Ground Wellbeing and Get The Shifts both say that Local Enterprise Office supports went well beyond funding.
Celebrating Local Enterprise Week launching virtually from Monday, March 1st to Friday, March 5th, this year’s schedule includes ten free ‘Spotlight’ events which are organised by individual Local Enterprise Offices and open to every business and start-up – wherever you’re based. Here are two of the many companies #MakingItHappen with the help of their Local Enterprise Office.
From her home workshop to Brown Thomas, Peigín Crowley has launched her very own premium Irish wellness business called Ground Wellbeing.
At 6 am Peigín wakes up to create a blend of aromatherapy oils from the comfort of her own home, not far from where she started out as a consultant helping high-end hotels develop their products. But when COVID hit Peigín made the decision to move from the salon arena to retail.
She put together her brand and presentation and pitched it to Brown Thomas, it was a no-brainer, “The appetite for wellbeing in our homes was huge as well as the idea of supporting Irish brands. I had the wind behind me”, said Peigín.
From the very beginning, Peigín’s business was supported by her Local Enterprise Office in South Cork, “from the Trading Online Voucher and business continuity voucher, they were excellent, and I was approved for a Business Priming Grant. They were very helpful in steering me on strategy and forecasting in terms of business”.
Peigín also worked with mentor Dennis Casey to iron out obstacles involving Brexit, “he talked me through this and bought me time. There was red tape to move through which he fast-tracked with me”
For Peigín their support went much further than just grants, LEO provided her with support and solid advice when she needed it most, “It’s not just a process of filling out forms and getting a grant, they’re actually there when you’re behind yourself on things. From a steering and direction perspective, they were brilliant”.
Giving exclusive supply to Brown Thomas for six months, Peigín believes this was the best option for her business in terms of brand alignment. It has also given her clear insight into customer engagement and traction, what products were selling fast and how that aligned with social media. “Brown Thomas has always been such a beautiful place for me to go to in terms of retail. To go behind the scenes with the buyer, the marketing team, the laughs we’ve had, the kindness they’ve shown, they’ve softened everything for me” she said.
With a solid foundation, Peigín will begin to sell her products online, “I priced it keen and affordable so that wellness could be taken home. I wanted it to feel artisan and accessible but to also have great therapeutic aid.”
Hannah Wrixon launched her business Get the Shifts in 2016. Her company provides temporary staffing to their clients when and where they need them. Before staffing hospitality “superstars” to her clients, Hannah started off with a staffing platform called 'Last-minute Minders', but “My true love was hospitality”, she said.
Get the Shifts grew from strength to strength until 2020, when COVID hit the hospitality industry hard- Hannah had to reassess. “As you can imagine every single one of our prebooked and our daily bookings just stopped dead in their tracks in March. Our whole team went out on temporary lay-off. It was shocking for what was supposed to be our best year ever.”
But when Hannah reached out to her Local Enterprise Office in Clare, she got the support she needed, “Local Enterprise Offices are really good at helping small companies to manage adversity and this was our biggest challenge so far”.
The funding provided to her business meant she could grow her company even in times of trouble, “We are now coming out of 2020 and into 2021 with a very strong technical product that consists of one web-based app and two mobile apps.” Through the flourishing of the technical aspect of the business, Get the Shifts can ditch the paperwork and has made everything much more easily accessible for her clients and those looking for employment, “it is the most flexible way of working in Ireland today”, she continued.
As well as hospitality Hannah has also launched into other sectors such as the industrial sector, retail, and sales. “Without the support of LEO we would be in a very different position. It’s not just their financial support, it’s their emotional support too and you can’t put a price on that”. Hannah said.
Local Enterprise Week is a major opportunity for SMEs and future start-ups to see the range of supports available, especially during the difficult climate brought about by Covid19, says Oisin Geoghegan, of the Local Enterprise Offices.
“One of the key advantages of the Local Enterprise Offices is that we provide a support mechanism for entrepreneurs. Setting up a business can be a lonely place and entrepreneurs do need to feel that they have somewhere to go to that they can trust.” All of these services are provided locally from people who understand and know the business landscape in every county in Ireland but also can plug businesses into a national network and advise on international export potential too”, he continued.
The programme for 2021 is especially important, as it aims to help entrepreneurs address the key challenges that have impacted their businesses and the challenges that lie ahead of the pandemic.
“All our services are available online such as mentoring, training, grant assistance, and so on. Our doors are always open and they have been since the Covid pandemic struck,” said Oisín.
The online workshops from the Local Enterprise Offices, which are supported by Enterprise Ireland and the local authorities, include a range of sector-specific learnings such as getting and growing your business online, workshops on how to make your business more sustainable, and many more that are available across the country.
Here is a list of the 10 free ‘Spotlight’ events taking place virtually from Monday, March 1st to Friday, March 5th
- Benefits of Green for your Business – Launching Green for Micro [Organised by LEO Dublin City]- March 1st: How to make your business practices more sustainable and what new supports are now available.
- Spring Back & Step Forward: Building Leadership & Resilience [Organised by LEO Donegal]- March 1st: Motivational event, focusing on leadership and resilience to help your business adapt.
- Building The New [Organised by LEO Galway]- March 2nd: Dynamic morning session featuring insights from innovators and new start-ups.
- Growing Lean: One Small Step or One Giant Leap, Getting Started with Lean [Organised by LEO Kildare]- March 2nd: Introduction to Lean Thinking and how to apply the benefits to your business.
- AgriTech Revolution in Farming and Food [Organised by LEO South Cork]- March 3rd: How AgriTech has transformed farming and continues to help the sector thrive.
- Creative Connections: Enabling your B-2-B Online Opportunities- [Organised by LEO Carlow]- March 3rd: Opportunities around developing online tools to sell to the trade.
- Engage for Growth with David Meade [Organised by LEO Dún Laoghaire- Rathdown]- March 4th: Introducing the psychology of leadership, with a practical toolkit for effective business management.
- S.M.A.R.Tech for StartUps [Organised by LEO Clare]- March 4th: For technology start-ups who want to learn more about supports for business growth (virtual tour included).
- Masterclass: Health checking your business for its forward journey [Organised by LEO Wexford]- March 4th: Assess the financial health of your business and get to grips with working capital and cash flow management.
- Trading Online Voucher Information Webinar [Organised by LEO Fingal]- March 5th: Advice around developing a website, designing a digital marketing strategy, and writing a social media plan for your business.
For more information about all 200+ events taking place as part of Local Enterprise Week 2021, from Monday, March 1st, to Friday, March 5th, visit: www.LocalEnterprise.ie/week