Monthly Archives: May 2017

Managing Your Time

Time – it’s a precious commodity. While no one ever seems to have enough of it, some people manage to accomplish far more than others in the same 24 hours. When it comes to time management, entrepreneurs have special concerns.

Providing both vision and leadership, entrepreneurs know that the success or failure of their businesses depends on them. As a result, many find themselves working a staggering number of hours. They say they will slow down after making it over the next hurdle. But another hurdle always appears. Running at such a fast clip may bring short-term results, but those gains can be lost quickly through ill health or divorce. Learning to use your time more efficiently not only helps you achieve a healthier balance between your business and personal lives but it can also save your business from missed deadlines, overtime wages, lost customers and more. Putting in more hours isn’t the key to success. Managing your time more effectively is. You’ll be more productive in fewer hours and live a happier, healthier life as a result.


 1. Work towards larger life goals

The first step in effective time management is to determine where exactly you want to go. Without a clear picture of your destination, you’ll wind up someplace else. Think long-term: What do you want to achieve by the end of your life? Or even at the end of this decade? Write it down and be as specific as possible. Then determine what steps you must take to meet your goals. Write these down too.

Next, keep a time log of everything you do for at least a week, preferably a month. Note the number of hours or minutes you spend on each work project, meeting, phone call or other activity. Log activities as they occur; just doing it a few times a day results in missing important details.


2. Figure out where you are spending your time

Compare your time log to your life goals. The majority of your time should be spent on activities contributing to the realisation of your goals. Make a note of any activities not directed towards this end, and try to eliminate them. It might be better, for example, to discharge a difficult client whose projects stray from your company’s core business, and instead put more effort into marketing and finding new clients. Consider ways to streamline the tasks you are obliged to do: for instance, you can sometimes accomplish just as much with a teleconference as a lunch meeting. Say no to any new endeavours unless they somehow support your goals.


3. Delegate

Don’t hesitate, as many entrepreneurs do, to delegate some of your tasks. One print shop owner, who was putting in 90 hours a week, was so discouraged he was ready to close down his business. He couldn’t give additional responsibility to his employees, he said, because they were not experienced enough. Then a health crisis kept him out of the shop for several weeks. In his absence, those same employees performed extremely well.

A major external risk for the Irish agriculture sector

The UK represents our most important agri-food export market, accounting for over 40% of Irish agricultural output. It is the destination for over 50% of our beef and 60% of our cheese exports. By comparison, it accounts for 15% of exports across all sectors. It is a high value market, and its customers share the same language and similar consumer preferences. For small and medium businesses in Ireland, the UK is generally the first destination they look to as a potential export market.

Should the UK vote to leave the EU, Irish agriculture would undoubtedly feel negative consequences, both in the short-term and longer term. Already in 2016, we have seen a weakening of Sterling by over 7% against the euro, arising mainly from the uncertainty on the referendum outcome. This has reduced the competitiveness of Irish exports, with a disproportionate impact on the Irish agri-food sector.

In the longer term, the uncertainties presented by the changed trading relationship between the UK and EU pose a significant threat, as the costs of trading with the UK would, inevitably, rise.


Special Agreement

As part of the EU trading bloc, Ireland is not in a position to negotiate any special bilateral trade agreement with the UK. We would therefore be bound by whatever trade agreement was reached between the EU and UK.

It has been suggested that the UK would negotiate a trading arrangement with the EU similar to that of Norway, which has access to the EU Single Market, and makes a financial contribution to the EU. However, it should be noted that, under this arrangement, many agricultural products are outside the Single Market agreement, with restrictions in place in the form of tariff quotas and regulatory, non-tariff barriers (import licenses, rules of origin checks). The reintroduction of these barriers would increase costs, reduce the competitiveness of Irish exports and, ultimately, reduce the potential the UK holds as a destination for Irish agri-food exports.


Impact in UK and Northern Ireland

For farmers in the UK and Northern Ireland, the reintroduction of trade barriers could have similarly negative consequences, as tariff and quota restrictions could undermine their ability to export to Ireland and to the EU. Ireland remains the main export market for the UK agri-food sector, with almost €3.5bn of exports annually. UK farmers would also face an uncertain future for agriculture supports, as it is unknown what domestic support payments, and at what level, would replace the current EU CAP payments.