Staff

Jennifer McWilliams

Job Role
Enterprise Manager | Social Enterprise | Business Start-Up Adviser | Mentor | Business Planning & Development | Marketing & PR
Date Joined
1997
Other Positions
Company Secretary

What does your role entail?

As the general manager I am tasked with the strategic and operational side of the enterprise centre from overseeing daily business activities, improving overall business functions, training core staff, undertaking the HR function, managing budgets, developing strategic plans with the board, creating policies, and communicating business goals.

As Company Secretary I am responsible for ensuring the smooth administration of the company. This usually means compliance with corporate governance and other financial and legal regulations, management of trustee administration and communication.

However, as I am also passionate about helping businesses, I keep my hand in and still mentor, coach and train clients as well as manage some of the projects directly.

I also undertake the day-to-day accounting side of the business and manage a lot of the marketing including maintaining the website and delivering targeted social media campaigns.

My role also involves managing the property portfolio at enterprise centre, from turning around empty units, advertising lets and liaising with the tenants on a regular basis.

Describe a typical day for you?

I can’t say that each day is the same.

I normal pre-plan any marketing campaigns that I have well in advance and each day I will roll out particular elements.  There is always an element of accounts to undertake each day from reconciling our accounts and issuing any remittances or receipts to customers and suppliers; invoicing out or processing invoices in.  On a weekly basis I host a team meet with the business advisers on updates on projects and programmes being delivered and monthly we have a brainstorming session on possible new projects.

A big part of my role is building relationships, so I am normally connecting with potential partners, collaborates, funders and trainers daily.

For anyone considering starting up what advice would you have for them?

First and foremost, I would recommend that you recognise your strengths from the point of building on these as you start up and identifying what support and people you can get to help you mitigate your weaknesses.  There are very few people who are brilliant at everything involved in setting up a business and asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Focus on something you have a passion for.  Most importantly understand your target customers and existing market – is your product or service the solution to their problem.

What are the main issues and barriers facing developing businesses today?

It is hard not to answer this question without mentioning the “B-word” the “C-word” and the “folks on The Hill”  but yes economic and political uncertainty in NI is a major issue at present.

It would be great if we all had a crystal ball and could predict customer and market trends.  This is a key barrier to many entrepreneurs who are working in and not on their business, and it is very important if you want to develop, grow and survive. More businesses in NI need to be the early adopter rather than coming to the game late.

Having worked in the enterprise centre for almost 25 years now, I recognise that many entrepreneurs are ideas people, they are great at the big picture and challenging the status quo, but less good with the financial side of the business, managing cashflow, profit margins and reducing costs.  From this perspective, it is important to have the right team around you as you develop your business.

What Jennifer's clients say about her

I can honestly say I could not have got a better person for the job! As we started to put together the business plan, Jennifer asked me really insightful questions which helped me reflect on my short term/long term targets and make them more realistic. Her expertise and knowledge in the business world is second to none”

“diligent, personable, well organised and delivered a great programme for us. I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending her and her agency for future work.”

cannot speak highly enough of her commitment to excellence in every aspect of her service delivery.

Life outside current job

I like to be kept busy.  I am big into recycling and reusing (and the team will tell you, stand still long enough and I will have recycled you) and was instrumental in setting up the Repair Café Antrim & Newtownabbey in 2019 and served both on their Committee and as Catering Co-Ordinator for events.  Once lockdown is over I am looking forward to getting back as a general volunteer; if there is one skill I have perfected over the years, it is a good cup of tea!.

I have also been volunteering with Special Olympics Ireland since 2003 performing several roles from Event Manager, Safety Officer to general volunteer.  I am one of their Bocce Officials and officiate at Regional competitions.

I am a very outdoors person and a member of a hill walking group which means I could be walking anywhere from Co Down to Co Donegal at the weekends.  As an avid traveller I enjoy experiencing new cultures, meeting new people and indulging in my second favourite pastime; eating.  Having only ticked 22/196 countries out there, I have a long way to go yet though.  But I love when I can combine my two passions and my most memorable holidays to-date have been skiing (badly) in Japan, walking part of Camino de Santiago, horse riding in the Canadian Rockies and relaxing in the Icelandic Blue lagoon.

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