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'I left a well-paid job to set up my company and feared the backlash'

Pressure to stay in well-paid jobs is holding back Irish entrepreneurs.

Image: Shane O'Neill Fennell Photograph

EVEN FOR YOUNG entrepreneurs with an inspired idea for a business, kick-starting the process can be a daunting prospect.

Despite a lot of funding initiatives and advice from local enterprise offices readily available to young entrepreneurs, the chance of failure and pressure from family to settle for a well-paid job can make taking a leap of faith a big deal.

For Isolde Johnson, the co-founder of The Cool Bean Company, she found people were critical of her decision to leave a well-paid job when setting up her own business.

“When I left my job to set up the business some people were really supportive, but I also encountered a lot of negativity. That’s why I stopped telling people for a while until the business was off the ground,” she said.

“I felt conscious about it. I didn’t want to hear what people said when I told them I was leaving a secure and well-paid permanent job to set up a new business.”

To counteract this negativity, Irish schools are placing a greater emphasis on promoting entrepreneurship as a viable career with students in secondary school able to take classes in how to set up their own business.

Johnson, who will be speaking at the Student Summit next week, said although there are more opportunities for those interested in entrepreneurship, the nature of our schools system doesn’t help.

“A lot of young people have that fear of failure that is holding them back. School is geared around success and failure and this teaches them that failure is bad and not part of a learning curve,” she said.

Hidden hurdles for young entrepreneurs

Johnson said her advice to young people was to keep in mind how practical things like finances and finding time to dedicate to the business can combine to create problems.

“We were self-financed at the start and had cash flow issues. That’s why my business partner) Sarah stayed in her job for some time because she was funding the business from her salary.

“Since she was busy working, we didn’t have enough time to dedicate to everything we wanted to do. For instance, this year we have opted to stay with Supervalu exclusively rather than branch out into other stores. We want to focus solely on one account and seal the deal.”

Source: IrishStartUpTV/YouTube

Aiming for €1 million in 2016

Since their early days selling Cool Beans from a foodtruck at Irish festivals in 2013, the company has gone on to turn over €200,000 in 2015 with plans to hit €1 million this year.

“We want to build on our presence in Ireland in terms of the retailers we are with and expand our product range.

“Overall we want to make healthy eating products available for everyone. It shouldn’t be difficult and they shouldn’t have to think twice about it.”

About the author:

Killian Woods  / Reporter, Fora

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