Next Generation Business - A vision for small firms in Ireland

The SFA has developed an ambitious project to shape a medium-term vision for the small business community in Ireland. After extensive research, focus groups and discussions with members, the ‘Vision for small firms in Ireland’ was launched by the SFA Chairman, AJ Noonan, at the association’s Annual Conference on 25 May 2016 in the presence of the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD.

Small businesses, defined as those with less than 50 employees, make up over 98% of businesses in Ireland. They exist in every single village, town and city in Ireland, operate in all sectors of the economy and together employ half of the private sector workforce.

The overarching vision of the Small Firms Association is:
Ireland – the most vibrant small business community in the world – supporting
entrepreneurship, valuing small business and rewarding risk takers.

Huge strides towards the SFA vision could be made in the space of 5-10 years – creating more jobs, adding value to the economy, contributing to the Exchequer, injecting vibrancy into towns and villages and creating a happier population.

This document sets out a roadmap for how to the small business community can reach these new heights. Economic analysis, a social narrative and over 60 concrete recommendations combine to trace the current small business landscape and project into the future.
    • Culture and recognition
    • Education and skills and
    • The business environment

Recommendations are made under the themes of culture and recognition; education and skills, and the business environment. These recommendations are not just for the government and state agencies, but also for educators, individual businesses (both large and small), representative organisations and communities.

This vision initiative is a hugely ambitious project, but one that the SFA is ready to lead. Even with widespread buy-in, progress will take time, which is all the more reason to start immediately. The SFA calls on everyone in the small business community to absorb the documents and identify what they can do in their own businesses, networks and communities to move Ireland closer to the small business hub that we have envisioned.

Initial successes have the potential to create a virtuous circle. If we establish an environment that encourages the best raw entrepreneurial talent from at home and abroad to establish their businesses, access the ecosystem and make a commitment to wealth creation here in Ireland, then a critical mass could be created to justify the public and capital expenditure. This would create a more compelling argument for foreign investors to establish bases in Ireland and create access to a wider funding base than currently exists.

The full Vision report, as well as a stand alone executive summary, is available to download below.