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With many businesses unsure of when they will be able to emerge from lockdown it is vital that small firms in particular are aware of all the supports available to them.

The most recent initiative is the Sustaining Enterprise Fund for Small Enterprises, which provides short term funding of €25,000-€50,000 to companies whose turnover is down by 15% or more due to COVID-19 prevention measures.

The smallest firms – those with fewer than 10 employees – can also access up to €50,000 though a Microfinance Ireland COVID-19 loan. Funds can be borrowed over three years, can be paid back early without penalty and come with an option for a moratorium on interest and repayments for the first six months.

If you are thinking of applying for a Microfinance Ireland COVID-19 loan make sure you do it through your Local Enterprise Office as you will get a lower interest rate.

Smaller-scale financial assistance includes the business continuity voucher available through Local Enterprise offices to sole traders and companies that employ up to 50 people. These vouchers can be used to pay for up to €2,500 of third party consultancy – advice that could help you make better decisions about what to do now and how to make sure your business leaves lockdown in the best possible shape.

Businesses with nine or fewer employees that are able to continue to trade online might be able to avail of the €2,500 trading online voucher scheme. Businesses that can prove they have successfully used their voucher can apply for a second one, doubling the potential value of the scheme.

From the end of this week, micro and small businesses can apply to their local authority for grant aid to help them with the costs associated with reopening and reemploying workers. Available to businesses with a turnover of less than €5 million and fewer than 50 employees that have either closed or lost at least a quarter of their turnover, the grants will be equivalent to the rates bill of the business in 2019 or a minimum of €2,000 (whichever is the higher) with a maximum grant of €10,000.

Regardless of how your business has been affected by COVID-19 restrictions you should be talking to your bank on a regular basis. Every bank has a coronavirus section on their website where you can find details of supports for businesses impacted by lockdown, which include payment breaks for business loans, emergency working capital, increased credit limits and deferral of maintenance and transaction fees.

The conditions and restrictions imposed on government supports mean it is more important than ever that your financial records are in order.

For companies using the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme, for example, Revenue is calculating average net weekly pay based on January and February payroll submissions. So if these submissions are inaccurate or incomplete, you could lose out.

Revenue state on their website that ‘where, due to the virus, key personnel that compute tax returns are unavailable, we strongly advise that the relevant return is submitted on a ‘best estimate’ basis’. Why not use Big Red Cloud and cut out the guesswork?

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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