The challenges and benefits of growing on-line business from a base in Donegal was highlighted during Donegal Enterprise week this week.
A crowd of up to 100 gathered at one of the best attended events to date at Enterprise week in An Grianan Hotel, Burt, yesterday morning to hear about the benefits of using social media and digital marketing to help grow or sustain locally based businesses.
Digital media experts, Krishna De and Gareth Dunlop were joined by Letterkenny-based business man Stephen Harris of Auto Fast Fit.
The experts outlined the elements that can be created such as a dedicated websites and social media to grow and market your business.
Stephen Harris then addressed then crowd to outline his own experience of growing a locally based business on line. An attentive audience listened on as he explained the ambition and challenges that come with growing business in the digital age.
A self-confessed “oil filter sales man at the counter” he has been working in the auto parts sector for 24 year in the firm his father, Jackie, founded 40 years ago.
As an auto-parts trader he said until he went on-line his competition largely came from within his own locality. But by using the power of the World Wide Web he is attempting to grow his business on a nationwide basis and believes he can also compete with auto factor businesses in the UK on certain niche products he has identified.
“I started thinking ‘where can I get 500 more customers?’ because locally we were all fighting for the business so I looked at ways of selling products on a nationwide basis,” Stephen said.
He advised the audience that it may not be a quick and easy option to get it right first time or within budget. However, he has, in some cases identified customers a 25 per cent saving on a motor part compared to other retailers in the UK and this is the opportunity internet business can generate through “e-commerce”. “It’s a big commitment and it will take time. It’s not a quick business to fix but ultimately it is sales that are all important,” he added.
This was followed by a lively question and answer session with many of the questions aimed at the Letterkenny man who was congratulated on “frank and honest” presentation.
Social media strategist, Krishna De, gave a detailed presentation on the benefits of using social media to help promote local Donegal business on the internet. Among the facts she pointed out was that the largest growing sector for social media giant, Facebook, was the over 55 age group. One in every five minute use of internet is used for social media and three out of four minutes on social media was spent on facebook.