Small businesses are being invited to "partner up" and get management expertise from some of the most successful multinational companies in Ireland, such as Ericsson, Microsoft, Pfizer and IBM through the Plato programme. Plato Dublin, the not-for-profit business support forum for owner managers, is run over an 18 month period. Supported by the Local Enterprise Offices in the Dublin Region, small business owners across all industry sectors are now being encouraged to apply for the new 2015/2016 programme, which is also established in eleven other European countries.
The Dublin branch is one of the largest in the country, helping over 3,000 small business owners to date, learn from each other and from senior managers at 'parent' companies such as Paypal, Ulster Bank, ESB, Diageo and D.C.U.
At the core of the peer-to-peer learning programme are monthly owner manager 'Group Meetings' explains Marion Walshe, Regional Manager with Plato Dublin. She said: "Every month, owner managers benefit from direct engagement with other owner managers and with facilitators from large local 'parent' companies, which offer owner managers access to a full range of business expertise. Importantly, Plato provides a confidential support service, business counselling and practical training to help develop the skillset of more Irish entrepreneurs, enabling them to grow their business and plan the 'next step' in their business expansion."
One of the parent companies involved in the Plato programme in Ireland is Ericsson. Traoloch Collins, Managing Director of Ericsson Ireland, said: "It's important for a software and services company like Ericsson to be part of Plato as it provides support to local businesses and gives the owner managers the tools they need to provide the best platform for future growth and success."
Small Irish companies currently participating in the Plato Programme include 'At It Again!, which produce fun-sized guides to literature; 'Surfholidays.com', an on-line travel business; 'B2BSell.com', a lead generation company; 'Mashup Media', a digital content agency; 'Energybroker,' an energy procurement business; 'Women on the Run', a fitness and healthy-eating programme and 'Bill Sheehan & Sons' car dealership.
Walshe added: "Through the Plato business support forum, owner managers from all types of small Irish companies, from food producers to on-line ventures to software engineers, can tackle the challenges and issues that they face in today's business world. By helping to remove isolation from the decision making process, owner managers are then better placed to make strategic decisions for their businesses."
Participating companies must be at least two years in business with a minimum of two staff. Businesses across all industry types and sectors are welcome to apply before the April 10th deadline for the next programme, which gets underway in late April.