3 January 2021
By Tom Collins
This week, Future Kinsale has launched the Kinsale Enterprise Academy, to provide mentoring to local businesses looking to reorient post-COVID, to grow their existing operations or to start something completely new. The academy leverages the incredible skills and huge experience of a panel of 20 local experts and successful entrepreneurs to provide one-to-one mentoring, small ‘mastermind’ groups, and a more structured entrepreneurship programme.
“We felt that the impact of the pandemic on local businesses, particularly those involved in hospitality, has been devastating, and we wanted to offer a range of supports in response to their specific needs.” Says Maeve Magner, Chair of the KEA management group and Future Kinsale Board member. “To define those needs, and assess demand for the Academy’s services, we conducted a survey of 102 local small businesses and sole traders. It established that there is strong demand for our services, specifically in areas of e-commerce, digital marketing and finance.”
Of the three services which Kinsale Enterprise Academy offers, one-to-one mentoring is of interest to two-thirds of local businesses, taking part in group forum discussions online or in-person to three in four and joining a structured entrepreneurship programme to six in ten.
The survey also found that:
- 49% of local businesses reported that their biggest difficulty has been the viability of their business, and for 36% it has been a problem finding and reaching customers.
- Managing the health issues associated with public interaction in the business has been the single most challenging aspect of 2020, and lack of tourists and travel restrictions have had a big impact on custom.
- Despite the inevitable challenges, the pandemic has improved peoples’ working conditions and given some the space to think about the future of their businesses. Some people have benefitted from the enforced move to online trading and the support of government agencies is recognized.
- Stress levels were an issue for 48% of local businesses in 2020 and workload for 38%.
- 54% considered the impact of Covid restrictions on their day-to-day tasks was poor or very poor, and the same proportion had a poor or very poor experience in terms of their level of frustration.
- Fear of catching Covid was only an issue for 32%. The pandemic has had a big influence on the majority in terms of how they see their work – particularly that they should aim for a better work-life balance, with more enjoyment, more trust in their teams and a more safety conscious business.
This week, Kinsale Enterprise Academy began offering one-to-one mentoring services by matching applicants with the panel of export mentors, all of whom have agreed to give their time voluntarily. The mentor panel includes leaders in tourism, food production, logistics, marketing, e-commerce, finance and other key business skills. Applicants outline their business concerns and aspirations, and KEA introduces the most appropriate mentors to help.
In January and February, we will run a series of online forums, using panels of experts to discuss e-commerce, digital marketing and finance with attending businesses. The first of these is the e-Commerce Forum, hosted by Keith Bohanna, who works with businesses in the areas of adopting to digital change, defining and delivering digital change projects and optimising business models and operations. Attendance is free of charge and priority for places will be given to local businesses. Attendees can register through firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We are not looking to compete with but rather augment existing enterprise support schemes, concentrating on local expertise and knowledge. The service is available to established Kinsale businesses which may be struggling, companies which are based in or serving the town, those which have a particular community focus or start ups”
About Future Kinsale
It has six pillars. The organisation brings together businesses, residents, local groups and public bodies to plan, fund, and deliver local projects, aimed at creating a healthy sustainable community.