– Small Business interview West of Ireland

Hello Readers,

Time for another small business interview! I will probably publish one more interview and will then wrap up for 2016! It’s been a busy year on all fronts.

If this is your first visit to my blog, glad to have you on-board! This is the 15th interview in a series of interviews with small business in the West of Ireland. Once upon a time, I ran a business, and one of the hardest parts I found was to market my business. My new year’s resolution last year 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 or know someone that would like to get featured?Drop me an email and I’ll be in touch!

Very excited to share the interview I did with Rose Barrett ,  Rose, take it away!

Tell us a bit about yourself & where you are located in the West of Ireland.

I’m from the lonely fields of Athenry which most certainly do ‘lie low’, the mobile reception can be a pain.  My family ran a pub there, Dan’s bar, which is still in existence but we moved from one side of the counter to the other.  It was an interesting childhood that has stood to me, I was quiet in a former life but that was short lived working behind the bar.

Can you provide me with a description of your business?

I set up Folio Digital this summer and am focused on helping tourism-based businesses to grow their sales and streamline their business.  I’m working with businesses to do this through a mix of their business and digital strategy, ensuring their digital presence, such as a website or social media, are working for them and looking at other ways to get more customers ‘through the doors’.  Another area I’m very focused on is empowering business owners when it comes to the technical and digital end of their businesses.  Many find it frustrating trying to figure out how to set up or run a website or to run their social media and I help them through that process and give them specific procedures for running them in the future.  I’m also helping businesses to work with others in their communities to co-market, put together packages to give more value to the customer and benefit numerous businesses in one sale and to help them package and brand their local area.

My next project in the business is working on workshops for businesses that will be hands on and involve businesses working together and with me to get the work done.  It won’t be a matter of being sent off to try to find the time or remember how to set up Google Analytics for example, we’ll do it together and can decide what your businesses focus should be.  Too many small businesses are trying to do it all and never quite hitting the mark, it’s better to be realistic about what you can do and get really strategic about the next steps you should be taking.

How long have you been in business? In this business? In other businesses? How did you get started in this business?

Folio Digital is only a few months old and came out of me meeting business owners and web developers and designers and seeing a need.  I worked in the hospitality industry for over 15 years and worked as a bar and restaurant manager for 6 years.  Tourism and service is in my blood.  I also love to travel and I an avid watersports fan (I was a windsurfer before injuring my ankle, I’ve gone over to the dark side and kayak now) and that’s given me an insight into another exciting part of the tourism industry which is growing in Ireland.  I had studied equine science where I was introduced to entrepreneurialism, as the horse industry wasn’t in a good place when I finished in college I had a hard think about what I wanted to do and business made sense for me.  I returned to education and received a degree in Entrepreneurship and Innovation from DIT and have gone from there.

Is this your full-time job, a hobby or a bit of both?

Folio Digital is my full-time job and passion, while I’m kayaking I’m thinking about things that can be useful for the industry and while I’m working on Folio I’m often learning things that I can bring back to my kayaking (it’s not total chance that I’ve chosen this business!).

How did you get the background and skills necessary to run this type of business?

Doing a degree in equine science I never thought I’d end up coding, becoming a project manager and scrum master or pitching to Enterprise Ireland.  The entrepreneurship and marketing elements of my science degree started an interest in me that led onto youTube videos on HTML to Ruby on Rails workshops in Galway.  Then Startup Weekend events (I’ve volunteered at one, participated in two and mentored at one) and talks, meetings, volunteering and more has brought me to Folio Digital today.

How do you market your business? How are people aware of your business? Where can people find you?

Website:     Facebook: 

How has technology, such as computers and the internet, impacted on how you conduct business?

The development of technology and changes in work practices have made this business possible.  I work remotely much of the time meaning I can be most anywhere (with a decent internet connection) and can work on the move.  I live by email, Trello and Google Hangouts (much more but I don’t want to keep you!).  The two applications that serve me the most are my calendar (I use Business Calendar, Android, which syncs with my Google Calendar), the second I think of something I need to do it either goes in there or if I’m not sure when I need to get it done it goes into Trello.  Trello is a visual project management web app which is free unless you’re using it in a big team.  I use it for business and personal planning and it’s a life saver.  I’ve built in some workflows into Trello and it’s growing as my business is.  There are great blogs and videos on how people use it.  I also use it to track my yearly and quarterly goals and to record my successes (something I’m not great at, there’s always something else to be achieved).  I’d recommend anyone to check it out, it’s very popular for wedding and holiday planning too I believe (hopefully that gets across that it’s not just for business planning or tech stuff).

What do you love about the area you live in/do business in?

I love how supportive people can be in Galway, I’ve been blessed to find pockets of people who are secure in what they are doing so are more than happy to help newer businesses.  I also love the creativity of Galway and the West coast, there is something about that creativity that means we come up with more novel solutions.  And the wide open beauty, the greenery and the water, even the rain.  The best move I made living in Ireland was to put on a wetsuit and embrace the wet.  There are so many activities and sports to try and some wonderful clubs and groups out there.

Whom do you seek advice from for your business/ do you meet up with other business owners? If so, where?r.

One of my first ports of call when I was starting out was the Online Marketing in Galway meetups (OMiG for short).  OMiG is a non for profit group set up to help share valuable information around marketing with local businesses and to encourage networking and collaboration in the area.  The meetups are amazingly useful from the brilliant speakers to the people you meet.  I’ve had great advice and learned so much from the seminars and it’s one of the most welcoming atmospheres I’ve ever stepped into.

Any tips for someone who is thinking of starting their own business?

My best advice to people starting is firstly failure is ok, I’d struggled with the idea that I could fail for a long time and that really held me back.  We’re getting better at it in Irish society but we have a way to go yet.  Failure is part of life, without trying there is no growth and you won’t win every time so there must be some failures.  We’re so much better as children at trying a thing and failing (tears and tantrums aside).  But at some point we learn shame and it stops us from trying.  You will learn little from a success but failure will teach you so much.  And the next thing is ‘kill it fast’ and by it I mean the business idea.  I had another business idea but I learned quickly that it wasn’t financially viable, great idea but people wouldn’t pay for it.  So when you start have a good chat with yourself about the fact that this business might not work and that’s ok.  Then go and test it, use tools like the business model canvas and get talking to others in your industry and location.  Try to get people to pay as soon as possible and have it in the back of your mind ‘kill it fast’, it’s so much better to learn quickly and move on.  And finally please make sure you’re having fun*, happiness isn’t something we should be putting off until a future date (when I’m successful, when I’m rich, when I’m thin etc etc), happiness should be now, so make sure you enjoy what you do and if not then there’s probably something you can do about it.  (*But it won’t always be fun, this is real life after all but if I can struggle my way through accounts and come out the other side to enjoy brainstorming with a client then there’s hope for us all).

What did you learn from this interview?

By doing this interview I’ve learned that I’ve learned a lot in the past few years!  I could have gone on much more but I realize that people have lives to get back to.  When I started out I ‘didn’t know what I didn’t know’, of course that is still there but I’m amazed at how much knowledge I’ve gathered in this time and when I started I doubted how capable I would be.  Doubts are natural, give yourself the chance and you’ll surprise yourself (unless you’re very self-confident already).

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 next, please drop me an email to and I’ll be in touch.

Connect with me on Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook!

Thanks for reading & sharing!


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