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Stuck In A Covid Rut? Here Are 7 Things Business Owners Can Do To Shift The Energy

A year from the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and we can all be forgiven for allowing ourselves to fall into a little bit of what I call a ‘Covid rut’. 

According to Northern Ireland business coach Bernie Allen missing friends and family, not seeing our clients in person and not doing many of the things we once loved “can make it difficult to maximise downtime which in return can impact how we feel about our businesses each and every day”. 

Here are 7 things Bernie says business owners can do to shift the energy:

1. Limit Social Media 

“You don’t need to cut yourself totally off from Social Media, however if you can be disciplined enough to stay off it for just one hour per day for a week, at the end of the week you will have created seven extra hours to spend doing something much more productive” said Bernie, adding: “If you can incrementally increase this each week for the next three weeks to 1.5 hours, two hours and two hours again, by the end of week four you will have saved a total of 45.5 hours. What will you spend them doing?”

2. Practice Gratitude 

Bernie explained: “One sure fire way to inject a little positivity into your day is to start practicing gratitude. Prioritise this as something you can’t go without each day by writing down ten things you are thankful for before you leave your bedroom in the morning. 

“This will allow you to begin your day feeling great and will make sure that life doesn’t get in the way and you don’t forget about your gratitude.” 

3. Control Your News Intake

“We have all become news obsessed during the past year, consuming more news and views than ever before. However, in order to escape the ‘Covid rut’, I recommend that for four weeks you commit to watching the news just once daily” said Bernie. 

“Don’t worry, if there is something you really need to know I am sure one of your friends or family will let you know.”

4. Listen To Music 

Bernie is advising people to listening to happy music for just twenty minutes per day, she says it can have a significant impact on how you feel. 

“Don’t just take my word for it, according to science, listening to happy music releases positive chemicals into your brain” said Bernie, adding: “Namely Dopamine, which is linked to both rewards and motivation, Oxytocin, which is linked to the pleasure hormone, Serotonin, which boosts your happiness and wellbeing and Endorphins which are a natural painkiller.” 

5. Move More 

Moving more not only helps your body, but it stimulates your brain. It is a key element to problem solving and decision making, and by adding a walk or a run into your day, you can empower yourself to work things out and perform better in your business. 

6. Curtail Your Sugar Habit 

Bernie said: “There is a reason that sugar is known as ‘legal Cocaine’. It is just as addictive as the drug only it is more of a silent killer. Many people associate the main downfall of a high sugar intake to be weight gain. 

“However, it is also responsible for causing high cholesterol, diabetes and it even has links to depression. In fact, too much sugar can zap your energy and cause a dip in performance in your business.” 

7. Boost Your Energy 

“Finally, I wanted to talk about boosting your energy. If you want to escape the ‘Covid rut’ once and for all, the three best things you can do to boost your energy are to eat a balanced diet, focus on nutrition and exercise often” said Bernie.

If you would like to find out more about what you can do as a business leader or owner to keep on top of your game and not let challenges or situations change your direction contact Bernie Allen at or by emailing  

Bernie Allen’s book How To Succeed In Business & Life is out now published by Excalibur Press and available from or


Northern Ireland Construction Company Named Winner of Prestigious Responsible Business Award

Kieran Harding, Managing Director, Business in the Community NI, Ian Henry, Director, Henry Brothers Ltd and Jennifer Cruickshank, HR Manager, Henry Brothers Ltd)

Henry Brothers Ltd has been named NI Responsible Company of the Year at Business in the Community’s 2021 Responsible Business Awards.

A panel of independent judges awarded Henry Brothers with this prestigious top award for demonstrating the implementation of a wide range of successful corporate responsibility initiatives that strategically address key issues and challenges in a way that creates value for both society and the business.

Winners in all eleven responsible business categories were announced at a hybrid Awards event, hosted in-studio by TV and weather presenter and journalist Barra Best and broadcast live across Business in the Community’s digital platforms.

Northern Ireland’s leading responsible companies were recognised for outstanding contributions to their people, the planet and the places where they operate, with categories that cover all themes in responsible business, including wellbeing, diversity and inclusion, environment, community, digital innovation, and more.

The Awards, organised by responsible business network Business in the Community, take place annually and in 2021 the event was run in partnership with JP Corry, SPAR and Department for Communities, and in association with Ulster Business and U105.

The eleven 2021 winners were:

  • Age-Friendly Business Award, sponsored by Age-Friendly Network – Bank of Ireland
  • Diversity and Inclusion Award, sponsored by Belfast Harbour – AMS
  • Education Partnership Award, sponsored by Allen & Overy – Heron Bros. Ltd
  • Environmental Leadership Award, sponsored by Heron Bros – Danske Bank
  • Innovation in Employability Award, sponsored by George Best Belfast City Airport – Translink
  • Investing in Your Community Award, sponsored by Arthur Cox – PwC
  • Responsible Digital Innovation Award, sponsored by Allstate NI – Sentireal Ltd
  • One-to-Watch Award, sponsored by Ciena – Dowds Group
  • Responsible Product / Service Award, sponsored by Translink – Huhtamaki
  • Wellbeing at Work Award, sponsored by Larne Port – Northern Ireland Water

Kieran Harding, Managing Director, Business in the Community says: “Congratulations to each of the winning organisations for leading the way in responsible business. This year has been really challenging for a lot of businesses and people in Northern Ireland, so I want to thank our winning, highly commended, and shortlisted organisations for continuing to make responsible business action a priority.

“The judging process of the Awards is robust, and the standard of entries was phenomenally high this year. All winners demonstrated true leadership in the area of responsible business and their entries are sure to inspire others in their own responsible business journey.”  

Online attendees of the event enjoyed a community digital showcase highlighting positive stories of business action for the benefit of communities during the past year.  Entertainment pieces included a performance of uplifting original song ‘Calendar’ by Northern Ireland singer Daisie Conway, and a specially commissioned poem ‘Defining Hope’ screened at the event was written and performed by Belfast-based poet Niamh McNally.

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Par Equity Seeks to Double Northern Ireland Funding to £20m

Pictured (l-r) are Andrew Noble, partner at Par Equity and Ronnie Geddis, Par Equity’s regional chairman for Northern Ireland.

Edinburgh-based venture capital firm has already invested £10m in the region

Par Equity, an Edinburgh-based specialist in high-growth early-stage tech businesses, is increasing its support for cutting-edge companies in Northern Ireland to £20 million after a string of successful transactions.

Established in 2008, Par Equity has built a strong reputation for backing young, innovative companies in Northern Ireland, Scotland and England’s northeast and supporting them with its growing team of expert advisors.

The company, which has already invested £10 million in a range of successful early-stage companies including Datactics, Cumulus, Plotbox and TriVirum, said the additional funds would help ambitious local firms to develop new technologies and expand into new markets, unlock other forms of funding along the way.

Andrew Noble, partner at Par Equity, said:

“We’re hands-on investors at Par Equity and, together with our network of industry experts, we’re providing that much-needed business advice as well as the financial support.  We’ve identified, and heavily backed, some excellent companies in Northern Ireland and we’re excited about unearthing new opportunities in the region over the next two or three years.”

Par Equity’s first major funding success in Northern Ireland was Belfast-based digital imaging analysis and software company PathXL in 2012. Since then, it has provided essential finance, direct support and management advice to some of the region’s most successful new companies.

In April 2021, Par Equity invested further in Trivirum, Plotbox and Datactics, leading investments rounds of up to £3.5 million. This included a £2 million investment round into data management specialist Datactics following on from its initial investment into the company in 2019. The Datactics investment round, which was supported by other existing investors, Kernel Capital and Clarendon, will see the company grow to beyond 50 employees and into profitability.

In addition to these three investments, Par Equity also provided a £1.1m bridging round in Belfast start-up Cumulus Neuroscience last year, leveraging a further £6 million of investment from the UK’s Dementia Discovery Fund.

The funds are being used to help Cumulus develop a new, industry-leading integrated physiological and biomarker platform that provides clinical trial data and AI-powered insights to accelerate the development of therapies for Alzheimer’s and other brain disorders.

Cumulus Neuroscience’s CEO, Ronan Cunningham, said:

“Great ideas can be the foundation of a great business, but without the necessary funding, the potential for growth will always be capped. We’re delighted that after just a few short years, we’ve secured the finance we need to accelerate our technology to market and address exciting new growth opportunities on the global stage.

Funding through Par Equity, the Dementia Discovery Fund, and other partners are helping us to scale-up quickly and establish ourselves as a market leader in our space.”

As one of the larger investors in Northern Ireland, Par Equity believes it can help fill a gap in the market and provide the scale of funding fast growth companies need to get to the next level, but which is not currently available through local financing options. In 2020, Par Equity appointed Ronnie Geddis as the chair of its investor network in Northern Ireland deepening its activity in the region.

“Like Scotland, we know that Northern Ireland businesses don’t always get their fair share of venture capital funding in the UK and that business often struggle to get that next level of funding they need to really scale up their operations,” said Ronnie Geddis.

As someone who has invested and been in receipt of investment in Northern Ireland, there is a clear role for Par Equity to bring its scale and expertise to Northern Ireland to help some of our most exciting businesses achieve the global success they deserve,” added Ronnie.

Par Equity has invested in more than 60 companies since it launched in 2008. Collectively, those companies have raised £266 million from investors.

Earlier this year, it secured three major awards at the UK Business Angel Investment Awards 2021, including Angel Group of the Year, Scale-up Team of the Year and Exit of the Year.

A panel of 37 judges reviewed the hundreds of nominations received across the 12 categories to select the leaders and trail blazers from the UK’s investment ecosystem.

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