SME Agony Uncle: Bobby Kerr answers all your business and work-related questions

Join Bobby on The Hard Shoulder every Tuesday, with thanks to Energia

Each week broadcaster, entrepreneur and agony uncle Bobby Kerr joins The Hard Shoulder to answer all your employment-related questions.

This week, Ivan kicked things off with Bobby by discussing distractions at work. This was following the release of Udemy's 2018 Workplace Distraction Report.

The report shows that 7/10 employees said they are affected by distraction, 15% say they are always distracted and interestingly, 23% say they are more distracted now than in previous years. 

Bobby explained how he works in two offices - one open plan and one with closed doors - and he finds it easy to be distracted in both. 

The main point of distraction for everyone appears to be what Ivan refers to as "chatty Cathys" - talkative coworkers.  Technology is also a big distraction, 70% of people admitted that checking personal devices was a huge source of distraction as well. 

Bobby says it's nothing new though, this is just life and we have to get on with it. 

Now onto your questions... 

I have been working for a company for just under a year and I am due a contract renewal, the role is due to be extended for another six months. I like the role but we are chronically understaffed so I find it hard to do the additional projects and tasks that are needed. I have interviewed for a different role in a different company and I've been offered the job. It's a full time position but my concern is should I stay in the current role or move? I am due to move to Canada at the end of the year so I feel that leaving the new full time position after a few months would reflect badly with a new employer.   

Bobby says this man should stay because he has decided he is leaving for Canada anyway. It will look better on his CV to have stuck it out instead of being six months in two jobs. Then he can go to Canada and gain more experience. 

While changing jobs frequently isn't always going to look good on a CV, Bobby does say that employers will take things like age, experience level, industry, etc into consideration as well. 

I have a great new idea for a product and I am exploring the idea of patenting it but it seems like a very expensive process. One quote I received was over €4,000. Would Bobby know anywhere I could get a prototype of the product made to take to market for testing before I go to the expense of patenting?

Bobby was delighted with this question. He says there a number of places to get a prototype done up. IT colleges with Product Design courses are a good starting point. These include DIT, IT Carlow, Maynooth University, Dundalk IT, Letterkenny IT and also NCAD and IADT.  

The students will make up a prototype design for you for a relatively low price, which Bobby suggests doing before going to the legal process of patenting before wasting any money. 

I am a small businessman with 5 employees in the food manufacturing sector. One of my biggest customers which accounts for 40% of my sales has just changed their payment cycles from 30 to 60days. It's causing me a real cashflow problem, I'm worried it's going to cause me to breach my overdraft facility with the bank or if I make to much of a fuss with the customer, I could end up losing the business. 

Bobby says there is a process here. The first person he should talk to is the bank. If the bank calls in his overdraft, he's putting the business at risk so he needs to proceed with caution. 

With the customer, he could also implement something called invoice discounting, which is a funding solution via a third party that allows you to access a proportion of the value of your outstanding invoices, meaning you can maintain the relationships you have built up with customers. 

Of course, Bobby says this man should go and speak to his customer as well and try to resolve it amicably before trying invoice discounting as it can work out to be expensive as well as it's quite niche. 

You can listen back to all of Bobby’s employment advice from Tuesday’s The Hard Shoulder here:

If you have a business or SME related query you would like answered - you can get in touch with Bobby each week by simply sending a short mail to agonyuncle@newstalk.com