Maretta Dillon chats with Kevin Kenny who has a background in corporate sales and marketing having worked for 25 years in big companies in Ireland and the UK. In 2002, he decided to leave the corporate world but wasn’t quite ready to leave work altogether. So, he became a business coach. Kevin defines training as telling people what to do. Coaching is about helping them to do what they want to do rather than just giving them information.
It’s that thought process that underlies the new Start Your Own Business Course led by Kevin at the Retirement Planning Council of Ireland (RPCI).
“We will be debunking all those things, that noise that’s in people’s heads about starting your own business.”
What is your vision for course?
Our ambition is to give people the opportunity to come along for a day and to look at any business ideas that they might have. To essentially fly their kites and to see in a workshop setting if their idea is a goer.
A second thing is their own personal suitability. “If I go it on my own what’s it going to be like and is my personality and my temperament suited to working alone?” The intention is that at the end of a day of working together, participants will have clarity. They will understand that setting up a business doesn’t have to be complicated. We will be debunking all those things, that noise that’s in people’s heads about starting your own business.
Tell me more about the course itself.
It is Dublin based and is over one full day. It costs €350.00 and has a maximum number of 24 participants. The cost includes all the course materials and some pre-coursework.
At the end of the day, participants will be given the opportunity of post-course support from the RPCI. This is in addition to the initial cost and would be determined on a needs basis. Some people may want a lot of support, for example a meeting every week. That can be accommodated. Other people may want a phone call once a week.
You asked who else will be delivering the course. Derek Bell, Chief Operations Officer at the RPCI will also deliver elements of the course.
Do you need to have loads of business ideas in advance of the course?
Two thirds of the day will be a workshop about exploring ideas. People will break out into groups and brainstorm ideas. If people just want to come along and listen that’s fine but we will be encouraging them to participate. One of the things that we will be asking them in detail about is their target market and finding customers.
The day will be much better if people have a real business idea to explore. It can be done using a theoretical business but the results will not be as meaningful.
People think that starting up a business is very complicated.
Not so. They can set up as a sole trader, a partnership or a limited company. None of them are particularly involved. The simplest one is to set up is a sole trader. People often want to stick their toe in the water and see what it’s like. If it’s a service related business, they could probably operate from home. So, they can start very cheaply with very little costs involved (low overheads). The thing they need to be clear about is their target market and what their target market wants and how are they going to provide that service?
What do you think makes a good sole trader?
Questions to consider include how would you feel about working longer hours? How many hours do you want to devote to the business in the first place? What level of commitment are you prepared to put in and what’s your objective in starting the business. Do you need more money in retirement? Do you want to break free of the systems and the bosses and the constraints of being employed? Do you want to replace income, to leave a legacy or do you want to build a business and then sell it? So, clarity is needed around all these areas.
Will you be talking about marketing and finding customers?
That’s a very important part of the course. Sometimes people have fantastic ideas. But people may not necessarily want to buy them. In other words, it’s the difference between who is your target market and what are your lead generation strategies to bring customers into the business. How do you keep your customers? What level of customer service do you need to put into the business? What is the quality of the services that you need to deliver that would have people wanting to come back again and again and pay you? What differentiates your business – your USPs (Unique Selling Points)?
Should people start a business before they retire or wait until retirement?
A lot of people who are already employed, in their 30s, 40s or 50s, start a business anyway. One of the reality checks we will explore with them is around time management – there are only 24 hours in a day. So, having a business and having a career or a job at the same time is challenging.
Is there anything more you would like to say about the course?
One of the things I’d like to emphasise is that at the end of the day participants will have the bones of a plan. They may decide at the end of the course, I’m not going to waste any more time on this because it’s not a runner. I would hope that the number of people in that position will be low but at least they will have clarity.
The next Start Your Own Business course will be held in the autumn. To book a place please mail Coursebookings@rpc.ie or ring 01 4789471. Kevin is more than happy to chat with Senior Times readers who might be thinking about the course to explain what’s involved so they could make an informed decision about attending.
Established in 1974, the RPCI is a Registered Charity, a not for profit organisation, wholly independent of all financial institutions and with a voluntary board of directors. RPCI is based at 14/15 Lower Camden Street, Dublin 2 Ph: 01 478 9471 / www.rpc.ie Courses are held in Dublin and around the country on a very regular basis. Please check the website for more details.