THERE were two interesting events which took place this week organised by the Beyond programme, which is a business support initiative set up between Down Business Centre, Down District Council and the South Eastern Regional College. Since its beginning in 2010, a number of local businesses have networked, enjoyed information and training seminars, had one-to-one mentoring sessions with business experts, and also managed to get their social networking profiles up onto the next level. Beyond has been a success story for small local businesses at a time when the economy has faltered and the business environment has been tough for everyone.
Businesses from all backgrounds are involved and they all share one common value… by cooperating they directly or indirectly lend a benefit to each others businsses. And they share in the wealth of information that is also made available to them through the programme.
On Tuesday (18th February), an e-commerce workshop took place in Knowledge House at the Down Business Centre and the diverse businesses who joined in all took a lot away from the session. Apart from the knowledge about how to go about developing and setting up an e-commerce dimension to your business website, you were left with a feeling of confidence that you could achieve your aim. www.beyondni.co.uk
And the course facillitator also made himself available for any follow up work and support to anyone improving their e-commerce profile on their website. The facillitator, Domingos Ferreira of Quantum Outsource, is a specialist in the subject of IT systems and e-commerce. One of the hallmarks of the Beyond programme is that all of the facillitators and mentors are highly experienced and successful in their own fields of business, some in the international arena.
The e-commerce session also covered important areas such as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), use of keywords, Facebook and Twitter.
Michael Foster, Beyond Business Intelligence Officer, said, “The programme is going very well and businesses are seeing the benefits of the supports we have in place. Another e-commerce session next week is running on Tuesday March 1st, and if anyone is interested they can reach me at 028 44 619870 to book a place. E-commerce can bring your business from street corner level into a global market.”
A coffee networking morning was also held at Downpatrick Cricket Club today (Thursday 24th february) from 10-11.30am and the facillitators on this occasion were Alan Patterson, liscensee and Gary McCreary, facilitator of Crestcom, a training company specialising in developing managment and leadership skills that reaches over 50 countries across the world.
After a couple of warm-up and very interesting exercises, Crestcom delivered a short talk on business leadership around the idea of unity of vision, diversity of skills and having a leader determined to succeed and win. There was a question and answer session, with more relaxed networking, and more coffee and tea.
The benefits of networking in business cannot be under-estimated. At the coffee morning, two attendees who had never met each other before and who have been nominated in the Down Business Awards (along with Down News) had a wonderful exchange. Michael McKervey of FRESH Interior Designs explained that he is finalising a contract with what his client described as ‘the best cocktail bar in the world’ after his client scoured many countries including Japan in the market research for the business idea. And the theme of the cocktail bar which is to be located in New York is the film ‘The Gangs of New York.’ WWW.FRESHINTERIORSNI.CO.UK
It was goose pimple time when Barry McSherry of Bluefin Software Solutions (http://www.blue-fin.co.uk ), a software IT company, and also a keen musician of modern Irish folk, said he had just written and recorded a song based on the story around the Gangs of New York film. Small world! They are now going to collaborate and see if they can bring this idea forward. Exciting times.
Michael Foster added, “Any business person in Down District can join up on the Beyond programme. Just log on to www.beyondni.co.uk to register and become a member. You can even build up your own group of online business friends. I can be reached at 028 44 619870.”
The e-commerce session is about answering fundamental questions to help you create your e-Commerce strategy.
* Where do I start? Guidance on the fundamentals of starting your e-Commerce business.
* What do I need my site to do? e-commerce tools and functionality.
* How do I get paid? Payment processing and security options.
* How do I manage my site? Product and content management.
* How do I support my site? Support services, supplier management, customer management.
* How do people get to know about me? Marketing and promotion considerations.
* How do I measure my sites’ performance? Reporting and analytics.
The session aims to help develop an e-commerce checklist that you can apply to your own online business or sales activities.