Enterprise Centres and Business Incubation Centres can offer your new start up business the chance to avail of small units at affordable rates, whilst also getting the added benefit of shared knowledge, resources and equipment.

'Networking with similar minded start-up companies provides a great sense of camaraderie and source of valuable information on potential customers and service providers. Mentoring events such as legal and financial workshops also provide a great source of information. We are delighted to have made the move to the National College of Ireland Business Incubation Centre.' Ciaran McGowan, Staff Balance

Leasing business incubation space, even if it is only for one person initially, can be a huge help in creating a business environment around you. When working from a home office it can become difficult to distinguish between your working life and your home-life, so, surrounding yourself in a culture of learning and development can help bring a greater focus to your business.

'Being based in a Business Incubation Centre provided us with a walk-in, business-ready environment so we could focus on core issues like product development, sales and marketing.' Dermot Rogers, Channel Content

Some of the main advantages that your new start up business will receive in a Business Incubation Centre include: -

  • Flexible licence agreements;
  • Affordable rates;
  • Networking opportunities;
  • Access to business consultancy and mentoring support; and

All of this will lead to an accelerated development of your start-up business.


For some businesses, location is king – retail businesses, restaurants and takeaways all require a location with a passing trade. Many manufacturing businesses want a location that is not on a main shopping street.

Having said that, there are probably only two possible choices for your new business: -

  • Work from home; or
  • Find a workspace somewhere else.

Working from home is a simple and cheap solution for certain kinds of start-up businesses. If your business idea is office-based, and requires you to meet your customers in their offices, then working from home might be practical.

Experience has shown that you will probably need to separate your domestic space and your workspace. You will need to check with Dublin City Council Planning Department to find out if you need to get planning permission for your workspace. You also need to check that your insurance policy will cover working from home.

When you work from home your business will have a residential address and telephone number. Where the address is of importance to your business you might consider the combination of working from home with a 'virtual' office service, giving you a business address, and professional telephone answering services, but without the cost of owning the office.

Resources for starting businessWorking from a workspace away from home will generally always be more expensive, both in terms of the cost of the premises, but also in commuting to your place of work.

Some business ideas will require particular types of premises. Light industrial businesses and food production businesses have very individual requirements that must be matched to particular buildings, and will probably include specialist services such as three-phase electricity.

If you are looking for a high street location to develop a retail business, then you must do a lot of research. You will need to be sure of the number of people passing your door, and whether these people are potential shoppers for your product. Good retail space will always be expensive, but location will be vital if your retail business is to prosper.

For many start-up businesses outside of the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors, the opportunity to find space in an Enterprise Centre should be fully explored. There are a number of these around Dublin offering a variety of space solutions for start-up businesses. These solutions range from 'hot-desking', literally providing a serviced desk space for short periods, to 'turn-key' units for developing your business concept or product. In all cases Enterprise Centres will encourage you to network with other users of their services. You will probably find this to be invaluable as you work to establish your business.
Enterprise Centres often offer subsidised accommodation for an initial period, but remember that they are in the business of encouraging a constant stream of fledgling businesses. You can expect, therefore, that you will be encouraged to move on from the Centre as your own business becomes established.

Planning Permission

If you find yourself in the position of needing planning permission for your new business, do not despair. Dublin City Council Planning Department has done much work to make the planning system much more streamlined. The Council is very keen to encourage new business; even more so in the current economic climate.

There are three types of planning permission: outline permission, (full) permission, and permission consequent on outline permission. If you want to see if the planning authority agrees in principle to you building on a particular site, or building a large extension, you might apply for outline permission, which will require you to produce only the plans and particulars that are necessary to enable the planning authority to make a decision in relation to the siting, layout or other proposals for development. If you get outline permission, you will have to submit detailed drawings and receive consequent permission before you start building work. Generally, outline permissions have a 3-year duration. Full planning permission will require you to provide all of the details above, plus technical details relating to the fabric of the building and the type of construction to be employed.

If the local authority decides to give you planning permission, you will get a notice of intention to grant planning permission. If no one appeals the decision to An Bord Pleanála within four weeks of the date of this decision, you will get grant of permission from the local authority. Generally, the local planning authority must make a decision on a planning application within eight weeks of receiving the application, but if the local authority needs more information, or the decision is appealed, it may take much longer.

It is an offence to carry out any work that requires planning permission, without planning permission, and the offence can carry very heavy fines and imprisonment. However, if a genuine mistake has been made, it is possible to apply for planning permission to retain an unauthorised development. This permission may be refused; in which case, the unauthorised development will have to be demolished.

Safety, Health and Welfare

There are over 100 separate pieces of legislation now covering aspects of Safety and Health, so we can only provide an overview of the provisions and the implications for business.

Some estimates put the annual total cost to the economy of health and safety incidents at more than €2.5 billion, through: -

  • Lost or down-time;
  • Business recovery or interruption costs;
  • Lost business opportunities through: -
  • Legal proceedings;
  • Staff dissatisfaction and absenteeism;
  • Public relations damage.


The main works of Safety, Health and Welfare legislation include: -

  • The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 1989
  • The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 1993
  • The Safety Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005

It should be noted that there are many individual pieces of legislation that are specific to certain sectors, including: Construction; Farming; Food; and Transport.

The two main components of legislation are that all businesses must: -

  • Identify hazards in the workplace;
  • Produce a Safety Statement that complies with the legislative requirements for the management of Health and Safety in the Workplace.

Safety Statement

Every employer or self-employed person must have a Safety Statement covering his or her place or places of work.
A Safety Statement is a declaration in writing of your commitment to uphold Health and Safety standards. It specifies the resources, manner and organisation necessary to achieve and maintain Health and Safety standards, and includes provisions for accident prevention, first aid, and training.

Help and Advice

The Health and Safety Authority produces a wide variety of publications covering a diverse range of topics and an array of industry sectors. These publications include guidance documents, codes of practice and various information leaflets. Most of these are available from the Health and Safety Authority website.

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