#SMEcommunity – Ireland’s Business Success Story

#SMEcommunity – Ireland’s Business Success Story

#SMEcommunity – an inspiring idea that “viraled” beyond belief in a tiny country that possesses a HUGE business community.


Last year, I attended the #Birr2012 tweetup, which really was a full-scale conference and with amazingly beneficial seminars. Here’s what happened:

#SMEcommunity 2012

Day 1 – June 2011 – over on Twitter

It began with a tweet or two, 2 entrepreneurs chatting and supporting each other one evening. Then more tweeps hopped into the conversation. The hashtag #SMEcommunity was created to continue the conversation the following day, and it trended that day. Very quickly the conversation spilled over into counties all over Ireland, which provoked a dedicated twitter account @SMEcommunity_ie. Small businesses around Ireland began to take notice, and within weeks, tweetups and networking events began to spring up all over the country. The ethos of the “conversation” was INFORMAL and SUPPORTIVE.

Birr, IrelandInterest filtered in from abroad, and online at least, the #SMEcommunity became a global community.

A tweetup transpires

On Friday, Jan 27th, after numerous local events, a national #tweetup was organised. A single tweet went out looking for suggestions for a possible “central” location. A reply came back immediately from the County Arms Hotel, Birr, Co. Offaly to offer their entire premises for the tweetup. The location was perfect as Birr is practically in the centre of Ireland.

So what exactly went on there?

Just like 100 other entrepreneurs, I cleared my calendar for the day. The start time was 11am with a light structure to the day and went on into the evening as some decided to “stay over”. Again, a single tweet from me to the SMEcommunity on twitter secured a lift for part of the way. What better way to meet another entrepreneur, than share their car for part of the trip? Thankfully, Lara and I had lots to discuss during the journey.

On arrival, we were greeted by the wonderful team that put in HUGE effort to ensure this day went smoothly. DebbieBeDebi and Sharon welcomed us and provided wonderful stickers to write our twitter ID and name, donated by another business.

Promos, treats and sweets

Promos, treats, discounts and freebies were doing the rounds all day. The generosity and selfless provision was evident on this wonderful day of mutual positive support. There were a few hard sells floating around, but they were absolutely swamped and absorbed by the counteract of mutual kindness, caring and emotional support.

Many businesses actually admitted to the dire straits they were in, but left that day knowing they were not alone, and more importantly there was a support system out there that they could tap into as quickly as typing a tweet.

Kehlan Kirwan of FocuSMEireland and The Small Business Show Podcasts kicked off the session and introduced George Mordaunt, author of Shepherd’s Pie. George provided an account on what happened to him during the boom years in Ireland, what happened when everything crashed, and provides some hard earned lessons! Unfortunately for him, his dirty laundry came out in the wash more recently, according to an Irish Examiner report.

Lunchtime comprised an easy collective chatter. I felt like I was at a wedding, it was so relaxing (without the wine of course). After lunch, there was a session with Vincent Byrne of Business Should Be Easy. Vincent has a simple but effective way of taking care of business in a way that will deliver results. He shared an easy 5-step take away useful for any business looking for their own direction. Check out his iCard 4S Problem Busting App 🙂

Vincent also encouraged us to write down a figure that we want our business to make this year. He then invited us to double it. By doubling our wish, we have a better chance of reaching the first figure. Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?

To make a difference!

So what is different about this tweetup, what put us apart from the standard network meetings? On Jan 27th 2012, the County Arms Hotel was full of a wonderful sense of familiarity that can often take a lot longer when we abide by the normal channels of meeting other entrepreneurs. With online communities like SMEcommunity and TweakYourBiz there is more support out there for business owners than ever before. There is no excuse not to avail of free information, empathetic support and mutual respect.

#SMEcommunity 2013

On Jan 25th2013, the #SMEcommunity will descend on Birr, Co. Offaly again. If you are thinking of setting up in business, or already are in business, this one-day networking and seminar event is for you! It will be time and resources well spent!

The wonderful Eamonn O’Brien, the founder of The Reluctant Speakers Club, will provide us with plenty of tips on how to get your pitch across and make sure your business is noticed – a presentation you will not want to miss! Laura Ryder, a journalist with the Offaly Independent, will also speak about Press Releases from a journalist’s point of view. Laura will share tips and advice and answer questions. There will be some officials and politicians there too, just in case you fancy a little stress-busting! 🙂

Go to the EventBrite Page right now, and sign up – you will not regret it! If you are a little shy, why not check out our recent article on Networking Tips.

Also, if you are struggling and have run out of “creative” ideas, simply tap into the support systems available to you. There are cost-effective ways to learn and gain inspiration about your future, in a positive way!

6 thoughts on “#SMEcommunity – Ireland’s Business Success Story

  • February 3, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    Great post Elaine,

    I’ve stopped listening to current affairs radio to avoid the whinging and moaning. Great to meet other others who want to get on with doing business and make the best of whats out there.


    • February 3, 2012 at 1:09 pm

      Hi Ralph,
      That is a great idea, and one I take for granted myself. I don’t follow the news every night or watch most current affairs programmes. It means I miss out on vital things that are happening, but as most of it is negative, I feel I can do with out it and spend that time and energy researching the good stories and connecting with people who are positive about their future and the future of their business.
      It’s amazing the good stories that twitter produces for me, makes it very easy 🙂 and as for soap operas and reality TV – don’t get me started on those!
      Thanks for stopping by and sharing a great tip.

  • February 3, 2012 at 11:15 am

    A truly fantastic bit of writing Elaine…and saying that the lunch chatter was like a wedding sums it up so well. It really was a great day filled with warmth and true caring affection for others situations and the health of their business.

    • February 3, 2012 at 11:20 am

      Thank you Be, it would not have been possible without yours and many others’ input and excellent organisation skills. I know exactly what entails running an event this size, and ever business owner there contributed to build a community that supports and shares.

      Thanks for your input and already looking forward to the next meetup (or tweetup)

  • February 3, 2012 at 10:42 am

    What a fantastic post Elaine, the #SMEcommunity is a support network with a difference and it’s wonderful to see new businesses join in the conversation every day. It’s great to have the opportunity to speak with people who really understand the issues that face small business in Ireland every day within a positive environment. Look forward to meeting you again at another tweet-up in the future.

    • February 3, 2012 at 11:02 am

      Hi Debbie,
      These things too often just peter out after a while, unlike the SMEcommunity, which is growing in strength month on month!! Another HUGE benefit I noticed while meeting other business owners at Limerick Open Coffee yesterday, was the fact I was recommending them as “new tweeters” to follow the hashtags #SMEcommunity #Birr2012 and the @SMEcommunity_ie twitter account.

      It’s a great way for a new business to get going on twitter and other SN sites. I remember 3 years ago, faffing around on twitter not quite sure how to approach it or even what to tweet. The SMEcommunity provides an instant, welcoming platform for those tipping their toes in Social Networking for business.

      I cannot think of an easier and more effective way to get involved with local and international businesses!! Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts Debbie.

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