When it comes to operating SMEs in Ireland, there are a number of common hurdles no matter what the industry. Yes, the economy is in growth, but as most small-to-medium-sized business owners can tell you, this doesn’t automatically translate to high profits. Inflated rents; increased cost of living; teamed with a nominal increase in the average industrial wage over the past few years have taken their toll on the finances of many households. This means potential clients or customers might not have the level of expendable income needed to sustain a viable business.

Conversely, the expenditures required when managing a company have skyrocketed; costs relating to insurances, rent, overheads, and regulations compliance have all increased considerably. This, coupled with the advent of online shopping, and the number of multinationals setting up across the country, can eat away at the profits of a smaller, local business. Many SME owners assert that the government supports allocated to encouraging indigenous industry are dwarfed when comparing the benefits, tax breaks and resources designated to attracting international corporate goliaths.

Industry Survey

According to a recent survey conducted by Biz Expo, there are nine major issues facing most SMEs. This questionnaire went out to just under 2000 business owners, managers and service providers in the field who previously attended the Dublin-based, business-to-business trade show.  Those questioned worked across a wealth of companies, which included tech platforms, craft manufactures, financial firms, training providers, food franchises, law firms, marketing companies, IT providers, video production companies, and recruitment firms.

The Top Issues Facing SMEs (Ranked in Order):

9. Stability

Many businesses reported difficulty in building a loyal customer base and establishing even, regular profits,

8. Staff

Managers cited that hiring and retaining good workers was a struggle; sales staff and employees with highly-coveted qualifications or skillsets were being poached by competitors or larger multinationals.

7. Competitors

Dealing with the competition has proved to be difficult for businesses across a number of industries. SMEs reported having their clients poached, or even their costs undercut by other companies in their respective field

6. Time

The survey revealed that managers are being stretched thin when it comes to time management. Overseeing an SME can be a busy, consuming endeavour. Many business owners admitted to finding it difficult to take time off, with one owner even struggling to take maternity leave.

5. Regulations and Insurance

In recent years, there have been many regulations implemented by the government in terms of compliance, employee laws as well as health and safety. Although important for the wellbeing of customers and workers, these can be costly and time-consuming to implement, especially for businesses with limited resources.

4. Planning, Strategy, and Growth

When resources are stretched across the board, it is easy for someone in a smaller company to find their day-to-day obligations overtaking their working schedule. Many respondents admitted they found it difficult to budget the time and capital towards developing a vital future strategy for their business.

3. Marketing

A large number of the business owners questioned cited marketing as real concern. Finding the right clients and negotiating social media were reported as some of the main issues for companies.

2. Brexit

Brexit is taking a huge toll on Irish businesses. Many SMEs reported that the uncertainty caused by Britain’s vote to leave the EU has resulted in issues securing funding, and has also lead to cautious spending in various targeted markets.

1. Cash Flow

The number one issue facing the majority of SMEs in the country is irregularity when it comes to cash flow and the difficulties this can incur. Whether you are managing a new or established business, problems in this area can affect your reputation, profitability, as well as your finance management.

One manager, who has asked not to be named, shared her frustrations after her previous company went into liquidation, ‘We were slowly recovering from legacy issues after the 2008 bust and were rebuilding the business from the ground up. However problems with cash flow seriously hindered not only our growth but our ability to function as a viable business. There’s more and more money in the country, but this doesn’t filter down to everyone. Our debtors were in the same situation, and when one of our clients were unable to fulfil on their fiscal obligation, this has a knock on effect that eroded our ability to balance our books over time. One day, after over twenty years of operating in Dublin, a substantial bill came in that we couldn’t pay and we were forced to close our doors forever.’

About Biz Expo

This survey was sent out in December 2018 to previous attendees of Biz Expo, a large conference and networking event. Biz Expo has been running since 2011 and this year’s trade show takes place Citywest Hotel & Convention Centre on Thursday, 6th June. BCS Recruitment, Cisco, Directorwealth, Dublin Gazette, IE Domain Registry, Big Red Box, Radio Nova, Printroom, HRLocker and are the official Biz Expo sponsors. Admission is free to business owners and professionals and there will be workshops, networking and main stage presentations from industry experts across a number of fields including Digital Marketing, GDPR & Data Protection, Cyber Security. You can register your spot here.

Have you been to the movies in the last month? If so, chances are you’ll have seen our Biz Expo cinema commercial blasting out from the screen as you start munching on your popcorn! It’s all part of our marketing drive to promote Biz Expo 2019, that sees us using radio, cinema, digital and direct mail drops to get the word out about the event.

Our ads are currently airing in Balbriggan Omniplex, Cineworld, the Savoy, IMC Dun Laoghaire, IMC Santry, IMC Tallaght, Irish Film Institute, Lighthouse cinema, Movies @ Dundrum, Movies @ Swords, Odeon Blanchardstown, Odeon Charlestown, Odeon Coolock, Odeon Point, Odeon Stillorgan, Rathmines Omniplex and Vue Liffey Valley.

If you’ve missed it, here is that commercial.

We’re proud to have the Irish SME Association exhibit at Biz Expo 2019. Register for this FREE B2B networking event today and meet many SMEs on 6th June in the Citywest.

About ISME

ISME, the Irish SME Association, is the only independent representative association for Small and Medium Enterprises and currently has in excess of 10,500 members nationwide. Uniquely in Ireland, ISME is independent of big business, big banks and government and gives voice to the issues facing SME owner-managers.

The tax-deductible membership is a cost-effective way for SME owner-managers to network with like-minded business people and to be continually updated on issues that impact on their business.

The mission of ISME, the independent organisation for the Irish Small & Medium business sector, is to:

We’re delighted to have PE Global on board with us for our upcoming Biz Expo. Talk to the recruitment company about their line of work at the Citywest on 6th June.

About the company

PE Global specializes in offering tailored recruitment solutions to companies and organisations in the domestic and international markets.

They’ve been providing cost effective, efficient and customised recruitment services to projects of all sizes since 2005 and delivering the high standards of quality their clients expect.  They provide permanent, contract and temporary job positions and have a high success rate in placing professionals across all disciplines.

Based in Ireland and the UK, PE Global’s reputation is based on forming successful long term partnerships with their clients by providing them with innovative designs and cost effective solutions brought about by their reliable judgment, strong management and technical excellence.

Clients range from SMEs to multi-national corporations including leading international companies in the following sectors:

We’re delighted to announce that Electromech Corporation have joined Biz Expo. Register for free tickets today and meet their team on 6th June in the Citywest Convention Centre.

About Electromech

Electromech Corporation is one of the leading and innovative Cloud and open source company. They provide support and solutions to all size of organizations, with the most experienced and certified staff.

Their primary goal is “to provide optimized solutions based on Cloud and open source products” to large Corporate, small enterprise, and individual users. Furthermore, they’re AWS advance partner for Amazon AWS cloud consulting services. They also offer extensive aws cloud hands on training online and off site both.

They’re Redhat Certified Channel and Training partner at Ahmedabad, Gujarat, offer Linux based solution and training / certification.

We’re very excited to have Big Red Box sponsor Biz Expo 2019 this June. The media company will be exhibiting at the B2B networking event on 6th June in the Citywest Convention Centre.

About the company

With over thirty years in the video production business Big Red Box are able to meet your promotional, corporate or broadcast requirements.

From company promotional and training materials and Sports to TV documentaries, they’ve done it all!

Their experience in live streaming sports and corporate events means that the process is simple, painless and professional.

From script to up-loading your videos to YouTube, FaceBook or LinkedIn, they’ve done it and it works.

Find out more about the services provided by EBS Dun Laoghaire at Biz Expo. Their team will be exhibiting in the Citywest Convention Centre on 6th June from 10am to 4pm.

About EBS

EBS was established in 1935. It was founded by Alex McCabe and a small group of teachers working together to help each other buy their family homes. The EBS purpose to help families get on in life still continues. Today, EBS offers a wide range of financial products and services.

Their nationwide branches help deliver their suite of savings, mortgage, investment, pension, daily banking and insurance products. This is embedded in the communities they work in. EBS strive to have a positive impact in the areas where their customers live and work as evidenced through their corporate and social responsibility programme.

EBS continues to deliver nationally and locally, helping Irish families buy their own homes and save for many of life’s milestones such as children’s education, a trip of a lifetime or simply a rainy day.


We’re very excited to have Nettl partner with Biz Expo 2019. Learn more about their services on Thursday 6th June at the Citywest Convention Centre.

About Nettl

Nettl of Dublin create mobile-friendly, responsive websites; from simple brochure sites to larger sites incorporating online bookings, e-commerce shops and much more. Their cutting edge print technology in combination with their low prices makes us the first choice for hundreds of businesses across the city and the island of Ireland. Great design is at the centre of everything they do; from brand identities for new businesses, to complete rebrands. They want your brand to shine and know that creating high-quality design is essential.


Nettl help their clients understand, create and communicate their brand identity and message. Create marketing goals and campaigns to achieve them. Grow their business through marketing. Reach new audiences. Reawaken existing ones.


With years of experience across marketing, web, print and signage in a really diverse range of industries, Nettl draw on what they know about their services and their clients to create web, design, print and signage that works for them. They love to meet new people and learn about what they do.

We’re looking forward to having Mauve Group join Biz Expo 2019. Their team will be exhibiting at the Citywest Convention Centre on 6th June.

About Mauve Group

The Mauve Group is a leading provider of Global Workforce Solutions, Business Expansion and Consultancy Services. Since 1996, their creative solutions have helped organisations conquer new markets in 150+ countries worldwide.  


From payroll management to corporate immigration or entity set-up, with Mauve’s know-how on your side, your company is guaranteed to reduce risks, lower costs and save time. 


From Local to Global

 Mauve simplifies the business of expansion; having accomplished more than twenty years of their own successful international growth, Mauve has acquired incomparable and market-leading expertise.  

This first-hand knowledge has been developed into bespoke solutions, designed to help smooth their clients’ global strategy; whether you require complete company formation, or employment of a single person overseas, Mauve will equip your business with the tools it needs to grow.  


If your organisation is expanding its business beyond existing borders, get in touch. Mauve will make going global easy.

When it comes to maintaining and growing your company well into the future, there’s one resource that the vast majority of companies can’t do without. Employees. One of the most expensive mistakes you can make for your business is slipping up when it comes to your Human Resources. Best HRs practice is a lot more than filing a few forms and paying wages. The right team, managed well, can be that vital element that drives your company forward. We’ve compiled a list of common pitfalls that can end up costing your business if not addressed:

The Biggest HR Mistakes

1. Hiring the Wrong People

Most people consider wages to be the financial bottom line when hiring staff, but there are lots of incurred costs, that add up over time when it comes to recruitment mistakes. You need to put the time in and make sure you get it right. If you are on the fence about a candidate, get them in again. Don’t be afraid to have colleagues or board members sit in on the interview. Check every reference and never just go ‘on gut’. Some people are great at turning on the charm and lying through their teeth. Beware of long gaps on a CV. If you notice an employment break make sure you find out why, and that there’s a good reason.

2. Compromising on ‘Culture’

It’s amazing the amount of work that can be accomplished by a happy dedicated employee or team who enjoys the social aspect of their job and feel valued. Pay attention to the dynamics of your staff and show your gratitude when someone has done a good job. Yes, we all know these things in theory, but it’s easy to let it slip when things get too busy. A few after hours drinks or treating your team to lunch every so often can make for a more amiable working environment, and even improve team communication as a whole. On the flipside, if you hire someone who’s not a cultural fit, especially if they take on a managerial role, they can push loyal, positive employees out.

3. Badly-Managed Paperwork

HR law in Ireland is complex and complicated, and you need to be very careful when it comes to covering your end. Underpaying people for Bank Holidays, not keeping correct timesheets, and not honouring holidays could mean hefty fines and your business being reprimanded. In the event that you are unlucky enough to hire the wrong person, make sure you keep careful records of any infringements. Even if they do commit what you consider a ‘sackable’ offense, you might be held liable for unfair dismissal if you can’t back up your reasoning or haven’t followed the correct protocol.

4. Micromanaging

Your business is so important to you, you’ve put everything you have into it for years. It can be difficult to hand the reins over to a member of staff, even if it’s managing the phones for a few hours. No one blames you for wanting everything to be perfect, but for the sake of your mental health, and maintaining a happy workplace, you have to allow your employees agency when it comes to certain tasks and decisions. Small (and easily rectifiable) mistakes can be a great learning curve for staff and knowing they have your support and understanding can only serve to make them better at their role in the longer term.

5. Ineffective Training

Depending on the position, it can take a new employee months before they are a fully effective, efficient worker. Yes, investing time into their training process, and making sure you’re creating good habits, does seem like a lot of work in the beginning. However, over time bad practices and cutting corners will end up costing you. Let your new employee work in each section of the business, so they have a full understanding of what it is you do and what the processes and procedures are across the board. For their training period, only schedule them on with your top staff and make sure to follow up on their process regularly for the first six months.

6. Losing Good staff

If Rom-Coms have taught us nothing else, it’s that if you find someone great – you fight for them. In this market, employees with enthusiasm, knowledge, and experience are not easy to come by – let alone keep. It’s so important for you to check in with your employees. With SMEs there’s not always a clear career path for your staff; however there are skill sets that they might be eager to learn and expand on.

Don’t be afraid to open up a dialogue. If you have a member of your team whose performance is starting to slip, now’s the time to have a chat with them. If this employee has had a great track record in the past, there could be a number of things at play. It could be something in their personal life; in which case, offering them support and respecting their boundaries will always be appreciated. Alternatively, it might be a fixable issue in the workplace. They could feel undervalued, overwhelmed or even have an unresolved problem with a member of the management team. Perhaps they aren’t feeling challenged in the way they did when the role was new to them. While getting someone new in might seem like the cheapest option, factoring in training expenses, the impact on company culture and general morale, it could most cost you big in the long run. A specialised course, more responsibilities, or a nominal pay increase could show them there’s still room for them to learn and grow in your company.

envelopephone-handsetmagnifiercross linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram