We all love to have a moan about the Government now and again but I’ve nothing but praise when it comes to the Trading Online Voucher Scheme.
It’s really quite simple and lacks the usual red tape we are accustomed to when applying for business grants in Ireland. All you have to do is
- meet some criteria
- attend a training morning
- get three quotes for what you want and
At no point in the process are there any booby traps to trip you up.
It would appear that we have a Government scheme that wants you to succeed!!
This business grant designed to support small Irish businesses to trade online. It offers them training along with a financial incentive to develop their trading online presence. Eligible businesses can apply for a voucher of up to €2,500 matched by own funding. This investment is to develop their e-commerce capability (50% of eligible costs up to the maximum of €2,500 so if you spend €5000 you get €2500 or if you spend €4000 you get €2000 back)
In the stats provided, it states that “Irish consumers spend around €850,000 per hour online, 24 hours a day, up to 70% of which goes overseas”. Go ahead and do the math for 24hrs, its staggering and you should have a piece of it.
Who is the Genie in the Lamp?
So who is the golden goose that’s supplying this wonderful golden egg? No its not Willie Wonka! The Government’s National Digital Strategy is funded by the Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment. They have teamed up with your Local Enterprise Office to process and deliver the grant…
A business that remain off the net is missing out on the opportunity to be part of Ireland’s ever growing digital economy, so don’t miss out. Keep reading and find out how easy it is to improve your current online business or how to create a website from scratch.
Before we delve into what you can apply for and how let’s have a few words from our sponsor (yes, I know he is our previous Minister but he does a really good job of explaining the voucher)
Who can apply for this business grant?
The trading online vouchers are targeted at Irish businesses that have a limited online trading presence;
- less than 10 employees
- turnover less than €2million
- applicants must be registered and trading for minimum of 6 months.
*Since 15th March 2019 the trading period has been changed from 12 months to 6 months.
Who can’t apply
Ineligible projects include those with
- charitable status
- commercial semi-state companies
- ”not for profit” organisations
- trade associations and
- company representation bodies such as Chambers of Commerce.
What can you use the voucher for?
This is where the voucher comes into its own. Its versatility means every small business can improve their online presence.
- IT consultation
- Development or upgrade of an e-commerce website
- Implementing online payments or booking systems
- Purchase of internet related software
- Purchase of online advertising (this purchase cannot make up any more than 30% of approved voucher costs and can only be drawn in one payment phase)
- Developing an app
- Implementing a digital marketing strategy
- Consultation with ICT experts
- Training/skills development specifically to establish and manage online trading activity
Sounds simple right?
These are the steps to qualify for the grant but don’t forget the real work starts when you hire your Web developer.
There’s a lot to building a website if that’s what you are using your trading online voucher for. The finished website is just the tip of the iceberg. What lies beneath the water is all the work YOU have to do to get to that finished site.
Yes I said “You”!
A web developer may have no idea of what your service or product is and certainly won’t know how you want your customers to feel as they move through your website.
Are you a Chiropractor and want your potential clients to feel reassured that they have found the right practitioner?
Are you an eCommerce site for young Mums who want to know they are buying the safest products on the market for their little bundle of joy?
Both of those sites would have a completely different feel and look, different copy (the words you use on your site) and photos. One might use an online booking system, the other a secure checkout.
You need to know what your clients are going read on your site. What images you are going to use and how you would like your website to look (research other sites and make a note of the ones you like)
Who’s the right developer to choose?
You do need to get 3 quotes as part of the online trading voucher application process but you get to decide which developer to work with.
This was a really good decision by the powers that be when they were setting up the rules of the voucher.
Its key that you get on with your developer. It doesn’t matter if you are building out a website or using the money for SEO (search engine optimization). If you and your web developer don’t click the whole venture won’t work. Don’t underestimate this step.
If you’re overwhelmed with jargon or acronyms ask your developer to speak in plain language, after all this is your project.
Ask what will be expected of you. A lot of people hit a brick wall when they have to write the copy for all their services or products, or are asked for pictures, a bio…….I could go on.
A good developer will act like a project manager. They will sit down with you and get a feel for what’s wanted. They should get you to fill out a detailed brief (if you’re not given a questionnaire or brief template, walk away). Based on their background in web development they will offer suggestions that you may not of thought of. After all this is their world, not yours.
A good brief puts everyone on the same starting line and gives them the direction to go in.
It allows the developer to know where you are now, where you want to go, how you plan to get there. It will give you a clear indication when you have arrived at the finish line. You might even surprise yourself when you sit down to write a brief.
How do I write a brief?
Fear not, because hundreds have gone before you and this has been a real issue for both developers and clients alike. Recognizing this problem the Local Enterprise Board has written a “The Website Development Guide” to help.
This guide is incredible good and I strongly recommend that you read it and think about the questions, at some point you will need to answer all of them for your web developer.
This is the link to the PDF, download it and fill it out at your leisure.
Hundreds of thousands of people are going to see your website. It’s worth taking the time at the planning stage and every other stage for that matter to get your website how you want it to look and act.
Don’t miss out on a golden opportunity, but don’t screw it up by rushing in without a plan!
Think about how best your business can benefit from the online voucher and when you have your plan mapped out take the following steps
- Contact your Local Enterprise Office and book your place on the next information and training seminar near you. Details can be found at: www.localenterprise.ie
- Fill out the simple application form supplied by your Local Enterprise Office and tell them what your plan is and how you will implement it.
- If your application is successful you will be awarded a voucher.
- Implement your plan and when complete draw down your grant of up to €2,500..
- Watch your business grow.
- Find out how to write blogs that Google will rank here