Positive thinker Brian reflects on 20 years of leading local businesses

DESPITE providing expert advice and support to local businesses for more than two decades, Brian MacAuley, Manager of Dungannon Enterprise Centre (DEC), says it feels just like the “blink of an eye” since he first took up the job.

From humble beginnings with only two other staff members and 16 tenant businesses, the Enterprise Centre at Coalisland Road has grown to cater for over 70 tenants, helping over 100 people start up a new venture every year.

And, even though economic doom and gloom have too often been the catchphrase of commentators over the last few years, Brian feels the only stumbling block to success for anyone thinking of branching out on their own is a negative attitude.

He allowed the Tyrone Times an insight into what it’s really like to spend a Day in the Life of the Manager of DEC by answering a series of questions:

1. Describe a typical day in the life of the Manager of Dungannon Enterprise Centre

“What a hard question to start on!

“My typical day circles around working with the Enterprise Centre team to inspire new businesses to start up and existing businesses to grow.

“How that could happen could range from delivering business training to new entrepreneurs or mentoring or signposting businesses to other support.

“The Centre is well known for renting space to start-up businesses, but what is not well known is the variety of help the staff give to hundreds of businesses each year in all parts of the Council area.”

2. When did you first take up the role?

“I started in the enterprise centre 20 years ago this March. It only feels like a blink of an eye when I was here with two other staff members and 16 tenant businesses.

“Now we have over 70 tenant businesses and help over 100 people start up a new business each year.”

3. What, in your opinion, are the skills and strengths best suited to the role of Manager of the local Enterprise Centre?

“First I would say is a positive attitude. I meet people who have invested their life savings in a business and are facing what would appear impossible problems.

“I would be no use to them if I did not believe that anything is possible. Second I would say commercial sense and business acumen.

“And thirdly I would say a manager has to have a sincere willingness to help people.”

4. What is your favourite part of the job?

“Meeting people and providing business mentoring to individual business owners.

“Running a business can sometimes be lonely, even though they may be surrounded by staff. I love it when I go into a business and make a real positive difference to it.”

5. What is your least favourite part of the job?

“Working with public sector bodies that are tied to bureaucracy and processing and have little real compassion for the self employed person.”

6. What do you feel is the biggest challenge facing businesses in the Dungannon area at present?

“Quite often I would hear businesses saying that getting finance from banks is a current problem, however I would say that giving up negative thoughts is perhaps a bigger challenge facing businesses now.

“We are very fortunate in our area there is a culture of self employment and a “get on with it” attitude.

“Sometimes, however, thoughts of failure and words like “impossible” can get in the way. It is a certainty that this recession will end and we have the knowledge and skills to punch through it.”

7. What has been the most interesting moment or event during your career as Manager of Dungannon Enterprise Centre?

“For me it was three or four years ago when I participated in the Landmark Forum, a life development course in Dublin.

“At that time I thought that something was missing in my life, however from then on I realised that I was incredibly fortunate to have amazingly supportive family circle led by my parents Mai and Gerry, a Board of Directors with integrity, and a bunch of inspirational and dedicated colleagues in the Enterprise Centre.

“In that moment in Dublin, I decided that anything was possible and that I can choose to make a real difference to other lives simply because I choose it. My request now to everyone is to help me eliminate the recession in Dungannon.”

8. What, in your opinion, has been your biggest achievement during your career in this role?

“Right now I believe I am fronting the most successful enterprise agency in Northern Ireland, but I would say that. The biggest achievement for me has been drawing around me a group of individuals that work for the centre and genuinely want to help entrepreneurs.”

9. What do you do to relax and unwind from the demands of your role?

“My wife Caroline has a dog called Silka, and it’s great to go for a walk with the two of them in the evenings.”

10. What advice would you give to anyone considering embarking on a business idea in the current economic climate?

“Don’t be put off from exploring a business idea. There are lots of people out there that will give you an honest opinion that you will fail for one reason or another.

“I would have a different view. Self employment is the hardest career choice you can make. “Being self employed is a life choice, but you create your own job security and keep all the rewards.

“Get the full story around self employment before deciding. We in Dungannon Enterprise Centre will give you the clear picture and then you can make your choice.”