CEO of directory enquiries company 11890 and CEO of Stenics Media, Byrne was speaking recently at the Irish Executives conference in Galway, Ireland. Her talk’s theme was “Ireland is open for business and here’s why.”
The first piece of advice from Byrne was to not be afraid to ask. In comments on fear reminiscent of Liam McNamara’s to Entrepreneurs Anonymous, she said, “Fear only exists in your own head. You can’t touch it, you can’t hold it.”
Byrne pointed out that she spoke at the conference because she was recently asked to, and that people have to be asked anyway when investors are being sought.
However, she suggested preparation before popping the question. That way, when she lands in front of her subject, “I have a really, really well-prepared and thought-out argument.” People see their time as extremely valuable, so preparation is key.
As for the words, something like, “Can I ask for your help” or “Can I ask you to hear me out,” should work, Byrne said.
Talent and focus are important when starting and running a business, but persistence is the key, she said. Another key to doing business is people. Great websites or processes are useless on their own, Byrne said. “Unless you have a person standing over it, you have nothing.”
Byrne said trust has three components: empathy, involvement and competence. “This is why ireland is brilliant,” she said. “We actually have the competence to deliver.”
Entrepreneurs should be careful in their approach, she said. They have tendency not to see whats in front of them and focus only on the goal.
As for her own challenges, Byrne said she got in to directory inquiries in a different age. She started 11890 because she was self-employed selling advertising and wanted a more robust business model.
However, directory inquiries “is a declining market,” Byrne said. “We’re going to have to comp re-engineer the business.”
Photo of Nichola Byrne taken from her Twitter page.