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The Sites You NEED to Know About

There’s a lot of help for businesses out there. Here’s a list of useful business sites broken down by what they do compiled by the Sunday Business Post. It’s great to see smallbusinesscan.com listed with these heavy hitters.
Sunday Business Post – Get Profits in your Sights

Amazon Marketplace

Amazon.co.uk allows you to sell your products through its giant global website. Amazon’s pro-merchant fees are significantly higher than eBay’s, at17.25 per cent plus a standing monthly charge of £28 (€35). However, to set up as an Amazon European merchant, you need to have a bank account in either Britain, Austria, Germany or France.

Also, all items must be priced in British pounds. Amazon is also far more restrictive than eBay, insofar as you cannot sell mobile phones, gift cards, gift certificates, photo processing services or magazine subscriptions, among other things.

Askaboutmoney.com

Aside from the generally helpful financial forums, this site also has a dedicated business section with discussions and member advice on everything from Vat receipts and collecting bad debts to local council rates

Archives.tcm.ie/businesspost

While The Sunday Business Post’s website awaits its new look, its main strength is in its archives. Been approached by a company? There’s a very good chance that this newspaper has written about it some time over the past ten years. For companies, this is by far the best business-focused Irish newspaper archive online. And it’s free.

Bangecommerce.com

Bang is the latest Irish credit card and payment processing service for Irish companies. It charges a 3 per cent commission per online trade, but this is capped at €50 per month. So it’s good for start-ups, as there’s no set-up fee, but it will also suit the heavy seller, as there are no large fees.

However, to offer a credit card service will still require a separate account with a payment processing firm, such as Dublin-based RealEx, and a third, separate merchant bank account. These could add up to €100 per month in additional fees.

Basis.ie

If you’re looking for a single portal that aims to cover all aspects of a company’s financial, legal and day-to-day business issues, this site tries to cover them all. Much of the information is actually made up of links to other websites, but it’s a handy resource if you’re looking for information and aren’t sure where tostart.

Blacknight.ie/hosting365/letshost

For companies that like to stay on top of their website activity, the bigger Irish registrars offer fairly good services. They also regularly offer significant discounts on new domain names, so it’s worth keeping an eye on them.

Blogger.com/Typepad.com/ WordPress.com

If you have aspirations to run a company blog, you’ll need one of these three websites. Blogger (free)and Typepad (subscription) are the easiest to use, but WordPress (free)is the more customisable option, if you’re prepared to tinker about.

Businesspro.ie

This website is from the same people who publish Stubbs Gazette, the book of doom for companies with bad credit ratings. The site also offers a number of other services, such as debt collection.

Clevermike.ie

If your firm is in a serviced office, the building attendant will usually take care of fixing structural issues. But if you’re working from your own building or a home office, it’s handy to have a resource for building and handyman jobs.

This site, along with tradesmen.ie, onlinetradesmen.ie and findatradesman.ie, lets you post details of the job you need fixing. You’ll soon get a number of e-mails or calls from plumbers, carpenters, builders or handymen.

Cro.ie

The Companies Registration Office is a good portal for information on companies and filing annual reports on your own registered company (through its sister site, Core.ie). You can also register a business name and download the necessary documentation to set up a company.

Download.com

The world’s biggest software download website has a rake of applications created solely for business use. It offers everything from voice recognition software to office spreadsheets to CRM. Some of it is free, while much of it requires a one-off payment.

Dropbox.com

Despite living in an age of USB memory keys, external hard drives and built-in terabyte storage, we all need somewhere to simply dump information from time to time. This is where services like Dropbox come in. Once it’s downloaded, you can just drag any file into the folder and it will upload it automatically to an online storage space of up to 100GB.

With the service’s iPhone app, you can also access everything on the go. There’s a free 2GB service, while you pay up to €15 a month for more space.

Dublinairport.com

Expecting a business meeting with someone coming in from abroad? Or want to know whether flights are running on time? With live information on all arrivals and departures, this is about the most useful thing that the Dublin Airport Authority has to offer to Irish businesses. The same service is offered on Corkairport.com and Shannonairport.com.

Dublinchamber.ie

The website of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce has very handy services for those engaged in specialist export services, including a consular service with embassies abroad. It also features interesting surveys and commentary on issues facing local Dublin businesses and traders.

eBay.ie

If you’re selling a physical object that costs under €1,000, an eBay Store is one of the quickest and most direct routes to market. As a merchant account, your shop will turn up in the search results of any relevant product search conducted globally. For searches initiated in Ireland, you will be near the top of the list, probably on the first page.

As a merchant seller, eBay charges a commission of each sold item. This starts at 5.25 per cent and rises to 10 per cent, depending on the item’s selling price.

Elara.ie

Many companies have regular suppliers of stationery, office goods and computer supplies. Increasingly, this is moving online. It allows for greater choice and price comparisons.

Elara, a completely Irish-owned tech e-tailer, is a good place to start for all sorts of ITsupplies. Komplett is also a good resource (and operates its own pick-up centre in Blanchardstown). Dabs.ie, despite the Irish domain extension, is British-based, but offers good prices.

Employmentsrights.ie

This is the website of the National Employment Rights Authority. It’s a pretty comprehensive resource on anything to do with employment law, including redundancy, sick leave, unfair dismissal and general wage conditions. It’s also good on employment conditions in specific sectors.

Entemp.ie

The website of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation is very good for advice on work permits, import/ export licences, redundancy payments and some elements of company and employment law.

Enterpriseboards.ie

Would you know how or where to avail of capital, employment or feasibility grants awarded by various county and city Enterprise Boards? This site gives you all this information, plus the amounts you may qualify for. In a country addicted to grants and subsidies, this is a popular website for small businesses.

Enterprise-Ireland.com

Enterprise Ireland is the country’s premier source of grants, subsidies and other funding measures for indigenous companies. This site offers a handbook on how to apply for these handouts, what kind of companies are invested in and alternative forms of help available to Irish firms.

E-tenders.gov.ie

This is the portal where Irish public contracts must be offered for tender. That includes everything from plumbing jobs to computer systems to business cards. Note that tendering for this kind of work takes a lot of paperwork, certificates and box-ticking.

Fas.ie

It may have burned through hospitality and travel budgets like there was no tomorrow, but Fás is still a good resource for information on the grants and structures in place to hire people. It’s also useful for information on applying for work permits for non-nationals.

Fetac.ie

The Further Education and Training Awards Council is worth the attention of any company looking at employing someone from abroad or wants more information on qualifications attained at home.

Google.com/analytics

Of all of Google’s online applications, this is perhaps the most useful for any firm that runs a website. It analyses and isolates patterns in your website’s traffic, which can then be used to create very targeted marketing or advertising campaigns. It’s a must-use web tool.

Google.com/Docs

One of the nice things about Google making more than $20 billion a year from its text ads is that it is willing to throw up free productivity software like GoogleDocs. Here you have good versions of word processing, e-mail, spreadsheet and presentation software, all free.

Google.com/ enterprise/ marketplace/home

Google Marketplace is a place specially aimed at businesses to download business applications, such as CRM, accounting programs, marketing software and umpteen more. It’s a burgeoning web app store for business.

Hookhead.com

Although this is a recruitment website, it has the most user-friendly tax calculator for Irish workers. For an employer, it means you can quickly workout the cost of employing another person.

Ibec.ie

Although a little dry, Ibec’s website has good sections targeted at employment law and other corporate issues.

ICCinformation.ie

An alternative to using CRO.ie, ICC is good for looking up and cross-referencing companies’ financial filings, directors activities and credit reports. Other sites, such as Vision-net.ie, do essentially the same thing.

Ise.ie

While there are umpteen places to check stocks on major US and European stock markets, there are only a handful that include the Iseq Index. If you’re looking to monitor individual stocks, this is the best place to go, despite the poor web design.

Insolvencyjournal.ie

This site, though rather grim in its theme, keeps very close tabs on insolvencies announced in Ireland. As such, it offers a very valuable insight into competitors’ fortunes and industry trends within the country.

LinkedIn.com

It is simply impossible to ignore LinkedIn. Although it is more formal than rivals such as Twitter, it offers a straightforward business connection service that is compelling. You can find out who to talk to in a company in a couple of clicks. If you’re looking for business (or work), it is an excellent tool.

Nratraffic.ie

We hear short bulletins from AA Roadwatch on the radio every morning. The AA website gives a little more information, on a regional basis. This is a very useful tool for businesses who need to know whether there will be any significant delays on major arterial routes between towns and cities.

It’s a little-known weather reporting service that the National Roads Authority conducts in 54 different locations across Ireland. It gives current data on weather, road temperature and, crucially, the road conditions.

Office.microsoft.com

This summer, Microsoft is bringing its Office software into the cloud, for free. That means that you will be able to use most of the functionality of Word, Outlook, Excel and OneNote on any computer, simply using your web browser. For now, you can download the beta version of Office 2010 from this area of Microsoft’s website.

Paypal.com

For start-ups that have not yet sorted out their online credit card processing set-up, Paypal is a good interim measure. It’s easy to set up, easy to direct customers to and is very secure. The only downside to it is that if you’re selling a lot on the web, it is relatively expensive compared to credit card processing services.

Realex.ie

Realex payments is the country’s largest credit card processing web service. You’ll need a merchant account from a bank to start with. Then, for a start-up business, the cost for Realex’s service is €30 for 350 transactions per month. After that, each transaction costs a flat 19 cent each.

Note that the bank gets a separate 2 or 3 per cent of the credit card transaction (while riskier ventures attract a higher rate).Adebit or laser card is cheaper at a flat 17 to 25 cent per transaction.

This entire process – from the banks to the payment processing verification – takes from ten days to three weeks, depending on the complexity and subject of your business.

Recruitireland.com

It pays to keep an eye on recruitment websites, not just to get a lead on what industry peers are doing (through who they’re hiring) but also to see what kind of candidates have come onto the market.Recruitireland.com is a decent place to start, while irishjobs.ie is also worth a visit.

Revenue.ie

Despite the hundreds of dud websites the government has thrown up, this one site has proven to be an outstanding success. Whereas the vast majority of government websites supply bland advice or the odd downloadable PDF form, you can actually file taxes on revenue.ie.

It also has the single biggest repository of information on your company’s legal and financial obligations in the country. It’s the site that your accountant has bookmarked in top spot.

Salesforce.com

In these days of scarce capital, salesforce.com (and rivals such as SugarCRM.com) offers a payas-you-go CRM solution that is fairly compelling. From managing contacts and sales leads to marketing applications, it starts at €4 per month.

SEAI.ie

The website of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland is a little light on substance, but it has a couple of features that make it worth bookmarking.The first is some specialist advice on grants and tax-friendly measures that could benefit your business if you invest in energy-efficient processes.

The second is a three-month consultancy service that is offered to any business that wishes to pursue more environmentally-friendly energy policies.

Skype.com

The web’s pre-eminent VoIP service is useful when you’re at home. When you’re abroad, it can save you a fortune. Calling landlines from your mobile while roaming can leave you with a bill of hundreds of euro, even after the European Union’s price-cap measures. It’s under two cent per minute on Skype.

Smallbusinesscan.com

This is an Irish portal site for discussions, articles and advice on all kinds of financial, legal, HR and tech issues that face start-ups and other small Irish companies. It’s backed by several big hitters in the Irish business world, including Ulster Bank, The Small Firms Association and The Sunday Business Post.

Surveymonkey.com

This quirky, free-to-use website is brilliant for finding out what your customers, partners or staff think about any number of issues. You can customise your own surveys on it.

Taxback.com

Wondering whether you might be due any tax refunds to your business? This site will clarify it for you and help get the refunds your firm is entitled to. As a virtual accountant, it analyses your accounts, leading to PAYE, PRSI, self-employed, landlord, construction or investment income tax refunds.

Taxireland.ie

The website of the Irish Taxation Institute is useful mainly because of its easy-to-digest Taxfind taxation database. If you’re looking for a taxation law on something, just pop in a query and it often comes back with a list of helpful legislation or statutory instruments. The site is also very good for keeping up with European developments and new taxation bills going through the Dáil.

Thepropertypin.com

If your business has any property interests, this website is an interesting read. It initially made its name for tracking and documenting thousands of price reductions in property prices across Ireland. It now has discussions, articles and links on diverse economic topics, from Nama to tax rates to the Central Bank.

Twitter.com

Twitter is many things: a social networking site, a news source and a place to introduce ideas and concepts. But for business, it serves one main purpose: viral connections. If you have an offer to promote, a view on an industry topic or simply want to offer an informal customer feedback service, Twitter is a superb device.

In an age where your products and services are likely to be discussed, praised and criticised online, this is the best way to enter the conversation.

Xe.com

This is the best and quickest currency exchange website on the internet. It takes about ten seconds to look up a currency conversion.

Zoho.com

This preceded Google Docs and still hosts more small business applications. A great online business software reserve.

Zyb.com

If your company has a fleet of mobile phones, many of the contacts stored on them could be crucial company information. Executives being human, few of them bother to copy the information to a proper database. Zyb.com is a nice service.

You just enter your phone’s number into the website and it sends you a text message. When you open the text and activate the mini-program, it backs all your mobile contacts up to your own Zyb.com account. You can then download them to another phone. Simple and clever.

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