Lessons in business from AIBF Entrepreneur Of The Year Donnacha Neary

Donnacha Neary | AIBF
AIBF Entrepreneur Of The Year Donnacha Neary photographed with his All-Star Accreditation certificate and medallion.

Donnacha Neary “walks the talk” when it comes to customer-centricity.

The AIBF Entrepreneur Of The Year and the brain behind commercial interior fit-out giant SONICA built his eight-figure empire by putting his clients at the centre of his business.

Donnacha told the All-Ireland Business Foundation that his focus on customer service set SONICA apart from the competition in its early days.

“I felt that really there was a niche in the market for a commercial interior fit-out company that put its client at the forefront of its projects,” he explained.

“Starting out we made it paramount to understand what each project meant to each client. We asked them what success would look like on each project and mapped out their values and their expectations.”

“We started with limited resources but we always presented ourselves as confident competent professionals, with the ability, capability and experience to deliver the projects that we wanted to be involved in.”

“We grew on the strength of initial wins and the referrals they generated.”

As a trusted voice of authority in the construction industry, SONICA’s projects have re-defined design and construction standards, reflecting uncompromising excellence in their approach.

They are recognised year-on-year at national industry award ceremonies and have won best in class industry accolades both home and abroad, most recently for the 2020 International Project of the Year for the delivery of HubSpot’s German HQ in Berlin and the Irish Construction Excellence (ICE) award for their fit-out at the blockchain software company, ConsenSys.

In the last eight years, the business has gone from a standing start to a projected €75 Million turnover for this year.

Donnacha has been named All-Star Entrepreneur of the Year by the All-Ireland Business Foundation in recognition of his contribution to Irish trade and commerce as well as for his conduct in the areas of performance, trust and customer-centricity.

Our goal is to challenge the norm and benchmark ourselves with organisations both within and outside of our industry. It was these traits, aligning with fellow TRIBE Companies that recognise the importance of having a clear strategic plan, driven by a highly skilled and ambitious team.

“As SONICA’s leader, my commitment is to continue to grow the business, with investment in our team, technology and processes. We are delighted to have exceeded the standards set down for this Accreditation.”

“We are hugely enthusiastic about our participation in the TRIBE and the future opportunities for collaboration that our membership of this elite community brings”.

Donnacha continues to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators aiming to emulate his success.

The All-Ireland Business Foundation is looking forward to hosting its inaugural Leaders & Entrepreneurs forum live from SONICA’S First Landings facility in Skerries on the 3rd of November.

Ahead of the landmark event, Donnacha outlined some of the key steps that entrepreneurs and leaders can take to help them on their journey to success.

Have a plan

Ideas are brilliant and concepts are brilliant, but they count for very little without an execution strategy.

As a startup, you have got to be able to build and realise revenue quickly so make sure you put time and effort into developing your concept and idea into an actionable plan that has a defined business goal that equates to what you want people to buy.

Believe in your plan

Believe in your plan and surround yourself with people who believe in your mission and can be evangelists for you. A company’s most valuable asset is its people.

If your people understand your plan and understand what impact they’re making within your organisation, then It will allow them to do their best work.

Know your value

You may have to work for free at the start to establish yourself – but don’t do it for too long – know your value.

Figure out your funding

If there’s a funding issue then you must quickly figure out how you’re going to solve it because cash is king and you’ve got to be able to bring money to the bank – not promises.

Set targets and stick to them

Set up and have realistic, measurable sales and revenues targets and hold yourself accountable to them.

Surround yourself with people that hold you accountable for delivering on your targets and make sure everyone knows the direction the company is going.

Put your clients at the heart of everything

You just cannot underestimate the value of goodwill and people talking about you when you’re not in the room.

Give your clients a memorable, positive experience because they will remember it and they will give that referral.

To learn more about Sonica, visit their All-Star showcase page here.