By Pat Walsh owner of Sky Business Centres and CEO of Diaryplan.com
As an Entrepreneur and owner of Sky Business Centres, an office property business and with three Dublin office properties it would be true to say that since this recession started we have been very much in the worst part of the storm. With an abundance of vacant office buildings, plummeting office rental pricing and historically low business sentiment, owning and operating three serviced office centres is not the place to be.
However, this year our revenue has increased by 14%, our new web venture Diaryplan.com is now on the Microsoft marketplace in US, Canada, Australia and the UK and our “my events” sports calendar service is now live on eircom.net for 400,000 customers.
So how did this happen?
Well I’m not saying it’s been easy. On the contrary, its involved enormous hard work, sacrifice and dedication both by my valued colleagues and me but it has been achieved without raising additional finance, investment or equity release.
So here’s how I did it and how you can do it too in 10 points:
1. As the adage goes “if you keep doing the same thing, you will get the same results”. We’ve taken a stark look at the future and re-engineered our business to match what is demand now by changing our traditional office rental model to now offering low cost office rental services, business continuity and enhanced virtual office services. Rather than waiting for the market waves to drown us, we’re swimming with the tide.
2. Sales by social networking – Yes there is a lot of hype and it does involve work. However we’ve successfully used linkedin, twitter and facebook to attract new customers. We have found linkedin particularly useful in finding the right contacts for our target market segments. See my linkedin profile at:
3. Go Green – Like many businesses we have high electricity and gas costs. We’ve done the “Big Switch” to Bord Gais and also fitted time sensor switches were possible. We are also saving time and money by going with eft and Direct debit. So no more paper invoices, statements and no more cheques.
4. As Jack Welch stated “Delegate Ruthlessly” so use www.elance.com or similar web freelance websites. This year alone we have saved an estimated €53,000.00 by buying services online. By tendering on Elance we have saved on legal services, internet marketing, graphic and video design, i.t support, telephone system support and architectural services. Examples include where we registered a PCT worldwide patent application at a cost of €4,600.00 as opposed to quotes received for €15,000. On elance.com our new video for eircom.net cost only €125.00 to prepare, script and produce! See it at eircom.net my events. You can do the same. Start saving now.
5. Go global and increase sales by becoming an elance.com or cloud equivalent service provider. Every month on Elance 32,000 jobs plus are awarded. That’s $300 million dollars of business since 2007. Do you offer engineering, software, marketing, creative or business consultancy services? Then get in on a piece of the action. Register as a provider on Elance.com. We’ve done this and are making money so what are you waiting for?
6. We saved one years audit fee by changing our ARD (Annual Return Date) – The revenue won’t like it, your accountant won’t like it, but you will, because its legal and it will save on your auditing fees.
7. Clear your head and get a reality check by doing something good. Last year I travelled to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with Connect Ethiopia to train twenty three small Addis based businesses to become cloud based service providers. Spending time with people, whose priority is food for the day, helped me prioritise what is really important and not frivolous. Most Ethiopians would welcome our recession conditions any day. See the slideshow at Ethiopia Slide Show and more information on our blog: Sky Business Centres Blog
8. Start a new business venture. You have the experience, knowhow and resources to run your existing business. Talk to Enterprise Ireland and use tools like google insights to find out what products and services are in demand. Start a new venture and leverage your existing resources to provide a low cost base for a new profitable business. My new venture is Diaryplan.com. It’s well on the way to global success. No prizes for guessing where our HQ is. We’ve saved on start-up banking costs by using the Ulster Bank business start-up package
While I am on this subject, Is there anyone out there interested in setting up a new green technology business venture with me?
9. Avail of the FAS Work placement programme. You get an employee free for nine months, they get experience. After the nine months employ permanently and pay no PRSI for first twelve months. See: Fas Work Placement
10. Enter competitions for recognition and awards. Its time consuming but normally free to do so. In the current climate even if you are only shortlisted it is great free publicity. Diaryplan.com is a winner of the eircom web innovation award and was shortlisted for a golden spiders award. Sky Business Centres won the Esat BT service award and was shortlisted for the Small firms association national business awards. It all helps.