Trinity College Dublin runs a programme for SME owners and managers who want to grow their export markets and prepare for any market threats.
The Trinity International Growth Programme, which was designed by the university’s business school, features classes, case study sessions, seminars, guest talks, workshops and a mentored project.
SMEs with export potential can apply. The course is open to companies – with a turnover greater than €500,000 and up to €25 million, with 10 to 50 employees – that are developing new products or entering new markets.
Professor Michael Flynn, director of the programme, says the first programme is now complete, and interested SME owners can apply for the next one, starting in 2017.
“The first programme was a great success,” says Prof. Flynn. “It was very focused and allowed participants to step back and see what was going on in their businesses.
“There’s an old saying – ‘Business owners are often too busy working in their businesses and don’t spend enough time working on their business’. This programme focuses on helping business owners develop concrete strategies for growth.”
“Always remember, a threat can also be an opportunity”
What are the typical difficulties Irish companies face when they start exporting?
“The challenges are often in the approach. What this programme offers SME owners is the chance to step back from the business and re-calculate – it’s time for them to look at what they do in a more strategic and analytical way. It’s also a very hands-on course, where business performance coaches will spend time with the owners at their place of work. The programme runs for six days over a period of three months.”
The Brexit threat
What does Prof. Flynn think will happen to Irish exports now that Britain has voted to leave the EU?
“No one knows exactly what will happen and what the situation will be in the long term. Most leading economists believe the short to medium term after a ‘Brexit’ would be detrimental to the Irish economy. There will be an initial price shock. Sterling will fall.”
Is there anything Irish business owners can do to prepare for a threat like Brexit?
“We have to keep in mind that Brexit is just one of the many outside forces that are increasing volatility on the global markets. It’s just one of the many threats business owners face every day. The key is to be prepared and to have the skills to cope with market volatility, and that’s where things like the Trinity International Growth Programme can come into play.
“Business owners today need to be more innovative around areas like business strategy so they can pivot and react in the right way to market changes. Always remember, a threat can also be an opportunity, it’s how you prepare for threats that counts.”
READ MORE: The Trinity International Growth Programme.