Financial Supports and Grants

Local Enterprise Offices provide a range of financial supports designed to assist with the establishment and/or growth of businesses employing up to ten people. These financial supports are designed to provide a flexible suite of supports to LEO clients and potential clients.

The general conditions for grant support are as follows:

  • The sector of the economy in which an enterprise is operating or intends to operate
  • The size or proposed size of the enterprise
  • Any expenditure incurred, prior to receipt by applicant of the letter of offer from the LEO, will not be eligible for grant support.

LEOs can assist in the establishment, and/or development, of new and existing enterprises from individuals/sole traders, companies and community groups subject to the following eligibility criteria:

  • The enterprise must be in the commercial sphere
  • The enterprise must demonstrate a market for the product/service
  • The enterprise must have a capacity for growth and new job creation
  • The enterprise must not employ more than 10 people.

Feasibility Grants

Feasibility grants are designed to assist the promoter with researching market demand for a product or service and examining its sustainability. It includes assistance with innovation including specific consultancy requirements, hiring of expertise from third level colleges private specialists, design, patent costs, and prototype development.

The maximum Feasibility / Innovation Grant payable for the S&E Region shall be 50% of the investment or €20,000 whichever is the lesser. The maximum Feasibility / Innovation Grant payable for the BMW Region shall be 60% of the investment or €20,000 whichever is the lesser.

Expenditure may be considered under the following headings:

  • Innovation Costs
  • Own Labour Research
  • Consultancy Costs
  • Miscellaneous Costs

Priming Grants

A Priming Grant is a business start-up grant, available to micro enterprises within the first 18 months of start-up.

Priming grants may be available for sole traders, partnerships, community groups or limited companies that fulfil the following criteria:

  • Located within the LEO's geographic area
  • A business which on growth may or may not fit the Enterprise Ireland portfolio
  • A business employing up to 10 employees
  • A manufacturing or internationally traded services business
  • A Domestically traded Service business with the potential to trade internationally
  • A domestically traded services being established by a female returning to the workforce or unemployed persons where the potential for deadweight and displacement does not exist.

Eligible clients may be awarded a Priming Grant within the first eighteen months of setting up the business.

The maximum Priming Grant payable shall be 50% of the investment or €150,000 whichever is the lesser. Grants over €80,000 and up to €150,000 shall be the exception and shall only apply in the case of projects that clearly demonstrate a potential to graduate to Enterprise Ireland and/or to export internationally.

In all other cases, the maximum grant shall be 50% of the investment or €80,000 whichever is the lesser. A percentage of any grant assistance will be in refundable form at the discretion of the LEO.

Business Expansion Grants

The Business Expansion grant is designed to assist the business in its growth phase after the initial 18 month start-up period.

Business Expansion grants may be awarded to sole traders, partnerships, community groups or limted companies that fulfil the following criteria:

  • Located within the CEB's geographic area
  • A business, which, on growth, may or may not have the capacity to fit the Enterprise Ireland portfolio
  • A business employing up to 10 employees
  • A Manufacturing or Internationally traded service business
  • A Domestically traded Service business with the potential to trade internationally.

The maximum Business Expansion Grant payable shall be 50% of the investment or €150,000 whichever is the lesser. Grants over €80,000 and up to €150,000 shall be the exception and shall only apply in the case of projects that clearly demonstrate a potential to graduate to Enterprise Ireland and/or to export internationally. In all other cases, the maximum grant shall be 50% of the investment or €80,000 whichever is the lesser. Subject to the 50% limit, a maximum grant of €15,000 per full time job created shall apply in respect of any employment support granted.

A business that had availed of a Priming Grant will be ineligible to apply for a Business Expansion grant until 18 months after approval/drawdown date of Priming Grant whichever is the later.

Subject to the 50% limit, a maximum grant of €15,000 per full time job created shall apply in respect of any employment support granted.

10 Step Guide to Starting Your Own Business

Local Enterprise Office - Start Your Own Business Programme

If you're thinking of starting a business, the Start Your Own Business Programme run by your Local Enterprise Office will help you, from developing and researching your ideas, learning basic business start-up skills and expanding your potential with marketing and financial planning advice.

The Start Your Own Business programme introduces you to thinking about running your business and testing out your business ideas and plans along with like-minded people.

Step 1: Test Your Business Idea

The Start Your Own Business programme provides you with an opportunity to assess the potential of your business idea.

  • Have I got the right business skills?
  • Think about who will buy your product or service.
  • What is the benefit to them and how much will they pay?
Step 2: What About Market Research?
  • From the outset market research is essential in helping you to identify your target market and customers.
  • It will also help you to identify your competitors and how to compete effectively.
  • Research is also effective in assessing demand for a new product or service
Step 3: What are Your Business Requirements?
  • Have you considered the best location for the business?
  • Identify your basic equipment requirements and costs.
  • How many staff will you need to employ?
  • Identify your overhead costs e.g. insurance.
  • Can your business idea benefit from new technologies? e.g. by online selling.
Step 4: What are your Investment Requirements?
  • Identify all start-up and running costs associated with the business.
  • Identify ways of financing your business venture.
  • Seek financial support and benefit from direct referral to Government agencies.
  • Seek advice on other sources of support e.g. Banks, Credit Unions, Microfinance Ireland, family support, other non-bank finance.
Step 5: Developing your Marketing Strategy
  • Marketing your business idea is a fundamental aspect of starting up.
  • Research the most cost effective methods of marketing your business.
  • Write you Marketing Plan
Step 6: Developing your Sales Plan
  • How will you promote your product or service?
  • Who and where is your target market (local, national, international)?
  • What channels of distribution will be used?
  • Determine your selling price and break-even point.
Step 7: What is the best legal structure for you?

What type of company will allow you to make the best decisions for your business? You could be a:

  • Sole trader
  • Partnership
  • Limited Company
Step 8: Managing the risks
  • Starting a business is a big step to take.
  • A new business can be exciting. However, it can also be risky.
  • For some it means risking personal savings and secure employment.
Step 9: Avoiding Unnecessary Risks
  • Register your business name with the Companies Registration Office (CRO). Visit
  • Be aware of your tax obligations and register with your local revenue office. Visit
  • Be aware of other statutory obligations such as trading licenses, planning permission, insurance, health & safety, patents, etc.
  • Be aware of your responsibilities under employment rights legislation.
Step 10: And Finally......Write your Business Plan
  • Business Planning is fundamental to success in business - managing the company, generating sales and growing jobs.
  • It is the key to getting things done and making things happen.
  • The finished business plan can be used as an operating tool that will help you to make important decisions and manage your business effectively.

Using all of the tools above.....

Your Local Enterprise Office can train you to plan and deliver on all aspects of your business.


Training For Success

No matter what type of business you're involved in, training can have a positive effect on your performance, and a measurable impact on your potential profits. Your skills, and those of your employees, are the biggest assets your business will ever have. It will be vital to keep your skills up-to-date, and training is a proven way to attract a high calibre of staff, and then ensure you retain them. Regular training is an investment that will allow you and employees to prosper and develop, whilst giving your business a highly skilled workforce and a competitive advantage in the market.

How to Start

Training is all very well but, during the first years of your new business, you will probably be faced with one very significant problem – a lack of time. You will probably recognise that personal and professional development for yourself or your staff is needed to make your business more efficient, however, taking people out of work may appear to be too costly. This problem puts many business people off developing their staff, which if left unchecked will lead to a decline in the skills-base of your core business.

Training Objectives

In the same way that you have sat down and thought about a Business Plan, as a new business owner you should develop a Training Plan, even if you're the only person in your business.

The main thing to consider when deciding on a Training Plan is your training objective. This needs to be set at the beginning, and preferably  be measurable. This lays the foundations for what the course of training will be based on, and if the objectives are measurable, it will allow the result to become quantifiable and show you whether the training was worthwhile.

Who Can Help?

Once your training needs are established, the next stage is to evaluate which delivery option would best suit you.  As a new business, many of the agencies and organisations in the Directory will be able to help with your training needs.

It is likely that you might be interested in some management training, and your Local Enterprise Office will be pleased to take your booking for the latest courses. ISME, Skillnets Limited, the SFA, your local Chamber of Commerce, and many of the Universities and Colleges around the country will also be pleased to help.

Generally, you will be looking for the most appropriate level of training to suit your needs. You should also consider the training method that will be used, particularly as your time will be at a premium.

Many training methods can deliver effective learning and development solutions for all development topics, such as a customer service solution or a leadership programme. Each training method has individual benefits, and a few of these are listed below: -

Bespoke Training:

  • Unique to your company;
  • Designed around your training objectives;
  • Complete control over the training.


  • Already written and packaged;
  • Tried and tested programme;
  • Set prices for the programmes.


  • Complete flexibility for when and where the learning takes place.


Enterprise and Incubation Space

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.

Networking When Starting a Business

Well, Who Do You Know?...

Isolation and introspection can be deadly failings for new business people. Involvement and inclusion are the antidotes, with networking the brand name of the cure.

With all the demands on your time made by your business, professional and personal life, it is tempting to give a low priority to meeting new people. After all, you will have so many commitments to your new business, and to your colleagues, family and friends, that it will be difficult to set aside extra time to bring even more people into your life.

This thinking would be wrong, however, on two levels. For one, you are constantly being introduced to new people anyway, every day, with no disruption to your schedules.

Secondly, by not consistently widening your circle of acquaintances and contacts, you will be severely curtailing your businesses chances of success.
Networking – meeting useful people - will provide your start-up and growing business with numerous benefits: you will not be working alone, but will benefit from the knowledge and experience of others who are also starting or growing their own business.

Knowledge really is power in business. You cannot acquire knowledge without connecting with other people and, from a business point of view; networking provides an organised, structured and powerful way of making those connections. The benefits of networking are numerous: network participants, typically, learn better practice from their peers and acquire sales and development opportunities; find a wider choice of suppliers, increase sales opportunities and learn how to cut costs.

Both you, and your business will benefit. The process leads to new contacts and new friendships. Through networking, you will no longer be isolated. Networking can be both a reality check for your business, and provide free market research.

Gaining from Networks

If you and your business are going to gain from being the members of a network it is most important that you approach it in the right frame of mind. Experience shows that people who are driven entirely by their own agendas usually get less than they expect. If you participate to give as much as to receive, you will find that your 'giving' is reflected back. It is, therefore, important to be open, to be a node for giving and taking. Not listening is bad networking!

Developing good formal networking skills will provide you with the key to keeping ahead of the competition. To make the most of your networking opportunities make sure you develop a three-minute informal presentation on your business, yourself, your products and services: -

  • Be open - Openness generates trust;
  • Listen: value your new contacts;
  • Ask questions about your new contact's business and background: everyone carries an extensive network with them;
  • Give if you wish to receive;
  • Bring your business cards, brochures, or DVD's;
  • Introduce yourself and others;
  • Keep moving and meet as many people as possible;
  • Plan to establish at least two new contacts;
  • Give referrals;
  • Don't be afraid to state what you are interested in and ask what the other person is looking for;
  • Follow up within seven days by phone, email or letter.

Networking Opportunities

There are networks and opportunities to network everywhere. Sports clubs - Rugby, GAA, Sailing, Golf or whatever - provide opportunities for you to meet people with similar interests. Members may be business people, like you, professionals or involved in key trades. The Internet provides great networking opportunities both at home and globally.

  • Your Local Enterprise Office responds to the networking needs of businesses, and will provide you with the most up to date information on networking opportunities in your area.
  • Local Enterprise Office also operates Enterprise Network for Women, a network that meets monthly to support and network women in business.
  • Graduates establish a high percentage of new businesses, and Universities and other third level colleges provide excellent networks in their own right. Many of these are a study in best practice and should be investigated.
  • BNI (Business Network International) is a business and professional networking organisation that offers members the opportunity to share ideas, contacts and referrals. There are currently 14 chapters, or groups, meeting in the Dublin area.
  • PLATO Dublin is led by owner-managers from large companies. These 'parent' companies provide experienced executives to support you and your fellow owner-managers.
  • The Small Firms Association (SFA) is the national organisation exclusively representing the needs of small enterprises in Ireland. The SFA provides economic, commercial, employee relations and social affairs advice and assistance as well as networking opportunities for its more than 8,000 members.
  • ISME the small business representative organisation also host a number of events every year that are excellent places to carry out networking with other SME's.
  • Dublin Chamber of Commerce, and North Dublin Chamber of Commerce both represent the interests of businesses, both large and small, and offers significant opportunities for you to promote your business, and to network with other members.
  • Skillnets Limited is the enterprise-led support body that enhances the skills of people in employment to support competitiveness and employability. There are currently some 12 Skillnets Networks operating in Dublin, and details can be obtained from
  • Finuas facilitates international financial services companies to form enterprise-led learning networks to deliver training and professional development programmes that meet the specific needs of businesses. Eligible businesses must be directly involved in, or provide professional services to the international financial services sector. More information can be obtained from

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