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Séamus Fahy, of Voltaire Diamonds, Shares 5 Business Essentials for Success.

One of our clients, Séamus Fahy, set up his jewellery business, Voltaire Diamonds, during the recession and has brought it from strength to strength at a time when other jewellery stores have closed down. Here he shares his advice for running a successful business.

Tailor Your Requirements to Your Business’ Needs

The jewellery business is high end sales rather than high volume sales so it is more economical for me to work by appointment. It cuts my overheads as I am not keeping a jewellery store open full time.

This allows me to trade at competitive prices. People are looking for value during the recession which has complemented my business strategy rather than inhibit it. People used to think that they could head to New York or Antwerp and pick up rings at discount prices but the reality these days is that diamond pricing is fixed internationally and so I can match these ‘deals’ and customers can leave satisfied that they have gotten the best price and saved on the airfare too.

Offer Variety

You do not need to market your business as a provider of one specific product. Adding more options will almost certainly increase your customer base. For example, we sell finished rings but also offer our clients the option to add bespoke touches if they like. At little effort to us, we ensure that we are not alienating customers that either want a unique ring or customers who would prefer not to be involved in the design process.

Use Online Marketing Effectively

A website is off little use if you do not know how to utilize it. It is necessary to get a little tech savvy. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is integral to any online marketing plan. If you don’t use it you probably won’t be on the first page on Google searches. It cuts out a lot of potential new business as people rarely go beyond the first page on Google. Since I implemented SEO I have seen quite an increase in business.

Another online tool, Google Analytics, gave me data about those who visit my website. It revealed that I was getting a lot of online traffic from London. Some of this in part is due to Irish immigrants living over there. Knowing about this interest made it a much sounder bet to open a second office in London.

Seek & Promote Referrals

I have been particularly grateful for the many great write-ups I’ve gotten on Boards.ie and Weddings Online. No amount of advertising can compare to a good review, especially online where there is a much greater audience. A strong Facebook presence has also forged brand recognition. Most of my competitors haven’t recognized the value of this; many may be stuck in the ideology of old media and believing that customers will seek them out and instead focus on the hard sell in store. In contrast, I have over 18,000 Facebook fans and I realise the power of online browsing.

Be an Expert in Your Field

When I started my business, the greatest challenge was to get suppliers to take me seriously. I studied gemology with the GIA in London to become an expert in my field. Diamond trading is a relatively close knit community, where your reputation with suppliers will precede all your business dealings.

 

For more information on Voltaire Diamonds click here

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Call us today on 01 668 4411 and we will set you up on a free trial. 

Alternatively, you can get more information about or Xero services by clicking on the link below

Xero Accountants

Xero Gearing Up for 1 Million+ Users

 INFRASTRUCTURE UPGRADE FOR XERO

Article by Duncan Ritchie from Xero Blog

When you are growing a business as rapidly as Xero, doubling customer numbers year on year, and offering a service critical to so many people, you’ve got think well ahead. So we’re building and testing a new hosting environment for Xero that will ensure continued resilience and uptime and cope with this continual expansion.

 We expect the server hardware and software at the base of Xero will need to handle a million+ customers in a few years time – that’s massive. Our existing hosting environment has been in place since late 2009 and has scaled from 15,000 paying customers to over 111,000.

 We decided last year that a full migration to a new hosting environment is the appropriate next step rather than a further incremental capacity upgrade. This has allowed us to re-architect our platform to take advantage of new technologies, such as Microsoft SQL Server 2012, and scale in building blocks for easier planning, capacity and performance management.

 

UCDinnovation: How Small Businesses Can Optimise Digital Marketing

UCDinnovation are holding a seminar titled How Small Businesses Can Optimise Digital Marketing on  the 31st January between 2-5pm in the NovaUCD Seminar Room.

More information and details for registering at

http://www.ucd.ie/innovation/styleassets/homepage/homepageevent/title,159216,en.html

3 Steps to Protect Your Online Banking

 

McAfee Labs, an internet security provider, has recently unfolded a plot to exploit online banking weaknesses at some of America’s largest banks, including Citibank, Wells Fargo and Capital One. It has been named “Project Blitzkreig” and it is hoped that it’s very uncovering may mitigate the attack.  This particular attack will target customers’ own computers to access accounts and transfer tiny amounts of cash, however on a large scale it will mean big losses for the banks. To protect yourself from this particular type of attack, implement the following steps.

  1. Disable the “remember your computer” option.

This option allows you to skip certain security questions on your personal computer as the bank recognizes your computer’s IPv4 address, a unique identifier for each internet connection. Hackers can use malware to gain this identifier and access your bank account. Worse still, you won’t even know they have accessed it. To ward this off, it is best to take the inconvenience and skip this option.

2. Be aware of suspect emails.

Spam filters for email account providers have become very good at blocking unsecure email. However hackers have also upped their game, creating sophisticated websites that are near identical to your banks. As a result, sometimes they may reach your inbox. Be aware of any email that asks for all of your password. All online banks state that they never will email you for passwords or other details; you will only be asked when you try to log in, and even then you are only asked for fragments of the passwords.

3. Check that the website is secure.

If you are still unsure of whether the correspondence is from your bank or not, there is another clue in the address bar. Always make sure that the address contains ‘https://’ not ‘http’.  The ‘s’ in ‘https’ stands for secure browsing and means your information is safe. All online banking will have this feature, if not you may be on a hacker’s website. If in doubt, do not try to access it.

These tips can add to internet security, however it is important to note that even if you are hacked, the banks will cover any reimbursements. It is important to check your online accounts often to make sure that even small amounts are accounted for and as long as you do this, online banking is by far the safest way of protecting your money. You have a banks guarantee, whereas with a stolen wallet you have no comeback.

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All You Will Ever Need To Grow Your Business

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One Of The World’s Most Successful

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 NOW FREE TO OUR BUSINESS CLIENTS

 

 We recognise that all our business clients want more sales, more customers and more profit (especially in the current economic climate). Of course this not only helps them, but in turn the more money they make the more opportunities we’ll have to help them.

 So after much deliberation we have invested a significant sum in sponsoring the ‘Business Growth System’ (BGS), one of the world’s most successful marketing and business growth systems.

 Sponsoring the BGS has given us the opportunity to make it available to ALL our business clients completely FREE OF CHARGE. This means you get full and unlimited access with IMMEDIATE effect. The system normally sells for £500 a month (£6,000 a year) per business, so this is something of real value and I strongly urge you to take full advantage of it.

 Quite frankly, we’ve never seen anything like it before and I know you’ll be similarly impressed. It contains everything you will ever need to attract more customers, increase your sales and retain clients for much longer.

 

 To get your FREE access you need to contact us immediately (don’t put this to one side – do it now)

 

Four Steps for Getting Your Employees Engaged With Socially Grounded Applications.

There are now so many software applications on the market aimed at aiding social collaboration inside organizations. If fact most applications that are not marketed that way still have some kind of communication facility. The main value of these apps is to make business more efficient through communication, removing barriers to discussion such as distance and scheduling requirements. They also allow for real time progress updates.

A recent McKinsey study has shown that although 72 percent of companies use social technologies in some way, very few use the programmes to their full potential. It reports that “companies will go on developing ways to reach consumers through social technologies and gathering insights for product development, marketing, and customer service,” yet “twice as much potential value lies in using social tools to enhance communications, knowledge sharing, and collaboration within and across enterprises.”

Software itself is of no real value if employees don’t buy into it and utilize it. A split team can effectively make more work than traditional methods were creating. There are however, effective steps for getting your staff on board with new software and with new ideas in general.

Select the Right Medium

 When choosing the appropriate tool it is important to choose one that works the way people work. A package that is difficult to use and that only solves one task at a time will only create more work. Instead, go for the package that most naturally compliments your business needs. Most people prefer communicating by email rather than over the phone or face-to-face. The average employee spends 28 hours a week writing emails and searching for information contained within them. A tool that links shared content without the barriers of traditional email can save time wasted on searches and is integral to optimizing communication related work. IM tools can facilitate informal, and rapid, communication that is in real-time and can be saved and then searched as a single document, as opposed to sifting through individual emails. This should be a prerequisite in your selection.

Lead by Example

The next step to incorporate change is to immerse yourself in the technology and start to communicate through it. It brings a level of respect and knocks the idea of management giving orders that they have no understanding of. It also means that employees must get on board to communicate with you and to effectively showcase their work to you.

Bring IT on Board at the Start

Don’t hope that change will grow organically, with little effort. According to the Dachis Group, users “express frustration regarding the slow pace of adoption and engagement”. This is usually due to lack of education, understanding, and effective change management. Get the IT team involved and let them plan a full roll-out for the new software as they would for other technical implementation. IT should devote time and resources to education and feedback.

Educate Staff Before Migrating Them

 Staff need to see the value to the software to want to use it, and formal training is the best option to ensure they know the full potential of the tool. Start with small groups and based on their feedback alter your programme as necessary. Support, tutorials and working sessions need to be available from the beginning. A good formal learning plan may include video tutorial, live chat for support and slots for additional face-to-face training as necessary.

 

In short, switching to social collaboration tools can be immensely cost effective for companies, but only if employees buy in. They need to see how it brings value to their workload. If it is badly introduced they will get a bad picture of the product and be reluctant to use it. If they are shown value and proof, under proper supervision and support, social collaboration can bring your business much closer to it’s full potential.

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Calling Sage and Quickbooks Users

Movemybooks is going from strength to strength as the demand for automated data conversion from Sage and Quickbooks accelerates in the UK, and it is  great to hear  that they’re on the verge of adding the capability to automatically convert complete financial histories from Sage & Quickbooks straight into Xero in a single shot.

So, if the prospect of hand cranking your own data conversion to Xero is something you’re daunted by or if you just don’t have the time, give Adrian Pearson’s team a shout.

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Deadline for NDRC €20k investment is tomorrow.

NDRC LaunchPad isIreland’s first digital accelerator, supporting the next generation of digital entrepreneurs to accelerate good ideas to sound startups. NDRC has worked with over 80 digital ventures to date. All successful applicants are offered place on NDRC LaunchPad, which comes with workspace, mentoring, and pre-seed investment of up to €20,000. Investment is provided as €5k per startup founder (minimum 2 founders; maximum 3 founders), plus €5k project costs.

Targeted at emerging start-up promoters in the digital space, NDRC’s LaunchPad provides:

  • - A three month programme alongside other start-ups, innovators, engineers and investors
  • - Expert mission guidance and hands-on support from experienced entrepreneurs
  • - Weekly workshops and meetings with the right people in the right networks
  • - Pre-seed investment of up to €20,000 per project
  • - Opportunity to pitch at Lift Off Investor Day at the end of programme, with over 100 investors all keen     to see strong de-risked investment opportunities.

 

Deadline for applications is 14th  December, 5pm

Apply online @ http://ndrci2i.wufoo.com/forms/q7x3a1/

Additional information http://www.ndrc.ie/launchpad/

 

Robert Tobin, Director at The Cycle Inn, on why he uses Vend.

The Cycle Inn has been in business for over twenty years, specializing in supplying the people of Dublin with high end bicycles, particularly high end mountain bikes. Their motto “We Live Cycling” is reflected in their staff enthusiasm for cycling and the products they sell.

“I looked at different products for a long time. The reason we went for Vend was because of its back up features. We previously had a point-of-sale system that when it gave trouble it would cost a small fortune to fix each time, so we got a standard PC and now run Vend from that. If the PC fails then we roll in another and just log in. (Perfect)

It’s also great for getting an idea of sales when I’m not there. I can open it on my iPhone and see the turnover so far in the day, so when I ring the store I already know how busy or not it’s been.” Robert Tobin. http://www.thecycleinn.com/

Vend is a cloud-based point-of-sale system that allows you to view your sales and stock from any computer and can connect with your online accounting software. More information at http://www.vendhq.com/