Chamber CEO is very optimistic about future

By Aideen O'Flaherty

WHILE many entrepreneurs have been left reeling from the tumultuous business environment over the past few months and have recently taken tentative steps to reopen their businesses, the CEO of the South Dublin Chamber is optimistic about the future – and he has advice for concerned business people.

Many businesses who have reopened their doors in recent weeks, including hairdressers and gyms, are still grappling with the ‘new normal’ and have to change the way they operate their businesses, but the pandemic has proved to be a steep learning curve for many different types of businesses.

Peter Byrne 5 1

Peter Byrne, CEO of South Dublin Chamber

“The overview is that there are three types of businesses,” Peter Byrne, the CEO of South Dublin Chamber, told The Echo.

“The first type are the ones that have remained open and have been unaffected by the lockdown.

“The second ones are the ones that are adjusting to having staff working from home – this has been an adjustment for companies who have no previous experience with staff working from home, and they need to be patient and find a balance.

“The third group are the businesses that have just opened for the first time since lockdown, and they’re reopening into a new reality.

“They’ll be coming back to paying off rent and mortgages, and these costs will have accumulated while their businesses were closed, and their profits will be down, because they won’t be able to have as many people on their premises as before.

“We, as a Chamber, have been trying to put people at ease and talk them through everything. We’re a bit like a human signpost, directing people where to go.”

One of the innovative ways the Chamber has been trying to help businesses to weather the difficulties presented by the pandemic has been linking people who run similar businesses with each other – even those who run businesses that would typically be in competition with one another.

They are also running online training with the Local Enterprise Office (LEO) for local business people, and while Mr Byrne is encouraging people to seek out supports where available and when needed, he also has some advice for entrepreneurs who feel unsure how to approach the weeks and months ahead.

“They should sit down and write down their business plan,” he explained. “They should list the things that could go wrong, and then get a list of grants and supports that they can use if things do go wrong.

“Writing down a business plan is a great way to judge the reality of a situation and to assess the real threat.

“You can then deal with any challenges in a methodical fashion. It’s often less scary when you write things down and look at them in black and white.”

He added: “My overarching advice is for them to stay calm, and if they have a worry, they should talk to someone who can help – whether that’s the Chamber, their accountant, or their landlord.”

The South Dublin Chamber has recently posted a list of supports for businesses affected by Covid-19 on their website, www.sdchamber.ie, and Mr Byrne has advised business-owners to research grants or supports that they may be eligible for – as there is support there, and often people aren’t aware of it.

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