‘Business is all about people’

Dubliner Dave McKernan is founder and CEO of Java Republic, the coffee roasting and wholesale business set up in 1998. Here he explains why success in business is down to the people you hire. 

If I were to do it all again, what would I do differently? I’d spend more time building the team. Business is all about people. We had a rocky recession, having borrowed almost €7 million to put into a new premises, cafe and roastery in Ballycoolin, Dublin in 2007. It was me who put us into what could have been a catastrophic situation for the business, but it was the team that got us through it.

That said, if I were to do it all again, I’d probably do the same again. I’ve always been ambitious, possibly to the point of reckless, but I think if you believe strongly in your business you can’t be afraid to take risks.

I see it now up and down the country now. So many companies were so battered by the recession that they are still like rabbits caught in the headlights. They’re afraid to grow. Thankfully, we are growing aggressively once more with plans, thanks to help from Bord Bia, to enter the UK market, as well as huge growth in demand for tea.

I see loads of opportunity out there for Irish business now, but they’ve got to be prepared to take that risk. They’ve also got to have good people around them. If you’re the only one making decisions in your business, God help you. Surrounding yourself with ‘yes’ people is no better. You’ve got to have a strong team; it will drive your business through anything.

“So many companies were so battered by the recession that they are still like rabbits caught in the headlights. They’re afraid to grow.”