We hope you enjoy reading the MEANit blog with all the guides and tips. If you want our team to help with your web presence click here

The articles here will give you everything you need to plan, design, develop, market and maintain your website, if you have the time required – Enjoy.

COVIDiary

COVIDiary

Week 1 – Moving home.

Like so many clients, neighbours and friends, we decided to work remotely, to avoid contact as much as possible, leaving the office looking deserted. And here is the new office set up for the team at the end of the first week. We all traded our spacious office desks for a new smaller spot working at home. Time to create a bit of space in the house that we can dedicate temporarily, so that we can continue to serve our clients.

We already had an article in our Blog called Working Remotely – Communicating Digitally – see here for our tips. This week we have taken our own advice from that very article. See the image of our empty office desks and quiet office. Then see the new set up in the various Living Rooms at our homes. Complete with a backboard to try to look businesslike and to avoid distractions when talking with clients on camera in Zoom or Skype calls. We can do podcasts and webinars using Zoom and Webex.

So far it is working well. We are keeping up with client requests for website updates and doing the website support on existing client websites. New projects are moving along pretty much on time and we have had no real down time. The urgency of getting people online asap is focusing our minds on work we can do to be of service.

Michael is in his living room with his Leaving Cert student sitting at the next desk, a Queens college student in the room next door watching his online lectures and a daughter in the guest room working away online. One other son is in the USA and hunkering down at college, off campus, attending online lectures.

Senior Developer, John Rainey is at home in his living room balancing life with two year old Kaitlin and all the stresses of keeping his extended family safe from COVID19. This is Priority Number 1.

 

 

COVIDiary-MEANit-Website-Design-Agency
MEANit-empty-Office
New-MEANit-Home-Studio

After the end of the first working week in voluntary lockdown we have created the space to work, to carry on, to help others and to prepare for the coming months. As of today Friday it is impossible to say what Week 2 will bring for all of us.

How have you managed in the past week. Have you got a new normal? Can you work on? Do you need help? Can you offer help? What does your new workspace look like? By all means share and show how you are innovating. Or share your experience, especially if it can help others.

In Donegal we tend to say that ‘Up here is Different’, but maybe now it is not so much so. Around the country other towns and counties are experiencing the same challenges. Up here it might be easier to be locked down than bigger cities. But the spirit will be the same and we will see the ingenuity and generosity of our people, as they face this challenge together.

#stayapartstaywell  #letterkennychamber  #thisbusinessispersonal #COVID19 #SelfIsolationHelp #coronavirus

Edel is set up in the kitchen – her choice, managing finances. From there, in the hub of the house, she can work away and prepare food for all five people.

Marketing Maven Maryann McDonnell is using the actual actual Office itself. She says she has solitude and peace, but is not talking with visitors – although to be fair, people are not out much. She is busy helping clients with posting COVID messages and new content and managing our our own posts and communications.

However the phones are buzzing, so they need attention. Everyone wants to get online FAST. There is a realisation that in future a lot more business will be done online.

Graphic Designer Janine was already working from home, so her creativity was responsible for the quick response graphics we are using here.

Damien is also used to working from home and ensuring that website support is done for our support plan clients. So they were already set up and ready to respond to the urgency of the current challenge.

Most of our current clients are working away behind closed doors. Or they are on the front line and very busy. People like Clare Ryan at ITUS Tech are out setting up Home offices for dozens of companies. Or TFS Ireland cleaning and managing logistics for local businesses. Our MLMG Accountants are helping local businesses manage the implications of new COVID Government supports for them and their staff. Advice First advising worried homeowner lenders.  Simple Simons and Donegal Natural Soap are managing customers needs through their online shops.

Sarah at RINKA has responded amazingly with her Fitness for Kids programmes by delivering online via Facebook Live at rinkaireland. See Sandra and 7 year old AJ every morning at 9.00 am. They have children and parents doing fun exercises together and young AJ has his own fanbase as thousands of people log on to see him. RINKA share loads of games to play indoors. This local initiative is entertaining thousands of people nationally. It is a stand out example of making things work.
For the grown ups, Denise Diver over at Integral Therapy has also gone online using Facebook Live to deliver Yoga and Mindfulness clases at Home Wellbeing Practices.

Some of our clients are taking the new found time to get ready for when this is all over. They are busy planning for the next phase. And that phase will come too, piecing everything back together again. Creating content, getting videos and photos done, looking at website design and hosting and reviewing their own tech set up. And they are planning their advertising strategies, the tactics and best options.

And some Clients have had to take the hard decision to close up for the foreseeable future, until it is safe to get their people back in action again. This is a tough decision, but one that is made mostly in a pragmatic way. Close now and be ready to reopen, prepared for the onslaught to follow.

Some Charity clients are in limbo, waiting to see how people are affected and how that will affect them in turn. Donations may be down considerably and it will be hard to deliver in-person services. It is too early to tell, but we are seeing a lot of generosity of spirit in the community, so they may well be some positive efects in the long run. Again these Charities are looking at delivering content and services online, with advice and phone support.

However, the prevailing feeling, is one a sense of unity. We are all in this together. It affects us all. How often does that ever happen. Truthfully, the business is the least of our problems. Keeping families, staff and neighbours safe is what is of over-riding importance. This is the focus for everyone. Social Distancing, staying at home, being possibly even being locked down and trying not to catch or spread this virus.

CEO at Letterkenny Chamber of Commerce Toni Forrester is keeping business informed about Government initiatives and general business news. She also set up a WhatsApp group for local business owners called Support Local Donegal. With dozens of members already, people are sharing tips, advice, news and initiatives like #thisbusinessispersonal where Fiona Murphy from Citadel Gymnastics asked that members be encouraging for other business people, to help each other and stay connected. Local members are explaining how they are operating, whether is is Pats Pizza offering a limited service or FM Cleaning offering decontamination services. Local businesses are adapting to the changed environment and ensuring that services are delivered and food keeps getting to people. Our local Donegal Business Network started doing their weekly meeting online using Zoom. It worked very well and allowed members join in from home. The meetings are open to visitors, any company doing business in Donegal, at 8.00 am every Wednesday morning. The first meeting had very positive results for the people who attended. Where some members saw roadblocks, others saw ways around them. Getting the input of a dozen other business heads was such a great start to the day. It helped reframe challenges and spot opportunities.

COVIDiary

COVIDiary-Week-Two

Week 2 – In the COVID Ward

The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft a-gley.”

As organised as we were, life simply threw us another curved ball. Just when we thought we knew what we were facing, up popped a more pressing issue.

Last Saturday week, a few hours after posting the first COVIDiary article, as in Week 1, Michael was out walking in Ards Forest Park. He was hiking with his family through the forest. Out of the blue, he had a massive seizure and was subsequently attended to by the Ambulance service and helped by the local Coastguard Rescue. They were wonderful and carried the patient all the way to the main car park. He was then airlifted by helicopter to hospital in Letterkenny. Donegal Daily reported it as it happened, as video footage hit Social Media.

A side effect of these seizures was that he fractured a number of vertebrae which left him incapacitated. Because this happened for no obvious reason he was immediately transferred from A&E, after multiple scans and tests, in to an Isolation Room in the new COVID Ward. A very interesting experience and a chance to see first hand, how well prepared the hospital is for all the expected COVID patients. On Monday his test results came back as ‘negative’ – gratefully. So he was moved to the care of the team in the Orthopaedics Ward.
Because they are trying to empty the hospital as much as possible, Michael was released on Friday evening, to recuperate at home with his family support. Well away from potentially infected patients.

Status
Whilst the head is pretty much okay, apart from all the drugs, the body is in bits, so he has very restricted movement. But seemingly he plans to be back on his laptop tomorrow somehow and working from home as best as possible. His ‘timing’ is good because most people have to work from home anyway and have virtual meetings through Zoom or Skype or phone Etc.

Business status
We expected that we would see a pick up in our business, once people get over the initial shock. And it has happened already. People want to get their business trading online ASAP. We will possibly lose a few potential projects who will hopefully just go on hold. One is an Italian Manufacturer of handbags and one is a Travel Company. And we will gain a few more care plan clients, as people see the importance of keeping their websites working well. And we will get new clients who were previously not committing the focus to getting their online presence improved, putting it on the long finger. Well the time has come

It is too early to say what Michael’s work routine will be like, but we do know that every day he will be getting stronger. Already today he feels quite an improvement. So he will be on the phone pretty soon. He is very keen to ensure that our Clients are ok and find out if we can help with any advice or connections or introductions.

Hopefully, you will have gotten some useful tips from COVIDiary Week 1 with all its links. And the popular article on Working Remotely.

The Whatsapp group set up by Toni Forrester at the Letterkenny Chamber of Commerce is working wonderfully well. Loads of great advice from Michael Boyd of  Boyd HR and from Larissa Feeney at Accountants Online. Larissa held a webinar to explain the Governments innovative moves to keep people employed. Overall the mood is one of resilience and looking to a future after COVID.

Donegal Business Network held its second Zoom meeting and had almost 100% attendance. And again the mood was positive, focusing on maintaining and creating jobs. Donegal Women in Business Network announced that they too will start doing Zoom online meetings. So too did Foyle Business Network.

And Donegal County Council rowed in with some good advice. The Donegal Local Enterprise Office is helping small businesses work out where they can get assistance. They organised a webinar for the food sector for March 31st. Whilst their office building is closed to the public, the team is very much working furiously behind doors.

Next Steps
After the end of the second working week in the now official lockdown, we are moving in to total lockdown, unless more people show some common sense. And overall Ireland is faring well, in this horrible pandemic. Our Government is doing well in difficult circumstances. Both Taoiseach and President are acting very statesmanly. As are the various Unions and most big firms. There is a definite of purpose and looking to the far side. More citizens need to stay at home, this is not a holiday.

For business leaders, this is not a time to close down, if you can stay open with the various supports. This is not a time to let people go, if you can keep them, with the various supports. This is a time for us to invest in our businesses, in our teams, in our futures, in our way of doing things, given the new digital order. This phase will not last long and we need to be ready to restart with vigour. We can use this gift of time to get ready for that next phase. ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway’ as Susan Jeffers would say.

Talk to your Accountant, the Chamber of Commerce or the Local Enterprise Office. These guys can give you great advice. Rather than freeze in the headlights of COVID19, ignore the news and Social channels and Netflix, and start planning now for your future. Your teams all depend on you to show leadership over the next few weeks. If you fail to be proactive, there will be someone else coming to take your business. Business will go on and in the same volume, but some businesses will be replaced. What are you going to do?

#stayapartstaywell  #letterkennychamber  #thisbusinessispersonal #COVID19 #SelfIsolationHelp #coronavirus #VictimOrVictor

See COVIDiary Week 3 here when we publish next week.

COVIDiary

COVIDiary-Week-Three

Week 3 – Sad News

A man of value is a real gentleman. He respects, guides and helps everyone around him irrespective of their gender, race, creed. He knows his limits, has a great conscience and is noble, just and active..”

Week 3 saw us lose a Client, a Friend, a Co-Campaigner, a fellow Human Rights Activist and a proud Townie.

Frank Larkin, died last Friday and was buried on Monday, at a funeral with almost no mourners. This was not a COVID death. He was regularly referred to as Wee Frank, but he was a big man, with a sharp brain and a wealth of empathy. His loss is having a profound effect on us and on his very extensive connections, especially his true love and wife Pauline.

A year ago we set up Access Ireland with Frank to deliver Disability Awareness Training. Frank was train the trainer qualified. This enterprise was just taking off and was looking very promising.

It is hard to get past this news and we are wondering how we can help our community remember Frank. He leaves a big gap. He campaigned for so many people with disability, whether that was getting accessible parking at the new courthouse or getting heard by politicians Nationally or in Europe HQ. He would be disappointed if this gap is not filled by someone new.

Status at Work for MEANit
Productivity is being somewhat affected by working remotely and the fact that everyone is so focused on COVID. It is a huge emotional distraction or worry. Some clients have postponed projects, some have challenges getting content because they have closed down premises temporarily. Or they cannot physically get out to create the content.  In order to be able to support all our clients we need to maintain enough of a team to work as close to normal as possible. Software does not care about pandemics and in fact hackers love a crisis.

Business status
The number of enquiries has gone up substantially as people plan for a post COVID future. It is obvious that people are going to focus on doing a lot more business online. Likewise, we need to plan for considerable expansion in 2021. There is a definite trend towards working with competent, experienced web design agencies with a proven track record. Cheap or low cost options do not look so attractive anymore, as people realise they had not been working for them. There was no return on the low investment. So it is time to get serious about this aspect of the business.

Good News

Zoom has become an everyday tool for business people now. Yes there was some news about them sharing data with Facebook. We doubt you need to worry abut that unless you are working in a very sensitive area.

Remote working is very much the norm now. Smart business leaders are planning for doing business online in future. There is no knowing how long COVID will be around. Or when the next virus will hit, but it will. So it is is time to change the business model somewhat.

The Whatsapp group set up by Toni Forrester at the Letterkenny Chamber of Commerce is still working wonderfully well. It is bringing local business people together. They are seeing the benefits of their Chamber membership. The generosity of people in that group has been wonderful, so many friendships are being forged. And so many people are delighted to be able to  be of service. A few use the platform to whine, but for the vast majority it is about helping and seeking advice.

Donegal Business Network supported by ETB Donegal is to hold a Zoom Workshop with Jo Collins on April 14th at 11.00 am for one hour in conjunction with Donegal Women in Business Network and Letterkenny Chamber.- ‘Communicating with Customers in a COVID Climate’ Register FREE here.

 

Next Steps
Now is the time to invest in our future, create a new business plan, factor in the new normal. In the near future people will not want to get close to each other, they will be wary, because COVID will be here to stay, at some level. Lifestyles will change, people are getting used to eating at home, getting more fast food, getting home deliveries and shopping online. They will do meetings online, do webinars, avail of online learning, courses, classes, trainings.

Normal is not returning 100% or even near it. Be prepared for a new way of doing almost everything. Now is a time to invest in some upskilling, to improve your processes, how you do things. Certain areas will become more competitive, so the better you are the more business you can look forward to getting. To ignore the changed environment, to shun the new responsibility, will see you and your business suffer, along with your family and staff. Now is the time to be proactive, do not wait for some gong that says we are COVID free – it will not ring.

Do talk to your Accountant, the Chamber of Commerce or the Local Enterprise Office. Ignore any pessimists or naysayers, the prophets of doom. They are having a field day, but their futures are in doubt as people go online in search of useful positive advice. Ignore Social Media opinion, stop binge watching the News or Netflix, look for inspiration, help and advice.

The Donegal Local Enterprise Office  building is still closed to the public, however the team is very much working furiously behind those closed doors. This is a good first port of call. Likewise, if you have a positive accountant talk to them now or get a new one that is forward thinking. One who is not frozen in the headlights of COVID. Get one who is ready to help you tackle the challenges you face. 
We all have a lot of work to do, if we are to protect and create more jobs in our community. As Entrepreneurs, business leaders, managers, we signed up for this, so now lets show some leadership, to help each other get through this temporary challenge or change to the way we conduct our business.

#stayapartstaywell  #letterkennychamber  #thisbusinessispersonal #COVID19 #SelfIsolationHelp #coronavirus

See COVIDiary Week 4 here when we publish next week.

COVIDiary

COVIDiary-Week-Four

Week 4 – Good News and Business Continuity Voucher

With time a person’s true colours will always show, especially when they are put under pressure” – Take note, because this is the real person you are seeing”

We have encountered so many good deeds by people over the past few weeks. They are going out of their way to offer their time, their help, their homes, whatever they have to offer.
People like Linda at Treat For Nurses at LUH who is getting voluntary €20 vouchers from many local businesses to give as little treats to Front Line Nursing Staff as a small gesture of thanks. She amassed about €10,000.00 in the first week via a simple Facebook personal blog page.

Three hotels in Letterkenny alone offered their entire building to house HSE Front Line staff who are afraid to go home to their families and risk spreading the virus.

Many people are making masks for healthcare workers. The Donegal Clinical Research Academy and Surgeon Mr Michael Sugrue recorded a video to show people how to make effective masks.

Retailers are coming up with ways to allow people shop safely, keeping a distance and avoiding the use of cash. Restaurants are taking orders online and delivering food to the door. Businesses are seeing opportunities to do what they do, but in a new way. Delivery companies are very busy, dropping goods without engaging physically. Oil, milk, vegetables, clothes, carpets, you name it. Trades people are visiting houses and doing their work without meeting customers.

Distilleries are making hand sanitisers, uniform manufacturers are making scrubs including Logo2Go, or Moville Clothing switched from making suits for Clergy to Hospital scrubs. Watson Hire managed to get a large shipment of Sanitisers and then donated it to front line staff. Signage Companies like Sign Worx and  people with 3D printers are making face guards. Many at low cost or no margin at all. Bus and taxi companies are delivering food orders and prescriptions, as are many volunteers from clubs like Letterkennny Rugby Club and the local Lions Club . Teachers and therapists are delivering classes or grinds online, the list goes on and on. People are showing their true colours and there are many to be applauded.

This may not be a new world order, but many people are showing innovative ways of carrying on. In many cases they are being more productive with their time. We all miss the social engagement, but the time saved can lead to quicker turnarounds.

When COVID moves on and we get back to some form of new normal, many of us will continue to meet on Zoom or Skype to save time. Or to transact business in this more efficient way. That will give us the gift of more discretionary time to ourselves.

Cowering away or simply keeping the head down and waiting for it all to blow over, is to squander this precious opportunity to innovate and improve how we work or add value in our communities.

Status at Work for MEANit
We have certainly had a few knocks and challenges, but the vast majority of our own clients are planning for the future. Many are using the time to do the things that had been on the long finger. Some are shooting video at home for their websites and social media channels. That is quite a challenge for most. Some are looking for advice on how to improve various aspects of their business or online presence. And they are being supported by the Local Enterprise Office with their Business Continuity Voucher. This voucher offers up to €2500 in free Professional Expert advice from services such as HR, IT, Marketing, Audio/Visual, Financial or Web experts. For full details see HERE. “The Business Continuity Voucher is worth up to €2,500 in third party consultancy costs and can be used by companies and sole traders to develop short-term and long-term strategies to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

There is also another LEO Grant worth €2500 to improve an existing website, if you invest 10% co-funding. This is ideal if you want to add a new payment gateway, eCommerce or a booking engine and other functionalities.

Business status
Whilst COVID has totally changed the way we work in MEANit, we are making it work. Spending our days with our families has its advantages. Being together during this crisis is a big plus. Technology is allowing us work away. We are busy supporting our clients and this is such fulfilling work. We are not ‘Front Line’, but we do feel we are making a difference every single day. Our experience and our skills, put us in a wonderful position to be of service. It feels like we have been in training for years to be of service at this time. We are now on a number of Mentoring Panels to offer advice and direction. We are taking the lead in helping our local networks make good use of technology, working together to help businesses in our community.

Good News and there is Good News

Zoom has become the most popular go to tool for online meetings as has JitSi which is possibly more secure. Please do not share sensitive data on Zoom, especially legal or financial firms. You may not want to download the app to your computer. Talk to your IT providers and get advice on the best option for you – make use of the Business Continuity Voucher for this type of expert advice. Call Clare Ryan on 074 911 7034 at ITUS Tech. And your telephones are working fine, so call your customers, talk to them, find out how you can help them. Reach out by email, Whats App, Messenger or text, whatever way you normally communicate, but do stay in touch.

As mentioned above the Local Enterprise Office is offering advice, grants, support and guidance, so please do make contact with them 074 9160735 or info@leo.donegalcoco.ie. The Business Continuity Voucher €2500 grant towards professional 3rd party consultation is wonderful – get financial advice or IT or ICT or HR.
As is the new €2500 online trading grant second round funding for improving your existing website, if you invest 10%. And they still offer up to €2500 grant towards a brand new website through the trading online voucher. You have the time now to take advantage of these offers, so talk to them or us, if we can be of service. Michael’s direct line is 086 2510117 and the office is 01 969 6060.

Enterprise eCommerce Grant

Enterprise eCommerce Grant available to a max of €40,000 or 80% of project costs, minimum of €10,000. This is for any Irish-owned retail enterprise with 10 or more employees before 29th February 2020, with a retail outlet and with an existing online presence of some sort.
Eligible costs include: salary costs and consultancy fees to develop a digital strategy, enhance the company’s website or to provide training for the eCommerce project.
Apply by 3.00 pm on Wednesday 20th May 2020. See full details at https://enterprise-ireland.com/en/funding-supports/online-retail/online-retail-scheme/online-retail-scheme.html : Webinar set for this Friday April 17th at 11.00 a.m – register at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8504048846458333451 Any questions on the application process, email : retail@enterprise-ireland.com

Next Steps – What to do now
Minister Heather Humphreys made an important statement yesterday outlining a further €180 million of supports for small businesses. Thats a total of about €450 million and a total of €1 billion in liquidity measures.

Read the statement HERE and find out which supports are right for your business. If you had a solid business before COVID these supports should help you get through the stresses of the next few months, to safeguard your business and the jobs you created.

Do talk to your Accountant, the Chamber of Commerce or your Local Enterprise Office. There is a lot of work to do, even if your doors are closed. Aidan Clifford ACCA wrote this “Refreshingly simple explanation of the Covid-19 supports” see HERE.

The Donegal Local Enterprise Office  building is still physically closed to the public, for health reasons, so use the phone or email or post. You may face a wait or delay, but you will get attended to. Many Government services are totally swamped with requests. They are just getting their heads around all the quick fire changes being brought in. But they are processing as fast as they can.

Locally, for SMEs, Clients and Community based initiatives or groups there are new supports available from Donegal Local Development Company.

There is a massive National effort underway from Uachtaráin to Taoiseach through every Government Department to help you stay in business and protect jobs. We all need to have some patience and realise that we are all in this together. Many of the stresses cannot be avoided, but many can be addressed to some degree. For some people their stresses are more urgent than others. Start by talking to someone right now. Get some momentum going.

The Whatsapp group set up by Letterkenny Chamber of Commerce is still providing some great advice and lots of support.

Diary Date – Book Now

Donegal Business Network supported by ETB Donegal is to hold a Zoom Workshop with Jo Collins on April 14th at 11.00 am for one hour in conjunction with Donegal Women in Business Network and Letterkenny Chamber.- ‘Communicating with Customers in a COVID Climate’ Register FREE here.

#stayapartstaywell  #letterkennychamber  #thisbusinessispersonal #COVID19 #SelfIsolationHelp #coronavirus

See COVIDiary Week 5 here when we publish next week.

Business Continuity Voucher explained.
The new Business Continuity Voucher, available through Local Enterprise Offices, is designed for businesses across every sector that employ up to 50 people.
The voucher is worth up to €2,500 in third party consultancy costs and can be used by companies and sole traders to develop short-term and long-term strategies to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The goal is to help companies make informed decisions about what immediate measures and remedial actions should be taken, to protect staff and sales.
If your application is successful, a qualified expert will be selected by your Local Enterprise Office to work with you on your business continuity plans. The value of this service is up to a maximum of €2,500.

APPLICATIONS: To apply for a Business Continuity Voucher, please DOWNLOAD the application form here and SAVE IT to your desktop, laptop or tablet computer.

Please type your answers into the spaces provided and remember to SAVE any changes you make.

 When completed, please E-MAIL your application form directly to your Local Enterprise Office, as an attachment to your e-mail.

Your Local Enterprise Office will acknowledge your e-mail. After an assessment has taken place, they will let you know if your application has been successful.
Full details here.

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COVIDiary-Week-Five

Week  5– COVID Business Grants Summary

A Summary of some supports available from Government Departments to help businesses to survive COVID period

COVID is here to stay for some time,  however we need to work around it as best we can. We are very busy and the team is working from home. We needed more hardware to ensure we can work efficiently. We also need to change the way we use the office to allow people go back soon. There are supports available for all of these challenges.

There is so much happening that it can be hard to keep on top of which supports are available to help businesses survive in and thrive after the COVID crisis.
This is not a full list of every support that is available. But it covers the main 3 supports being used by our clients, with a short explanation and links to relevant Government websites or Application Forms. Below these we list a few other supports available.

1. Business Continuity Voucher up to €2500

2. Expanded Trading Online Voucher up to €2500

3. Enterprise eCommerce Grant up to €40,000

 

  1. Business Continuity Voucher up to €2500 The new Business Continuity Voucher, was available through Local Enterprise Offices in 2020, was designed for businesses across every sector that employ up to 50 people. The voucher was worth up to €2,500 in third party consultancy costs and could be used by companies and sole traders to develop short-term and long-term strategies to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic. See below for more details.
  2. Expanded Trading Online Voucher up to 50% or €2500 for 2021
    Under the Government’s National Digital Strategy, the expanded Trading Online Voucher Scheme helps small businesses with up to 10 employees to trade more online, boost sales and reach new markets. There is 50% or €2,500 available through the Local Enterprise Offices with co-funding of 50% from the business*
    Training and further business supports are also provided by Local Enterprise Offices, and businesses that have already received a Trading Online Voucher can now apply for a second voucher, where upgrades are required.  See below for more details.
  3. Enterprise eCommerce Grant up to €40,000
    Enterprise eCommerce Grant was available to a max of €40,000 or 80% of project costs, minimum of €10,000. This was for any Irish-owned retail enterprise with 10 or more employees before 29th February 2020, with a retail outlet and with an existing online presence of some sort. See below for more details.
  4. Government Brexit Advisory, Financial and Upskilling Supports as of May 2021 – see  https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/b1efec-programmes-funds-and-supports/#financial-supports .

1. Business Continuity Voucher up to €2500 – was available to end Dec 2020

The new Business Continuity Voucher, available through Local Enterprise Offices, is designed for businesses across every sector that employ up to 50 people.
The voucher was worth up to €2,500 in third party consultancy costs and could be used by companies and sole traders to develop short-term and long-term strategies to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The goal was to help companies make informed decisions about what immediate measures and remedial actions should be taken, to protect staff and sales.
If your application was successful, a qualified expert will be selected by your Local Enterprise Office to work with you on your business continuity plans. The value of this service is up to a maximum of €2,500.

Oisin Geoghegan of LEO said “For a huge number of small businesses, survival is the over-riding objective at this time so making the right decisions is crucial. There is where the new Business Continuity Voucher can help. The kind of areas that the voucher will help will vary, depending on the needs of each business, but it will include very important measures such as preparing a business case for application to emergency funding, developing a business continuity plan, reducing variable costs, reviewing and exploring supply chain financing options, implementing remote working processes or procedures, and leveraging expertise in HR and ICT.”

APPLICATIONS: STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE
STEP ONE:
To apply for a Business Continuity Voucher, please DOWNLOAD the application form (see links below) and SAVE IT to your desktop, laptop or tablet computer.

Here’s the application form in Microsoft Word format HERE
Here’s the application form in PDF format HERE  
For the PDF version, please open the application form using Adobe Acrobat or an equivalent PDF reader.

STEP TWO:
Please type your answers into the spaces provided and remember to SAVE any changes you make. When completed, please E-MAIL your application form directly to your Local Enterprise Office, as an attachment to your e-mail. Every Local Enterprise Office has its own e-mail address and you’ll find these addresses HERE.

STEP THREE:
Your Local Enterprise Office will acknowledge your e-mail. After an assessment has taken place, they will let you know if your application has been successful. If you’d like to ask questions or discuss your application you can telephone your local LEO office.

2. Trading Online Voucher up to €2500 – 50% in 2021

Under the Government’s National Digital Strategy, the expanded Trading Online Voucher Scheme helps small businesses with up to 10 employees to trade more online, boost sales and reach new markets. There is up to €2,500 or 50% available through the Local Enterprise Offices with co-funding of 50% from the business as of Jan 1 2021*.

Training and further business supports are also provided by Local Enterprise Offices. Businesses that have already received a Trading Online Voucher can now apply for a second voucher, where upgrades are required.

Funding can be used towards adding payment facilities or booking systems to your website or  towards subscriptions to low cost online retail platform solutions, to help companies quickly establish a retailing presence online.

What the vouchers can be used for exactly:

  • IT consultation
  • Development or upgrade of an e-commerce website
  • Implementing Online payments or booking systems
  • Purchase of Internet related software
  • Purchase of online advertising (this purchase cannot make up any more than 30% of approved Voucher costs and can only be drawn down in one payment phase)
  • Developing an app (or multiplatform webpages)
  • Development of a digital marketing strategy
  • Implementing a digital marketing strategy
  • Training/skills development specifically to establish and manage an on-line trading activity

Every Local Enterprise Office has its own e-mail address and you’ll find these addresses HERE. OR talk to us now.

3. Enterprise eCommerce Grant

Enterprise eCommerce Grant was available to a max of €40,000 or 80% of project costs, minimum of €10,000. This was for any Irish-owned retail enterprise with 10 or more Full Time employees before 29th February 2020, with a retail outlet and with an existing online presence of some sort.
Eligible costs include: salary costs up to €200 a day for one person internally and external consultancy fees to develop a digital strategy, enhance the company’s website or to provide training for the eCommerce project.
Apply by 3.00 pm on Wednesday 20th May 2020. See full details at https://enterprise-ireland.com/en/funding-supports/online-retail/online-retail-scheme/online-retail-scheme.html : Any questions email : retail@enterprise-ireland.com

4. Government Brexit Advisory, Financial and Upskilling Supports

See list of Brexit Grants as of May 2021 https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/b1efec-programmes-funds-and-supports/#financial-supports

InterTradeIreland’s Start to Plan vouchers provide up to €2,250 for SMEs to source professional advice/training to prepare for Brexit. You can apply online here.

Further Supports Available

Mentoring

Under the Local Enterprise Office Mentor Programme, clients work with an experienced mentor to identify solutions to areas of exposure within their business.

With advice and guidance from their mentor, clients develop strategies that are more robust, which address issues and maximise potential opportunities when the COVID-19 crisis comes to an end. Mentoring services are now free of charge.

This is the ideal first step to find out what to do next and how to benefit most from the varied supports available to you. E-mail or telephone your Local Enterprise Office to find out more and you’ll find these HERE.

New COVID -19 Business Loan

*First 6 months – Interest & Repayment Free
*New low rate of 4.5% through the Local Enterprise Offices

The COVID-19 Business Loan from Microfinance Ireland (MFI), in partnership with Local Enterprise Offices, is a Government-funded initiative to support small businesses through the current period of uncertainty.

It’s designed for micro-enterprises that are a) having difficulty accessing Bank finance and b) impacted, or may be impacted negatively, by COVID-19 resulting in a reduction of 15% or more in turnover or profit.

Loan Features

  • Business Loans of up to €50,000 are available for eligible micro-enterprises (ie businesses with less than 10 employees and up to €2m annual turnover) that are currently trading
  • Loans may be used for working capital and required business changes as a result of COVID-19
  • Loan terms are typically up to 3 years
  • 6 months interest free and repayment free moratorium, with the loan to then be repaid over the remaining 30 months of the 36-month loan period.
  • New low interest rate of 4.5% if submitted through Local Enterprise Office or referred by your Bank and 5.5% if you apply to Microfinance Ireland directly
  • No fees or hidden costs with fixed repayments. No penalty for early repayment
    Capital expenditure, and in exceptional circumstances working capital loans, may be funded up to 5 years. Here’s a link to Frequently Asked Questions about the Loan  HERE.

Next Steps – What to do now

Do talk to your Accountant, the Chamber of Commerce or your Local Enterprise Office about supports. There is a lot of work to do, even if your doors are closed.

The Donegal Local Enterprise Office  building is still physically closed to the public, for health reasons, so use the phone (074) 916 0735 or email info@leo.donegalcoco.ie or post. You may face a wait or delay, but you will get attended to. Many Government services are totally swamped with requests. They are just getting their heads around all the quick fire changes being brought in. But they are processing as fast as they can.

Locally, in Donegal for SMEs, Clients and Community based initiatives or groups there are new supports available from the Donegal Local Development Company (074) 912 7056.

The Whatsapp group set up by Letterkenny Chamber of Commerce is still providing some great advice and lots of support.

Diary Date – Book Now
To fully appraise companies of the application process and the key issues to be addressed in an application, Enterprise Ireland hosted a Webinar on Friday April 17th. It was recorded and will be available on their website.

#stayapartstaywell  #letterkennychamber  #thisbusinessispersonal #COVID19 #SelfIsolationHelp #coronavirus

Status at Work for MEANit
Over the past week dozens of Clients and potential clients have been in touch to request work or get quotes. They are making use of the time they have now to work on projects that were on the long finger. They are getting ready for post COVID.

Most popular items include, adding a dynamic Blog, an eCommerce platform to take payment online for products or services, an Online Booking option for making appointments, a new custom redesign of the Home and/or other pages or Content Creation. Some are requesting help with Newsletters, Mailing lists, SEO Search Engine Optimisation, Google My Business, Linkedin, Facebook, Security, eMail, or adding Case Studies or Portfolios.

There is always a lot to do and now that there is the available time to do it plus the grants available, it appears as if our clients will be taking advantage of the opportunities. There is even a Grant to book time with us to discuss options and do any necessary research required.

COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Supports

 

Guidance on employer eligibility for Temporary COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme can be found HERE.

 

The Temporary COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme will be operated by Revenue and enables employees, whose employers are affected by the pandemic, to receive significant supports directly from their employer. The scheme is expected to last 12 weeks from 26 March 2020.
The Temporary Wage Subsidy replaces the previous Employer COVID-19 Refund Scheme and provides for a significant increase in the €203 per employee payment that previously applied.

A PDF Guide on the operation of the scheme can be found HERE for download. A second Guide on Eligibility can be found HERE.

 Aidan Clifford ACCA wrote this “Refreshingly simple explanation of the Covid-19 supports” see HERE.

Restart Grant and Restart Grant Plus: The Restart Grant Plus provides direct grant aid to businesses with up to 250 employees to help them with the costs associated with reopening and reemploying workers following COVID-19 closures. The minimum grant is €4,000 and the maximum grant is €25,000. The original grant was from €2000 to €10000.

COVID-19 Business Financial Planning Grant: The COVID-19 Business Financial Planning Grant, worth up to €5,000, is designed to help companies to develop a robust financial plan, including the preparation of documentation required to support applications for external finance from banks and/or other finance providers. The grant is a new support for Enterprise Ireland clients and those manufacturing or internationally traded services companies that employ 10 or more full time employees.

Lean Business Continuity Voucher: The Lean Business Continuity Voucher is available to eligible companies to access up to €2,500 in training or advisory services support related to the continued operation of their businesses during the current pandemic. Ideal if you do NOT pay rates.

Do you want more traffic?

Hi, at MEANit we help 40 ‘Professional Services Businesses‘ to be effective online annually. Will your business be one of the 40 in 2023?

MEANit-Web-Design-Agency-Michael-MacGinty

Written by Michael MacGinty

Michael is a well known speaker, author and coach on how to use the web to grow a business. He is also WP Elevation certified as a Digital Business Consultant.
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