What worries keep Irish business leaders awake at night?

Real Business has been in Dublin as a guest of Sage, where we heard from a variety of Irish business leaders, who discussed the economic problems that are keeping them awake at night as part of the Sage Ireland Debate.

Crowley backed Kenny’s earlier point of awareness around government schemes and how this must be improved. But he insisted venture capital investments can be found, as long as you’re the right company.

During the Autumn Statement, chancellor Philip Hammond promised that there will be a £1bn investment into broadband and connectivity to increase productivity.

Ireland seemingly has a similar internet problem, as highlighted by AJ Noonan, chairman of the Small Firms Association, who said: “Broadband is the electricity of the modern era. Without broadband, business cannot operate.”

Backing up the need for digital, Irish business leaders, and indeed UK bosses, should heed the words of Bobby Kerr, chairman of Insomnia coffee shops.

“You need online-offline thinking. Use all of that internet stuff to drive people to your shops and operate in the virtual world and real world. You need a fusion of both to be successful,” he detailed.

Meanwhile, Paula Fitzsimons, national director of the Going for Growth programme, thinks Irish business leaders fail to think strategically enough. She suggested outlining a three-year goal and breaking it down into key goals and milestones to stay on track.

And if you find yourself off track, Noonan said that it’s best to speak up instead of burying your head in the sand. “If you find yourself in a small bit of bother, inform your bank manager – you don’t want him calling you first. I think that’s the key to communication.”

David Walsh, co-founder and CEO of Netwatch, reckons that where mentoring is concerned, entrepreneurs shouldn’t simply look to success stories.

“We can learn honest feedback from entrepreneurs who weren’t successful in business. The boy who pulled the cat by the tail learned a lot more than the boy who read about it,” he declared.

Mary Mitchell-O’Connor, minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, closed the event and said: “We provide the best environment for companies to start, scale and survive.”

She added: “Our immediate aim in government is to grow our economy so we achieve an unemployment rate of under six per cent. I, as minister, will continue to work with you and for you.”

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Zen Terrelonge

Zen Terrelonge is the deputy editor of Real Business, specialising in media, innovation, technology and the digital sector. A media professional with eight years worth of experience he has worked for both startup and established publications.

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