'We decided we needed to focus our efforts on helping, not selling...'

Ahead of the Network Ireland Business Woman of the Year final this week, EMMA CONNOLLY continues her catch up with the Cork finalists
'We decided we needed to focus our efforts on helping, not selling...'

 Madeleine Murray from Change By Degrees, Winner of the Network Cork Businesswoman of the Year Award for Emerging New Business.

Madeleine Murray, Changes By Degree

Network Cork: Emerging New Business winner

NOW, more than ever, organisations in Ireland need real world, no nonsense help on how to be more sustainable to ensure their long term success.

That’s according to one half of the duo behind the organisation Changes By Degree, Madeleine Murray.

The business, which has Dr Tara Shine at its helm with Madeleine, partners with organisations to help them design sustainability solutions that deliver real and measurable results.

Covid, obviously impacted the business, in that many clients wanted to put a ‘hold’ on work.

“That was completely understandable. Everyone was in survival mode, including Change by Degrees,” Madeleine said.

“So we decided we needed to focus our efforts on helping, not selling, and worked hard to simply raise our profile through our platforms and connect with useful content to existing and prospective clients. The aim was to earn social value, not economic.”

The pandemic also coincided with the launch of Tara’s book How To Save Your Planet, One Object At A Time. They went ahead with the launch, despite the challenges it presented.

“This was a huge endeavour given that the roll-out had been designed to include face to face book launches, readings, festivals, etc. So we decided to create a suite of ‘How To’ videos built around the objects in the book which we hosted on our YouTube channel for free.

“We also had to pivot our face-to-face Plastic Free 4 Schools programme and created a free eight lesson online programme to teach national school children about plastic, all from the safety of their own home.

Madeleine Murray from Change By Degrees.
Madeleine Murray from Change By Degrees.

“We also had time to redo our website and we created a newsletter with an Expert Corner series that included Mary Robinson as our first contributor.”

Thankfully, Madeleine said that the rest of the year is looking busy, and being self-employed she readily admits that she works non-stop.

“I find it really hard to switch off and I have about four original ideas a day that I want to implement, which means I have little or no discipline! Building a more comprehensive team and bringing people in to compliment my own skill sets is a key aim for the immediate future.”

Both Madeleine and Tara, while not from Cork originally, are Kinsale based and the pair bonded over their love of sea swimming.

“I have lived abroad in many wonderful places — London, Montreal, Boston. I had my second child in Boston and then moved to Kinsale when he was two weeks old. I have been living in Kinsale for 11 years and absolutely love it. Kinsale is the town that keeps on giving — the people are kind, innovative, community-driven. The landscape is stunning and I’m blessed to live close to the sea where I swim most days. I have four boys so that is a full time job in and of itself!” said Madeleine.

Considering that Network Cork presented her with the award for Best Emerging New Business, what’s her advice for anyone thinking of going it alone?

“Do the research. And then do even more. If your sector is a noisy space, be sure to understand the gap you are filling.

“Identify direct and indirect competitors and network with people to better understand what problems your business can solve,” Madeleine added.

“Presume nothing! Be careful with social media platforms and identify the ones that best serve your needs, not ones you happen to just ‘like’ to use.

“Also, be sure to keep work away from the family space at home. I am guilty of popping open the laptop to answer emails while my kids mill around, vying for my attention. It’s a terrible way to operate and I need to get way better at creating a clear divide between home and work.

“Oh, and get someone to do your books, no matter how basic they are. It will save you a ton of paperwork and headaches.”

The Network Ireland Annual Conference and Businesswoman of the Year award take place this Friday, October 2.

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