Research Report

Micro-Businesses in Ireland: From Ambition to Innovation

ERC Research Report


School, Cork Univeristy Business

Associated Themes
  • Innovation
  • Management and Leadership
  • Productivity and performance

This report presents new information on the ambitions, growth aspirations and innovation levels of Irish micro-businesses.
Micro businesses, typically businesses with 9 employees or less, play an important role in stimulating innovation, employment and growth. Despite this, relatively little is known about this important segment of the business population as such businesses are often excluded from official surveys. This report presents the findings of a survey conducted on micro-businesses in Ireland.
Ambition plays an important role in ensuring businesses achieve their full potential. The survey conducted during the course of this project reveals that one in four micro-businesses in Ireland want to build a national or international business. Within Ireland, micro-businesses in the West are amongst the most ambitious nationally. Interestingly, however, business and personal ambitions are broadly similar for male and female micro-businesses owners. For many people flexibility is a key personal motivator for running their own micro-business.
This report provides the first detailed information on the uptake of digital technologies by micro-businesses in Ireland. The results suggest that Irish micro-businesses perform well, adopting digital technology at a faster rate than their counterparts in the UK and particularly the USA. Micro-businesses in Ireland also compare well internationally with respect to introducing new or improved products and services. Finally, the report emphasises the importance that micro-businesses, due to their scale and access to technology, should not be left behind larger businesses in the global digital revolution.
This report describes new and unique survey data on established micro-businesses with 1-9 employees in Ireland. The report focuses on the ambitions – business and personal- of the owners; as well as innovative activity and the uptake of digital technology within micro-businesses. In Ireland, most micro-businesses are mature, and many are home-based. They are closely related to the families which own and run them.

This report represents a collaboration between University College Cork and the UK Enterprise Research Centre. Views in the report are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect those of the sponsoring organisations.