Start Your Business Today: Entrepreneurship and Understanding Tax

Starting a business can be a daunting experience for any entrepreneur. One aspect of starting a business which is often overlooked by entrepreneurs is the tax compliance obligations set down in Irish tax legislation.

Unlike the majority of the working population in Ireland who receive a salary through PAYE employment and have their tax deducted at source by their employers, entrepreneurs are obliged under Revenue’s self assessment system to prepare tax returns, calculate their tax and pay this tax to Revenue by certain prescribed deadlines. These tasks can be time consuming and entrepreneurs should familiarize themselves with important tax filing and payment deadlines. Revenue’s website provides detailed information on the obligations of taxpayers starting a business. It is worth nothing that failure to meet these tax filing or payment deadlines can result in significant penalties and interest payments.

One of the first steps you should take when setting up a business is to register that business with Revenue. This is done by completing a tax registration form. On this form you will provide detailed information about your business to Revenue, in addition to deciding which tax heads your business is registering for (e.g. Income Tax, Value Added Tax, Corporation Tax, PREM). If you are setting up as a sole-trader, you will complete a Form TR1 and if you are setting up an incorporated company, you will complete a Form TR2. Both of these forms are available online on Revenue’s website and can be submitted through Revenues Online Service (“ROS”). If you are not already registered for ROS, you should complete this registration at the outset of your business venture. ROS will allow you to make tax payments and file all tax returns online. There is a ROS helpdesk where taxpayers can call to ask any questions on ROS or if they are having difficulties operating this service.

There are many tax questions an entrepreneur should ask themselves when setting up a business. If possible, it would be prudent to seek tax advice to ensure that all tax compliance obligations are being met. For example, one question that should be considered is whether the taxpayer should register for VAT. If you anticipate that your business’ turnover will be in excess of EUR 75,000 (supplying goods) or EUR 37,500 (supplying services) in a twelve month period you will breach the VAT registration threshold and you will be obliged to register for VAT, submit VAT returns and make VAT payments (if applicable) to Revenue. However, some types of business are considered “VAT exempt” and therefore there is no requirement to register for VAT, regardless of the business’ turnover. There are also significant VAT administrative responsibilities on the taxpayer, such as filing informational returns such as VIES returns, which deal with when a taxpayer makes cross-border supplies of goods or services from one EU member state to another.

In conclusion, there are significant tax obligations on an entrepreneur when starting a business. Keeping good books and records (e.g. sales and purchase invoices, bank statements) will ensure that proper accounts can be prepared for the business and this will assist in correct tax returns and payments being submitted to Revenue. While paying for tax advice at the outset of a business venture may seem like a costly expense a fledgling business can not afford, it is arguably a cost worth incurring to avoid becoming liable to Revenue surcharges, interest payments and penalties for failure to comply with what are oftentimes considered complex tax obligations. Many businesses only address tax compliance concerns when something goes wrong. This is the wrong approach to take. Start-up businesses should set time aside to consider their tax obligations. Revenue’s website is a good place to start: www.revenue.ie

The Importance of Elon Musk’s Announcement today

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Today marks the day of Elon Musk’s solar glass roof tiles finally go on sale. Musk will be rolling out to major styles “black glass smooth and textured will be first. Tuscan and French Slate in about six months”. This technology has captured the imagination of the world and seeks to reconfigure how the world is powered. This disruptive technology will revolutionize how energy is collected and stored forever! This is just one of a long list of innovations Musk has introduced to the world.  I chose to take a look at the life of Elon Musk for my second last blog post as he is a huge inspiration to me. And what better day to talk about him than on the day he launches one of his most innovative products to date!

Born in South-Africa in 1971, Musk was destined for great things. Founder and CEO of SpaceX, Neuralink and Tesla, Co-founding OpenAI, PayPal and SolarCity, Musk has achieved more in the last twenty years than a thousand people could in a lifetime. As of May 2017, his net worth stands at $15.2 billion. Elon Musk is beyond inspirational, not because he taught himself computer programming at the age of 12, or dropped out of grad school or even because his official salary for Tesla Motors is just $1 a year, I am inspired by his values. I write another eight week blog on his accomplishments and accolades but I would rather take a closer look at his problem solving abilities.

In an interview in 2015, Musk expressed his respect for the “First Principles Thinking” and advocated for people to move away from “reason by analogy”. He suggests we should boil things down to their simplest form…then work from there. This critical way of thinking dates back as far as Aristotle. Musk argues it “takes a lot more mental energy”, but the results can be groundbreaking!

Musk suggests that people focus too much on their experience and fail to build their reasoning from the ground up. He suggests;

“You look at the fundamentals and construct your reasoning from that and then see if you have a conclusion that works or doesn’t work. And it may or may not be different from what people have done in the past. It’s harder to think that way, though.”

Musk seeks to establish what is fundamentally true and then works on from that point. This is how he has managed to develop solutions for some of the most complex issues of the last twenty years. Vision and adaptability are key competencies to entrepreneurship and these are possessed in great quantities by Musk. The final competency which I believe is integral to entrepreneurship is perseverance. Musk believes in long hours and hard work. He suggests

“Work like hell. I mean you just have to put in 80 to 100 hour weeks every week. [This] improves the odds of success. If other people are putting in 40 hour work weeks and you’re putting in 100 hour work weeks, then even if you’re doing the same thing you know that….you will achieve in 4 months what it takes them a year to achieve.”

While this may be hard to hear, there is undoubtedly no substitute for hard work.

 

 

 

Ireland & Medicinal Marijuana

How will medicinal marijuana will be introduced in Ireland?

Vera Twomey, mother of Ava and medicinal marijuana advocate, began a camp out last week at the gates of Leinster House. This protest aimed at ensuring her seven year old daughter Ava, would receive access to cannabidiol (CBD) oil to treat her rare illness, Dravets syndrome. While this protest has received huge media coverage, it is only one, in a long-list of reports, articles and statements which suggest reform is imminent. Entrepreneurial opportunities will accompany legislative reform, but how will this product be introduced to the Irish market?

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So, How Will Medicinal Marijuana be Licensed?

According to the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HRPA), treatment will soon be available to a limited number of medical conditions. Products containing CBD are not considered “controlled drugs” and can be provided under existing legislation. However, the HRPA state their is a lack of robust data and until this issue ratified, legislative reform cannot occur. The HRPA also recommend a monitored treatment program should be introduced for the first five years, should legislation be augmented.

Which Laws Dictate Use of Medicinal Marijuana?

  • Health Act (1947)
  • Poisons Act (1961)
  • Medical Preparations Regulations (1970)
  • Misuse of Drugs Act (1977,1984)
  • EU and other International Regulations
  • Criminal Justice Act (1994)

How Will Medicinal Marijuana be Introduced to Ireland?

No national government in Europe supports legalization of cannabis sale for recreational use, and all countries have prison sentences for illegal supply. However, several draft laws have been proposed to national parliaments in the last few years, as well as some initiatives in regions or cities that were rejected at national level.

Coffee Shops

In the Netherlands, coffee shops are outlets for the sale and (often on-site consumption) of cannabis, which started to appear in the 1970s. They are licensed by the municipality, and about two-thirds of Dutch municipalities do not allow them. There were 591 coffee shops in 2014, with nearly one third in Amsterdam; numbers have been falling since 2000. Sale and personal possession is punishable by imprisonment under Dutch law, but coffee shops are tolerated provided they adhere to strict criteria published in a directive of the public prosecutor. However, there is no toleration of production of the stock, creating a legal anomaly known in the Netherlands as the ‘back door problem’.

Cannabis Social Clubs

In a number of European countries, groups of users have formed ‘cannabis social clubs’. They claim that, in principle, if cultivation of one cannabis plant is tolerated for one person’s use, then 20 plants together might be tolerated for a club of 20 people. No national government in Europe accepts this, though some regions in Spain have attempted to pass regulations to limit the proliferation of such clubs. In 2015, the Spanish Supreme Court clearly stated that ‘organized, institutionalized and persistent cultivation and distribution of cannabis among an association open to new members is considered drug trafficking’.

GW Pharmaceuticals have recently taken over British Sugar’s 18-Hectare glasshouse in Norfolk and are currently attempting to patent strains of medicinal marijuana. The suspected UK Cannabis Boom may lead to untold medical, economic and social outcomes for the state which will undoubtedly have a knock on effect on Ireland’s legislative stalemate. As major and pharmaceutical companies and start-ups, such GreenLightMedicines, continue to put pressure on the Irish government reform has become an unavoidable outcome.

Increasing Blog Traffic: Simple, Effective Tips

An essential guide to increasing traffic through simple informed recommendations

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Increasing traffic is easy……Well, kind of!! I have scoured the internet in a bid to understanding the tools, techniques and competencies required to increase traffic and take one’s blog to the next level. Increasing traffic is like baking a cake, if you methodically follow a recipe (my proposed checklist), use quality ingredients (original content) and employ the appropriate skills and techniques (add on features and analytic tools) you blog WILL experience exponential growth!!

Image result for image of a cake with blog

I have created a checklist for Bloggers to re-evaluate posts before publication. Seven Deadly questions…..

  1. Is my content original?
  2. Have I created something that is of interest to other people and not just myself?
  3. Who am I trying to connect with? Age, Gender, nationality….
  4. How am I connecting with the reader? through humor, interesting facts, strong visuals, captivating quotes?
  5. Have I occupied on authoritative position on the topic in question? Do I need to reference stats or figures?
  6. Is my headline engaging?
  7. Have I optimized my post for search engines?

When you have analyzed and proofread your post and put the final aesthetic touches on your publication you should then consider these XXX things

  1. Are my tags appropriate?
  2. Is my content visible to search engines?
  3. Who’s post could I comment on to increase readership?
  4. Have I linked to appropriate blogs on my post?
  5. Which of my social media friends would be good advocates for sharing my post?

 

In this weeks post, I wanted to try and offer simple and effective thttps://dailypost.wordpress.com/postaday/ebook-grow-traffic/ips to improve the reach of your blog. If you are looking for a more advanced tutorial on growing traffic, you should check out

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/postaday/ebook-grow-traffic/

 

 

Entrepreneurship and the used car industry

Following the 2008 recession in Ireland, used car market appeared one of the few industries to escape unscathed. Today I caught up with Aaron Lacey of Aaron’s Autos Malahide, a young entrepreneur who set up his own car dealership two years ago. Having traveled Australia, New Zealand and everywhere in between, Aaron moved home to quench his entrepreneurial thirst and pursue his passion for fixing up cars………..

What does your typical work day look like?

I normally start work around eight in the morning. I begin planning out what jobs I need to start and finish and for when. I would usually work cars until twelve or one and then clean up the cars I have for sale in the afternoons, ensuring a high level of cleanliness and they are all running well. Having the cars ready to go for my customers is paramount.

  1. How many hours a week do you work on average? Roughly 65 hours
  2. What attracted you to this line of work? I have always loved cars from a young age
  3. Where did you train/learn your skills? I learned how to fix and sell cars from my father and through my apprenticeship in a garage in Portmarnock
  4. What parts of your job do you find most satisfying? I enjoy the alone time working on cars, I find it quite therapeutic, on the other hand I love meeting new people through trading.
  5. What are the greatest opportunities that exist for the growth of your business? Online selling
  6. Have technological advancements made business easier or more difficult for you? Definitely easier
  7. How important is social media in your line of work? Not very, I tried to set up a Facebook page it did not work out as planned
  8. Who are your customers/clients? Usually first time buyers
  9. How competitive is your market? Extremely competitive
  10. What resources do you find particularly useful in relation to your line of work? Done Deal
  11. Have you ever met with anyone from your local enterprise office? No
  12. Is their much support available to you (grants, funding…etc)? I am not too sure, I tried contacting enterprise Ireland but never heard back
  13. What is your end goal? To own a larger garage selling premium cars for greater margins
  14. How will you get there? Through hard work and reputation management
  15. What piece of advice would you give somebody who wanted to enter your line of work? Be prepared for speedbumps, since establishing my own business I have encountered and overcame diversity, through hard work and sacrifice.
  16. How do you measure success (lifestyle, money, recognition …..etc)? Adequate time off to spend with family and friends, and to be honest………..my bank balance
  17. Where will you be in ten years? I will own my own garage, in a more competitive area with excellent road frontage and stocking premium, specialist cars

Social Entrepreneurship Ireland: Iseult Ward

 

Iseult is co-founder and CEO of the award winning social enterprise FoodCloud. FoodCloud has 1,200 retail stores across the UK and Ireland, including Tesco and Aldi, donating surplus food directly to over 3,000 charities through its software platform. Iseult was awarded Trinity Business student of the Year in 2013, Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Impact award and Green Entrepreneur of the Year in 2014. She is a One Young World Ambassador and one of Time Magazine’s Next Generation Leaders. In 2016, Iseult secured the Marie Claire’s Future Shapers Award and WMB [Women Mean Business] Social Entrepreneurs of the Year and in 2017 Iseult was included on Forbes 30 under 30 Social Entrepreneurs European listIseult is co-founder and CEO of the award winning social enterprise FoodCloud. FoodCloud has 1,200 retail stores across the UK and Ireland, including Tesco and Aldi, donating surplus food directly to over 3,000 charities through its software platform. Iseult was awarded Trinity Business student of the Year in 2013, Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Impact award and Green Entrepreneur of the Year in 2014. She is a One Young World Ambassador and one of Time Magazine’s Next Generation Leaders. In 2016, Iseult secured the Marie Claire’s Future Shapers Award and WMB [Women Mean Business] Social Entrepreneurs of the Year and in 2017 Iseult was included on Forbes 30 under 30 Social Entrepreneurs European listThis week in my entrepreneurial blog I chose to look at a homegrown social entrepreneur who has achieved critical acclaim for her social enterprise FoodCloud. Iseult is the co-founder and CEO of FoodCloud. FoodCloud has 1,200 retail stores across the UK and Ireland, including Tesco and Aldi, donating surplus food directly to over 3,000 charities through its software platform. Iseult was awarded Trinity Business student of the Year in 2013, Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Impact award and Green Entrepreneur of the Year in 2014. She is a One Young World Ambassador and one of Time Magazine’s Next Generation Leaders. In 2016, Iseult secured the Marie Claire’s Future Shapers Award and WMB [Women Mean Business] Social Entrepreneurs of the Year and in 2017 Iseult was included on Forbes 30 under 30 Social Entrepreneurs European list.

 

FoodCloud connects businesses that have a surplus of food with charities with limited budgets and resources, aiming to feed both hungry and poor people. FoodCloud have developed an app to help redistributed food from supermarkets and food businesses alike. This food would otherwise be thrown out. This social enterprise has gone from strength to strength and has recently established food redistribution hubs in the UK.

Understanding the complexity of the problem of food waste is essential component in understanding FoodCloud’s organisation. Approximately 1 in 8 people – or approximately 13% of the population – in Ireland currently experience food poverty, while rates are higher (up to 23%) among specific vulnerable groups, such as low income households, lone parent families, children and those who are unemployed or disabled”. These figures combined with the fact that one million tones of food is wasted in Ireland every year, highlight the environmental, social, economic and global implications of the mismanagement of surplus food and food waste. One study from the United States suggests that 14% of groceries bought in America are thrown away, leading to a total of 43 billion tones of food waste.

Entrepreneurship and IT

For the second week of my Entrepreneurial blog I have chosen to interview a local IT businessman Ciaran McNally of Securit Consulting. Ciaran, a young man from North County Dublin, established his own consulting company, specialising in IT security and hacking computers (legally) for a living. Here’s a fascinating insight into the life of a computer hacker and IT security specialist……

Business name:                               Securit Consulting

Business enquiries?                       Security consulting and Ethical hacking

Website?                                          https://securit.ie

 

What does your typical work day look like?

I wake up around 8am and start working, mostly answering emails as I wake up. I then start writing/finishing reports or start hacking websites. Generally I have contracts organised a few weeks in advance so I just get on them.

I always leave 2-3 days a month to market my services or look for new clients, this could include adverts on Facebook or emailing companies. I generally work until 1 or 2pm then I might take a walk, make lunch or play some computer games. I normally take a 2 hour break, then hack on until the girlfriend comes home from work around 6 or 7. After dinner in the evenings I sometimes either continue working or do some bug bounties (the best way of marketing in security).

Other days I’m required to go on site and work in another company’s office, this generally is working during normal business hours. This work could also be in a different country etc. There is a lot of variety and that keeps me interested.

1.      How many hours a week do you work on average?          

50 – 60 hours

 

2.      What attracted you to this line of work? 

The security field has interesting and challenging work and is also growing increasingly more important in modern times as our society shifts towards depending on internet based services. A significant amount of my time is spent trying to overcome security protocols or uncover mistakes developers made that I can use to my advantage to gain access to information I’m not meant to be able to see.

 

3.      Where did you train/learn your skills?

I spent many years in my youth hacking computer games by directly modifying Playstation memory with a toolkit called the Gameshark pro, this introduced me to low-level debugging and reverse engineering in pursuit of developing game cheats. I then did an honours BSC in Computer applications in DCU and tried to focus the majority of my college learning on the area of computer security. Luckily there was a lot of freedom around the 3rd and 4th year projects that I could choose to work on, so I decided to do projects that could potentially help my CV for getting a job in security.

 

4.      What parts of your job do you find most satisfying?

Successfully breaking into a company’s internal infrastructure from the internet (or anywhere in the world) with permission. It makes me feel like a secret agent. I also really enjoy that I can take time off whenever I want or work from home. The most satisfying thing is definitely the work as it is always changing and there is always new research to learn from, I also get good exposure to a large variety of different companies and how they work on both a technical and management level.

 

5.      What are the greatest opportunities that exist for the growth of your business?

As we depend more on internet based applications, the hacks and attacks that happen are starting to impact more people and are making national news headlines. This massively will help companies and people understand that they need to care about security and hopefully ensures the industry continues growing and people value their private information.

 

6.      Have technological advancements made business easier or more difficult for you?

New technology often is the easiest target with regards to identifying vulnerabilities as developers often spend more time creating a new innovative proof of concept instead of building out a robust and secure system from the beginning. Also as the “internet of things” trend grows (putting network technology in things like fridges) it’s exciting to work in security as all of these physical devices can now be targeted via the internet. Yeah definitely easier than making things more difficult.

 

7.      How important is social media in your line of work?

I get roughly 50% of my contracts via LinkedIn/Twitter/Facebook. The more important aspect of social media for me is keeping on top of the latest developments in the tech world, twitter allows me to follow people who are doing incredible things and keep on top of the latest security issues or technical advancements. I can also reach out to these people and ask questions or likewise share information with colleagues.

 

8.      Who are your customers/clients?

In my field of work, often security consultants are obliged to sign NDA’s (non-disclosure agreements) that include not disclosing that you did work for them. So I can’t name them specifically but I can say that they are often well known companies in the tech industry, government/public sector or small to medium size enterprises.

 

9.      How competitive is your market?

It is definitely a competitive field with regards to security products and competition between consulting companies gaining contracts, but at the same time there is too much work and not enough people to do it, so I’ve never had difficulty getting contracts. A significant percentage of my work is consulting or subcontracting on behalf of larger security companies.

 

10.   What resources do you find particularly useful in relation to your line of work?

The internet and libraries.

 

11.   Have you ever met with anyone from your local enterprise office?

No

12.   Is their much support available to you (grants, funding…etc)?

I haven’t looked into it or needed it so I’m not sure what’s out there.

 

13.   What is your end goal?

To have a reputation as one of the better consultants in the country or even in the greater industry or to setup a consulting company that has the same. My ultimate end goal is to make the internet a safer place for everyone who depends on it.

 

14.   How will you get there?

By identifying security issues in my clients’ applications and helping them to protect their own and their user’s data, also helping companies to protect their assets and grow. I also actively try and educate the population or friends about mass surveillance and the dangers of letting our government or other governments snoop on all of our communications. It is something people need to actively fight if they want to live in a fair society and democracy.

 

15.   What piece of advice would you give somebody who wanted to enter your line of work?

Start reading everything you can get your hands on related to internet technology and common security issues, learn to code, also take part in public bug bounties or responsible disclosure platforms like hackerone or bugcrowd. They give you an opportunity to demonstrate your skills against some of the largest companies in the world and gain a reputation or demonstrable experience/expertise while also earning money.

 

16.   Who is your hero (professional)?

Richard – A friend and colleague I worked with in Rits information security in my first year after college. He is an expert in security and pointed me in the right direction in my pursuit of knowledge many times. He also taught me the ropes/basics of being a good consultant that has been so useful when going out on my own.

 

17.   How do you measure success (lifestyle, money, recognition …..etc)?

If I can enjoy a few pints on the weekend or take a few holidays (like weekends in Amsterdam etc.) each year without feeling guilty or having to stretch my wallet too far as I’m saving for a house, I consider my career a success. If I can also keep my partner of 5 years happy, it means a lot to me.

 

18.   Where will you be in ten years?

Likely still breaking into computers as a job but also hopefully paying people that work for me to do the same.