InterTradeIreland has today launched the next phase of its sales development programme, Elevate, which aims to help small businesses across Ireland, in particular microbusinesses with less than ten employees, develop sales opportunities through first time cross-border exports.
Through Elevate, InterTradeIreland provides sector-specific sales support of up to the equivalent of €6,875 **, across a range of sectors, including food and beverages, ICT and Engineering as well as many others. Since 2013, the Elevate programme has helped 245 small businesses. Over two thirds have been surveyed and they have generated new cross-border sales of approximately €3.6million. In addition 31 new jobs were created and 52 were sustained.
Small businesses participating in Elevate can choose from a list of more than 100 experienced industry specialists who will help them to identify sales leads in the cross-border market, negotiate deals, share relevant market insights, identify market research requirements and offer advice on the development of marketing materials.
One such company that benefitted from the Elevate Programme was Stonewell Cider, based in Kinsale, Co. Cork. Stonewell is an independent craft cider producer. It was established in 2010 by local man Daniel Emerson, the company owner and sole employee at the time. Today the company has a full-time staff of three with six additional part-time seasonal employees to assist with apple harvesting and bottling.
With a market share of half of one percent in Ireland, Daniel realised at a very early stage that it was important to seek out additional markets before saturation, which he felt would be at around 10% of the Irish market.
Daniel commented: “We were probably the first of the ‘modern’ batch of artisan producers to start looking at the export market and we realised the necessity to plan ahead, should domestic saturation be realised. Exporting was always on the cards for us but being a micro-business, daily tasks are always driven by what needs to be done the most. Researching a new market, albeit one just across the border, was desirable but difficult to make a priority when other jobs were pressing.”
He goes on to explain: “With this in mind, when an email popped into my inbox stating that cross-border sales support was available for micro-businesses, I paid extra attention to it. The cross-border sales plan that was produced by our Elevate consultant was very solid and identified just who I should be talking to in terms of securing sales. It provided us a ready-made toolkit to take the steps towards successful exporting. Our home market accounts for 92% of our business, and since the Elevate programme, we have taken the export side of our business from 0% to 8%, which is a great achievement for us and we will continue to work to grow this figure. . In terms of sales growth, through Elevate we managed to secure an additional €45,000 worth of cross-border sales as a result.”
Thomas Hunter McGowan, CEO of InterTradeIreland said: “As small businesses make up 96% of businesses on the island, it is essential that they receive the support they require to expand and flourish.
“The cross-border market is often an underutilised but logical first step to wider export markets, giving experience of varied legislation and working with a different currency but has the comfort of being more accessible. Once mastered this makes looking at European markets a more realistic prospect. The Elevate Programme was designed with simplicity in mind to remove as much bureaucracy as possible. As such, a relatively simple and straight-forward application process was devised and put in place. I would urge all interested small businesses with less than €1.2 million turnover to register their interest and apply to Elevate today.”
Daniel concludes: “From a small business perspective, the Elevate programme has really helped us to win new customers and speed up the export element of our business. We would have worked towards this ourselves but it would have taken a lot longer to achieve with such a small team. InterTradeIreland and in particular the Elevate programme is a great way to receive targeted support to approach the cross-border market. It takes so much time, energy and money before you even launch your product or service in a new market, however, with Elevate; we were able to hit the ground running and achieve sales much more quickly than we would otherwise have been able to do.”
For more information on the Elevate programme, including full eligibility criteria visit www.intertradeireland.com/elevate.