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National Women's Enterprise Day

Friday, 20 November 2009

The organisers of National Women's Enterprise Day which is taking place today (20th Nov) in Mullingar are encouraging more women to think about setting up a business next year. The network of County and City Enterprise Boards supported over 12,000 women in business in 2008 alone, through various training programmes, networks, mentoring clinics and grant supports.

Co-funded by the European Social Fund and the Irish Exchequer, the aim of National Women's Enterprise Day is to give national recognition to the role of female entrepreneurship.

Lesley O'Mahony is speaking today at "The National Women's Enterprise Day 2009" in Mullingar. She is one of 5 Irish Business Women who have been chosen to be case studied at the conference.

Lesley O'Mahony had entered the Mumtrepreneurs competition back in 2007 even though Lesley did not make the heats she was still inspired to move forward with her idea and now her "Baby Potz" are being sold worldwide.

Although Lesly did not get through the mumtrapeneurs but a junior producer in RTE Mary Martin saw her info. Mary was on a producer's course with RTE and had to produce a business show. The show was "Deals on Heel's" it never went to air, but that is where Lesley made her first contact to get her product in to pharmacy's.
Sheelagh Daly, CEO, Wicklow County Enterprise Board
What is the key message for women watching The Afternoon Show?

If you're setting up a new business, there are several state support agencies and organisations in Ireland that can provide you with advice, information, grant assistance and networking opportunities, to help you get your business up and running (just like Lesley O' Mahony's business)

What help is available?
The County and City Enterprise Boards offer a wide range of practical supports to women, which are either free or heavily subsidised, for example:
Mentoring (matching a 'would-be' entrepreneur with an experienced business person, to advise and guide them)
Grant Assistance (feasibility study grants, employment grants, capital equipment grants)
Management Development Workshops (upskilling in areas like marketing, finance, HR, legal issues)
Business Networks (Women in Business Networks / Networks for new businesses - co-ordinated by the Enterprise Boards)
IT Health-Check (an IT audit & recommended action plan)
E-Commerce Training Programmes (helping businesses do more business over the net)

What might women not know?

That a lot of supports are completely free of charge - or heavily subsidised by the Government.
That there are drawbacks to being a sole trader (eg with PRSI benefits).
That you don't have to register for VAT automatically - you only need to register for VAT, if your turnover exceeds a certain amount (most businesses just assume that they must register for VAT)

What are the common pitfalls for new businesses?

They don't have credit control procedures in place - ie plenty of sales, but poor cashflow which can cripple a new business

They don't have a business plan - a business plan is a roadmap for your business, and you won't have any hope of getting grants/loans/overdrafts without one.

They don't seek advice or support - ie, they could easily share ideas, discuss problems with experienced business people, rather than 'go it alone'.

What are the main aims of the National Women's Enterprise Day?

We want to encourage more women to take the entrepreneurial route and start their own business. National Women's Enterprise Day is a very effective way for women to find out what enterprise supports are available to them. They can also seek expert advice from mentors, they can exchange tips with other entrepreneurs and they can take advantage of the networking opportunities.
Lesley O'Mahony - CEO Baby Potz
Babypotz provide a total storage solution for mums and dads who are at the weaning stage and who make their own home made baby food. The pots go in the freezer, dishwasher, microwave, and sterilizer and are just great! The fact that you get 50 pots in a pack is also key. Unless you have gone through the task of making your own food you don't really realize why you need 50 - but you do. It's amazing how many meals you get for a 6 month old baby from just a few carrots, sweet potato, chicken, etc, etc. Having a couple of ice cube trays to put all this food into is just so frustrating - so the pots are really a truly useful baby product.

Lesley has recently became involved with my local county enterprise board, Dun laoghaire is mine. She would urge any person starting a new business to get in touch with their local enterprise board. She entered into the county's enterprise awards 2009 and over 100 companies entered. Babypotz won the "Marketing Award" for 2009 which was a great achievement and I was awarded with a lovely piece of crystal and a lovely cheque!!

If anyone is looking for information on setting up their own business contact: