It’s time for another interview with a small business in the West of Ireland. Excited to present below interview with John Kennedy.
If this your first visit to my blog, glad to have you on-board! This is my 12th interview in a series of interviews with small business in the West of Ireland. I used to run a business, and one of the parts I found most challenging was to promote my business, as I had little funds and lacked the contacts to get featured. My new year’s resolution was to help small business in the West of Ireland by interviewing them on my blog, to give them an opportunity to tell their story. Please share this interview, as it’s one of the easiest ways to create awareness! Would you like to get featured? Drop me an email email@example.com and I’ll be in touch!
Tell us a bit about yourself & where you are located in the West of Ireland.
My name is John Kennedy, and I worked as a Scientist for 30 years in Medical Device Business until my company relocated south and I decided I would not drive 3 hours a day. Fulfilling a dream of mine to replicate similar tours in Paris, Berlin, Krakow I launched Galway City Cycle Tours with my wife Therese. We operate out of the Aquarium in Salthill, Galway. I’m native of Loughrea but went to UCG for four years and started working in Galway after that.
Can you provide me with a description of your business?
Guided cycling tours of Galway City and surrounding areas. Tours last 3 to 4 hours and includes a stop for tea/coffee in a charming garden center Tea Room. Tours can be tailored and/or private to suit start time, duration etc.
How long have you been in business?
Since July 1 2016. In this business? In other businesses? 30 Years in Medical Device Business working with Beckman Coulter.
How did you get started in this business?
Got the idea from taking similar tours overseas as described about.
Is this your full time job, a hobby or a bit of both?
Full time at the moment.
How did you get the background and skills necessary to run this type of business? Attended Local Enterprise Office, Startup Business Course. Researched the route and history along the route including other history of Galway. I’m naturally outgoing, friendly, humorous and people tell me they enjoy my company and sense of humour.
How do the social, economic, environmental, technological, legal and political environments impact your business?
Galway is a thriving tourist city with an abundance of history and natural resources from the river to the sea. I do encounter some litter on my route, especially at the end of Nimmo’s Pier and the Small Crane but other than that the litter is not a big issue. People are usually very complimentary about the state of the city and the clarity of the canals/rivers. I’m so lucky to be in the middle of a wonderful showcase which is now my workspace. I’m working on promoting my business on-line through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin and I also have a website. I have given out a lot of fliers to local B&B and hostels but have got limited return from these. I’m not really impacted by legal / political issues so far. People / Drivers are generally accommodating when they encounter our group.
Do you know who your competitors are?
There is another “cycle tour” which is a large unit that 15 people sit on at a time. It’s not really a competitor but it might attract some of my potential customers. Walking tours and Bus tours are competition to a degree.
How do you market your business?
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Get Your Guide, Viator, I’m also registered with Failte Ireland and am listed on their Wild Atlantic Way, Discover Ireland and related websites. How are people aware of your business? Mostly through the online adverts. I did manage to have an article published in the Irish Times Magazine, Saturday 14th September. I was also nominated and won an award from Luxury Travel Guide. Where can people find you? Through all the websites above. I’m also registered with Google Places so my business comes up on google maps.
Where do you see your business in the next year?
Well established in the Galway area. In the next five years? Growing and maybe including wider tours or tours of different areas. The next ten years? Ready to be sold to fund my retirement.
Do you plan to compete in the global marketplace? No If yes, how? If no, why not?
I’m not interested in taking on such a big business growth at this time. But lets see how things develop.
How has technology, such as computers and the internet, impacted on how you conduct business?
Hugely, it’s really the way to establish and grow the business especially in the tourist industry.
What do you love about the area you live in/do business in?
The ever-changing beauty of Galway Bay, it’s richness in history and heritage. The local people are very friendly and good humoured / natured.
Whom do you seek advice from for your business/ do you meet up with other business owners? Yes If so, where?
Through my own clubs / societies, I play Tennis and I row. Also I attend networking events given by the local enterprise office and any other events that might give me some exposure, e.g. the recent launch / extension of the Coca Cola bike scheme in Galway.
Can you describe your customers?
People who are interested in an experience where they get to see and learn about Galway in a 3 to 4 hour period. They can be anything from 14 to 80 years. Although I have had a 2 year old who came along one day.
Why do your customers select you over your competitors?
Proud to say I am the only one offering such a bike tour in Galway so they have to be willing and wanting to enjoy cycling and not be too fussed over the occasional shower.
What are the biggest challenges for running this business?
What keeps you going, when the chips are down?
My next booking, my wife, my family and friends who reinforce that I have a magnificent product and that the first years are always the slowest and you need patience. I’m a fairly patient guy.
Do you support local charities? If so which is your favourite charity and why?
I certainly contribute to local charities but not through my business. Vincent de Paul and Cope.
Any special things planned for 2016-2017
Launching my business) and establishing myself in the market. Learning what people want and what their preferences are.
Any tips for someone who is thinking of starting their own business?
Do a startup business course. Find out what grants / incentives are available and apply for these. Consider different approaches to how you might set up, e.g. renting bike versus purchasing bikes. I went with renting bikes.
What did you learn from this interview?
It’s useful to step back and review the steps and take stock of where you are at. Sometimes it’s not easy or you find excuses to do other things. Hadn’t really thought about the 5 / 10 year plan to much. When you are thinking about your first year it’s more than enough but of course you have to look forward. Now look what you made me do……
Please share this interview, as I’d like to start a small movement to highlight the brilliant businesses in the West of Ireland! If you would like to be interviewed, please drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be in touch.
Thanks for reading!