Today’s Sunday Business Post has a short opinion piece by me in their “Real Views” section, which is a weekly opinion piece / column from an SME for SMEs. Since a lot of our readers aren’t in Ireland I’m republishing it here.
Since I moved back to Ireland from Italy in 2003 to run my own company the country has changed quite a lot.
The Celtic Tiger is now but a faint memory and I’m more likely to come across a pothole than a group of construction workers these days.
But if you work in the online space there’s still a lot going on and more and more Irish (and international) businesses are prospering online. Who doesn’t dream of selling their company for a billion dollars like Instagram did?
Overall Ireland has done very well out of the digital economy, but our government really needs to “up its game” or we could easily be left behind.
Sure, we have managed to attract most of the global leaders in the digital realm to setup their EMEA headquarters in Ireland, but what about indigenous SMEs?
Things may be better than they were 10 years ago, but there are still thousands of small Irish businesses that are trapped in an offline world. Most of our staff are between the ages of 22 and 30. They’re heavy users of Facebook, they all have mobile phones. They text, they email and they do all those things that you’d expect people in their demographic to do.
But a lot of small businesses simply aren’t reaching them. They don’t have websites and if they do they’re probably not that functional.
It’s a missed opportunity.
Getting Business Online has helped over 10 thousand small Irish businesses get online in the last year. That is just a first step. But it’s just one initiative and only one small part of what should be a much bigger movement that should be actively backed by government. We need to build sustainable Irish businesses up and drive growth and with it job creation. We need to stop thinking about job creation in isolation.
Our government needs to stop paying mere lip service to digital and get their hands dirty. If they sit back now we could easily end up in a world dominated by a US world view. We’ve got some wonderfully talented people, but if we’re not careful all the talent will be hovered up by the multinationals, leaving very little for smaller indigenous companies like ourselves. We need our political representatives to make our voice heard in the international arena where global Internet policy is decided. Grabbing headlines here in Ireland won’t have any impact on the rollout of legislation and policy that impacts all Irish internet users if we don’t make our voices heard.