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Sustainable Business Ireland (SBI)

This was my "Your Country Your Call" proposal, which failed to be short-listed.

Sustainable Business Ireland will result in the establishment of better-run companies throughout Ireland employing more people, with more chance of long-term success nationally & internationally, and less chance of doing financial damage to others or of costing the State money.”

Other businesses will seek out SBI businesses in order to do business with them before all others.


This venture aims to transform the fundamentals of how business is done in Ireland, to enhance & streamline internal & intra-business procedures, to bring about a cultural sea-change in the world of business in Ireland; so that better, leaner, more sustainable businesses are established and run more efficiently and more transparently, to the benefit of all the stakeholders involved & of the Irish economy generally.

Via a proprietary online interface based on the latest web design & development techniques, client businesses will keep their records and conduct much of their routine actions in a highly secure, private and backed-up system that will make easier the mundane, distracting tasks of running a business, while at the same time empowering the businesses through revealing analysis of how they are performing, compared to their needs, their targets and to comparable businesses (through aggregation of anonymised data); while at the same time receiving the ongoing support & utilising the expertise of the Sustainable Business Ireland team.

The problems identified -

  • Massive amounts of time and money are being wasted each year by talented people on “housekeeping” businesses when so much of that can be done either automatically using computer applications or more efficiently and cheaply by experts
  • Too many small & start-up businesses are failing because they are not researching, not planning, not analysing their situations, not adapting to changes in the market
  • Too many larger companies are, at different times, stretching themselves beyond their resources and putting their entire operations at risk
  • Too many companies of all sorts are not paying enough attention to the key indicators of their performance and to changes in those indicators
  • Too many companies operate in an information void, unaware of the competitive advantages that would be available to them using more up to date systems
  • Badly run businesses are a threat to other businesses and have the potential to create domino effects in the market
  • Irresponsible behaviour in relation to tax, staffing, the law, salaries etc. should not be tolerated & can easily be eliminated with the correct procedures
  • Slow payment of suppliers is a terrible hindrance to our economy & should be tackled in a more pro-active way
  • Trust is businesses and corporations has been eroded among the general public, with the State, with banking and with employees

Ireland needs to try to achieve what it has in its tourist image for its business image nationally & internationally, and become “a destination” where business people, the general public & employees will want to come almost as “a holiday from the stress of elsewhere” – a transparent, fair, reliable place to do business, to purchase and to work.

SBI solutions -

  • A sophisticated system, much of it online, but with various levels of face-to-face interaction between SBI executives & clients supporting it, will be established to micro-manage certain aspects of client businesses, financially, legally, in the areas of staffing, marketing, sales and planning etc.
  • Client businesses will sign-up to this system in order to ensure the fundamentals of their operations are conducted to the highest, most profitable & sustainable levels, as established and managed (via the shared software interface) by the SBI experts across key facets of the business.
  • Client businesses must immediately record the details of all their activities and financial transactions in the secure, private system and having done so they will gain access to the crucial information about how their business is performing, what areas are problematic, how their spending in certain areas compares to other companies’, how their staffing ratios compare, how their sales pipeline looks etc.
  • The financial function at the core of the SBI system, acting very much like the best accountancy packages do, will, in addition, ensure the company’s finances are being run on an ongoing basis in a sustainable and tax-compliant manner – preventing overspending, excessive remuneration etc. and making sure VAT, PRSI, salaries, suppliers, rent etc are covered before more discretionary spending is enabled.
  • Sales forecasts and modelling based on sales records will be factored into the spending algorithm to enable a certain amount of flexibility in spending, but where ongoing imbalances in cash flows are detected a flag will go up to prevent the situation getting out of hand and face-to-face interaction will be necessary at that stage to deal with the problems responsibly and fairly before normal practices can resume.
  • Likewise, hiring will be enabled only where the business’s revenues indicate that it can be sustained; marketing efforts will be costed carefully in terms of the number of leads and deals required to make them worthwhile; and sales activities will be closely monitored to ensure enough leads are being pursued each month so that basic costs and profit targets have the best chance of being met.
  • SBI fees can be fixed or a percentage of client revenue or a combination of the two altering over time at different stages of the business’s development.

When we cut through all the deceptions and try to do away with the seat-of-pants stuff, and we think rationally, we realise that this way of doing business is actually the correct and proper and most beneficial way for everyone”

SBI benefits -

This may all sound a little heavy handed for entrepreneurs, but what they get out of it in return for partially “handing over” these functions to SBI & the SBI system is:

  1. The best chance of long term success for their business
  2. A massive weight of worry & concern lifted from their shoulders in areas where most entrepreneurs are not comfortable in any case: accounting, HR, legal etc.
  3. Access to excellent advice and mentoring from SBI executives
  4. Powerful insights into how their business is performing relative to its own targets & ambitions AND
  5. Relative to the other SBI businesses via aggregated & anonymised data on spending patterns, salaries etc.
  6. The freedom to get on with what they do best – developing and fine-tuning their products/services and finding markets for them
  7. An SBI marque that will give other businesses great confidence in supplying them and give their customers/clients confidence in purchasing from them
  8. A sense of behaving responsibly towards staff, suppliers and society, content in the knowledge that the correct legal procedures are all being followed, their legal obligations are being met etc.
  9. The likelihood of ongoing audit exemption from Revenue and reduced costs & stress around filing returns etc.

While our sense of “Big Brother” watching and our fear of accountants, lawyers and bureaucrats, might at first make us all question is this the way to go, when we cut through all the deceptions and try to do away with the seat-of-pants stuff, and we think rationally, we realise that this way of doing business is actually the correct and proper and most beneficial way for everyone.

It is important to highlight that once the basics are correctly established and the cash flows are such that the financial health of the company is clear and being maintained, there has to be no restrictions on clients in terms of how they want to run their businesses and how they continue to pursue their entrepreneurial & personal goals.

Of course, not all businesses will be interested in such a strict and hand-held way of conducting themselves, but SBI’s market can even target such businesses by offering non-SBI companies elements of the SBI service in isolation – the accountancy software, for example; or reports on cash flow models etc.

Ireland in general would become not just an example to the rest of the world but also an even more attractive place to do business”

SBI potential -

SBI will result in the establishment of better-run companies employing more people, with more chance of long-term success nationally & internationally, and less chance of doing financial damage to others or of costing the State money.

With SBI as the trail-blazer, it is anticipated that such a system of doing business would begin to appeal to more and more companies throughout the country and beyond, and that SBI could expand through various models of scaling (software licensing, franchise, regional offices, international offices).

And with a whole new culture of doing business transparently and responsibly established, Ireland in general would become not just an example to the rest of the world but also an even more attractive place to do business.


The SBI marque will represent a better, leaner, more sustainable way of doing business that consumers, employees, the State, & other businesses can trust


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