Category Archives: Inside Track

Demi’s Basic Business Questions: What is Corporation Tax?

We often see headlines about Ireland’s low corporation tax – some are critical, others ecstatic about it. A pretty common question people have is what exactly is corporation tax, and how does the tax big corporations like Google and Facebook pay affect someone like me, the average college student. The aim of the following article is to give a bite-sized introduction to corporation tax and give some guidance on whether it is to be loved or hated.

Firstly, a definition. Corporation tax is the tax companies pay in countries they are resident in on the profit they earn from their business. In Ireland, the tax is at 12.5%, significantly lower than other countries. The average corporation tax rate in Europe is 25.3%, for example. 

Similarly to when we looked at why it is not feasible to print more money in order to combat financial crises, we are brought back to one of the fundamentals of economics – the law of demand. Generally, when something costs more money, less people want it. When something costs less, more people want it. Pretty reasonable, right?

The law of demand can easily be applied to our low corporation tax scenario. If it costs less money to make profits in Ireland (due to the low corporation tax), more corporations will want to set up here. It is argued that this is a positive phenomenon as it leads to Ireland becoming an international hub for multinational companies. Where there are increased companies, there are increased jobs. This reduces the number of skilled young people, university graduates etc. emigrating in search of work. Increased employment boosts the Irish economy and is often something to smile about. 

However, on the other side of the coin, those who are against our competitively low corporation tax level make strong arguments. They point to the profits that corporations such as Twitter and Facebook make and suggest better use for those profits, such as contributing to social welfare schemes. It is also argued that we are putting ourselves at an advantage at the expense of fellow European countries. The discrepancy between corporation tax rates is so high that it is a significant challenge for them to compete. This can be seen as unethical. 

There are numerous points to be made on either side of the debate but it is up to you decide where your opinions lie. 

If you have any more Basic Business Questions you are interested in me tackling, please do not hesitate to email me at dadenira@tcd.ie

Yours in Learning,

Demilade

Demi’s Basic Business Questions: Why Can’t We Just Print More Money?

Money makes the world go round. The converse is also true. Lack of money can make the world stop. This is the reality for many – their worlds are at a standstill because of a lack of money. Because of poverty.

Ending poverty is one of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals to be achieved by 2030. According to the UN, 700 million people live in extreme poverty. Sometimes, grave situations like these cause business newbies like myself to ask the question, “Why can’t we just print more money?”. Unfortunately the solution is not that simple.

Printing more money may be a possible quick fix, but it is only sustainable temporarily. Printing more money can make poor countries even poorer in the long run.

Money is worth the value we give it. If people didn’t believe money to be valuable and accept it in exchange for goods and services, it would simply be like another piece of paper.

Inflation refers to a general increase in the price level of goods and services. This can be caused by increased money in circulation or by people’s incomes rising. The more money readily available, the easier it is to buy things and the more people will want to buy things. Businesses are profit driven and will increase their prices as people can now afford to pay more while not increasing their supply . This is the law of demand – as price increases, demand decreases. More money does not mean less problems, more money simply translates to higher prices. 

We are not the only ones who have flirted with this idea of printing more money in order to increase the standard of living. In order to fulfill the payment of reparations after the war that had made them poor, Germany in 1922 printed money. On the surface it seemed like an excellent idea. In reality, however, they could not have been more wrong. This led to hyper inflation, meaning prices were so inconceivably high that money became next to worthless. It was not uncommon for people to use their money to burn fires. 

Poverty is a pressing issue and it is imperative that we continue to generate solutions on how to tackle it. Unfortunately, money printing is not the one for us today. 

If you have any more Basic Business Questions you are interested in me tackling, please do not hesitate to email me at dadenira@tcd.ie

Yours in Learning,

Demilade

Use criticism to develop yourself!

By Neha Verma

At some point in life, we all face criticism personally or professionally. Criticism doesn’t come easy and at times it is difficult to acknowledge the same. We often get bogged down by the criticism so much that we ignore what we can actually learn from it. So instead of retaliating or being defensive; pause for a while think critically and then respond – though easy said than done.

I am amongst those who would become extremely uncomfortable when criticized. My initial reactions were driven emotionally. I would carry the distress caused by criticism throughout the day and affect my work. Over the time, I realized that we don’t have control over others; how they judge and form an opinion about us, but we can definitely learn to respond in a better way and display our maturity.

If you are going through difficult time combating criticism, I have listed a few suggestions to face criticism bravely:

  • Criticism opens a whole new perspective which you might not have thought of. Life is a process of continuous learning and we learn best from our flaws.
  • When you accept criticism, you show humility towards the fact that you are ready to acknowledge your own weaknesses.
  • Criticism helps enhance your emotional quotient. You learn to listen.
  • Criticism makes you strong; you will learn to tackle difficult situations and people.
  • Criticism enhances your problem-solving skill and makes you a rational thinker.
  • Learn to let go unconstructive criticism, do not dwell on it for a long time and create a stressful environment for yourself.

We are often scared of being judged and are obsessed with the thought of what other people think of us. Most of the time, we receive unsolicited criticism/feedback and we tend to misinterpret the intention behind it. Criticism challenges our disposition and to maintain a calm demeanor becomes relatively difficult. But, remember you are being critiqued because you created something. So, next time when you are criticized, remember you and your work are being noticed. Don’t let opinion of others stop you from doing what you believe in.

Training is an investment, not an expense!

By Neha Verma

Training is an integral part of any organization; it equips the employees with skills required to perform the job. Every organization invests in training their employees that are responsible for giving results. Most organizations/businesses consider training as an expense when it is actually an investment.

There are numerous reasons to invest in training, like; improved quality or in other words reduction in errors or defects, enhanced productivity, increased motivation, helps in retaining the talent pool, capacity building, groom the leaders, etc. Training helps in building capacity within an organization and investing in people is vital as this is the workforce which can bring excellent profits to your business.

In the times of economic crisis, organization often control its budget by cutting down on non-core or non-billable activities, and unfortunately training is one of such activities – if not cancelled completely. However, training can help both employees and organizations in such challenging situations. With the advancement of technology and globalization, there are various methods to reduce the cost of training whilst maintain its effectiveness. Virtual classes, use of instructional system designs, video conferencing and other technological improvements have helped revamp the training making it cost effective. In this era of globalization, where organizations are spread across the globe, such advancement in training delivery techniques are highly cost effective and have reduced the need of face to face training.

Training should be designed to focus on immediate business need and to cater the various talent pool bespoke training or curriculum is the preferred way of keeping at pace with the organizational changes and needs. Training should be pragmatic in approach and directly applicable to day to day activities which will help organizations to measure ROI. An efficiently trained staff with improved skill set will have high productivity and quality, efficient at their job whilst feeling recognized and valued by management.

As leaders and managers, you are responsible for the success of your organization, and developing your people to increases your chance of success. For any organization, people are one of the biggest investments and they should not be left to rust.

Raise Productivity, Work from Home!

By Neha Verma

Most of us often find ourselves working tirelessly day in and day out and still our efficiency is questioned. Spending long hours with our best friend at work – the thinking machine with hunched back and strained eyes, results in stress and serious health problems. The most debatable topic in the corporate world today is optimal utilization of working hours.

Does working for longer hours enhance productivity? Using the time efficiently is the key. Productivity gets a hit to some extent by pleasure principle and procrastination acts as an icing on the cake. Today organizations worldwide are finding ways to increase productivity by utilizing the available resources strategically. UK recently introduced a new law, giving employees legal right to ask for flexible working hours considering that the flexitime might help boost productivity. This concept is not new to the corporate world. Many organizations encourage this trend and have work from home as one of their policies. The unprecedented growth in technology and communication has made it possible. Today no matter where we are, we can get connected with the world in a jiffy. However, implementing this law at country level may change the working dynamics.

This new law has questioned our age-old concept of being physically present at work. The concept of work from home sounds interesting but it is not easy to work from the confines of one’s home in a pyjama throughout the day.

Behavioural attributes like:

  • Self-discipline
  • Commitment
  • Result-driven
  • Accountability

Will play a key role in the successful implementation of this law. This can act as a motivational for a lot of employees particularly for women employees and working mothers as there will be a choice for them to stay at home and work.

Working from home not only enhances productivity and provides flexibility but it is eco-friendly as well – there would be controlled traffic, less consumption of energy and office space etc. I know there must be a lot of corporate pundits who would disagree with the concept of working from home but in the long run this trend is here to stay.

So, ditch going to the office and find a suitable corner of your house where you can work productively, be flexible, save travelling time and avoid emotional and mental stress.

Importance of Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace

By Andrés Soto Ramos

Key Points:

  • Importance of diversity in the workplace
  • Diversity and inclusion?
  • Healthier organisational climate:
  • Prevents knowledge inbreeding
  • Enhances employee engagement
  • Encourages open communication

Enough has been said about the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. In the digital era that we live in, organizations are under heavy scrutiny of society and can face severe brand image damages if they are caught not following inclusive practices.

We can see an example of this in how U.S. companies have been quick to dismiss any situation in which racial profiling or any kind of abuse to minorities has taken place in their establishments, that are often resulting in the termination of the employee that caused the issue. But business should not advocate for inclusiveness only because it is what our society expect, they should also consider the positive impact in the bottom line of fostering diversity and inclusion within their organisations.

What exactly is diversity and inclusion? These two words are often (wrongly) used as synonyms in advertising or company communications, but it is important to remember that they do not have the same meaning. Instead of going into the dictionary definition of each, we can explain these with a simple metaphor that has proven useful to clarify this subject in corporate environments; diversity means that everyone is invited to the party, and inclusion means that everyone will also be invited to dance. Therefore, diversity an inclusion (D&I) in the workplace translates to building a talent pool of individuals from different background, gender, age, creed, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, languages, education, etc; and to nurture an environment in which everyone feels safety in sharing their opinions and that allows them to have access to the same growth opportunities.

While this feels again as an overly romanticised definition that companies can use as a sales pitch, organisations that adopt D&I practices are bound to reap on a wider and more valuable set of benefits that come from a healthier organisational climate:

Prevents knowledge inbreeding

Just as the organisms in an ecosystem have higher disposition to a set of diseases when they share a common gene-pool, organisations that hire and promote individuals from similar backgrounds to management positions are prone to adopt ideas within an identical line of thought, therefore reducing the chance of bad ideas being scrutinised and discussed, and limiting the innovating output.

Enhances employee engagement

Companies around the world invest millions of dollars per year in workshops and teambuilding activities to promote employee satisfaction. But since most modern workers will spend at least a third of their day in their workplaces. Satisfaction and engagement can be also improved by fostering a safe climate in which different opinions are respected and equally taken into consideration. Individuals will show higher attachment towards organisations that genuinely value their contributions.

Encourages open communication

Companies with a diverse workforce that is empowered to openly communicate and share their opinions are most likely to display efficient conflict resolution within their work groups. As well as better problem-solving techniques due to the flexibility that comes with open-mindedness and respect for others’ opinions. In opposition, individuals that feel threatened or judged will refrain from communicating the issues they perceive in their companies due to the fear of being prosecuted by their peers. Consulting data and reports on diversity and inclusion have consistently proven a strong correlation between better financial performance and the adoption of D&I practices. Individuals and managers must not ignore this evidence and advocate for inclusive companies not just because of the positive advertising that can be generated because of this, or simply to follow what can be considered a trend in modern human resources practices. Building a truly inclusive workplace can become a real competitive advantage for organisations, with a direct impact in their climate and overall company performance.

The Network Effect

By Brid O’Donnell

Key Points:

  • Be Brave
  • Prioritize Questions
  • Know when to move on
  • What’s next
  • Execute the follow up

Networking is hard, but necessary to be successful in the business world. Here are some useful tips to keep in mind as you begin your networking journey.

  1. Be Brave

Networking can sometimes feel like a game of luck, at a certain event, you may meet strangers who you can develop into good friends and allies or else you don’t. However, you can increase your luck by putting yourself out there as much as possible. Regularly try something new and be curious. That can be intimidating and challenging, but a good networker is continuously expanding their networks and leaving their silo. Thus you must put yourself in new situations, and you need to be ready to make the first move, a lot.

In the same thread as being brave, be the person who introduces people. Networking is about building mutually beneficial relationships; you must ask yourself what you can give, as opposed to thinking about what you want out of this connection. Often the answer to what you can give the other person is connections to new people as everyone needs a hand at networking. By bringing people together, you not only help other people network, but you are also signalling to those around you that you are a leader and creates a good reputation for yourself.

  • Prioritize questions, not stories

Everyone has stories that they enjoy telling. It is fair to say that you need to know your own story, aka your elevator pitch; the 60-second round-up of who you are, what you do, and why you do it. It’s important to make sure you get exposure and make yourself memorable and interesting. Thus you should prepare your story in advance and be ready to say. However, it should be brief and quick. After you make that introduction, the focus of the conversation should not be on you, but everyone else and the best way to achieve that is by asking questions.

Therefore, along with preparing your own story, you should also have a good list of go-to questions; broad, open-ended questions that help develop the conversation further. They are useful to fall back on when you are jumping into the deep end with someone completely new. However, don’t treat these questions like a checklist. Think of questions on the go, adapting to how the conversation unfolds. This shows that you are an active listener, which is a vital skill in networking.

  • Know when to move on

It often gets overlooked, but at a busy reception, it is easy to get end up in a conversation that has received its full potential; however, you feel too awkward to end the conversation. Don’t be afraid to shake their hands and say “Thank you for your time; It was so nice meeting you” or something similarly polite. You don’t need an excuse like I need to go to the bathroom, you need to acknowledge that you enjoyed the conversation and leave. If you are feeling like the conversation is nearing its natural end, the other person most likely feels the same way and appreciate the chance to start other conversations.

  • Next Steps

Introducing yourself to someone and having a chat isn’t enough to consider them a connection. Even adding them on Facebook or LinkedIn isn’t enough. You need to recall and formalize. I’m forgetful, especially when it comes to exact details, and the best advice I have ever received is to get a contact book or rather a personal CRM. Of course, you should take note of the person’s name, organization, background and contact details but don’t forget the small things. If you spoke about a certain topic or the person has a particular interest, include it. Even the stuff which seems irrelevant, like if someone mentions that they are a fan of Arsenal, remember that. Later on, when you reconnect, your contact will appreciate you remembering the small irrelevant things. There are many CRM apps out there you can use, but a well-designed spreadsheet could also suffice.

  • Execute the Follow-Up

The last step to networking is the follow-up. Emailing or reaching out to a new contact on LinkedIn soon after your first meeting can reenforce your first introduction and creates a new channel of contact. Use this opportunity to thank the person and show your appreciation and delight at meeting them. A specific thank you to someone can create a lot of goodwill and don’t be subtle about it. Finally, remember to keep your word and be thoughtful. If you said you would check something for them, follow through. This shows that you are reliable and quickly builds trust. As for being thoughtful, don’t be shy about sending people articles or clips that you think will interest them. This stage of networking can quickly become relationship-managing, and it can seem slow going, but networking is about continuous efforts that lead to future successes.

If you are interested in developing your networking skills further, Trinity graduate Kingsley Aikins has established The Networking Institute (www.thenetworkinginstitute.com) and has worked with major global corporates in finance, accounting and consultancy as well as governments and non-profit. Visit the website to pick up even more tips and advice on networking!

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