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'Sack the gobshites'... And a few other things one entrepreneur has worked out so far

Business advice, Jerry Kennelly style.

Jerry Kennelly after winning an exporter of the year award for Stockbyte in 2003
Jerry Kennelly after winning an exporter of the year award for Stockbyte in 2003
Image: Gareth Chaney/Photocall Ireland!

BUSINESS OWNERS SHOULD work out who the “gobshites” are in their companies – then “have the balls” to sack them.

That was among the blunt advice millionaire entrepreneur Jerry Kennelly gave to a room of Irish business leaders last week.

“It’s really important for us to face problems in our own businesses and quite often … the problems come from people, and frankly we don’t have the balls to fire our people a lot of the time,” he said.

“I think it is really important to understand who the gobshites are in your organisation and to fire them. People who cannot or will not (be) or are not motivated to contribute to your businesses weaken it considerably.”

Tell us what you really think, Jerry

The Tweak.com founder and CEO told an Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association (ISME) conference about growing up with an entrepreneurial father, Padraig Kennelly, who owned a photo-development business and started the Kerry’s Eye newspaper in the basement of the family home in Tralee.

Jerry Kennelly became a photographer before launching Europe’s first stock-image agency Stockbyte in 1996. 10 year later he sold it for $136 million to Getty Images after Bill Gates’ company Corbis made an unsuccessful pitch for the firm.

As well as using the forum to take aim at the “second-rate” colleges in Ireland, Kennelly offered these tips to other entrepreneurs looking to make their way in business:

 1. Stick to what you know

“Every time I meet a customer for the first time I tell them the story of my father’s printing press in the basement of our house … that resonates with people, they understand this isn’t some bullshitter selling some piece of technology, he actually knows what he’s talking about.”

2. Don’t do it for the money

“It’s very hard to be motivated just by money, you’ve got to have a reason to do it. I want to change the world of design (with Tweak) … allowing businesses like yours to get access to great design, that’s my mission.”

3. Create value for your clients

“When I talk to a potential customer I want to help them to grow their business. What we charge them shouldn’t be a cost to them it should actually help them grow their business. We don’t want money for nothing.”

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4. Think long-term

“It took 7 or 8 years to get through the wall in my last business. You have to keep true to your vision, but the response that I get from customers is what feeds that long-term vision.”

5. Build partnerships

“It’s very hard to build millions of direct customers all over the world from Ireland and I believe in the partnership model. You can become a very significant global player just by having a small number of customers and that’s very manageable from Ireland.”

6. Become a ‘thought leader’

“When you work really hard on something and you’re really passionate about it then you won’t be caught by anyone. The science of everything we do – it’s no different to in the US or in the Middle East or anywhere in Europe.”

7. Learn how to tell your own story

“When I engage with CEOs and senior management in our partners, it’s about being able to talk about the story and being able to talk about it with confidence and not just selling … everyone gets a buzz out of hearing a really good story.”

READ: Want to know the secrets of digital marketing for SMEs? >

READ: Top tips on winning public contracts if you are an SME >

About the author:

Peter Bodkin  / Editor, Fora

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