DOING BUSINESS IN IRELAND ... FRESH PERSPECTIVE FROM AN OUTSIDER
Originally from Australia, I have run my own business in Ireland for just over three years now. That of course now makes me an expert on working in both places. So I thought I would share some of the differences, both good and bad, between the two countries. This post comes with the massive disclaimer that this is all just my opinion. It contains a large amount of generalization and stereotyping.
And all of it should be taken with a massive grain of salt.
Meeting people in person
Calling it ‘networking’ doesn’t do the social interactions with other Irish business owners justice. The Irish make going to events and meeting up with like-minded people an absolute pleasure.
Before I left Australia, I did some training focused around marketing our business. A lot of emphasis was put on the need to nail your elevator speech…that 30 second spiel when you meet a potential new client at a function or event, and only have a moment to sell them your amazing, unique and essential product or service. Everybody should have an elevator speech. If you can’t sum up your business in 30 seconds, how can you expect anyone else to be able to grasp it?
However, having visited Ireland many times on holiday, I was fairly optimistic that I wouldn’t need to utilize my skills of ‘getting to the point immediately but with flair’ as much as I had needed to previously, when walking up to a group of strangers, Prosecco in hand.
Rather, I figured the conversation would go something like this:
Me: Hello, I’m Leeanne
Them: Where’s that accent from?
Them: (After getting through the obligatory ‘I have an uncle/brother/cousin/insert distant relative in Perth’) What brings you to Ireland?
Me: I wanted a complete change so I came over here to set up my new business venture.
Them: Tell me all about it?
Me: Well, I’m glad you asked……
It would be hard to find a nation on earth more naturally gifted at networking than the Irish. They are natural story-tellers, natural inquisitors and natural gossips. Conversation is based on a genuine interest in another human’s affairs and everybody in business is keen to see everybody else succeed.
TIP #1: Get involved with as many local business/entrepreneur groups as soon as possible and make those vital connections. Your Chamber of Commerce or the Local Enterprise Office is a great place to start.
Doing business by phone or email
So dealing with people in person is a walk in the park. What about doing business on the phone or via email? Well, it has been quite the opposite!
Getting people on the phone
I know everyone is busy, but getting someone to answer or return your call is the Irish Holy Grail!
Before moving here, I had no real experience of business people screening all calls and only answering those from numbers they recognized. Since moving here, I cannot count the number of follow-up calls I have needed to place just to get the simplest of tasks done.
When they do finally pick up the phone, many people fail to identify themselves or who they represent. Again, I cannot tell you the number of times I have been met with a simple ‘Hello?’ and it’s my job as the caller to confirm I have the right number, business and person.
I can still hear my little five year old self saying what I was taught to say when picking up the phone (‘861 660…..Fiona speaking ‘). So I’ve always known it’s a basic tenet of life and business to have a good phone manner. I’d have been crucified in any Australian job I’d ever held if I’d been so lax with this rule.
TIP #2: Answer your phone where possible! And when you do so, identify yourself and your business!
Everyone knows that in this day and age, cold approach emails are the equivalent of making a really bad impression on the first date. We all have too many messages coming into our inboxes as it is. If an email appears to be a cold-approach, most will ignore it at best, resent it at worst.
TIP #3: In Ireland, where conversation is at the heart of all communication, nothing beats a personal introduction to further a business relationship.
However, what surprised me the most when I first relocated here was just how many of my suppliers were missing out on work I was begging them to take from me simply because they were not reading or responding to their emails.
The one that stands out the most was one wholesale supplier, who I called to chase, when I had not received a response to several emails requesting to sign up as a customer on her website. First of all, she wanted to know if I had signed up with any other suppliers, because she didn’t want to ‘waste her time’ if I was also going to go with other suppliers. When I assured her that I would be using her exclusively (yeah, right!) she said she would ‘put it in her diary to read her emails’ the following week!! Your business must be doing extremely well if you can afford to turn down work handed to you on a platter. Suffice it to say, we never did get signed up to her website.
TIP #4: Review your own emails on a regular basis and respond promptly. You never know where the next lead may come from.
I hope you have found these tips helpful. Look out for part two, when I will cover technology, the cost of doing business and dealing with the general public.
TIP #5: If you are running a business or thinking of setting one up, you should definitely contact TrainwithUs and MMcloughlinSolicitors to discuss your options.
The material in this article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or taxation advice. Specific legal and taxation advice should be sought before acting. All information and taxation rules are subject to change without notice.
No liability whatsoever is accepted by M. McLoughlin & Co. for any action taken in reliance on the information in this article
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