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How to make your mark

There are many reasons why people set up businesses. It might be a reaction to being made unemployed or the appeal of being able to do something you enjoy and/or are good at. Some entrepreneurs are attracted by the prospect of ‘being their own boss’ whereas others see it as a way of getting rich.

In other cases, though, the intention may be to create something that can be handed down to future generations – in other words, a legacy. This may sound like something only wealthy people can aspire to, but even the smallest business can have a positive impact on the people and organisations it comes into contact with.

Walking the walk…

It is easy to start out with good intentions that fall by the wayside as you become consumed by the demands of running a business. You must not only set out your commitments to suppliers, customers and employees but also act as a role model by observing these values every day, otherwise no one else will take them seriously.

A commitment can be as simple as identifying the pain points of your target audience and explaining how your product or service can reduce or remove these frustrations.

Any business where the brand is also the family name should be particularly conscious of the importance of creating a positive image (‘you can trust us because we are a family like you’).

What do you care about?

When identifying a cause or causes to support, the best starting point is to find something you are passionate about. This will make it easier to maintain your interest as well as convincing others that your intentions are genuine, which is particularly important for younger people.

The influence of millennials on business is growing all the time. They are prepared to give their custom to enterprises they see as being aligned with their values and many are willing to directly support business legacy initiatives by donating to charities supported by companies they trust.

Positioning your business as one that helps to create responsible suppliers, for example, will become part of your brand and since this is reflected in the overall price of your product, in effect the legacy pays for itself.

The cost of a social conscience

Most small businesses already support community projects, so you may already be a philanthropist without even realising it! This support tends to be provided on an ad hoc basis for projects that are valued by suppliers, customers or staff.

However, if you intend to take a more structured approach it is important to understand your financial position so you can decide how much support you can afford to provide. You could even take this a stage further by analysing whether supporting a specific project led to an increase in business.

It is not always possible to determine exactly how much (if any) commercial benefit is derived from supporting community projects. However, the financial data available from a cloud-based accounting solution such as Big Red Cloud will give you a better idea of how philanthropy affects your bottom line.

Marc O'Dwyer

After completing a Graduate program in Marketing, Marc’s impressive sales career began at Allied Irish Banks, Pitney Bowes and Panasonic where he received numerous Irish and European sales performance awards and consistently exceeded targets and expectations. In 1992, Marc’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to set up his own business, Irish International Sales (IIS). Initially, this company was a reseller for Take 5 Accounts and Payroll software. Within four years, IIS became the largest reseller of Take 5 in Ireland, acquiring four other Take 5 resellers. He also found time to set up two mobile phone shops under the Cellular World brand and a web design company offering website design services for small businesses. In 2001, he bought the majority share in a small Irish software business, Big Red Book. At that time, the company was losing money. The company became profitable within two months, and Marc then acquired a payroll company to compliment Big Red Books Accounting products. In 2003, IIS were appointed as Channel Partners with SAP for their new SME product, SAP Business One. Marc sold his Take 5 business and concentrated on developing this new market for SAP As a result, by 2007, IIS was recognised as the largest Channel Partner for SAP in EMEA (Europe Middle East and Africa). In 2008, the IIS Sales Manager bought the Company from Marc in an MBO. He launched Big red cloud in June 2012, the online version of big red book, to date the company successfully converts 59% of trials into sales and the number of customers is growing rapidly. Marc continues to run both Big Red Book and Big Red Cloud which now support 75,000 businesses. He is a very keen sportsman, having played rugby for 20 years, represented Leinster at under 16 and under 20 levels, and league squash with Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club for 10 years. Marc has competed in 11 Marathons, including the London and Boston Marathons, and has completed several Triathlons and Half Ironman races. He has also completed six Ironman Races in Austria(x2), Frankfurt (Germany), Nice (France) , Mallorca (Spain) and Copenhagen (Denmark)

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