As part of our partnership with iZest's One a Day project, we're shining a light on Irish businesses and projects that are doing things differently during the pandemic. This week, it's Venture Network, who bring the skills and supports of business owners in Ireland together to make each other better.
As we edge ever closer to businesses returning to normality, this is a sensitive time full of challenges. How can businesses share information and make sure they get through the next few months intact?
Venture Network brings resources, skills and support of business owners all over Ireland together, so that everyone can benefit from shared experiences. As part of our partnership with One a Day, IMAGE sat down with MD of Venture Network Jean Evans to chat about the challenges Covid-19 has posed to Irish business.
Tell us a bit about Venture Network and the idea behind it - how did the business begin?
Venture Business Network was established 13 years ago by Shay Cahill to bring the resources, skills, support and expertise of business owners together under one roof and help them grow their businesses and succeed. I’ve recently taken over the role of MD.
How have you had to pivot your business to stay on track since Covid-19 arrived to Ireland?
We’ve done a number of things in response to the pandemic. We moved all our meetings online and run the networking meetings three times a week, Tuesday and Friday 10 am and Thursday 7 am. I started up an Advice Clinic which runs once a week where I tap into resources and knowledge from Venturians and non-members to help other businesses. We’ve had experts on around HR, accounts, legal, pricing, pivoting businesses, working remotely and keeping motivated and our next one is legal around returning to work.
I’ve also started an EducationClinic and run this twice monthly. The idea is to give people time to upskilling different areas of business. I’ve invited guest speakers in to speak on all sorts of topics. Our next one is on board involvement at volunteer or paid positions on public/state boards.
I also started a new podcast for members called VentureTalks, so we are releasing the fourth one this week. It has given our members a new platform to promote themselves and their businesses. It has given them the opportunity to share what they are doing around Covid, how they are dealing with the challenges and opportunities faced by businesses, so they can all learn from one another. The topic will evolve and morph, but it’s all relevant for now.
What are some of the main points of concern for business owners that you've heard since Covid-19 began?
Business drying up altogether for some companies that are solely focused on a face-to-face business. Reduction in revenues and monthly retainers for others. Having to scramble to develop new products and services and genuinely pivot the business.
HR, payroll and employment issues have been huge for the SMEs and this continues to be a huge challenge for many businesses. For others, it has offered an opportunity to reflect on what they want for their business and their future.
Many are taking advantage of the TOV support and looking to upgrade their digital and website presence which is definitely a positive. Others are doing courses and upskilling while they have more time on their hands and doing research into future business connections they would like to make.
What is your best advice for small business owners to keep going during this time?
Keep networking. Keep present (i.e. keep you and your company brand top of mind). Keep learning. Keep connected.
How has Venture been involved in One a Day?
We promoted out the initiative to all of our members and quite a few of them got involved to volunteer their time and expertise to the wider community of business owners. As I network a lot, my personal offer was to help mentor people around networks and networking in order to maximise the experience for businesses who may not have considered this avenue of business growth before.
OneADay is asking people and businesses like Venture Network to donate 1% of their time, platform, energy or money towards a cause. iZest see the campaign as a way to curb some of the stress and anxiety around the pandemic, and get people connecting in a new way.
How it works
If you like the sound of putting your newfound free time to good use, here's how the initiative works. If you're a business, you can register your details with iZest and let them know what your OneADay will be. It can be anything — use your imagination. Some great ways to lend your support could be:
- One Hour a Day – If you have the time, use one hour of your day to do some pro bono work for a company or charity that might need the extra help.
- One Call a Day — Give the time for one over-the-phone consultation per day with someone who needs some business guidance.
- One Shout-Out a Day — If you know a small business or someone who needs a signal boost, use your online platform to give them a shout-out.
- One Introduction a Day — Know someone who would be perfect for another company's opening? Use your connections to introduce them.
If you need the services of a company that's involved in OneADay, you can contact them directly and share your details, and why you think teaming up could help.
And if you're an individual who wants to get involved at home, that's great too. Your OneADay could be anything from posting One Workout a Day online to help other families who are cooped up at home to stay fit, or One Lesson a Day, sharing a skill with those who are looking for inspiration.