‘The cost of doing business in Ireland needs to change.’
What are the main issues facing small businesses in Ireland?
The number one issue would be economic uncertainty as a result of the (domestic) political situation, but also the global situation, for example, Brexit, and all that goes with it.
Number two would be that the cost of doing business in Ireland is increasing even though our ‘inflation’ is at minus point one. Right across the board we’re seeing increases in prices which are nowhere near actual inflation/deflation.
Number three is not being paid on time. We have prompt payments legislation in Ireland which is a joke. Businesses in Ireland are supposed to be paid in 30 days but large firms can contract out chasing invoices, which means that smaller businesses are on the back foot, dealing with 60, 90, 120-day waits and sometimes longer. This has an adverse effect on their relationship with their customers and with their creditors, and it’s also having a negative impact on their relationship with their bank.
The fourth one would be access to finance. SMEs need good finance at good rates. We’re still paying way over the odds when we compare ourselves with our comparators across Europe. Our interest rates are way too high, and it’s affecting our competitiveness.
The fifth thing would probably be red tape.
Mark Fielding is one of Ireland’s leading authorities on the SME sector. He has worked in Europe in a broad range of sectors from Biotech to property and has been involved in the start of more than 300 companies. He was also a senior partner in an accounting and management consulting firm specialising in SMEs. He is the former CEO of ISME, the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association, Ireland’s only representative organisation for SMEs that is independent. It currently has over 10,200 members.