How to Start a Business in Ireland

Ireland is among the most entrepreneurial countries in Europe. Starting a business in Ireland doesn’t have to be difficult thanks to plenty of information offered by the government and entrepreneurship communities.

You don’t have to have a lot of experience to start your business in Ireland as numerous online resources offer programs and courses that teach you important aspects of business such as formulating a business plan and introducing your product into the market.

If you’re interested in becoming an entrepreneur or a business owner, here are practical tips to get your business started.

Registering your business

Before you set foot in a bank to open an account for your business and seek financing in the form of a business loan, you need to visit the Companies Registration Office (CRO) and register both your business and business name.

You can register a trading name (business name), a local company, a foreign company, or a limited partnership. Each type of business has its own set of pros and cons.

Formulating a business plan

Your business plan outlines how you’re going to start your business, the daily operations, and your growth strategy among other things. Outline your business concept clearly, detailing how you will secure financing and make money. Drafting a good business plan from scratch isn’t easy, so it’s a good idea to use a widely accepted template that applies to the Irish market.

Securing financing

You can finance your business through debt, equity, or cash. With debt, you obtain a business loan from external sources. Equity involves offering an investor a share of the business in exchange for financing. Sources of cash financing include personal funds and government grants.

Business loans are a common form of debt finance. Banking institutions offer a wide variety of business loan options depending on whether you need the funds for long- or short-term use. Make sure you match the loan period to the business needs to plan use finance with the loan.

Short term lending options such as overdrafts and invoice discounting are best suited for securing funds to add to your working capital. Appropriate forms of financing for long-term purposes are term loans and asset financing (hire purchase and leasing agreements).

Marketing your business

Your marketing is among the most important parts of your business plan because you have to reach your potential customers to make sales.

A detailed marketing plan gives banks and other potential investors confidence that their investment is safe and that they will make good returns on it.

Marketing and promoting your business involves price setting, product placement, and distribution. You can target the general public or aim for a specific group.

Even though it’s often used interchangeably with advertising, marketing refers to the entire strategy of getting the product in the hands of your customers. Advertising is only one aspect of that process.

Your marketing strategy will depend on your product, budget, and target market. For a small business, low-cost or free advertising options will suffice for a start.

Free advertising options include sending prospective customers promotional emails that include links to your website. Branded merchandise is one example of low-cost advertising.

In addition to acquiring new customers, marketing involves retaining current customers through loyalty discounts, seasonal sales, and other incentives.

Showing your customers that they’re important by sending them a Christmas is also considered marketing.

Setting up your business online

Modern businesses need an online presence to remain competitive.

Having an e-commerce website and engaging your customers on social media enables you to maintain a close relationship with your customers and access a global audience.

You don’t need to invest a fortune to get a website. With a bit of research, you can find decent web development services at reasonable rates.

Alternatively, you can use one of the numerous online website building resources to develop your e-commerce site. Take advantage of the Get Irish Business Online campaign.

It supports sole traders and companies in creating a fully functional e-commerce site.

Make your online business looks professional by registering a domain in Ireland.

Consider getting a .ie domain name as customers online customers tend to take such web addresses more seriously than generic .com domains.

You can also use a .eu domain if you plan on operating on online business with customers throughout Europe.

Find an affordable and well-established hosting service to host your site. Resist the temptation to go for extremely cheap or free web hosting services if you want to avoid issues such as your site crashing in during business hours.

Your website design can be the difference between thriving and failing online. A good design is easy to navigate and cleverly steers customers toward making purchases.

Make sure the site works well on all browsers and include your contact information where it can be easily found.

Maintaining a healthy cash flow

Poor cash flow can ruin even the most profitable business. Well-managed cash-flow ensures that your business survives through the inevitable tough times. Potential investors love a good cash flow plan as much as they love a good marketing plan. Moreover, having a healthy cash flow will determine whether or not the bank will approve your overdraft.

Some wise business practices help you avoid cash flow problems. Don’t tie up your cash in non-essential equipment. Equipment you don’t use often and machines that become outdated in a short period can land you in a cash crunch.

Keep your personal and business finances separate. Set up a checking account for your business to facilitate accurate monitoring and efficient management of your startup’s expenses. To do this, you must practice proper bookkeeping.

If you’re running a small business, you can do your own accounting. However, it’s a good idea to invest in a basic accounting course to help you cultivate good bookkeeping practices that give you a clear picture of your company’s finances on an ongoing basis. For a sizable business, consider hiring a professional accountant.

A professional accountant will help you manage your taxes. Paying business taxes is mandatory. The most efficient way of paying taxes in Ireland is doing it online through the Revenue Online Service (ROS).

Doing so allows you to benefit from extended deadline dates. There are a number of ways to make online payments. For more information on paying your taxes directly through ROS, set up a ROS Debit Instruction (RDI).

Exporting in Ireland

Tapping into the international market can help secure sustainable long-term growth for your enterprise.

To manage the risks effectively, you need to be well-prepared, especially if you’re a first-time export.

A good export plan will mitigate the costs and risks of exploring new markets and improves the chances of success.

It is therefore important that you develop a deep understanding of your prospective export market.

At first, you need to undertake desk-based research to determine the most lucrative markets and identify barriers such as restrictive practices and excessive duties that render some territories infeasible before you invest time and money.

A final word before your entrepreneurial journey

Starting a business in Ireland can be a life-changing move. To do it right, follow the guidelines outlined above and research widely to equip yourself with knowledge to help you navigate the business world.

In addition to that, seek advice and mentorship from other successful business owners in your industry to improve your chances of having a prosperous business.