I would like to propose the following suggestions to improve entrepreneurship and help existing small businesses in Ireland.

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1 To whom it may concern, I would like to propose the following suggestions to improve entrepreneurship and help existing small businesses in Ireland. 1) Centre of Excellence - I understand the rationale for a centre of excellence but am concerned that similar to other "Centres of Excellences" these are centrally located primarily in Dublin. Ireland has the most centralised government in Europe and another Centre of Excellence located in Dublin will just re-enforce this further. We need to look outside Dublin to expand opportunities for small businesses. Many people start their small business because there are no suitable jobs in their geographical area. The majority of jobs whatever the field are based in Dublin. Therefore, it seems ironic to small businesses to then locate a "Centre of Excellence" in the capital - as many small businesses are started in small cities and towns. 2) Micro Enterprise Support In the past few weeks, I watched a business news report on Sky News UK; where a government enterprise was set up to help small business obtain financial funding. The enterprise was called "Funding Circle" it targeted businesses that needed funding but also investors who wanted to invest. The amounts to invest could be as little as 20. Businesses had to be trading for at least 2 years to qualify. The link below describes how it works https://www.fundingcircle.com/how-it-works 3) With reference to what is set out above, what other services should the first-stop-shop offer? Researching a market Developing a business plan Taxation for a small business Managing cash flow Converting leads to sales

2 4) Please set out any gaps or overlaps in current provision that you have identified? When I set up my own business, I found it extremely difficult to research and identify the small business market (my target market), government agencies hold this information but I was told due to the Data Protection Act - it could not be released. All other sources of information focused on medium and large companies (not my market) it is very difficult for someone starting a business to measure the micro and small business area. As a result, many start up a business not knowing how big the market is or growth rate. A new approach is needed whereby the "centre of excellence" sought to gain approval from small companies to release data and this could in turn help new start -ups. It might also reduce the number of start-ups who fail because they can't measure the market and/or understand the dynamics of the market. 5) What are the key strengths of the CEBs that should be developed? 6) What are the key strengths of the business development units within Local Authorities that should be developed? Basic understanding of the challenges of how to run a small business. Many local authorities are staffed by civil servants who have no commercial experience let alone business ownership experience. The people giving advice and support should be experience in running a business. In addition, there should be knowledge of technical advancements and how technology can be used in businesses. 7) What key research should the new centre of excellence focus on? - What criteria should be applied to grant-aiding enterprises? - Are there sectors of the economy currently excluded from accessing supports that should be included? - What areas of greatest challenge for micro businesses should the Centre of Excellence seek to address as part of its online resource for entrepreneurs and business people e.g. information on access to finance, business planning, innovation? Service industries are continually excluded from assistance yet service industries represent the majority of small business operating in Ireland today. I understand that governments favour businesses that have

3 produce goods and services that have export or high employment potential. However, service industries are important as they help and assist other companies to grow and export their business. In addition, there is no reason why service industries could not be nurtured and encouraged to realise their growth potential on a national level and export potential on a global level e.g. franchise operations are predominately service industries yet they have been successfully exported. 8) How could program service delivery be co-ordinated across the LEO network which would best utilise resources and give value for money? If the LEO worked closely together in terms of identifying what services are needed in a particular area - it might assist potential start-ups in terms of where they should locate their business, For example if a particular geographical area lacked certain services and another area had an over-supply - an potential start up should be encouraged to locate their business in this area. 9) Challenges that are likely to present and how best to deal with them The main challenge would be communicated the new structure and explaining how the new structure is better than CEBs. Important for the new structure to be seen participating in the business community - this was not always evident in with the CEBs. Similar to the banks, the new structure needs to appear different but better than the previous system. 10) What will success look like, how will the new structures be monitored, measured and their performance evaluated? A real growth in new business set-ups and a monitoring of how these businesses perform in the first 3-5 years. New structures will need to be fully integrated into the community in order for the new system to be deemed successful.

4 Any new structures should be viewed as the "designated place to go" when setting up a business or growing a business. In order for this to happen, they need to be kept up to date with changes in technology and in the global business world. 11)What practical measures would help promote a pro-enterprise approach in the networks and the wider community? Educating people to see that starting a business is a viable career option. This needs to happen from an early age in schools and colleges. Most schools and colleges prepare students to get a job as opposed to a career or begin a business. Skills should be taught in schools that help students realise their entrepreneurial spirit and this should be further promoted in colleges and universities. Setting up a business should be featured in careers days that universities hold and the appropriate people and bodies should be invited similar to HR representatives from large multi-nationals. 12) How can relationships with other business networks in the community be best developed? Joint marketing campaigns aimed at people thinking of starting their own business, new start-ups and existing businesses needing help to grow. Joint networking events Joint conferences and training 13) How can mentoring be strengthened and developed? Mentoring should be more than about giving people tips in business. A mentor needs to identify what the mentoree wants to achieve with their business and what skills they believe it is necessary to achieve success. A good mentor should assess what skills and experience that the mentoree needs in order to improve their business. A mentor should assist a mentoree in gaining these skills. Mentor involves a certain level of skills and mentors should be assessed on a skill level and offered training if necessary.

5 Being a successful business person should not automatically mean that person is qualified to be a mentor. Being a mentor involves coaching and motivating skills that not all business people possess. Similar to any other role - mentors should be trained and tested to perform the role. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have queries regarding any of the above suggestions. Kind regards, Pauline Ridge

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