Small Business Can

My twitter updates

Twitter access is not allowed yet.

About Me

Basic Information

About me and my business
Hands on Entrepreneur and Consultant with 27 years experience in developing international sales and marketing strategies during stages of growth from start ups, acquisition, expansion and operational improvement. International Sales Leadership experience across 42 countries developing more than 50 co-branding and co-marketing partnerships in Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) skin care and medical device.

Proven ability to build teams and combine effective people management with business process improvement to maximise sales productivity, performance and profitability.

Executive Chairman Cellulac. Development and commercialisation of straw to Lactic Acid technology platform

Founder and former CEO of Alltracel Pharmaceuticals PLC
Business Type

Contact Information

Technology Business Park
City / Town
College / University
Fellow Ryan Academy of Entrepreneurship (DCU)

Contributing Online

14 Members
379 Guests
Gerard Brandon

Gerard Brandon

Real entrepreneurs never fail. They just have a number of directional changes with long vacations between bursts of activity
- 2 years ago
  • Member since
  • Tuesday, 14 April 2009 08:16
  • Last online
  • 2 years ago
  • Profile views
  • Real entrepreneurs never fail. They just have a number of directional changes with long vacations between bursts of activity
    profile 654 days ago
  • Witam Conway

    With operations in Poland running a business in Poland is complex enough without having to deal with 2 tax offices, plus what goes into ZUS etc. What I would suggest is that you have a registered sub-contractor in Poland (an agent) working on contract. This means they look after their own tax and they would pay tax on any profit at 19% while they are working on your project. Your partner could easily be that sub-contractor.

    She/He would then hire a local accountant. We use a good firm in Bydgoszch. Then use that agency to do all the buying for you and selling to you. It will mean of course that you will require to pay VAT, but with cashflow management VAT can be addressed as you can pay VAT each month or at the end of 3 months.

    As you are exporting you need that adviser as Polish tax offices do not like to pay out without first doing a review of your business so you are likely to be looked at almost after the first claim. The cost of about 400 zloty per month which is tiny about 100 euro per month and worth every cent.

    As you are buying from Poland into Ireland Enterprise Ireland offices are not likely to be enthusiastic as they are focusing on exporting. However you could ask the Polish Embassy in Northumberland road commercial liaison officer to assist if you are looking for raw material sources.

    There are a lot of producers of finished goods in Poland. However what a lot of people don't realise is that there is a major factory outlet superstore 92,000 square metres outside of Warsaw with products for sale from China, Turkey as well as Poland called Maximus

    It is on the Krakow main road out of Warsaw. Here is something like waht has been touted for Athlone which is a major Chinese factory outlet facility and a way for you to meet Chinese producers while you deal in Poland.

    Anyway I hope you decide to make a go of it. The clothing industry is cut throat and margins are very thin. If you are working on the assumption that you will succeed based on price then I think you need to rethink that proposition. It is about fashion, style and creativity and price plays a much smaller proportion to the emotional buying decision than you think. Of course if you are in the industry that last part of my comment is purely to do with experience dealing with an emotional consumer.

    Best of luck
    Read More... 667 days ago
  • Stuart

    Dinner was splendid. Sitting in the company of a fellow consumer and wholesale product manufacturer who is selling to, producing in, importing and exporting to and from Poland (which is why I decided to answer this one) And the reason I am doing this now is that both of us were actually discussing the topic.

    Of course it is important to engage with experts when you do not know the answers. However you can make anything complicated with the right profession

    Big business is as simple as small business. Same issues, bigger invoices. Same problems, same solutions. Biggest learning? Keep it simple, avoid spending too much time trying to save the last cent and concentrate on building a profitable business.

    If it is simple to begin with, the bigger it gets the simpler it remains. That means keep as few moving parts as possible (avoid multiple suppliers - one means they help you avoid expensive international trade advisers). It also means that you also have only one point to call if delivery of the product is wrong.

    Not meaning to have a go at you Stuart but if you wheel out the text book of quotes from someone we have never heard of saying something that is not relevant, other than to say he doesn't understand VAT either.

    Just say

    1. Keep it simple
    2. Use one supplier
    3. Pay zero VAT,
    4. Sell it
    5. Charge VAT in Ireland.

    Nothing more complicated than that for start ups. It is not just simple it is practically the only thing he needs to know.
    Read More... 668 days ago
  • If a thing is worth doing, just do it as best you can. Doing it well is subjective :)
    profile 683 days ago
  • The reason it won't link is that the reference link has a "." at the end of the link

    <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"></a>

    That is most likely the reason
    Read More... 737 days ago
  • The link to is not functioning in the post above
    Read More... 738 days ago
  • Gerard Brandon replied to the topic Re: Advice RE: New Laboratory Start-up in the forum.

    Glad you clarified. Okay if it was my business I would be looking at out-sourcing to the pharma sector itself. There are of course every year an intake of new students to pharma laboratories and it might actually be useful if you engage with some of the pharma companies to train up their new interns for them before being allowed onto the floor of the factory/laboratory.

    If you provide a state supported facility then they could have it grant aided and everyone wins. Universities will always tell you they have the latest, greatest, state of the art facilities (otherwise they would not attract the students) and they would not like to lose their reputation by denying they teach their students to the point where they walk into a factory/laboratory. So I would hesitate to suggest attempting to seek affiliation with a University as a start up providing something that they would not like to admit they fall short on.

    You could even look at private schools with foreign students where they offer additional courses in QC or Laboratory practices for foreign students who are learning English and might like to have the opportunity to learn English for their Science degree in a laboratory with Laboratory English. A suggestion is the likes of Griffiths College or any Foreign privately funded college.

    I can tell you that the interns I had to deal with for Quality Control took patience and I admit they had little or no real-world experience so I do know there is a lack of expertise when they come straight out of college. If that service were there perhaps I would have recommended that XXXXXXXX (I won't mention names) take a couple of weeks familiarity with the environment with someone (people) who have more time than we had to show them around.

    That is why I recommend you approach the HR departments of Pharma companies. EI are likely to support overseas course and FAS would support local re-education while IDA would perhaps be in a position to recommend your services as a benefit to new pharma companies looking at coming into Ireland.

    Best of luck with the venture.

    Read More... 817 days ago
  • friends Mark Hegarty and Gerard Brandon are now friends
  • Ron

    Okay Ron. The Positive Spin and Reasons to be optimistic about Ireland .... hmmmmm

    Sales in psychotic drugs are accelerating

    The grass is greener this year because it has rained more often than previous years

    Government has managed to maintain unemployment of the under 25's to less than 25% of the population

    Large proportion of apartment and commercial construction buildings now come with natural air-conditioning

    Public Sector Ghosts are now paid well above minimum wage due to the large number of Ghost estates that they must patrol

    Twitter has announced that it has been granted September Irish Government MBA** for "Official finger in the unemployment dyke" award.

    Now Is that delusionally optimistic enough for you?


    Notes: **MBA = My Big Achievement"
    wall 937 days ago
  • Gerard Brandon replied to the topic Re: Advice on Re-Branding in the forums.

    Always good to hear your opinions and advice. No one has a monopoly on knowledge of how to build brands and no one (other than teenagers) know everything. At my age apparently I know nothing (multiple quotes from 4 teenage children over the years)

    I am sure we can spread our discussions around this site and look forward to further sales, marketing and brand exploratory discussions.

    wall 937 days ago
  • Gerard Brandon replied to the topic Re: sales talk and sales doing in the forums.
    Closing is not a complex science. In reality it is quite straight forward.

    • Stop talking about your great products
    • Start asking questions about what your customer needs are
    • Then shut up and listen

    If you are not asking questions you are not closing. You are wasting your time and your potential clients. Any person who is prepared to meet with you has some need or desire for what you have, you just need to identify the trigger that will get them to a deal. So ask them leading questions that will highlight the benefits of what your product/service offers.

    There are reams of books on how to sell and you could read them all but the simple fact is that you won't get anywhere near to a close by talking up your product. You would not be there in the first place if it was not the best product on the market for your potential client. You know that and he/she expects it to be.

    After you have spent your time asking questions, asking to close the deal will just be one more question
    wall 943 days ago
  • I particularly like number 20. You have to be crazy or somewhat deluded to start a company. Somehow the description of old is not quite as romantic when put up to the modern phrase of

    Ireland - Land of Saints, Scholars & a high proportion of deluded entrepreneurs.

    It may well be that we are really missing the point of how things have changed. As there is growing calls for austerity measures in all areas of the labour force we all must become indispensable. To do that we have to be innovative in how we get things done. In a sense everyone is or has a level of entrepreneurship in them. We must be creative in our approach. Technology changes so quickly that we have to adapt. More and more the world calls for shorter term contracts and no longer are there any life careers.

    The Irish have shown themselves to be adaptable. The hundreds of thousands who emigrated have adapted and so when you have an open society with a more liberal attitude to flexible work practices it is no wonder that FDI has increased.

    Those who have gone out before have in fact been ambassadors for the current employees of multi-national companies now in Ireland. Ireland is a great place to do business as an export operation. It may not be big enough to be a market by itself, but we have a loud voice echoed around the world. It is not all bad and even with the austerity measures being adopted ahead of our peers in the EU we are showing that once again we are able to the first, best and fastest to turn things around.

    Long may it continue

    wall 944 days ago
  • That was an amazing last few minutes listening to the Dub/Kerry match on the radio. It is a wonder the commentator didn't have a heart attack as many in Dublin and Kerry must have. Nice result
    profile 944 days ago
  • Paul

    The first thing you must do is build a serious sales case for your products and services. Establish some case studies based on your existing clientèle and provide them online so that anyone who wants can verify your claims.

    You are targeting capex in a sector that has been devastated by the financial crash and many hotels and pubs no longer have the business to cover overheads let alone consider more expenditure which would not be likely to come from banks. However if you can establish (no verify) that using your system will reduce fixed overhead then there is a case to be made to banks or developers making a case to NAMA.

    The market in Ireland is very small. I mean seriously small. If the advances in technology that you have are as significant why are you not considering expanding it to markets where access to funding is more freely available? I have no interest in looking at Ireland as a market, but if you have refined the technology that it is capable of expanding globally I may have an interest in helping you to export the technology or working with you to create a footprint outside of Ireland.
    wall 950 days ago
  • Gerard Brandon replied to the topic Re: Customer wont pay in the forums.
    It is purely a negotiation tactic. Not a very nice one but if you start emailing counter claims and don't deal with it immediately it can easily escalate into a pitch battle that will mean cost for you in time, effort and if they are in a financial bind and have no money then you lose twice.

    My suggestion is to make an appointment that is convenient to their accountant/CEO or bill payer to discuss the outstanding issue(s) between you.

    It may be that they are strapped for cash and using delaying tactics to see if their cash flow improves. However you have to weigh up if they can be dealt with cordially or if you have to resort to legal steps to recover what you can. In my view this is the last resort never, ever the first. Is what they are doing right?, No! Is what they are doing ethical? Probably not, but things happen and you have to adapt to each stressful situation as it presents itself with an open mind, not a vindictive one.

    The question to ask is this. "Okay we have a dispute, now what is it going to take to make it all square so we can get back to being great business partners?"

    What is the life time value of this customer? Over a year/5 years is 2000 worth the aggravation if you can come to an arrangement? Is there a position in the middle where no one loses face?

    I am sure no one these days (or any time) can afford to write anything off or even afford to have the spare cash to cover short falls for late, non-payment, but if you don't try and amicably deal with the matter face to face, without raised voices, then it is likely going to cost everyone far more than 2000.

    You may even be able to turn the whole thing around, negotiate a discount for extra shelf space if it is a super market. Whatever you do, use lawyers as a very last resort.

    wall 955 days ago
  • Gerard Brandon replied to the topic Re: CRO TENDER - NO IRISH NEED APPLY !!! in the forums.

    I am sure with the money the ESB workers are getting they will have retired and still have enough to wait behind to turn the lights off.

    I mentioned before that I had 25 employees in Ireland, not one of them were on less than twice the minimum wage. Their income was averaged over the remaining 175 employees so that the cost of doing global business in Ireland was reduced significantly. If they all had been in Ireland, the company would have folded instead of being sold to an American corporation.

    I can't advise you to change your business model. You just have to do the numbers while you wait for pigs to fly and Minister Brutal gets back in total agreements and issues instructions forthwith for all change at Dept of Finance.

    wall 957 days ago
  • It is no longer the strongest or the fittest who survives, but the one most most adaptable to change
    profile 957 days ago
  • Gerard Brandon replied to the topic Sound Bites and Gobshites in the forums.
    What do you expect from a bureaucracy civil service where you have 13 (yes 13) layers of hierarchy (read - anarchy) between the lower entry level civil servant and the mandarin who speaks to the Minister. Talk about Chinese whispers by the time it gets from the Minister to the front line it is may as well be in Mandarin/Chinese.

    Tendering is one thing, but also how can you expect anything to change when the front line can't go over the head of their immediate superior to report a potential efficiency or saving? Imagine any SME having that number of layers of hierarchy.

    Don't expect anything to change in policy, or indeed in EU tendering procedures as no one has the power to figure out what to change, let alone anyone to make a decision to change things if they can't even make the Croke Park agreement work after more than 18 months. Soundbites and Gobshites.

    wall 961 days ago
  • Gerard Brandon replied to the topic Re: who do you use for your hosting? in the forums.

    Don't apologise for doing what a small company should do and that is shop around for the best way to keep costs low. How can you expect to be a global company exporting if you are constrained by high costs that you know and are aware of overseas.

    Great if you can find a competitive alternative in Ireland, but if not then it is up to Irish companies to be competitive. This competitive aspect may be in support and services, It really depends on how much hand holding is required for users and if they have a problem with language and culture then a local firm may suit better.

    It is all about survival. For the record I have development carried out in Poland but tend to find Blacknight exceptional for my hosting needs with their ticketing as well as their live chat with support and accounts. The main reason being that mobile software development costs are 35-45 euros per hour (and sometimes more) in Ireland and $35-45 dollars for the same expertise in Poland. That represents nearly 40% saving.

    Just let me know if anyone wants to avail of those prices while you concentrate on building your business with change to spare.

    wall 963 days ago
  • "Nurofen Plus for that care free headache, new anti-psychotic formula"
    profile 968 days ago
  • Finally got around to unfriend and unlike stuff that is automated and clutters up my wall.
    profile 968 days ago
  • Gerard Brandon replied to the topic Re: Advice on Re-Branding in the forums.

    We actually do agree with each other. To me brand qualities should describe a company, product or service the way
    you might describe your child to a friend. A brand is a definition of who or what you are. The name itself is not as important as what the brand stands for.

    And it must be simple. Far too many people assume that in order to define a product or service that maybe complicated you stretch out the explanation or talk too much. For me M-DOC (our brand) "Stops Bleeding Fast" That was it.

    Just like Nike "Just Do It" or Coca Cola "The Real Thing" or with McDonalds's "I'm lovin' it" and KFC "Finger lickin' good" it is the essence of what you do, who you are and what is expected by the consumer of the experience of their interaction with your business.

    It is not always about the quality of the product it can be very much about the quality of the service behind the product that differentiates you to your customers. Name plays a role, but it what it is what the name stands for that counts.

    Something more to consider when you are building a brand. Always try to be number 1 or at least number 2. If you are not first or second to the market will find it hard to remember you so you may have to create a sub category that you are dominant in. McDonalds and Burger King or Kentucky Fried Chicken were far and way leaders in fast food and yet Subway rose up to be the number 1 health food alternative to fast food on the high street. Another great example of simple but effective marketing of a Brand.

    Who could compete with Coke and Pepsi for the number 1 spot? No one unless you were inventing a new category which is what "Red Bull" did.

    Keeping it simple also means focus. Think of Subway which is really a single sandwich. Starbucks is just coffee. Red Bull is one drink. Burger King is a "Flame Grilled Burger". Too much choice confuses. If you offer a service be specific. Don't try to be a website company that also designs, does SEO and online marketing and writes mobile phone applications. Be number 1 at one of those and there is no reason why you can't offer additional services. Be known for one thing you are brilliant at as that is what you mean to your customers and thus your Brand value.

    So Alan if you take the analysis of what I tried to present here it is basically keep it simple, meaningful and focused. Don't try to be everything to everyone, be as unique as your brand portrays


    wall 973 days ago
  • Gerard Brandon replied to the topic Re: How to do the market research in the forums.
    Hi Praveenk

    Try too to think of how you would differentiate yourself from your competition. Coffee is basically generic and a commodity. What would your coffee shop offer to be different?

    For instance StarBucks create an experience around the consumption of coffee. It is a place to relax, a safe haven from the mayhem of whatever stresses you out when you are out and about. Their value proposition is definitely not based on cheap and local which is why they have the room to sit and relax. Another good example I know of is Coffee Heaven in Poland. As Starbucks has not quite spread across Poland they have acquired the Starbucks equivalent environment. On the other hand insomnia and cafe sol are fast in/out coffee fixes.

    So what are you offering that will make customers want to consume on your premises? Do you want them to stay on your premises? If you decide on a Theme approach what demography do you think would appreciate the theme? This may help you to decide on the profile of your target consumers and make it easier to quantify.

    If you are looking to raise money for the project make sure that you have your story right, you know the profile of your customers and why they will use your premises over others. Competition is good as it creates efficiencies and no one controls the market, but the more you know what you are doing the better your chances.

    Why not walk into a few coffee shops and tell them you are a student working on your thesis on fast food service industries in Ireland (mature student if mature ) and buy a coffee at off-peak time and ask the girl behind the counter a few questions?

    You should get a profile of the average user very quickly for your marketing section of your business plan

    wall 974 days ago
  • Gerard Brandon replied to the topic Re: Advice on initial lead generation in the forums.
    Dzien Dobry Agnieszka i Dorota

    The key to networking is not to be in a position to instantly create lead generation but to build the network itself that will create the lead generation by referral. Let me explain what I mean. Referrals are far more valuable than that cold calls as they reduce the cautiousness of a call receiver who perceives you as a stranger.

    You might find it useful to go to a few coffee meetings of start up companies and entrepreneurs who might need your help, but you give it openly at those meetings. Offer advise freely and get yourself a reputation as being very helpful and knowledgeable in your area of expertise.

    You achieve a number of things. First your reputation grows, your network expands. Next you may get to give a 2 minute pitch for your business and even invite those present to your own seminar on HR issues that you hold every 6 weeks and ask those present to invite their contacts to attend. What you are doing in sowing the seed of your expertise in their head so that they think of no one else in HR other than yourself for their business or their contacts in their network.

    So next time you are at your Chamber of Commerce meetings don't hand out your card, but offer advice openly. Spread the word that you are willing to help and you will see that others who receive help will openly and happily build your network for you.

    wall 974 days ago
Design © Small Business Can. All rights reserved.

Login or Register



User Registration
or Cancel