Grants and other supports available for small business start up

If you are considering starting or expanding a small business, the County Enterprise Board funded by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment should be your starting point.  The Tipperary North County Enterprise Board launched a revised suite of financial supports in November 2009.  These new financial supports replace the Capital, Employment and Feasibility Grants which were proffered by the County & City Enterprise Boards over a sixteen year period. The new scheme of aid includes Feasibility/Innovation, Priming and Business Expansion Grants. The Board also offers the support of Mentors, Advisers and Specialist Consultants at just 10% of their cost to individuals thinking of starting or expanding a business or indeed those with serious business issues or concerns.

Applications for Priming Grants may be made by sole traders, partnerships, community or limited companies within the first eighteen months of setting up the business and Business Expansion Grants may be awarded to businesses that are in existence more than 18 months.  The criteria under which funding is available from the Board is based on factors such as the sector of the economy in which an enterprise is operating or intends to operate and the proposed size of the enterprise. The Board can assist in the establishment, and/or development, of new and existing enterprises provided that the business is in the commercial sphere; there is evidence that a market exists for the product/service; the project has the capacity for growth and new job creation and the enterprise will employ no more than 10 staff. (The needs of qualifying firms with greater job creation expectations may be dealt with by Enterprise Ireland.) Along with the above eligibility criteria there are certain priorities and restrictions imposed such as:- priority must be given to enterprises in the manufacturing or internationally traded services sector which over time can develop into strong export entities and graduate to the Enterprise Ireland portfolio; tourism enterprises aimed predominantly at overseas visitors; local services promoted by the unemployed, those recently made redundant and women re-entering the workforce.  Local services promoted by the unemployed or women trying to re-enter the workforce may be aided provided that those enterprises do not give rise to deadweight or displacement.

Boards are in a position to offer a maximum Priming or Business Development Grant of 50% of the investment or €150,000 whichever is the lesser. However, it is expected that grants over €80,000 and up to €150,000 will be the exception and will only apply in the case of projects that clearly demonstrate a potential to graduate to Enterprise Ireland and/or to export internationally. The maximum Feasibility / Innovation Grant payable will be 50% of the investment or €20,000 which represents a significant increase on the old scheme where a maximum grant of €5,100 applied.

Speaking to the press about the new financial instruments, Rita Guinan, CEO with the Tipperary North CEB stated that the new grants could not have come at a better time. The grants are extremely flexible and will allow the Board to support all business start up costs. The increased grant levels means that the Board can now offer greater incentives to new and existing entrepreneurs and should also help to encourage the unemployed and those recently made redundant to consider business start up and self employment as a real alternative. The grants may be paid in addition to the Back to Work Allowance or Enterprise Start in the case of qualifying applicants”  Ms Guinan said.

The Tipperary North County Enterprise Board is also running a series of training programmes over the coming months and owners/managers seeking to improve the performance of their business are now invited to consider participating in the workshops/programmes listed below.  Early booking is advised as numbers are strictly limited and places are allocated on a first-come first-served basis.

Start Your Own Business (FETAC Accredited).  This programme will be of interest to new start-ups or those considering setting up their own business. The course runs one night per week over 10 weeks.  On completion participants will know how to write a business plan, have learned about the legal structures available to set up a business, identified what market research is about and have learned about pricing, costing and budgeting.  A participant fee of €60 will apply and fee exemptions may apply to the unemployed.

Management Development Programme is aimed at existing firms, and will involve a mix of 25 group training workshops and one-to-one on-site trouble shooting visits.  An information breakfast event will take place in the Abbey Court Hotel on Wednesday 3rd March and the actual programme will start on Wednesday, 24 March and will run weekly over a three month period in Nenagh.

Of interest to new start ups is a Basic Bookkeeping course which will be delivered over 1 full day, to look at the basic books of account and provide an introduction to self assessment, record keeping, daybooks, invoicing, filing for efficient bookkeeping etc.  A participant fee of €30 will apply.

A basic knowledge of Excel is essential for participants on the Accounting Using Excel programme which will be delivered over 2 full days.  Assuming Trainees have basic Excel they will at the end of this course, be able to explore the package further and use it to maintain a proper manual bookkeeping system for their small business.  This is a very practical course and trainees will work on Excel for most of the day producing proper books of account, VAT returns and financial reports.

A Financial Management programme will be delivered over 3 x 3 hour sessions and will cover topics such as Break-even: Operating & Cash-flow; Structure and Interrelationship of Financial Statements – the Balance Sheet, Profit & Loss & Cash Flow Statement; Balance Sheet; Income Statement; Profit v’s Cash Flow; Critical Performance Factors; Business Planning; Annual Budget; Funding; Costing & Pricing etc.

An intensive one day Start Up Bootcamp will be of interest to individuals considering setting up a business.  The Start Up Boot Camp covers Business Planning, The Rules of Business, Feasibility, Strategy, Formalities, Marketing, Process & People, Finance, Financial Projections, Writing and Tailoring a Business Plan. A fee of €20 applies and participants will also receive a free copy of Starting Your Own Business workbook.

A full day workshop on Costing & Pricing will be of interest to existing business owner/ managers and will cover: How to implement an effective cost mechanism; Taking overheads into consideration; Time Management; Below the selling line etc.

A Debt Collection workshop covering how to manage your debtors, handling new accounts, paper documentation, collect bad debts, third party legal options, systems etc. will be delivered over 1 x full day and a participant fee of €30 will apply.

While the above programmes have already been scheduled, we are constantly updating and revising our calendar, so please contact us if there you have specific training requirements for you or your business.  For your convenience the Board have introduced a new on line booking facility at www.tnceb.ie/training.htm.  However in the event of financial difficulties or if you do not have credit card/ laser card you should contact the Board’s offices directly.

Other supports available from the Tipperary North County Enterprise Board include Mentors, Temporary Business Advisors, e-Commerce Coaches, Website Development Grants, Exhibition/Trade Show Grants, Schools Enterprise Programmes and Women in Business focussed initiatives.

To access any of these supports or for further information contact the Tipperary North County Enterprise Board, Connolly Street, Nenagh at 067-33086, www.tnceb.ie or e-mail at info@tnceb.ie.  County and City Enterprise Boards are funded by the Irish Government and by the European Union.

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