses.
Don’t worry—it doesn’t have to be very formal right away since you can refine it as you go along. Just keep in mind that your plan should include the following:
- Executive summary – This provides an overview of your business, highlighting its most important parts. Normally, this part is written last once the other components have been fleshed out.
- Business description – This component describes your business in detail including its goals (short-term and long-term), products, services, and target customer base.
- Marketing strategy – This comprehensive section describes the industry and the specific market you plan to enter. This part also includes a detailed description of your target customer base, including their demographics, purchasing trends, and needs.
- Competitive analysis – This section assesses how your business stands out from direct and indirect competitors, and vice-versa. Determine your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses so you can come up with a strategy that puts your business ahead of your competition.
- Management and operations – This component lays out your business’s organisational structure including the profile of your management team, the number of employees, and their responsibilities. You must also talk about your business’s ownership structure here (i.e. sole proprietorship, partnership, limited company, etc.).
- Marketing plan – This part talks about how you intend to reach your target customer base and convince them to buy your product or service.
- Financial documents – This section breaks down your financial goals and expectations, including detailed information about your budget, assets and liabilities, balance sheets, and cash flow statements. You must also include details about pricing your products/services and how much capital you’ll need.
It’s important for you to take your time in developing your business plan, considering that you can use this document to secure funding. It also helps you stay organised throughout the process, giving you a reference for every endeavour you plan to take.
If you don’t have any background in business, it can be useful to take some short courses in the country’s best business schools.
Funding Your Business
Once you have a solid foundation for your business, the next step is to think about how you’re going to fund it. Will you be using your personal savings to kickstart your business or are you looking for external funding options?
Before jumping the gun, you must consider all possible funding options first to determine which one suits your needs best.
As you can guess, self-funding involves using your own money as capital for your business. This may come from your personal savings or even a loan from your family or friends.
Taking this route gives you complete control over your finances but it can also be risky, especially if you lose money on your investment. Be careful to not spend more than you can afford.
If you wish to pursue this path, we highly recommend consulting with a professional financial advisor. This will allow you to carefully plan your finances without risking too much.
This type of financing involves investing capital into small businesses in exchange for equity. Venture capitalists only invest in companies that they believe have a high potential for growth, yielding greater returns in the long run.
This also means that they can be very picky in the companies they invest in. One way to find them is by approaching your accountant or lawyer, who may have connections to venture capital investors.
You must also have a good credit score, which you can request from your bank, to boost your chances of securing a loan. Be sure to have your business plan ready if you plan on taking out a business loan.
You can also check out Microfinance Ireland. This financial institution provides loans to small businesses with no more than 10 employees, including sole traders and start-ups.
This popular method involves raising funds from a large group of people to launch a specific product. You can pitch your business idea on a crowdfunding website like Indiegogo or GoFundMe, for instance.
Crowdfunders don’t need a stake in the business nor do they expect their money back. However, you may need to use incentives like gifts or exclusive products to attract crowdfunders.
Setting Up Your Business
Now it’s time to hit the ground running, starting with figuring out what your business’s legal structure is. Choosing the right business structure will affect how you’ll be taxed.
To determine the most suitable one for you, consider the kind of business you’re running and with whom you intend to do business with.
In Ireland, there are three main types of company structures you can consider:
- Sole trader – If you’re a sole trader, it simply means that you own and run the business exclusively, keeping all income to yourself. It also means that you’re responsible to pay personal income tax on profits earned annually and any debt that may be incurred.
- Partnership – This ownership arrangement involves two or more people, where partners agree to share profits in prearranged percentages. Taxes and debt are based on a partner’s share of the profits.
- Limited company – This arrangement means that the company is a separate legal entity from its owners. In other words, the owner’s assets and income are distinct from the company, freeing them from risk should the company suffer losses.
As this can be a thoroughly technical process, it’s advisable to seek advice from an experienced accountant. Alternatively, you may also approach a firm specialising in company registration to submit all requirements to the Companies Registration Office (CRO) on your behalf.
No business is complete without hiring the right set of people to keep it up and running. Once you’ve managed to register your business and get an adequate amount of capital, the next step you should take is to think about the people you’re going to hire.
You can refer to your business plan to get a head start on the employees you need to hire. Ask yourself the most important aspects that your business needs help with: is it digital marketing? Accounting? Or something else?
You must also remember to register for PAYE and PRSI as an employer. We highly recommend checking out Revenue’s website for more information about taxes and other requirements.
Otherwise, you can always ask an accountant for more detailed advice tailored to your business’s needs.
When it comes to the hiring process, there are multiple ways to go about it.
You can do the sourcing yourself, from posting listings to interviewing people. Another option would be to hire a recruitment company to do all the work for you.
Either way, we’ve laid out a few tips for you below to make the hiring process easier:
Think About Employee Job Descriptions Carefully
Before anything else, you should have a clear idea of what your employees’ roles are. Create detailed job descriptions, which include their responsibilities, required skills, expectations, and level of experience.
From there, you can start thinking about how much they’ll be paid. You can take a look at similar job listings online as a baseline.
In this day and age, there are plenty of mediums where you can look for candidates. For starters, you can start by asking your trusted friends and family for referrals.
If you aren’t working with a recruitment agency, you can also advertise your listing on job sites like LinkedIn, Jobs.ie, or even Facebook. Remember that the wider net you cast, the higher your chances of finding someone best fit for the role.
Ask Thoughtful Questions During the Interview
Once you’ve come up with a shortlist of candidates, develop a good structure for your interviews. Apart from asking them about their past performance, you can present them a scenario and ask them how they’ll handle it, for instance.
During this stage, you must be able to communicate the role well, and answer any questions the candidate may have about the role. The key is to further narrow down your options until you find the best candidate that fits your company’s requirements.
Once you’ve found the right one, you can start thinking about onboarding your new hire, including arranging training programmes, if necessary.
Depending on the nature of your business, there may be other steps to take such as finding an office location, sourcing materials for your product, and more. But we hope that we managed to cover the bases of starting a business in Ireland.
If there’s anything we missed, feel free to shoot us an email and we’ll look right into it! We wish you good luck in your new business venture!