Small firms resolve to set ambitious business targets

Small firms resolve to set ambitious business targets

As lifestyle tips and New Year’s resolutions fill our news and social media feeds, Irish businesses are busy setting goals for the year ahead.

Companies are looking to develop in 2019, with two-thirds of small businesses intending to recruit and invest in their companies, according to a survey by the Small Firms Association.

Taking time to look back at the previous year’s achievements is valuable for any business.

And the first few weeks of January are an opportune time to set targets and revisit goals.

Co-founder Karina Murray of Aunua Academy, a non-profit which provides free resources on mental health, hopes to build on an “incredible year”.

She believes a review of your business is useful when setting goals: “I have big plans on where I see Aunua Academy going and looking back is always the best way to help move forward.”

Isabel Ronayne of Ardmore Jewellery agrees that conducting a review is an essential exercise to do at this time of the year.

Ms Ronayne, who runs the new company with her mother Marie, is learning as the company grows.

Marie Ronayne designs and makes the brand’s sea and naturally-inspired jewellery while her daughter runs the business side.

The company started as a hobby and grew into a business in 2017.

The duo began this year’s goal-setting with a review of the previous year.

We started by listing everything we achieved last year and what we’re grateful for.

The assessment helped them to focus on their strengths and to learn from other companies. Having missed out on events focused on Irish-made products, this year’s calendar is full of dates. One item on their 2019 to-do list is to prepare to exhibit at Showcase Ireland in 2020. A key challenge for businesses in 2019 is attracting and retaining staff, according to a recent Dublin Chamber survey.

Celebrating achievements and acknowledging the contribution of employees is a crucial element to building a team. Recognising wins is essential.

Ms Ronayne says: “It’s good to pat ourselves on the back for what we’ve done because we are so small and so new.”

Ms Murray plans to expand the Aunua Academy team from its current staff level of 30. She believes celebrating milestones is a great way to show volunteers the “value of their work and what it is possible to achieve through organised teamwork”.

Setting up in October 2017 and having run two pilots early in 2018, the Aunua Academy team is busy with plans to deliver mental health seminars at schools and developing an online platform.

Its main partnership is with Belouga, a social education platform in over 2,500 classrooms in 82 countries.

Having developed the business with the help of a private sponsor, a big priority for the company in 2019 is to secure additional funding to achieve its goals.

Family business Good4U is thriving and its managing director Bernie Butler wants to continue the momentum built up over the past two years. While businesses are cautiously optimistic about 2019 most of the respondents to a survey by the SFA still believe that business conditions are improving.

However, one of the biggest challenges is, of course, the looming threat of Brexit.

Most of Good4U’s business is in the UK. Ms Butler, who runs the company with her husband Paul, daughters Laura and Michelle and son Karol, says the company is “ploughing on”.

“You could get overwhelmed with the what-ifs and decide to do nothing,” she says. She aims to build on UK growth, having secured three significant contracts with major retailers for 2019.

“We will face challenges if there is no deal and like everyone else, we’re trying to plan for that. But by the same token, we’re looking at increasing our capabilities, our capacities and our factories,” she says.

The company makes private-label and branded products with ranges including protein balls, salad toppers, seed and fruit snacks, as well as roasted and sprouted seeds and pulses.

It says it is on track towards its goal to become a leading health-food brand.

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