Members Contacts – Advice and Assistance
The most popular service used by members is the direct contact to the SFA. In 2012 the SFA dealt with 50,142 (telephone and correspondence) enquiries from its members. SFA Executive staff provided one to one direct consultations with 749 member companies.
Areas of advice and consultation include:
- Rates of Pay
- Contracts/Conditions of Employment
- Discipline and Dismissals
- Rights Commissioner/Employment Appeal Tribunals
- Employment Legislation
- Health and Safety
- Debt Management
- Managing Insurance / Managing IT & Environmental Management
SFA Website - www.sfa.ie
In 2012, the SFA website was completely redesigned and relaunched with improved functionality to bring our members to the fore, with a membership directory, member profiles and member special offers highlighted. The intention is to make this the best B2B site for doing business in Ireland. The information content has been fully updated to reflect the wide-range of business-solution focused advice on offer from the SFA and to highlight more effectively our lobbying efforts and media engagement as “the voice of small business”. In 2012, there were 2,738,137 hits on the website. In addition, all members directly receive our monthly e-zine which is packed full of news, information and advice.
SFA National Small Business Awards 2012 – www.sfa.ie/awards
The awards ceremony of the "SFA National Small Business Awards 2012” was held on Thursday, 8th March, with Minister for Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation, Richard Bruton, TD, as Guest of Honour. The finalists of the 2012 programme attended a Strategic Management Masterclass weekend and Intensive Media training day as part of their prize package, which also included an interview in a special “Irish Independent” supplement and on Newstalk’s “Down to Business Show”. The overall winner also received a €5000 cash prize. An Taoiseach is Patron of the Awards.
SFA National Small Business Awards Showcase Event
The second highly successful Showcase Event was held in February. This event allowed shortlisted awards finalists to display their business and products to members, guests, venture capitalists, financiers and the awards judges.
SFA Annual Conference
The Conference “Restoring Consumer Confidence” was held on Wednesday, 30th June 2012 in Clyde Court Hotel, Dublin, with 250 delegates in attendance. Polling technology was used for the first time at the event which allowed delegates greater interaction with the speakers on the day. A Conference supplement was published in the “Sunday Business Post” prior to the event. The opening address was delivered by Minister for Small Business, John Perry, T.D.
SFA Annual Lunch
On Friday 2nd November 2012 in the Burlington Hotel, Dublin, 650 owner-managers and their guests attended the Annual Lunch. Our Guest Speaker was Billy Walsh, Head Coach to the Irish Boxing High Performance Team.
SFA Employment Law Conferences
The SFA held three Employment Law Conferences in February in Dublin, Cork and Galway. The Conferences covered issues such as Contracts of Employment; Leave Entitlements; Absenteeism; Unfair Dismissals and the Disciplinary Process.
Better Business Show
The Better Business Show was a national initiative organised by the SFA and Partners: AIB, eircom, Electric Ireland and Zurich, which travelled to 12 locations throughout Ireland during April – May 2012. The concept behind the Better Business Show was to provide, free of charge, world class information, advice and assistance to 2,000 small businesses across a range of key cost issues which impact on small business. An Taoiseach officially launched the Show and a Special Supplement was published in the “Irish Independent” prior to the event.
SFA Members to Members Evenings
At the October “Business2Business” event three SFA National Small Business Awards finalists spoke about the challenges their business face and how they are overcoming them. In December, Ulster Bank hosted the Members to Members Evening in Dublin. At the event members had an opportunity to network and a brief presentation on the business impact of Budget 2013 was made.
SFA Business Bytes
In September, Minister of State for Training and Skills, Ciaran Cannon, TD launched the new series of “Business Bytes”, sponsored by Bord Gais Energy. The highly successful free management training events are held on the second Wednesday of the month. Topics covered in 2012 included: public procurement, cashflow management, leave entitlements, social media, IP protection, digital marketing, succession planning, and energy management.
SFA Speed Networking Events
The SFA held another series of successful free “Speed-Networking” events throughout 2012 in Cork, Dublin, Kilkenny and Galway. The events were facilitated speed-networking (a series of 3-minute seated meetings) for one hour which was followed by informal networking with food and refreshments being served.
The SFA further developed its social media presence in 2012. Members can now follow SFA on Twitter @PCallanSFA (650 followers) and network with the SFA Group on LinkedIn, which now has over 2500 members.
SFA “Now That’s What I Call Business” Magazine
In October, the SFA launched its new quarterly magazine. The publication was distributed to all SFA members by post and is available in an interactive format on the SFA website.
- Rates of Pay Report 2012
- SFA HSA Health & Safety Wallchart
- Health and Safety Toolkit for Small Businesses
- Contracts of Employment
- SFA Employment Law Wallchart 2012
- Health & Safety Posters
- Guide on Writing A Safety Statement
- “How to Get Paid on Time”
- Corporate Governance Guidelines
- Guide on “Sources of Finance”
- Updated Employment Law Guidelines 2011
- Succession Planning Guidelines
- A Comprehensive Guide to Recruitment & Personnel Records
- Guide on HR Management
- IT Management Guidelines for Small Business
- News Update / E-zines
- A-Z Pocket Guide to Health and Safety for Small Business
- CPA Guidelines for SFA Members
- Environmental Management Guidelines
- M – Worker Guidelines
- Rates of Pay Survey
- Crime Survey
- Employment Law Survey
- Fiscal Treaty Referendum Survey
- Consumer Confidence Survey
- Late Payments Survey
Members Group Discount Schemes
- VHI/Aviva Health Insurance
- Member to Member Offers
Wins in 2012 included:
- Successful campaign against mandatory sick pay on employers / increasing employer PRSI rates
- Establishment of temporary partial credit guarantee scheme and the micro-finance loan fund
- Fiscal Stability Referendum YES Vote Campaign
- Introduction of “Examinership-Lite” – small business scheme of arrangement – initial steps in allowing cases be heard in Circuit Court, thus reducing costs significantly
- Significant pro-SME measures contained in Budget 2013
Ongoing Priority Issues include:
- Campaign for restoration of redundancy rebate to 60% for small companies
- Improve linkages between MNC/large Irish company purchasers and small company suppliers
- Reform of sectoral labour agreements and employment rights bodies
- Amalgamation of CEBs into LEOs
Access to Finance:
- Represent individual members successfully in internal appeals against bank lending decisions
- SFA Educational Initiatives – events & guidelines
- Review of SME Lending Code – Central Bank
- Temporary Partial Credit Guarantee Scheme established
- Microfinance Loan Fund established
- Standard loan application form agreed for use across all banks; standard business plan template
- Review of the Credit Review Office
- Monitoring implementation of 15-day payment period in government departments and agencies
- Transposition of EU’s Late Payment in Commercial Transaction Directive – SFA Members Survey
- Prompt Payment Charter for Private Businesses
- UK Supply Chain Finance Scheme
- 2012 saw the SFA making a number of submissions to relevant Government Departments and State Agencies, including:
- Government Action Plan on Jobs
- Submission to the Advisory Group on Small Business
- Submission to the High Level Group on Business Regulation
- Submissions to the Department of Public Expenditure & Reform on the Register of Lobbyists; and Public Procurement
- Submissions to the Department of Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation on Innovation & Regulatory Burden; Corporate Killing; the Consumer Rights Directive; and the transposition of the Late Payment in Commercial Transaction Directive
- Submission to the Central Bank on the National Payments Plan
- Joint Oireachtas Committees written Submissions on the Industrial Relations Amendment Bill, Credit Guarantee Bill and SME Competitiveness
- Submission to DCENR on the Next Generation Broadband Taskforce Report
- SFA Pre–Budget 2013 Submission
The SFA gave various presentations to Joint Oireachtas Committees on topics including: the Fiscal Treaty Referendum; access to finance, current unemployment, youth unemployment; Pre-Budget 2013 Submission (to 2 JOCs); amalgamation of CEBs into LEOs. In September a briefing was held for Oireachtas members to outline the impact on small firms if the proposed mandatory sick pay proposal was introduced.
In 2012 the SFA issued the publication “Backbencher” to all Ministers, TD’s, MEP’s and Senators. The newsletter informs our elected representatives of the ongoing issues and concerns of small business in Ireland.
SFA are members of both the European Representative organisations for business, BusinessEurope and UEAPME, and engage actively with their lobbying agenda in the EU. In 2012, the first EU SME Assembly was held by the Cyprus Presidency, which put a sharp focus on SME issues including access to finance, regulatory burden, market access and skills shortages. SFA National Small Business Award Winner 2011, BMS (Ireland) Ltd, based in Limerick, was selected by the EU Commission as its Irish “Success Story” for profiling during the EU SME Week in October.
Regular meetings with senior Government Ministers and Officials, and opposition party spokespeople on small business issues.
- SFA National Executive Council met on 7 occasions
- SFA Affiliates Group met on 3 occasions
- SFA has representation on a significant number of committees
In 2012, the SFA:
- - issued 43 press releases