Creating Confidence Among SMEs Focus of SFA Conference

The Small Firms Association (SFA) Annual Conference 2018 is taking place today, Thursday, May 24, at the O’Brien Centre for Science, UCD. The conference is the SFA’s flagship event, aiming to help small business owners and managers to keep up-to-date with the latest trends in HR, management and innovation. It is a half-day event and this year is being moderated by TV3’s Colette Fitzpatrick.

A mix of keynote addresses and panel discussions will focus on how small businesses can stay competitive, gain access to and retain talent, and deal with new regulatory challenges such as GDPR, which comes into force tomorrow, May 25. The event will bring together 300 entrepreneurs, owner-managers, policy makers and media to explore how to create competitive advantage in the current economic and business environment.

Speaking at the conference, Sven Spollen-Behrens, SFA Director stated: “Confidence among small business has dampened in the last six months, with 53 per cent now believing that the business environment is improving, compared with 62 per cent in November 2017. For the first time, attracting talent has been identified as the number one threat to small businesses. The tightening labour market is very challenging for SFA members as two-thirds look to recruit over the coming year.

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“Even in a growing economy, less than half of owner-managers tell us their businesses are growing. That is why the Government’s focus should now be on creating a leap forward in the conditions for small businesses. Today, the SFA is officially launching its campaign for a national Small Business Strategy. In Ireland, we know exactly what it takes to create real, transformational change, as we have successfully built a world-class environment for multinational companies. This know-how must now be harnessed for the benefit of almost a quarter of a million small businesses.”

According to the SFA, there are eight key considerations for Government when designing a Small Business Strategy:

1. Strategy should be a common vision with whole-of-government buy-in.

2. Public awareness and acceptance important.

3. Strategy should support all small business – there is no ‘right’ sector to be in.

4. Strategy should provide coherence – all policies and schemes aligned, no mismatches between rhetoric and practice.

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5. Business-friendly approach to be instilled in public officials across the apparatus of the state.

6. Strands: tax, cost of doing business, regulatory burden, accessibility and suitability of business supports, enhancingspillovers from multinationals to indigenous firms.

7. New approach to communicating with small businesses.

8. All other decisions affecting small business should be informed by the strategy.

Pictured above: Sven Spollen-Behrens Director SFA, Sue O’Neill, SFA Chair and Danny McCoy CEO of IBEC

Image by: Jason Clarke Photography

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Joseph O'Connor

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