Start your own business in Ireland

How To Start Your Own Business in Ireland

At first, starting your own business involves more work not less, money paid out rather than taken in and a steep learning curve. In return you can look forward to earning every dime to which you are entitled, being able to direct your destiny and never having to worry about “the boss”.

If you want to work hard and sacrifice to get what you want – if you’re willing to be successful – the following will put you on the path to owning your own business.

A successful small business is built at the convergence of a market need and an ability to meet that need. In other words, you need to find something that you do well (and hopefully enjoy doing) that others are willing to buy. There are two simple steps to do that.

Step one:

– Identify a product or service that you can produce. You may have a business in mind. If so, skip this step. If not, ask yourself the following questions:

Do your present job skills lend themselves to side work. If yes, you can start by developing a business on the side while still collecting a regular paycheck. If not;

Can your present line of work (or one that you want to be in) be produced by a small business? If not;

Do you have capital to invest? If yes, you can look for a franchise to purchase. Franchisers are in the business of starting and guiding small businesses.

If not:
Take a sheet of paper and draw a line down the center. On the left list anything that you can do (as ordinary as mowing lawns to as complex as designing rocket motors) and anything that you would like to learn to do. Obviously, only list those things that is or could be a saleable skill. On the right side put the types of businesses that use the skills from the left side of the sheet. The right side of the sheet is your universe of potential businesses.

Once you’ve identified something that you want to do you need to identify whether it is something that you can reasonably expect to do profitably. The old saw “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” was never more true than when starting a business. Success demands a clear and articulated vision of the challenges and opportunities to come. Common sense dictates that you understand the ingredients for success before you commit time and money to your project. Lenders, investors and other stakeholders depend on your ability to chart the course to victory and they’ll want to see your proposed course in writing.

Step two:

– Create a business plan. A business plan is a written proposal. It describes your business and it’s environment and forecasts it’s future. More importantly, the process of creating a business plan identifies the challenges and opportunities to come and details the key result areas for success. It determines how much money you’ll need and where it will be found. With a business plan you are prepared to win. Without one, you are flying blind.

Starting your own business can be exciting, challenging and rewarding. Finding the place where market need intersects with your abilities is the first step towards success. A business plan is the tool to help you take that first step.

Setting Up Business in Ireland

If you planning to set up your own business in Ireland you can do it even without leaving your home. Annual fee on social insurance is €175 only. Small firms are dismissed from VAT. These favorable conditions tempt large number of people.

It is thought that Irish tax system offers one of most advantageous regulations. First of all, we will perceive advantages of these systems setting up sole trader.

So step by step:

1. Find idea for your own business

2. Find a business name

3. Register business name

4. Register for tax and PRSI

Business Name Registration

First basic step is registration of business name in Company Registration Office – CRO www.cro.ie.
Registration of a business name is obligatory if any individual or partnership (whether composed of individuals or bodies corporate or any combination of both) or any body corporate carries on business under a name other than their own true names. Its purpose is to make public the identities of those individual(s), partnerships or corporate bodies being the legal entity behind the business name.

Specifically registration of a business name is required if:

  • an individual uses a business name which differs in any way from his/her true surname. It makes no difference whether the individuals first name or initials are added. So registration is required if, for example, Mr. John Murphy traded as Murphy Builders but not if he traded as Murphy or John Murphy);
  • a firm uses a business name which differs in any way from the true names of all partners who are individuals and the corporate names of all partners which are bodies corporate;
  • a company uses a business name which differs in any way from its full corporate name;
  • a person having a place of business in the State carries on the business of publishing a newspaper.

You automatically become a sole trader by starting up a business on your own.

An advantage of being a sole trader is that apart from normal tax returns, which every taxable person must make, a sole trader is not required to make public any information about the business.

The downside of being a sole trader is that you have no protection if your business fails. All your assets become available to pay off your creditors.

Forms to be completed

To register a business name, submit one fo the following forms, along with the registration fee to the CRO within one month of adopting the business name:

  • Form RBN1 – for an individual
  • Form RBN1A – for a partnership
  • Form RBN2 – for a body corporate

Online Business Name Registration

Step 1 – System requirements

To file online you will need the following:

A working email account.
Adobe Reader 5, or later versions, on your computer (free from http://www.adobe.com/).
A printer to print the signature page.
If you have anti-virus software on your computer, enable PopUps in order to view the signature page.

Step 2 – Registration

To file online you first need to register with CORE. This is a simple process.

Log onto http://www.core.ie/
On the right hand side of the web page, click on REGISTER which appears under the question NEW TO CORE? and follow the instructions on screen. If you have already registered for online filing, you can use your existing username and password.

Step 3 – Completing the form

Click on “File a Form” and select “Registration of Business Name” from the workspace.
Follow the instructions, making sure you read all pop-up messages carefully. To further assist you, the “Help” button, located on each web page will open up a page of instructions.
Select the type of Business Name you would like to register i.e. individual and click Next

Step 4 – Enter the business name details

Give the business name you intend to trade under and the nature of the business. This must be a detailed description. The place of business address must be in the Republic of Ireland.

  • Enter the details of the person who owns the business name.
  • Enter the individual details of the business name owner.
  • When ready click next.

Presenter Details

The details of the Presenter will be pre-filled with the details that were entered on registration with CORE. This is the address to which the Business Name Certificate will be sent. Click Next.

You will be presented with a Total View of the details you have entered for review. From this screen click on Check Form to ensure all the necessary information has been entered. If there are any areas of the forms which have been omitted, you are now prompted to enter the missing details.

When ready, click Submit Form.

Step 5 – Print & sign signature page

Once the Submit button is clicked, a signature page will be generated, which you will have to print and sign.
the signature page should be sent to the CRO for registration along with any other necessary documentation.
a filing fee of €20 is required. (this is cheaper than completing a paper application, which costs €40 to file as it involves a longer registration process)
the registration page and the document are available in your workspace for future reference.
if the document is returned to you for any reason, you will be able to edit it in your workspace by clicking on the edit & resubmit icon. You will need to generate a new signature page if you make changes to the form.
the document is only deemed legally received in the CRO when the signature page and fee are received.

Registering for tax

After registering business name you need to register a new company in the Revenue Office. For this purpose you can go to your local tax office or download and fill in the appropriate form available at www.revenue.ie. Using this form shall be made for the purposes of registration for PAYE, PRSI and VAT.

Registering for taxation

Businesses in Ireland are subject to:

  • Income tax – Sole traders and partnerships on their profits
  • Corporation tax – Limited companies on their profits
  • Value added tax (VAT) – All businesses with turnover in excess of €75,000 (goods) or €37,500 (services)
  • PAYE/PRSI – All businesses with employees (including owner/directors).

It is your obligation to notify the Revenue Commissioners through your local tax office of the establishment of your business and to provide them with the information required to register your business for the relevant taxes.

You must complete one of these forms, depending on your circumstances:

Form TR1 – for Sole Traders, Trusts or Partnership. This can be used to register for any or all of the following: Income Tax, Employer’s PAYE/PRSI, Value Added Tax, Relevant Contracts Tax.

Form TR2 – for Companies. This can be used to register for any or all of the following: Corporation Tax, Employer’s PAYE/PRSI, Value Added Tax, Relevant Contracts Tax.
Each of these forms gets you registered for all applicable taxes.

PRSI – Pay Related Social Insurance

PRSI Class S provides cover for:

  • Widow’s and Widower’s (Contributory) Pension
  • Guardian’s Payment (Contributory)
  • State Pension (Contributory)
  • Maternity Benefit
  • Adoptive Benefit
  • Bereavement Grant.
  • Class S PRSI does not provide cover for any other schemes/benefits.

PRSI Class S is paid by self-employed people such as: farmers, professional people (for example, doctors, dentists, solicitors etc.), certain company directors, people in business on their own or in partnerships, authors, artists, religious, contractors, sub-contractors carrying on independent businesses, people with income from investments, rents or maintenance payments employees who are also self-employed in a trade or profession pay Class S PRSI as well as their PRSI contribution as an employee company directors, motorcycle couriers etc. who pay their tax through the PAYE system but who are not regarded as employees for social insurance purposes.
Self employed medical card holders with earnings of €3,174 or more a year must pay Class S PRSI.

If you are self-employed you pay Class S PRSI contributions. This entitles you to a limited range of social insurance payments including, Widow’s/Widower’s Contributory Pension, Orphan’s (Contributory) Allowance, State Pension (Contributory), Maternity Benefit, Adoptive Benefit and the Standard Bereavement Grant. Class S social insurance contributions are paid at a rate of 3% on all income.

If your income is above €26,000 you also pay a 2% Health Contribution on all income. You pay this directly to the Revenue Commissioners when you make your annual tax return.

You should register for Class S social insurance with the Department of Social and Family Affairs (DSFA).

When you register as a self-employed sole trader with the Revenue Commissioners you are automatically registered for Class S PRSI.

Business insurance

Although you are not legally obliged to be insured when you are carrying on a business, it generally advisable to have insurance cover for various situations. In particular if the public have access to your premises you should have public liability insurance.

Types of Business Insurance – You Need to Know

Insurance isn’t just a good idea, it’s necessary. With all of the variety of potential risk that your business faces, it should be your top priority to protect it. By knowing exactly what kind of insurance you need to purchase, you can limit your risks and save yourself time and money.

General liability insurance is a policy that covers the potential losses associated with any accident or negligence that occurred on business property. By purchasing general liability insurance you can protect yourself from the devastating losses that accidents can bring about.

The next kind of insurance that your business might need is called product liability insurance. Whether your business manufactures, distributes or sells a product, you are responsible for the safety of the product. If a person is injured while using your product because of a defect, your business is financially liable. By purchasing this policy you can successfully protect yourself against any such claims.

The next crucial kind of insurance that your business may want to purchase is called professional liability insurance. If your business provides a service in which errors could potentially cost customers large sums of money, this policy would be a good investment. This is the kind of insurance that covers against any claims of malpractice or negligence on your business’s behalf.

Another important insurance policy that you should be aware of is called commercial property insurance. This covers against any potential physical loss due to fire, flood, wind or any other natural disaster. This insurance policy also covers any potential criminal action taken against your business such as vandalism or theft of property. It is available in a two forms: all-inclusive policies and an issue specific policy. By having commercial property insurance you can cover against any potential loss of property or income that may happen to your business.

Finally the last policy that your business may need is referred to as home-based business insurance. It’s a relatively common misconception that if you operate a home business your homeowner’s insurance covers any losses from your home.

The unfortunate news is that while homeowner’s insurance does cover almost any potential damage or loss to your home, it does not cover the losses that your home-based business may suffer. While it may depend on your homeowner’s insurance policy, you may need additional insurance to cover your home based business. By investigating which policies best suit your business needs, you save yourself much heartache. It’s your job to make your business as much of a success as you possibly can; it’s your insurance policy’s job to protect what you have made.

Planning permission

If you are working from home you may need planning permission, for example, if you are using part of your home for business purposes or if you were to build a shed or an office in your garden. You should contact your local authority (County Council) for advice about planning permission.

If you want to make a material (i.e. substantial) change to the use of land or buildings which will have an actual or potential impact on neighbours or the local community, then you will need planning permission.

For example you will need planning permission if you propose to:

  • Convert your garage into a workshop for business use
  • Establish a crèche
  • Open a bed and breakfast with more than 4 guest bedrooms

Franchising – Advantages and disadvantages

Franchising refers to the methods of practicing and using another person’s business philosophy. The franchisor grants the independent operator the right to distribute its products, techniques, and trademarks for a percentage of gross monthly sales and a royalty fee. [source wikipedia.org]

Buying a franchise is a quick way to setup and start operating a new business. However, there can be disadvantages when purchasing a franchise. Below are some advantages and disadvantages of buying into a franchise.

Advantages of Franchising

  • Your new business is not that new. It has been developed and built on a proven idea. Before purchasing contact other owners of the same franchise.
  • It many cases when buying a franchise you will be buying a recognized name. Operating a business behind a brand name will improve the success rate.
  • The franchisor will provide support that includes training, business set up information, and advice on how to operate the franchise going forward.
  • It may be easier to obtain financing to buy a franchise as opposed to an un franchised business.
  • As a franchise owner you will just have to follow the proven business model.
  • If venders or suppliers are required to operate your business the franchisor has in most cases established ongoing relationships with these companies.

Disadvantages of Franchising

  • The costs involved in purchasing a franchise are not cheap. It can be quite expensive to purchase a profitable business model.
  • If you purchase a franchise you may have to follow guidelines as to how you run your business.
  • An incompetent franchisee can give other franchise owners a bad reputation since you are all working under the same company name.
  • The franchisor reserves the right to tell you who you can and cannot sell your franchise to in the event you would like to leave the business.
  • In most cases the franchisor receives a percentage of the profits.

Franchise consultant

Why use the services of a franchise consultant?
A franchise consultant can provide expertise and guidance throughout the entire process of purchasing a franchise. Below are a few of the many reasons why it would be beneficial to take advantage of the free services of a franchise consultant.

  • The franchisor will cover the consulting fees if you decide to purchase a franchise. Therefore the buyer will be receiving these services free of charge.
  • A franchise consultant will advise whether becoming a franchise owner is right for you and if so continue to instruct you how to start researching potential franchise business opportunities
  • A franchise consultant will analyze your skills, interests, experiences, and personality in effort to find a franchise that is most suitable for you
  • A franchise will only share your information with potential franchisors.
  • Franchise consultants will help qualify franchisors by researching their success and track record.
  • A franchise consultant will provide answers to general questions, supply additional resources, and recommend other professionals that may be required in this process such as lawyers and financial advisors.
  • A franchise consultant works with all types of franchises in different industries.
  • A franchise consultant will many times eliminate complications and confusions that may arise when purchasing a franchise.
  • Franchise consultants know what questions to ask the franchisors and will bring to your attention anything that is out of the ordinary.

Simply put a franchise consultant will help you determine if franchising is right for you and if so, what type of franchise you would have the most success with. They will represent you throughout the entire process and be compensated by the seller, similar to a realtor.

What is a business plan

A. What Is a Business Plan?

A business plan is a written statement that describes and analyzes your business and gives detailed projections about its future. A business plan also covers the financial aspects of starting or expanding your business-how much money you need and how you’ll pay it back. Writing a business plan is a lot of work. So why take the time to write one? The best answer is the wisdom gained by literally millions of business owners just like you. Almost without exception, each business owner with a plan is pleased she has one, and each owner without a plan wishes he had written one.

B. Why Write a Business Plan?

Here are some of the specific and immediate benefits you will derive from writing your business plan.

Helps You Get Money

Most lenders or investors require a written business plan before they will consider your proposal seriously. Even some landlords require a sound business plan before they will lease you space. Before making a commitment to you, they want to see that you have thought through critical issues facing you as a business owner and that you really understand your business. They also want to make sure your business has a good chance of succeeding. In my experience, about 35% to 40% of the people currently in business do not know how money flows through their business. Writing a business plan with this article teaches you where money comes from and where it goes. Is it any wonder that your backers want to see your plan before they consider your financial request? There are as many potential lenders and investors as there are prospective business owners. If you have a thoroughly thought out business and financial plan that demonstrates a good likelihood of success and you are persistent, you will find the money you need. Of course, it may take longer than you expect and require more work than you expect, but you will ultimately be successful if you believe in your business.

Helps You Decide to Proceed or Stop

One major theme of the article may surprise you. It’s as simple as it is important. You, as the prospective business owner, are the most important person you must convince of the soundness of your proposal. Therefore, much of the work you are asked to do here serves a dual purpose. It is designed to provide answers to all the questions that prospective lenders and investors will ask. But it will also teach you how money flows through your business, what the strengths and weaknesses in your business concept are and what your realistic chances of success are. The detailed planning process described in this article is not infallible-nothing is in a small business-but it should help you uncover and correct flaws in your business concept. If this analysis demonstrates that your idea won’t work, you’ll be able to avoid starting or expanding your business. This is extremely important. It should go without saying that a great many business people owe their ultimate success to an earlier decision not to start a business with built in problems.

Lets You Improve Your Business Concept

Writing a plan allows you to see how changing parts of the plan increases profits or accomplishes other goals. You can tinker with individual parts of your business with no cash outlay. If you’re using a computer spreadsheet to make financial projections, you can try out different alternatives even more quickly. This ability to fine tune your plans and business design increases your chances of success. For example, let’s say that your idea is to start a business importing Korean leather jackets. Everything looks great on the first pass through your plan. Then you read an article about the declining exchange ratio of euro to Korean currency. After doing some homework about exchange rate fluctuations, you decide to increase your profit margin on the jackets to cover anticipated declines in euro purchasing power. This change shows you that your prices are still competitive with other jackets and that your average profits will increase. And you are now covered for any likely decline in exchange rates.

Improves Your Odds of Success

One way of looking at business is that it’s a gamble. You open or expand a business and gamble your and the bank’s or investor’s money. If you’re right, you make a profit and pay back the loans and everyone’s happy. But if your estimate is wrong, you and the bank or investors can lose money and experience the discomfort that comes from failure. (Of course, a bank probably is protected because it has title to the collateral you put up to get the loan. Writing a business plan helps beat the odds. Most new, small businesses don’t last very long. And, most small businesses don’t have a business plan. Is that only a coincidence, or is there a connection between these two seemingly unconnected facts? My suggestion is this: Let someone else prove the connection wrong. Why not be prudent and improve your odds by writing a plan?

Helps You Keep on Track

Many business owners spend countless hours handling emergencies, simply because they haven’t learned how to plan ahead. This article helps you anticipate problems and solve them before they become disasters. A written business plan gives you a clear course toward the future and makes your decision making easier. Some problems and opportunities may represent a change of direction worth following, while others may be distractions that referring to your business plan will enable you to avoid. The black and white of your written business plan will help you face facts if things don’t work out as expected. For example, if you planned to be making a living three months after start-up, and six months later you’re going into the hole at the rate of €100 per day, your business plan should help you see that changes are necessary. It’s all too easy to delude yourself into keeping a business going that will never meet its goals if you approach things with a “just another month or two and I’ll be there” attitude, rather than comparing your results to your goals.

Issues Beyond the Plan

I have written this article to provide you with an overview of the issues that determine success or failure in a small business. Experienced lenders, investors and entrepreneurs want a plan that takes these issues into account. Of course, this article can’t cover everything. Here are some of the key business components that are left out of this initial planning process.

Article keeping and Accounting

This article discusses the numbers and concepts you as the business owner need to open and manage your small business. You have the responsibility to create articlekeeping and accounting systems and make sure they function adequately. One of the items generated by your accounting system will be a balance sheet. A balance sheet is a snapshot at a particular moment in time that lists the money value of everything you own and everything you owe to someone else.

Taxes

While there are a few mentions of tax issues throughout the article, most of the planning information doesn’t discuss how taxes will be calculated or paid. The article focuses its efforts on making a profit and a positive cash flow. If you make a profit, you’ll pay taxes and if you don’t make a profit, you’ll pay fewer taxes. An acountant or tax advisor can help you with tax strategies.

Securities Laws

If you plan to raise money by selling shares in a corporation or limited partnership, you’ll fall under state or federal securities regulations. You can, however, borrow money or take in a general partner without being affected by securities laws. Tke note that you must comply with securities regulations after you complete your plan and before you take any money into your business from selling shares or partnership interests.

Your Management Skill

This article shows you how to write a very good business plan and loan application. However, your ultimate success rests on your ability to implement your plans-on your management skills.

Issues Specific to Your Business

How successfully your business relates to the market, the business environment and the competition may be affected by patents, franchises, foreign competition, location and the like. Of necessity, this article focuses on principles common to all businesses and does not discuss the specific items that distinguish your business from other businesses. For example, this article doesn’t discuss how to price your products to meet your competition; I assume that you have enough knowledge about your chosen business to answer that question.

How to Write a Business Plan

Your business plan is an essentially part of your small business success strategy. It is a vital document that lays out all of your professional goals and the means by which you intend to achieve them. It is what brings your business out of the concept phase and turns it into an actionable reality.
It is very important that you write a business plan for your own small business. With it, you can focus your ideas into realistic techniques and goals, with a proper plan, and achievable – but not too unchallenging – goals. It is what will keep you on track and motivated throughout the growth of your business.

Furthermore, business plans are commonly required by investors, banks, the government, and other lending institutions from whom you will be requesting financing to help to get things off the ground.

There are certain steps that you will need to take in order to prepare to write your business plan. These are:

  • Identification and narrowing down of all of your business objectives
  • Thoroughly researching all of the different points within the business plan
  • Write out a rough first draft of the business plan
  • Go over the rough draft and divide it into key sections

Apply realistic financial projections to the plan

  • Obtain feedback regarding all of the elements of the business plan.

The elements of your business plan should consist of the following:

  • Vision – answer the question “why am I creating this company?”
  • Mission – answer the question “what benefits will my products or services provide to my customers?”
  • Goals – answer the question “what are the short-term and long-term goals of the company?”

Introduction to your business – examine and discuss the following points:

(1) An overview of the industry of your business, your business history, and its operations strategy.
(2) An introduction of the key people in your team.
(3) Your current market, including its size, the opportunities you have, the challenges you face, and the growth pattern.
(4) Competition and alliances, including strengths and weaknesses, and strategies.
(5) Target market.
(6) Identification of your clients in terms of their needs, demographics, and purchasing habits.
(7) Your products and services as well as their revenue streams.
(8) The image, experience, or lifestyle you’re selling
(9) Placement
(10) Where your product or service will be available for purchase
(11) Pricing
(12) Your promotional strategy

Operations – including its functioning involving the following points:

  • What the business will accomplish everyday.
  • Current and future projects in the works.
  • Successes and challenges faced so far.
  • Overall strengths and weaknesses of the business
  • Internal operations issues

The Team – including the people who will be working together in your business, covering the following points:

  • Who is responsible for what?
  • Is there the right number of people in your business for getting the job done?
  • Strengths and weaknesses
  • Internal successes and challenges

STEP – also known as the external analysis. This includes:

  • What trends are affecting your business in the following areas: social, technological, economical, political
  • Opportunities – what is available to your business regarding the following points:
  • The size of your prospective market
  • How much growth opportunity your business has
  • Your market niche
  • Changes in operations
  • The structure that would be required in order to allow for growth
  • Concise statements of opportunities for your business

Plan of action and strategy – including:

  • What does your business require for achieving its long-term goals?
  • What challenges does your business face before reaching its long-term goals?
  • What actions will you take in order to achieve your business goals?
  • Why have those actions been chosen? How do they complement your vision?

Assumptions – examine these points:

  • List all of the assumptions that have been made within the writing of your business plan.
  • List soft assumptions – that is, those that have been made but which are not quantifiable.
  • List hard assumptions – those that are quantifiable.

Financial projections – including:

  • Cash flow statements from the past two years through until the next two years.
  • Income statements from the past two years through until the next two years.
  • Balance sheet from the past two years through until the next two years.

Create each of these statements with a high, medium, and low sales estimate.

Executive summary – this section should be written as following:

  • A summary of your business plan
  • This section’s size should consist of approximately 10 to 15 percent of your entire business plan.
  • This section should always appear at the end of the document
  • Key points should be highlighted
  • Consider this section the most important of the entire document.

As you can see, a business plan requires a great deal of work and planning, however, it is likely to be the most important document that you will create throughout the entire life of your business. Therefore, it is well worth doing, and doing well.

Business Plan Myths

Top 10 Business Plan Myths of Solo Entrepreneurs

Don’t let these stop you from having a business plan for success!

A recent study of 29,000 business startups noted that 26,000 of them failed. Of those failures, 67% had no written business plan. Think that’s a coincidence?

Here’s the top 10 myths Solo Entrepreneurs often have about business plans-usually, the reasons why they don’t have one. De-bunk the myths, and see how having a business plan for your solo business, can actually be easy and fun–and can jumpstart your success!

1. Myth: I don’t need a business plan–it’s just me!

Starting a business without a plan is like taking a trip in a foreign country without a map. You might have a lot of fun along the way, and meet a lot of friends, but you are likely to end up at a very different place than you originally set out for-and you might have to phone home for funds for your return ticket.

Solo Entrepreneur Reality: Successful Solo Entrepreneurs know that the exercise of creating a business plan, really helps them think through all the critical aspects of running a business, make better business decisions, and get to profitability sooner.

2. Myth: I have to buy business plan software before I can start.

Business plan software comes in many shapes and sizes, and prices. Many are more geared at small and growing businesses with employees.

Solo Entrepreneur Reality: Business plan software can be helpful-but it’s not required. Software is more likely to help if you have a more traditional type business, like a restaurant or a typical consulting business.

3. Myth: I need to hire a consultant to write my business plan.

Consultants are an expensive way to have your business plan written.

Solo Entrepreneur Reality: Your business IS you-and you need to be intimately involved with the creation of your business plan. A better strategy, if you think you need professional help, is to hire a coach or mentor-someone who can guide you in what you need to do, not do it for you.

4. Myth: The business plan templates I’ve seen have all these complex-sounding sections to them-I guess I need all those?

The only time you need to follow a specific outline is if you are looking for funding.

Solo Entrepreneur Reality: Your business plan needs to answer ten basic questions-that’s it! Don’t make things more complicated than necessary.

5. Myth: My business plan needs to be perfect before I can start my business.

If you wait for everything to be perfectly detailed, you may never start.

Solo Entrepreneur Reality: If you have at least a first draft that answers those ten basic questions, you are ready to launch your business! Make your business plan a living, evolving document. In the startup stages, review and update your plan every 2-3 months. As you grow and stabilize, you can slow down the review cycle to every 6-12 months. All business plans should be reviewed and updated at least once a year.

6. Myth: I have to do everything I say I’m going to do in my business plan, or I’m a failure.

Many Solo Entrepreneurs never start because of this myth-which leaves them feeling that the success of their future business suddenly rides on each stroke of the pen or click of the keyboard!

Solo Entrepreneur Reality: Think of your business plan as a roadmap for a trip. Expect to take some detours for road construction. Be flexible enough to take some exciting, unplanned side trips. And don’t be surprised if instead of visiting Cliffs of Moher, you decide to go to Wicklow Mountain, if that turns out to meet your vacation goals better!

7. Myth: A good business plan has a nice cover, is at least 40 pages long, must be typed and double-spaced…

Business plans intended for investors, such as a bank or venture capitalist, must meet certain requirements that such investors expect.

Solo Entrepreneur Reality: As a Solo Entrepreneur, your business plan need only satisfy YOU. It might be scribbled on a napkin, on stickie notes on your wall, or consist of a collage of pictures and captions. It might be all in one document or scattered among several mediums. As long as you know it in your head and heart without having to look at it, and it is easily accessible to you when you have doubts, that’s all that is necessary.

8. Myth: I don’t need a loan-so I don’t need a business plan.

YOU are the investor in your business-and would you invest in the stock of some company without seeing a prospectus?

Solo Entrepreneur Reality: Seeing your plan in black and white (or color, if you prefer!), can give a whole new view on the financial viability of your business. If “doing the numbers” seems overwhelming, remember you don’t need fancy spreadsheets. Just lay out a budget that shows where all the money is coming from (and going), and have an accountant review it for additional perspective.

9. Myth: My business plan is in my head-that’s good enough.

I don’t know about you, but I sometimes can’t remember what I planned yesterday to do tomorrow, if I don’t write it down!

Solo Entrepreneur Reality: There is a real power in writing down your plans. Some schools of thought advocate that the act of writing a plan down triggers our subconscious to start working on how to manifest that plan. And, of course, it’s a lot easier to remember when you have it in front of you. And a lot easier to share and get feedback from your non-mind reading supporters.

10. Myth: Friends and family are the best sources of feedback and advice on my business plan.

If your brother is an accountant and your best friend is a market research expert, then this might be true.

Solo Entrepreneur Reality: As well meaning as our friends and family can often be, they just aren’t the best way to get honest, objective guidance. Instead, seek out folks that have specific knowledge that will help you, are willing to be candid with you, and that have a genuine interest in helping you succeed. A business coach is one resource to consider!

What is a patent

A patent confers upon its holder, for a limited period, the right to exclude others from exploiting (making, using, selling, importing) the patented invention, except with the consent of the owner of the patent.

A patent is a form of ‘industrial property’, which can be assigned, transferred, licensed or used by the owner.

Patents are territorial, in effect e.g. an Irish patent is only valid in Ireland.

How long does a patent last?

Irish patents, in common with most jurisdictions, have a maximum life span of twenty years. Ireland also offers a “short-term” patent, valid for a maximum of ten years. To maintain a patent in force, annual renewal fees must be paid each year from the third year.

If you’ve wondered why you need a patent, this section will help you understand that.
The purpose of a patent is to protect the intellectual property of the inventor. Patents prohibit anyone other than the patent holder from making or selling the patented item (or using the business method, or planting the new plant, in the case of those patent types) without the permission of the patent holder. Some patent seekers intend to manufacture and sell the patented item themselves, while others intend to license the patent to others – in effect, selling the right to produce the invention while retaining ownership of the idea for a period of time.

Protecting Yourself

Protecting your ownership of an invention is the main reason why you should consider getting a patent. When you want to hold the ownership rights for an invention, it is imperative that you file for a patent as soon as possible. As the owner of the item it is very important to establish your rights.

Preventing Other People

The second main reason for obtaining a patent would be to prevent others from stealing from you. Without a patent, anyone can make, market and sell your product without you receiving any compensation. This is especially important in situations where your invention will end up becoming popular, possibly making a lot of money.

By preventing others from distributing, selling, or manufacturing your invention, you preserve your right to earn profits from the invention. This is usually the reason why large companies quickly seek patents for a new product idea, especially in the pharmaceutical industry.

Do I Really Need a Patent to Bring My Invention to Market?

The short answer is – not really for many products. There are times when applying a patent makes sense and there are many instances when it simply does not. Since money is almost always a factor when bringing a product to life, here are a few things you need to consider:

People don’t “knock off” failure. If you developed a product and you cannot seem to sell any to anyone, then maybe it is not worth the investment to file a patent.

Always make sure that your product is viable. I have mentioned this many times and the reason never changes. Before you spend money on patents or other development work, you need to make sure that there is a desire to purchase your product by strangers to justify the cost of patent filings. Keep in mind that sharing your idea with strangers may put you at risk as someone may like your idea and attempt to develop it themselves.

If you plan to license you should plan to file a patent. Most licensees will not do a licensing deal with you unless you have a product that is protected by a patent. Why would they? There is too much risk for them to promote and manufacture your product and without patent protection they risk spending thousands on a product that can be copied by someone else.

If you plan to develop and sell your product for a short period of time it may not be worth filing a patent. Some people plan on making some quick extra money by manufacturing a certain quantity of products and selling them quickly to make some extra income – then letting the business go and moving on to something else. If this is the case, it may not be worth the financial investment for a patent filing.

If your product is similar in design to another successful product that already is sold at big retail stores then a patent may not be necessary. Some companies make a nice business out of “copying” successful products and then they move on to other products. One thing these companies almost always do is to perform a very thorough patent search to ensure they are not infringing on any part of someone else’s patent but once they are clear they attempt to make as much money with similar products as they can while those products remain “hot” in the marketplace.

As you can see, it is not always necessary or wise to spend money filing patents but there are a few IMPORTANT THOUGHTS that you must always remember. First of all, always perform a patent search with a patent agent or attorney to make sure that you are not infringing on anyone’s patent. In fact, this is the first thing you should do before you even do any market surveys. If the idea is already taken, then it makes no sense to proceed. Secondly, I never want to give the impression that an inventor should just go out, knock off successful products, and not care about the ramifications of doing so. People often spend thousands and even tens of thousands filing patents and they will usually go to great lengths to protect their ideas. Being careful and aware of this and it may prevent you from walking into potential legal trouble.

It is always best to consult with a patent agent or attorney before you embark on any significant plan to develop a product. You may then sleep a little better and hopefully will be able to concentrate on the task at hand – creating a great product that many people will want to buy!

What is patentable

It is possible to patent anything that you have invented or designed, a new plant you have found, a business method, or an improvement of a previous invention.

Items that have historically been granted patents are usually:

  • Items which are new to the general public.
  • Items which are considerably different than any other item which has received a patent.
  • Items which are practical.
  • These are the types of inventions that the Patent Office will generally look favorably on.

Think of all the items used on a daily basis – from the linen on your bed, to the shampoo you wash your hair with, the nondairy creamer in your coffee, to the parts on your car, and the desk you sit behind at work – all these have, or used to have, patents which their manufacturers used to protect their rights.

What You Cannot Patent

There are certain things that you cannot patent, including ideas. There have been cases in the past of people suing others for stealing their idea, creating the product and patenting it. Believe it or not, this is perfectly legal.

Another thing that cannot be patented is nuclear energy, or anything that is associated with constructing nuclear bombs. Inventing machinery or tools for nuclear warfare are destructive and not useful items, and therefore will not be granted a patent.

The Patent Office will refuse to patent any item that has already been sold commercially. Therefore, before distributing or selling your invention, obtain a patent.

Trade Marks ™

A trade mark is the means by which a business identifies its goods or services and distinguishes them from the goods and services supplied by other businesses.

The Trade Marks Act, 1996 defines a trade mark as “any sign capable of being represented graphically which is capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one undertaking from those of other undertakings”

A trade mark may consist of words, (including personal names), designs, logos, letters, numerals or the shape of goods or of their packaging, or of other signs or indications that are capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one undertaking from those of others.

Examples of familiar Irish trade marks are: Kerrygold, Glanbia, Tayto, Siucra.

Why register trade mark

Registering your trade mark creates an official record of your rights as owner of a particular trade mark and makes it easier to prevent others from using it.

Trade Mark registration grants a statutory right, subject to certain conditions, to prevent others from using the trade mark without the registered proprietor’s permission – i.e. to prevent infringement.

Registration confers an exclusive right to authorise others by means of licensing to use the trade mark for the goods and /or services for which the trade mark is registered.

You should consider registering your trade mark if it is important to you that your customers are able to identify your products and services from those of your competition. Unauthorised use of a mark means the rightful owner may lose business and goodwill. Although registration is not obligatory, registration makes it easier to prevent others from benefiting from the reputation established by the use of a trade mark by allowing the proprietor of the registered trade mark to take infringement proceedings before the court.

More info about trade marks at Irish Patents Office website www.patentsoffice.ie

Design
Design means the appearance of the whole or a part of a product resulting from the features of, in particular, the lines, contours, colour, shape, texture or materials of the product itself or its ornamentation.

Copyrights © What is copyright?

Copyright is the legal term, which describes the rights given to authors/creators of certain categories of work. Copyright protection extends to the following works:

  • original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works,
  • sound recordings, films,
  • broadcasts, cable programmes,
  • the typographical arrangement of published editions,
  • computer programmes,
  • original databases.
  • copyright sign

The owner of copyright is the author, meaning the person who creates the work. For example a photographer is the owner in the case of a photograph. However, as copyright is a form of property, the right may be transferred to someone else, for example, to a publisher. Where an employee in the course of employment creates the work, the employer is the owner of the copyright in the work, unless an agreement to the contrary exists.

Copyright is a property right and the owner of the work can control the use of the work, subject to certain exceptions. The owner has the exclusive right to prohibit or authorise others to undertake the following:

  • copy the work
  • perform the work
  • make the work available to the public through broadcasting or recordings
  • make an adaptation of the work.

Copyright takes effect as soon as the work is put on paper, film, or other fixed medium such as CD-ROM, DVD, Internet, etc. No protection is provided for ideas while the ideas are in a persons mind; copyright law protects the form of expression of ideas, not the ideas themselves.