A Northern Ireland-based business development specialist shared some of her expertise during a video interview covering startup essentials such as resources for new companies, small business growth and much more.
Rosemary Morrison, of Directus Training and Consultancy, passed on some professional insights during a ProfileTree Business Leaders discussion in our Belfast studio.
The business mentor and startup expert began by introducing herself and her company.
“I’ve been working in the small business development sector for 16 years.
“The word Directus means ‘to lead or to guide’ so that’s what I hope to do with startup and growth businesses.
“I find that every business is different because every business owner is different. On a training programme I could, for example, have two people who are going into the cafe business. Because they are going to be in different locations and because they are different people each one will be different. Their expectations and goals will be different as well.”
There are, however, common themes in the support needed.
“I work with a really wide variety of businesses and they tend to require the same things: personal development, marketing, finance, legal and operations. They need that as a package as they need to have addressed all of that.
“There’ll have their strengths but there are usually weaknesses, the things people tend to avoid. It’s my duty as an adviser to make sure those things aren’t avoided and they don’t get into trouble.”
Conversely, of course, entrepreneurs can also fail to play to their strengths.
“Most people in Northern Ireland have been told when they were growing up not to brag or boast. You can’t do that when you’re in business as you have to be your own promoter.
“Most of the people I deal with can’t afford PR companies to represent them so they have to learn to sell themselves. A lot of people find that very difficult, to push themselves out of their comfort zone.”
Rosemary also discussed her own experience running small businesses, starting with a food and outside catering business at the age of 24.
“It was sheer necessity as I was doing a business studies degree but I wasn’t enjoying it and my husband-to-be wanted me to go with him to Germany where he worked.”
Rosemary left the degree early, became married and travelled in Europe while carrying out sales promotion work.
This meant when the couple returned she looked to the things she missed from continental Europe, but couldn’t find in Northern Ireland, as a business idea.
“My thinking was that if I was looking for those things then maybe others are looking for them too.
“In 1986, we set up a delicatessen and outside catering business in Stranmillis with little or no experience.
“We ran that as a partnership for four and a half years then sold it as a going concern. We then did exactly the same thing with the same brand in our home town of Newtownards.”
What experience has this given Rosemary? She gave some examples of real-world business challenges she has faced in the past.
“I have fought a rent review with a landlord and I was prosecuted by ‘weights and measures‘. I had a student working for me and we used to buy bulk then pack goods down, whether it was rice or whatever.
“This girl made a human error one day, ‘weights and measures’ came in and found ten packets with less than 10% in them and we were subject to prosecution.
“I think I can emphasise with new startups as I’ve had some horrible experiences. Environmental Heath were our allies thankfully but you have run-ins sometimes with them due to goods coming to us that weren’t satisfactory but were found them in our premises before we’d even handled them.
“These are the normal and natural problems any business can face. I don’t think self-employment is an easy road to take but I love it and wouldn’t change it but it isn’t for everyone.”
To discover Rosemary’s advice on finding help and resources for a startup business, development of a small business and much more see our full video interview.
Directus – www.directus-ni.co.uk
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